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Management Ambassador Programme

Employee attitudes have a considerable impact on the success of any organisation; firstly in terms of their motivation to do their job and secondly as ambassadors of the organisation.  It was with this in mind that Hastings Hotels chose to collaborate with the Ulster University Business School on the development of a Management Ambassador Programme with the sole aim of supporting continuous professional development within the hospitality sector.

First established back in 2014 and focusing primarily on the development of first line and trainee managers, the Management Ambassador Programme is largely based on the ‘Hastings Vision & Values’.  The main aim of MAP is to :

  • Deepen participants’ understanding of the management of customer service and staff teams within the hospitality environment.
  • Support and present a positive personal as well as team image of the Hastings Group.
  • Develop understanding of the role of Key Performance Indicators across all operational areas.
  • Facilitate the continuous professional development of key management skills.
  • Provide an opportunity for first line managers to obtain accredited CPPD qualifications that will enable them to raise their aspirations to and within higher education.

During the life span of MAP, several cohorts have successfully graduated the development programme and as a result have benefitted from rapid advancement across all six of our properties.


The programme runs for 6 months from January to June each year, thereby facilitating effective cross company networking and best practice sharing. A combination of University as well as hotel residential workshops also helps breakdown any anxieties participants may have about studying or returning to Higher Education. 


To date, 45 out of 48 participants have successfully completed the programme, with 41% going on to enjoy promotion within the Group.  Our manager retention has also improved as a result and is currently sitting at 77%. 

As a Company we see the investment in MAP as a key strategy to combat the current skills shortages in the NI hospitality industry. The nature of the hotel industry means that retention of trained and motivated staff is crucial. This is currently exacerbated by the extraordinary growth in the hotel industry in NI, with a large number of new hotels currently being built or in planning for Belfast alone and therefore to retain 77% of participants is testament to the programme and the value perceived by staff. 

What people are saying...

As someone whose academic background is in History, but who has always worked in hospitality, the Management Ambassador Programme has given me essentials skills that have enhanced my ability to become a successful manager within the industry. Not only has it heightened my confidence in presenting to and training others; it has also given me greater insight into what is necessary in order to sustain a thriving business.

Rose O'Neill, Executive Head Housekeeper, Culloden Estate & Spa

At Hastings Hotels we have been keen to recruit and retain the best available talent. To do this we need to recruit new talent, and to develop existing employees. As Northern Ireland’s largest independent, family run hotel chain, we want to ensure that our customers and guests recognise the distinctive personality of our hospitality. We researched the market carefully, and found that Ulster University were best placed to deliver the bespoke training we required. The retention of our graduates from our Management Ambassador Programme has been a joy to behold, and as we now seek to make a step change in the growth of our business, we do so with the confidence that we have the skills of several cohorts of young managers who are ready and equipped to take on the new roles we have to offer.

Dr Howard Hastings, Chairman, Hastings Hotels

Historically Northern Ireland has lagged behind the rest of the UK with regard to management training and this innovative approach directly addresses the lack of investment in leadership and management skills.  Invest NI is fully supportive of such a collaborative approach in a key sector such as hospitality.

Mr Darren Long, Client Executive, Invest NI

MAP was designed to deliver an innovative bespoke educational programme for one of NI’s key economic sectors for three years.  From the University’s point of view, the success of the programme is not only evident in that it has been subsequently extended for two years but 45 participants have successfully graduated with a significant number being promoted since participation and as a result of participation.  Teaching front line staff and trainee managers has added new dimensions to the Department, not only in that many of the past participants have now come back to deliver talks and workshops with our hospitality undergraduates.  

Ms Mairead McEntee, Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ulster University Business School