Dr. Dimitrios Diamantis, Dean of Graduate Studies, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, Switzerland discusses the global perspective and trends of hospitality as an industry as well as academics with Triparna Ray. Emphasizing the arrival of foreign nationals to India hitting at 10 million in 2017, Dr. Diamentis talks about how India is a growing market for hospitality owing its growth to travel and tourism over the years.
Q. How is Les Roches providing a global approach to Hospitality Education?
Founded in 1954, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education has a long track record of providing hospitality management education. Based on the Swiss model of education, Les Roches offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of hospitality, tourism and event management across its campuses in Switzerland, Spain, the US, and China.
Over the years, Les Roches has established an international reputation as one of the leading education providers in the field and attracts students with over 100 different nationalities. This international study environment prepares students to succeed in the global hospitality industry.
- How does Les Roches innovate their academic offer and student experience?
Thanks to close connections with the hospitality industry, we constantly update and innovate our curriculum. For the coming semester starting in September 2018, we are launching a new set of specializations for our Bachelor students to choose from Entrepreneurship, Digital Marketing, Finance, available in Switzerland and Resort Management in Spain.
But it is not only the course content that needs constant innovation to stay relevant in the dynamic hospitality industry, also the course delivery needs to be adapted to the preferences and behaviors of today’s students. Through a dynamic flipped-classroom approach, we allow students to acquire theoretical knowledge online and in their own time, to engage in group work and discussion in the classroom.
- What is your opinion of the hospitality industry in India?
India is experiencing a strong growth in the travel & tourism sector leading to further job creation. The sector already accounts for 12 percent of total employment and the local Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs) under the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT) are doing their best to keep up with the demand. At the same time, foreign arrivals have reached a record high of 10 million in 2017, attributing to India’s global attractiveness as a destination and the effectiveness of different national tourism campaigns. However, there is still room for growth (in the same period, China welcomed 29 million foreign visitors).
- How is the entrepreneurial approach when it comes to the hospitality industry in India?
This influx of foreign visitors, but especially the growth of domestic tourism in India is creating many interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs, be it hotel management, real estate development, culinary management or tourism. As international travelers increase, it is vital for hospitality professionals to gain international exposure and experience to better cater to the needs of these discerning guests and offer the service standards they have come to expect.
- What kind of students apply to study at Les Roches and what kind of work do they pursue after studies?
In general, our students are keen to explore the world and leave their mark in a dynamic and global hospitality industry. The Indian student community on our Swiss campus is among the most numerous and we see a strong interest in entrepreneurship and business management. Many have a hospitality background and are training to later take over the family business, some are interested in building their own restaurant business or franchise, while others become hoteliers with global hospitality brands.
- What are the global trends in the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is among the most affected by technology, innovation, and digitalization: within one decade, the distribution of rooms has moved completely online and sharing economy models have become a real alternative to traditional lodging and transportation. At the same time, the basic services of welcoming guests and providing accommodation services remain the same and technology cannot replace meaningful human interactions, but in fact, make them more important than ever.
With the unstoppable growth of travel & tourism, sustainability is becoming ever more important, ecologically as well as culturally. This seems to be a real concern among the current generation of students who are coming up with ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
- What skills are required to work in the hospitality industry?
Hospitality management education is so unique exactly because it combines practical with theoretical training: The traditional Swiss model of education lays the operational foundation of kitchen, service, and reception already on campus to prepare students for mandatory internships, where they apply and develop their skills in a real-world environment.
But hospitality management education also imparts a wide range of soft skills that graduates later apply in their leadership roles or transfer to other industries. Some of these skills develop through the unique practical aspects of hospitality management education, such as teamwork and management of others, while cross-cultural communication and understanding flourish in an international student or work environment.
- Like other sectors does this sector have a skill gap? What can be done in order to bridge this gap?
With 100 million new travel and tourism jobs by 2028, as predicted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), there is a strong demand for hospitality talent. However, the sector is already facing a shortage in many regions, meaning academics and professionals will need to work closely together to address the prevalent skills gap. Academics need the inputs from industry leaders to adapt and make course content more relevant, while companies need close need to maintain close relations with schools to secure and retain the best available talent.
- What are the challenges faced during recruitment in this industry?
Through mandatory internships, we aim to introduce students to the real-world hospitality environment step by step. This way, they are already familiar with the industry upon graduation and ready to take on responsibility. Internships are an essential part of the curriculum and the learning experience and crucial for students to test and develop their skills, but also their confidence, attitude, and professionalism. Also, it is often during internships that students make their first important connections for later employment…
- Is there any learning and training programmes to bridge the skill gap in this industry?
As educators, it is our duty to provide students with the best possible student experience and skill set in preparation for their career success. The more knowledge graduates possess, the more skills they can impact on others as make their way to become the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry.