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The hospitality industry is rapidly changing – customer expectations are shifting and new technology is transforming the guest experience. At the strategic level, service is no longer the only focus, as real estate and diversification increasingly influence decision-making. In these evolutionary times, hospitality schools must adapt to give a new generation of entrepreneurs the skillset to innovate in the modern marketplace.

The new Glion Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation has been created to provide professionals with this much-needed expertise. Ahead of the first intake in September 2019, we interviewed successful entrepreneur and Glion alumnus, Garry Levin to get his opinion on the program. Garry also shares the story of his own businesses, along with his view on current hospitality education, and the overwhelming industry-need for fresh entrepreneurial expertise.

Matching your skills to the market

Judging by his education alone, you can tell that Garry Levin has the entrepreneurial mindset with a focus on business innovation and a commitment to ongoing learning. Like so many leaders, he has continually ensured his skillset matches the market and his ambitions.

After graduating from Glion in 2009, he worked in 5-Star hotels and hospitality recruitment, before starting his own business – LHC International. Now CEO, we caught up with him to get his opinion on the new Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the rapidly changing hospitality industry.

 

After graduating from Glion you were involved in many entrepreneurial projects, one of them being the foundation of Hocaboo that made a lot of success. Why did you get interested in entrepreneurship and wanted to create your own company?

“First, I founded LHC International in 2013, which is an executive search firm in hospitality, travel technology and real estate. We experienced high needs in the staffing market and currently run international assignments with more than 20 consultants in our Berlin office. Due to several requests from our clients in the past, who needed assistance in line staff recruitment, we quickly decided to digitalize the entire search process and create a “tinder-like” version of a job platform. Hocaboo turned into a great solution for that niche.”

“You never really know what will happen and how the market reacts. You have an idea, think it might work, test it, fail. Pivot the plan, because you don’t want to give up, test it, fail again. At a certain point in time you maybe find the right “formula” and scale it. That’s when the business actually starts.”

“I never really planned to become an entrepreneur. I think it’s a lot about culture, mindset and risk taking. Failing does not need to be seen as something bad. Actually, it’s amazing: you found one way which does not work. I have seen an opportunity and just tried. Did not have a lot to lose after all.”

Tell us about your current role

“I sold my shares at hocaboo end of 2017 and joined the Board. After the unique experience of start-up venturing, I joined back LHC International full time as CEO, leading a team of over 20 consultants who work on placement assignments for international hospitality, restaurant, travel technology and real estate firms all over Europe.”
“After having been enrolled in an Executive MBA program at one of the leading Business Schools in Europe, my current role is management, expansion, brand creation and strategy. I am still closely involved in some assignments, however I have now taken on a rather different development role at LHC International.”

How did Glion prepare you for this career?

“Glion gave me solid hospitality know-how and a great network to start with. Understanding your clients’ expectations and delivering a fast, transparent and efficient service is the key for all services. Especially when you deal with hoteliers, it is essential to make sure that your level of service matches, and at times exceeds, their expectation. This was always one of the key messages and learnings at Glion.”

However, Glion did not just help me in the past. Due to a great international Alumni network and amazing friends, even today I get support on a daily basis with contacts, recommendations and interaction. The Glion Spirit is worth a lot!

Glion has just launched a new Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Do you think that this kind of program is currently needed in the industry?

“Definitely. I think there is a big trend in this field. The hospitality industry is currently experiencing a lot of change due to digitalization, big data and AI. There is a lot of room for improvement as well as areas which are still not touched. We need fresh, dynamic mindsets, risk takers who drive the industry to the next generation.”

“Look at the past five years: all the M&A deals, new upcoming hotel and restaurant brands, the boom of the real estate market, start-ups in the travel industry – all those changes lead to new ways of thinking and a different customer behaviour. There is so much more to the industry than just serving guests.”

What is your opinion on this program?

“It looks like this course is made to take actions. Design Thinking, Entrepreneurship VS Intrapreneurship and Go-To-Market strategy. This is what it is all about: How do you bring your idea into reality. The program gives you the theoretical background and tools to be able to drive projects on your own or within a corporation.
“The field trip to Silicon Valley certainly is a great opportunity to get the right mindset and open your eyes to the current trends.”

If this program was available in the past, would you consider studying entrepreneurship and innovation?

“In my opinion you should always educate yourself. The world is also not standing still, therefore it’s crucial to keep yourself up to date. It would definitely be a great program to look at.”

Being educated and experienced in the industry, can you tell us about the current trends when it comes to innovation?

“In the past years there was a lot of movement. Staffing and recruitment tools, PMS and revenue management systems, payment solutions and guest experience tools are all over the industry. We still do not know who will be able to convince the industry and become successful in the fast changing market. Due to Incubators, Venture Capital and Business Angels who specialize in the hospitality industry, there has been a lot of development recently, therefore its difficult to predict.”

“One of the main trends, which I am personally also dealing with, is the question: Hotel Expansion, Transactions, M&A and Development are showing the highest numbers in history. With all the expansion in the industry, the demand in talent is growing. How is the supply assured?”

In terms of innovation, is hospitality already changing? Are there some big changes that you see on the horizon?

“All companies try to adapt to the customer behaviour. Mobile Check-In, robotics in service, fast payment solutions, sharing economy, OTA dependency and direct booking solutions. There is lots of movement in several spheres of the industry and it will continue growing.”

“Oversupply, cannibalization and high competition will be a key issue for entrepreneurs. A strong degree and the right tools will definitely be a big USP in the future.”

 

Thank you to Garry for taking the time to share his entrepreneurial insight on the hospitality industry and his opinion on the relevance of the new Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. You can learn more about the course in our program introduction, and to discover the inspiration and expertise behind the new MSc, read our interview with Program Director, Marie-France Derderian.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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