UP student Mark Francis Plaza wins International Hotel Challenge

Mark Francis Plaza wins International Hotel Challenge
UP CHE Senior student Mark Francis Plaza emerged as the winner at the simulated hotel competition. Photo from Mark Francis Plaza FB.

University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) student Mark Francis Plaza has won the 2021 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) Hotel Challenge that tested participants’ skills in managing a simulated hotel.

The 4th year student from the UP College of Home Economics (UP CHE) Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution won the top spot in the online competition held from March 1-12.

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Mark Francis Plaza bested 151 other participants from renowned hospitality institutions all over the world by garnering a score of 181.9. Plaza’s 1st place finish came with a $1,000 cash prize.

Launched in 2019 by American educational company Knowledge Matters, the competition was open to college-level students from schools that are institutional members of the ICHRIE.

The ICHRIE is an international nonprofit association working to promote global education, research, service, and business in the hospitality and tourism industry. UPD has been part of the ICHRIE through the efforts of ICHRIE’s first Asian and female President Dr. Linda Lagman Hoops, a UP CHE alumna.

The UP report said this year’s competition, the simulation — developed in partnership with the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International — was to manage a 10-storey hotel.

Among the participants’ tasks were to set room rates, inventory management, schedule special events like banquets and meetings, and purchasing supplies.

The scores were ranked based on a balanced scorecard that included profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.

Plaza reportedly at first struggled at the competition while juggling classes, an internship, a part-time job, and the COVID-19 pandemic, but soon found the task progressively enjoyable and a learning experience. His efforts paid off when he emerged as the winner.

“I want to thank God for good health and giving me strength to balance everything. I thank my family and friends who motivated me during the competition. I am grateful to the faculty of DHRIM for all the learnings through the years that I applied in the competition. I am really grateful for the opportunity and the learnings that I gained. And I hope that more students would be able to experience this kind of hotel simulation, because it is a great avenue to apply the concepts learned about hospitality management. Thank you so much,” he said.

Plaza”s fellow students at the UP CHE developed the Lukal PH ginger-calamansi drinks for frontliners during the 2020 pandemic.

Also in 2020, University of the Philippines Diliman students developed a driving app that won the Global Eco-Marathon.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to UP student Mark Francis Plaza for winning the International Hotel Challenge!

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