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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Meeting the Hospitality Industry

Last night sponsored the H’Oscars at The Retreat in Islington. This was the first party of the weekend long Independent Traveler’s World Expo. It is a show of hostels, trekking organizations, tour groups, and general travel maniacs from around the globe. People in the Hospitality Industry are in charge of creating great, fun holidays for tourists and when they travel in large packs as the tourists–mayhem follows.

Needless to say, the H’Oscars party was a blast. Of the three of us, (Helena, Maureen, and me) I was the worst at mixing and mingling. If I am hosting, I am fine, but as an attendee I am awful. So I would end up chatting with the less gregarious business partner of whomever Helena or Maureen was talking to. As the only Americans at the show, Maureen and I were suprised at the great reaction we got from the majority of people. We would be asked, “What group are you with?” “The IES Student Res Hall in London.” “Wait, is that an American accent? What are you doing in London?” or “Oh fantastic! We miss the Americans so much, when are you going to start traveling again?” or “I’ve met fantastic Americans through BUNAC.” or “You are going to get rid of Bush, right?”

There were tons of Irish and Scottish men representing their bus tours, most notably were PaddyWagon and Haggis. While I met their competitors from Dublin Hostels and other tour groups, these were the men that made the greatest impression. It also helped that they were wearing company shirts and kilts. And Mike from Haggis was wearing nothing beneath his kilt and wasn’t shy about letting people find out. I had a long chat with a guy from a small hostel in South Africa. He used to own an ostrich farm, but sold the farm to his brother and opened a hostel. I gave out my card, as I was the one from IES with them handy, to a lot more people than I actually talked to. There were even a few hostel managers who lived in our building when it was Lightfoot Hall of King’s College.

The best part of the night was running into Ronan Brady (Avalon House, Dublin) at the hotdog stand. It was a fantastic hotdog and extended our chat a few more blocks. However, I opted for the last train home instead of one last pint at the Hilton. And one final word of advice, DO NOT PUT COATS on top of decorative lights. They will get hot and burn the coat. Sorry Maureen.

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