Each year, the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management holds the Bilkent Tourism Forum, with the aim of encouraging cooperation between the tourism industry and institutions of higher education. The year’s forum, the seventh to be held, will also celebrate the department’s 30th anniversary.
The theme of the 2018 forum is “Tourism 4.0,” with a focus on technological developments and their impact on the tourism industry. Participants and attendees will include representatives of key players in the industry, as well as academics and students.
Established in 1988, in accordance with the vision of university founder Prof. İhsan Doğramacı regarding the importance of tourism for Turkey, the Bilkent University Department of Tourism and Hotel Management is the oldest such department at a private institution of higher education in Turkey. In the 30 years since its founding, the department has graduated over 3,900 students.
During their time at Bilkent, THM students receive a strong grounding in foreign languages and management skills, and gain extensive knowledge of the industry. A sampling of comments from alumni who have graduated over the past three decades provides an insight into how they view the role their education has played in their careers.
For Funda Eratıcı (THM ’94; regional director of sales operations for Hilton Worldwide), her education was “crucial” in setting her on the road to success: “The greatest impact came via expert instructors who had actual experience in the hotel business, class projects that impelled me to investigate and learn on my own with appropriate guidance, and mandatory internships in the industry that gave me a chance to apply what I had learned in real-life settings.”
Osman Keskin (THM ’98; area director of sales OTO development for a management portfolio of hotels including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt in the USA), states that Bilkent provided him with “an excellent education, a strong network and great job opportunities,” while Devrim Kahramanoğlu (THM ’00; director of operations for Jumeriah Hotels and Resorts’ Grosvenor House Suites in London) cites the skill sets he developed at Bilkent, “from excellent command of the English language to an ability to complete projects using various data in order to articulate a compelling business case” as key factors in his success.
Cihan Kıpçak (THM ’08; executive chef at Spago İstanbul) noted that the culinary experience he received in Switzerland at the recommendation of one of his course instructors was the turning point of his career, and also credited the “Most Promising Young Performer Award” he received on graduation as a huge motivator.
A detailed program for the event may be found on the department’s web page, http://thm.bilkent.edu.tr/forum/.