How hospitality management schools prepare us for innovation

Four years ago, as a high-school graduate, I was faced with making an important decision: choosing a university. This meant I had to choose not only where I would go for the next four years of my life but also choose my future career and lifestyle. If choosing what kind of college to attend is hard, choosing which one is even harder. I was interested in hospitality for many reasons and as a country, Switzerland is known for its warm and flawless spirit of hospitality (as warm as hot Swiss `chocolate and flawless as Swiss watches). So where better to study hospitality management than in the country of its birthplace? It was not until I was recommended, by an older high-school graduate friend, to consider Glion Institute of Higher Education in Montreux that I became aware of it as an ideal option, and ideal it was.

Visiting the campus, I noticed that there was something different here. I not only saw college students in hospitality studies and in-training waiters, chefs and receptionists, but rather I saw what it means to educate, train and guide the future leaders of tomorrow’s hospitality industry in a friendly, familial environment. I was greeted by various students in various languages, I met highly-trained professionals that did not only teach students – but also cared for their professional development. I took a tour of the large yet accessible campus, and in the end, I decided to join this little family and experience more of the “Glion Spirit”.

Summer passed by, and next thing I knew I was at the airport terminal waiting to embark on a new journey – probably the best one yet. I arrived. I checked-in to my room. Classes started. The classes at Glion not only began to change my opinion of college life, but also gave me an insight into the world of hotels and hospitality management. From courses relating to the basics of hospitality, to food and beverage tasting/pairing, to the financial and entrepreneurial side of the industry, I dare say my view on hotels and hoteliers has changed day by day – if not course by course. Teachers came from a variety of professional paths to share their knowledge and experience with us; they taught us to provide a service that not only meets customer expectations, but also exceeds those expectations. It is this that my university has taught me, to be different by aiming high and surpassing goals within the work environment. Hence, people who work in this industry must constantly keep up with new client trends and be up-to-date with current events and technologies.

So the question is not “How does a hotel management school prepare students to work in hotels?” but rather “How does a hotel management school help its students innovate the industry?

As the hospitality industry centers upon customer satisfaction, an increasing demand for hotel services requires a supply that will meet these demands. That supply doesn’t focus just on physical properties, electronic devices or transport vehicles – it focalizes on people. Hoteliers, chefs, supervisors, etc. must be trained with both in-the-field experience and proper management education. Returning to the earlier question, it becomes clear that hospitality management education must help students to not only learn about the operational aspects of hotels and restaurants, it must teach them to contribute to the evolution and innovation of this industry.

Here are four main things that hospitality management schools do differently from other universities:

1. Experienced faculty and industry leaders:

For a starter, this industry is run by experienced professionals in the field and so are our courses. Most professors that teach in a hotel schools come from a real-life environment and bring years of experience into the classroom along with their teachings, thoughts and advice for future use. In an industry where hands-on experience and practice are crucial, it is important to note that relating practice to management theory in an academic environment contributes greatly to future development of students.

2. Hospitality students have access to mostly everything there is to know about the industry:

Through modern class-rooms, countless books and research journals, seminars, company visits (for recruitment purposes) and on-campus training in various food and beverage outlets and service areas, students gain a brief introduction to the industry standards and codes of professionalism.

3. Experiential learning and application:

During studies in a hotel management school, students are required to apply their knowledge and complete professional internships. Fortunately, the choice of internships is as varied as the industry itself. Some students may choose this work experience based on the company that is hiring, geographical location, culture and language, opportunity for career advancement later on, etc. Within the hospitality management program at Glion, students complete at least two internships of approximately six months in length. This experience adds up to one year by graduation, it makes a nice addition to our CVs and helps us to meet the prerequisites for jobs such as Management Training programs and supervisory positions in the industry.

4. Hotel management universities open the doors to a wonderful world of career opportunities:

The hospitality industry is growing so fast, with so many new hotels opening around the world; sometimes, graduating students may even end up working for the same company, if not having their offices next to another. During the time here at Glion, we make connections with our peers that may continue even after we graduate which translates to connections around the world as we all travel upward and outward in this amazing global industry. And knowing the right people working in the right departments is a major plus for careers in top hotel companies.

In conclusion, hotel management schools, like Glion Institute of Higher Education, really help out students when it comes to choosing, training and pursuing their careers in the hospitality world. Apart from courses, interviews and internships, students also learn that as long as they love their work, professional success is sure to follow.

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