Hotel management and hospitality is not just a course,” asserts Marianne Peters at Hotel Management School Maastricht (HMSM) in the Netherlands, “it’s a passion.” It therefore requires specialist providers to deliver a top quality hotel management and hospitality programme, she claims.
This enthusiam for hotel management and hospitality is a thread that runs through many specialist hospitality providers, where staff often comprise those with first-hand experience of the industry. At SHML/Swiss College of Hospitality Management Lenk in Switzerland, CEO Urs Eberhardt states, “ We all come from hotel management ourselves and most of our directors and lecturers are alumni from the world-famous Lausanne Hotel School. We teach what hoteliers really need and put a lot of value and importance in practical education combined with solid academic programmes. Our students live, study and practise in a fully operational hotel with real guests, [so] students are propelled into real life scenarios from day one.”
Jolanda Rechsteiner, Head of Marketing at SSTH Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality in Switzerland, also emphasises the importance of the hands-on nature of hotel and hospitality management courses. “Hospitality is nothing that can be taught in theory only. We combine theory classes with practical work experience in a work field such as service and kitchen. Practical experience is necessary to get to know the business from the operational side up to the management part.”
It is this emphasis on practical learning and their widespread quality reputations that makes hotel and hospitality management schools so popular with international students. “The hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world offering a wide variety of exciting job opportunities,” comments Duncan Robertson, Regional Manager at Swiss Education Group (SEG), which owns several prestigious hotel management schools in Switzerland including César Ritz Hospitality College, Hotel Institute Montreux, IHTTI International School of Hotel Management Neuchâtel and the Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS). Robertson says that the promise of a wide variety of careers is probably the main reason for the growth in demand for such courses from international students, which has continued at their schools despite negative growth factors such as the strong Swiss Franc and the global recession. Eberhardt concurs. “Demand is increasing because [hotel and hospitality] is such an exciting profession,” he says. “Graduating students have all options to work in fantastic places, learn languages, meet people from all over the world and get exposed to different cultures.”
Peters agrees that the international student market for the hotel management sector remains strong. “Demand from international students for hotel management and hospitality programmes is definitely growing,” she confirms. “We believe this is due to the fact that students are more aware of the fact that [academic learning] only is not enough anymore in today’s business. Due to the global recession students are looking more and more for studies that improve their chances of a successful career. Almost 90 per cent of our students are offered a job right after graduation.”
Hotel management and hospitality courses have widespread global appeal. At SHML the main source of international students is Asia but Eberhardt also reports that Europe and the Americas are growing “at a fast pace”. Arnaud Bouvier, spokesperson for ESHotel Paris and London, says that demand for their courses is up by between 10-to-15 per cent annually with their main international student source countries being Vietnam, China, Morocco and India. Peters, meanwhile, identifies the “big four” China, Russia, Brazil and India as being growth areas for HMSM, as well as the UK. “In the UK, tuition fees have increased significantly, which makes it more attractive for UK students to come over to mainland Europe,” observes Peters.
With the dynamic course development (see box right) and the resilience of hotel and hospitality management programmes to recession, this sector of the education market looks set to continue to grow. As Eberhardt concludes, hotel and hospitality management “is a very exciting profession which allows students to learn hands on, do exciting internships and start an international career”.
Vocational course developments
Hotel and hospitality management institutions listen closely to the industry and constantly tweak offerings to meet needs. ESHotel, in France and the UK, replaced the individual thesis with “real-life team projects” in its masters programme. According to Arnaud Bouvier, in 2011, students presented projects on subjects including solid waste management and hotel disaster management. “ESHotel is convinced that these real-life team projects provide students with a ‘laboratory’ to improve their intellectual and interpersonal skills and their leadership and intercultural management abilities.”
To provide a more targeted course for their bachelor degree students, Hotel Management School Maastricht has introduced different specialisms in the third year. These include hotel management, food service, entrepreneurship, and horizons in hospitality. In Switzerland, SHML has recently added a culinary programme to its menu certified by Swiss Master Chef. “The demand of culinary programmes is increasing steadily as young people have a desire to own and manage a restaurant and become trendsetters in the industry,” states the school’s CEO, Urs Eberhardt.