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In celebration of their 50th anniversary, Our Lady of Fatima University recently held its 3rd CHIM International Conference at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel. Through OLFU’s initiative, this year’s timely and relevant theme on ASENTHEx (Tourism and Hospitality Experience): Rising Millennial Travel had local celebrity and international speakers sharing important insights and developments on this market segment that spends more than 40% of their income in travels.

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“The world has evolved so much that experiences happen earlier on than during our time. Because of the advent of change, including the mindset, millennials now are more exploratory and it is time that we adjust to the way they think with, of course, the right parameters,” said OLFU’s University President, Dr. Caroline Enriquez.

Since the ASEAN is expected to be the world’s Top 5 destination region in the coming years, the keynote speakers discussed ways by which the Philippines could adapt to these changes and the role of government in crafting meaningful policies in the context of the ASEAN integration.

Panel Session 1 dealt with millennials in terms of communication and how having grown up with the Internet, they demand multiple platforms and a variety of experiences for learning. The session tackled the experiences of millennial learners in hospitality and tourism. Panelists were Filipino students Jennifer Rucio and Rianney Ramil Reynoso as well as Vietnamese student, Tran Tan Minh.

Since millennials are the largest generation in history, they provide huge market potential for the accommodations sector. Panel Session 2 tackled the experiences and strategies of accommodations in order to supply increasing millennial travel demands. Panelists were Group General Manager of Seda Hotel Vertis North, Brett Patrick Hickey, Vice President for Marketing of SM Hotels and Conventions Group, Neil M. Rumbaoa and General Manager of Acacia Hotel Manila, Bobby R. Horrigan who stated that millennial travelers prefer free wifi rather than free breakfast.

Panel Session 3 discussed millennials and their preferred modes of travel and how the transport sector could adapt to these trends. Panelists were OMNI Aviation Head of Direct Sales, Mr. Juan Paulo Gomez, and Automotive Journalist and celebrity social influencer, James Deakin. Mr. Deakin gave insights on how millennials are allergic to inefficiency so that the transport sector should think outside the box for more efficient business models. He also said, “If we declare a war on traffic and use technology as our weapons, we would go a long way in solving traffic.”

Panel Session 4 tackled how millennials like to spend money on food. As customers, they can be tough to please. This session engaged food and beverage experts Chef Gene Gonzalez, restaurateur Gilbert Gabriel, and Master Sommelier, Cristina Imperial-Carl who shared their experiences on how the restaurant sector adopts to the demanding palates of millennials.

As a progressive university, OLFU is constantly finding ways to break down barriers across countries to make education in the hospitality industry more accessible to its students. “We highlighted millennial travelers because there is a huge need for us to talk about this. Knowing that the prescribed curriculum would not cover this topic in depth, we supplemented it with this international conference, getting inputs from international and local experts, as we have a status to maintain. We are a CHED center of excellence so we should always go beyond what other universities are doing,” said college’s Dean, Dr. Ignacio Cordova, Jr.

OLFU has gone a long way from its modest start as a very simple family-ran, 25-bed hospital that has exponentially grown through the last 50 years. Aside from international conferences for its students, there is another way that OLFU is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Dr. Enriquez said, “For our 50th year, we asked our 1,000 employees to render 50 hours of voluntary service; that is unpaid service to the community in whatever form, as long as they document it. So at the end of the year, we would have 50,000 hours devoted to acts of kindness from the OLFU.”  This aligns with OLFU’s continued vision of improving man as man where the education received is not just in academics but also values and personal grit; qualities that are needed now more than ever to succeed in the age of the rise of the millennials.

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