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YHA Takeover Day at YHA
    25/11/2013 04:32

Takeover Day at YHA

Friday, 22nd November saw YHA National Office taken over by 19 enthusiastic GCSE Business Studies students from Highfields, a local secondary school.

Takeover Day is a national event led by Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England, in order to celebrate young people and give them the opportunity to try out a job which they might be interested in as well as have a hand in decision-making and planning in a professional organisation.

The day started in the formidable Board Room where the teams were briefed by Head of HR Lawrence Cramer, split into three teams and given their Apprentice-style task – to organise and plan a YHA Day event at a hostel of their choice on a budget of £830.

The students then took part in an ice-breaker game within their teams to help them get to know each other and bond before they chose the hostel which would host their event.

The teams were then shown to their separate offices and introduced to their mentors before they began to brainstorm their ideas and contact people from relevant departments to help them with their plans for the event. This was also when the finances were discussed and a floor plan created for the event.

After a well-deserved break for lunch, the teams returned to the Board Room where they were briefed by Charlotte Durrant, Campaign Manager and Emma Hawke, Graphic Designer on how to bring their ideas to life in a marketing campaign.

The teams were given a budget of £500 to design and print posters for the event and create a television advert. And so, it was time for them to get creative! The teams spent an hour filming their adverts and creating their posters, getting a taster of what the Marketing side of the business is like.

All too soon, the day arrived at its culmination point and our young ‘apprentices’ headed back to the Board Room to face the Lords - William Howarth, Director of Finance and IT and Jake Chalmers, Property Director – who were to judge which team’s pitch came out on top.

The pitches were also attended by the teams’ mentors and everyone from the organisation that had helped the teams along their way; the YHA Marketing team and a representative from the E-Commerce team who covered the entire day with a live Twitter feed (follow @YHAOfficial for more).

In the tricky position of being first to pitch, Team 2 assembled at the front of the room. After a couple of technical difficulties, the team’s advert was played to the room, to great applause. Team 2 had decided to host their YHA Day event at YHA Boggle Hole and gave the event a pirate theme, inspired by the Youth Hostel’s history and location. YHA Boggle Hole nestles on the beach in Whitby, in an old smuggler’s cove.

The team faced some tough questioning from William, who picked their figures apart and went through them with a fine tooth comb. The team withstood the pressure fantastically, answering questions calmly and keeping cool and collected.

Next up was Team 1 who had planned a Summer Extravaganza to take place at YHA South Downs, a great choice of Youth Hostel given the fact that it was a new location to the organisation and opened last year after a £3 million renovation plus its recent royal visit which attracted media attention by the barrel.

Team 1 planned to not only give local people and visitors a taste of what YHA is all about but to also offer local businesses stalls at the event in order to support them, an idea which went down particularly well with the Lords. They also planned to host a comedy show and a talent show with local celebrities Ashleigh and Pudsey from Britain’s Got Talent fame (yes, that’s the act with the dog) as judges.

Again, the team faced some difficulties from William, YHA’s answer to Peter Jones, but stood up well under such scrutiny.

Last, but certainly not least, Team 3 stepped up to pitch their Army Assault Course day to take place in a rural location at YHA National Forest. Team 3 discussed their ideas for asking energy drink Lucozade to sponsor the event and involving local scout groups and other organisations to help out with collecting charitable donations from the public.

Team 3’s finances were watertight, thanks to team leader Emily’s hard work but the team did face questions from Jake about whether they would really be able to get Lucozade to sponsor a YHA event. The team replied that the sponsorship would be a great advertising opportunity for the company and that supporting a charity event would be a positive PR move.

It was now time for the judges to deliberate over which team had impressed them the most and whose ideas could really be brought to life. During the deliberation, the competitive edges of the students really came out with them discussing holes in each other’s plans – the professional equivalent of trash talking!

After a suspense-filled wait, the Lords had made their decision and began their closing gambit. They commended the students on how well they had done with organising elaborate plans in such a short space of time and deemed them a credit to their school.

Team 2 was praised for its highly appropriate theme and Team 1 was commended for its proposed support of the local community, especially with the current economic climate.

But, there could only be one winner – and that was Team 3! Team 3’s plans to involve local community groups and their unique theme received the highest praise from the Lords and the team members were presented with certificates declaring them as the winners and free overnight stays in YHA locations.

The other teams didn’t go away empty handed either, taking away free YHA memberships for their parents and signed Spirit of YHA books.

Overall, the day was an unprecedented success, the students had a great day and all said they’d learned a lot – as did the staff!


By A Hosteller

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