Student Village’s hospitality
<img class="imgl" alt="Everything is ready to welcome guests at the Student Village" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-406.jpg">[b]A theatre begins with a stage, whilst the acquaintance of fans with a country begins with border checkpoints, stations and, of course, accommodation[/b]<br />During the Ice Hockey World Championship, lots of people will be welcomed in both new hotels and those that are already operating. However, it is the Student Village which is likely to become a major ‘Mecca’ for fans, with its ability to accommodate around 5,000 people in its five hostels.<br />We decided to walk around the village to learn whether it’s ready for the tourist ‘invasion’.
During the Ice Hockey World Championship, lots of people will be welcomed in both new hotels and those that are already operating. However, it is the Student Village which is likely to become a major ‘Mecca’ for fans, with its ability to accommodate around 5,000 people in its five hostels.
We decided to walk around the village to learn whether it’s ready for the tourist ‘invasion’.
This site is called ‘the village’, yet it would be probably more appropriate to use the word ‘town’, since it offers lots of services, including manicure, medical examinations and shoe repairs.
During the Championship, no one will be locking up the local facilities. Moreover, the number of opportunities is to be increased. One of the hospitality zones will be situated in the Student Village, which will be called a ‘Fan Village’ during the sporting event. Yelena Piskunova, who heads the Culture Section of the Department for Ideological Work, Culture and Youth Affairs at the Minsk’s Moskovsky District Administration, is convinced that no one will be bored, “All the conditions for a comfortable stay for the World Championship guests will be created in the Student Village. To achieve this, hostels will throw open their doors, offering Internet access and other services. In early May, public catering pavilions and summer cafйs will appear in the local hospitality zone. A hypermarket will also be opening on the eve of the Championship. A big zone for fan entertainment is also envisaged, with stage construction and a LED screen to be installed, in addition to contemporary lightning and sound equipment. During the World Championship, the hospitality zone will be functioning almost 24 hours a day.”
Which artists will be performing?
The list is still being formed, yet the total concept has been already developed. The programme is divided into several sections. From 12:00 to 18:00, creative groups of the district will perform, joined by Belarusian pop artistes, and contest programmes for fans will be organised. From 18:00 to 21:00, professional bands will be performing, as well as leading artistes from the Minsk theatres, KVN teams and others. From 21:00 to 24:00, there will be performances by cover-bands, duda fests, jazz and rock festivals while from 24:00 to 02:00, popular Belarusian DJs will be playing their tracks. During the opening and closing days, as well as during play-off decisive matches, the danced programme will last until 03:00.
The major goal during organisation of concert programmes within the hospitality zone is to show the multifaceted face of the country’s national culture. Alongside music broadcasts, TV channels, key moments of the hockey competitions and concert performances, the large LED screen will show video clips about Minsk, Belarus and its sights. Moreover, a ‘town of masters’ will be held, and trade pavilions, offering souvenirs to all those wishing to purchase them. The city will do everything to enable its guests to take many positive memories home with them.
The work of transport systems will also facilitate this. During the event, new routes are envisaged, with some of these connecting the Student Village with Chizhovka-Arena and Minsk-Arena, as well as the Minsk National Airport. Moreover, transport workers will significantly raise the frequency of many existing transport routes, so it won’t be difficult for fans to see the city.
But what about the roofs above their heads? We should note that everything in the Student Village has been assessed as very high quality. Although it doesn’t have the aristocratic gloss of the five star hotels, it’s definitely worth its weight in gold. Its buildings look neat and friendly, like a buttoned up first grader during a solemn lineup on September 1st. It has everything necessary for life. Each block boasts a bathroom, toilet, kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven.
Those keen on active leisure pursuits won’t be bored either. They can go to the gym, play table tennis or billiards. Until recently, students of the country’s largest universities used all these facilities for a small fee. They will return here after the hockey battles finish, but foreign guests will ‘run the show’ in the Student Village during the Ice Hockey World Championship.
Now, the last preparations to welcome the fans are being finished, with signs in English being hung, easing orientation for those from foreign states. Rooms are being cleaned and household chemicals delivered. Moreover, the recruitment of staff is also nearing its end. Before the world forum, the staff cleaned only common facilities, while students took care of their rooms themselves, as in other student hostels. Of course, other approaches are used for the tourists, so there was a need to considerably expand the staff of each of the five buildings by employing housemaids, cleaners and concierges.
The approach towards personnel selection in the Student Village is serious, since this will greatly influence the tourist impression of our country, taking into account that lots of tourists are expected. According to the Head of the Corporate and Event Tourism Department at the Republican TsentrKurort Unitary Enterprise, Olga Gorbachevskaya, at present, the packages (tickets for matches and accommodation) have almost been sold out.
We are now only selling the few remaining packages. There are many accommodation options, but the most popular are those in the Student Village. The cheapest packages which include a visit to one game and staying here for one night, cost just 64 Euros — very affordable.
Which countries see the biggest demand for packages?
The geography is very vast. Among those who bought packages were included countries like Moldova, Iceland, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. However, 80 percent of packages were bought in Russia and Latvia, and residents from these states will primarily live in the fan village. Regardless of their nationality, it will be comfortable there for everyone. During the check-in, each tourist will receive a paper ticket instead of electronic, a souvenir and the so called ‘fan map’, offering discounts in particular cafes, restaurants and filling stations.
Tickets that give fans the right to attend the Ice Hockey World Championship matches have the following inscription: ‘Your Holiday Is in Your Hands!’ Nothing should spoil it, either in the Student Village or anywhere else.
By Yuri Bakerenko