In conversation with Scott Dahl, Masters Program Director, Les Roches International School of Hotel Management about the challenges and opportunity of the hospitality industry
What are some of the Hospitality Management Skills & Attributes needed in a student?
I would say empathy is very important, because whether you’re in a customer service position, or supporting hospitality from the back of the house or as a vendor understanding your customer need and addressing them is key to provide them with a great and memorable experience. Also, hotels are always very multicultural environments, so understanding cultural differences is essential, but more importantly, many people enjoy cultural diversity find long and happy careers in hospitality. Finally, for students, the ability to get out of bed on time, even when it’s very early in the morning, is essential.
What are some of the famous sectors that offer jobs in hospitality management?
Of course, graduates have been building careers in the hotel industry for a long time, and an increasing number are enjoying success with hospitality service providers like Booking.com. The industry also offers the opportunity to work in other sectors such as retail & fashion, FMCG, Events management, Real estate, Consultancy, and many more.
What is your view on Digital Transformation in the Hospitality Industry?
Digital Transformation is happening and the hospitality industry needs to step up to take a leadership role in it. What I see too often now are smart people with cool technology, looking to the hotel industry for a place to apply it. Current examples are things like chatbots, facial recognition and some applications of AI. Hoteliers need to collaborate with these same smart people to define actual problems that can and need to be solved with technology. The emergence of the OTAs, the first real digital transformers in hospitality, should serve as a cautionary lesson.
What are some of the upcoming trends that could be observed in the hospitality industry?
Of course, innovation is going to speed up, and the customer experience, especially the guest room, is going get to much cooler and much more personalized. Machine learning is going to be applied to bring a huge number of external factors into pricing recommendations, and personalization in the booking process is going to be taken to crazy levels, by doing things like pointing AI at people’s social media profiles. The focus is shifting from being entirely on what can be done with technology to a more balanced discussion that includes asking what should be done with technology.
One valuable tip that you would like to share with students intending to be a part of the hospitality industry?
The industry is increasingly looking for people with specialized skills therefore, you should choose a school that can demonstrate a connection to the segment of the industry that interests you. For example, if you want to be a luxury hotel General Manager, look for schools linked with this sector. Or if you are interested in one day being a Chief Commercial Officer or a leader at a major hospitality service provider like Expedia, booking.com, or iDEAS, or maybe even starting one of your own, Les Roches might be the right one for you. And wherever you decide to study, get all the practical experience you can.
Please tell us about the Hospitality Management courses offered by your institution?
The curriculum at Les Roches follows the Swiss model of hospitality education, combining practical instruction in kitchen, service and rooms operations with theoretical and general management courses across its three campuses in Switzerland, Spain and China. All courses include a 6-months internship to enable students to reinforce their learning in a professional context. As someone who spent over thirty years working in the industry, I’d say understanding the theory is crucial, but in an industry as traditional as hospitality, it’s nearly impossible to be a credible leader without practical experience, and the Swiss model gives you both.