Welcoming the digital age: technology shapes the new face of hospitality education
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Welcoming the digital age: technology shapes the new face of hospitality education

Hotel management teams worldwide are shifting uncomfortably in their seats as they come to terms with the possibility that they might, in the near future, have to consider hiring ‘social media listeners.’

Far from being the office shrink who spends their time counselling members of staff via Twitter (perhaps therapy sessions would be more cost-effective if patients were limited to 140 characters per answer?), a social media listener- or, more reasonably, ‘monitor’- is one who is responsible for assessing public response to a company, product, brand or individual via social media. A guest lecturer at a prestigious Australian hospitality school recently voiced his global hotel chain’s need for such a ‘listener’, admitting that he didn’t know exactly what they would do, but that he still “thinks [they] need one.”

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Hospitality students at Dusit Thani College. Pic: Dusit Thani College.

Social media proficiency is just one of the contemporary digital trends seeking to alter the face of the hospitality industry. Gone are the days in which hospitality students only needed to be able to coordinate room service orders for guests and schedule morning wake-up calls; students must now contemplate working with robots and helping guests to check into their rooms via smartphone.

The process of consumer engagement in hospitality has shifted. Given the increasing popularity and universal usage of concepts such as mobile apps, online bookings and check-ins- and even the e-newspaper that now appears without question each morning on a guests’ mobile device– the modern traveller expects not only immediacy and convenience but also affordability owing to the ‘self-service’ nature of such digital practices.

How, then, will the hospitality industry fare? Many might believe that such radical modernisation is set to shake the foundations of this age-old business. Yet technological advancement is, instead, serving as a means of refreshing education in this sector, as hospitality schools take action to adapt their course content and approach to cater (quite literally) for and adapt to the shifting nature of the industry.

Consequently, hospitality remains an area of huge opportunity for graduates, as technology and digital innovation create increasingly diverse, engaging career opportunities. Today’s hospitality students are trained to develop essential, highly transferable skills, to think and work flexibly- and, importantly, to hit the ground running.

Many institutions, such as Dusit Thani College, New Zealand Management Academy (NZMA) and Johnson and Wales University’s School of Hospitality now incorporate elements or modules of management education into their hospitality courses; such training not only aids the development of a hugely valuable skill set which can be used in numerous careers but also explores contemporary issues such as mobile and digital technology in the context of the hospitality industry.

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Pic: Dusit Thani College.

“This is a new direction for hospitality education,” commented Miriam Weinstein, Communications and Media Relations Manager at Johnson and Wales University. “We are providing our students with an education in management and a focus on hospitality. In addition, we are encouraging our undergraduate students to continue on to earn an MBA in hospitality as more corporations are seeking credentialed employees.”

Courses such as Dusit Thani College’s BBA in Hotel and Resource Management and NZMA’s Diploma in Hospitality Management Level 5 exemplify the advanced, improved face of hospitality training available to students from all over the world. Providing those enrolled with not only an internationally-recognised qualification but also comprehensive grounding in business, leisure and tourism management, such programmes aid students’ development of the higher-level skills required for success in a hugely exciting and increasingly technologically advanced industry.

And yet, while technological awareness is becoming an increasingly important part of hospitality education, modern courses do not forget the real (and physical, rather than virtual) issue: the guest.

“Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction,” commented Jamie Dehn, spokesperson for California State University’s Hospitality Management program. “But we hope that, by teaching students about the technologies that are in place, they will be able to get jobs and still provide the excellent customer service that is standard in the hospitality industry.”

Contemporary hospitality education has, it seems, shown the same responsive flexibility as it encourages in its graduates. Hospitality training courses continue to adapt to an increasingly digitally orientated society, shifting to provide students with rounded, comprehensive training that will act as a springboard into prolific careers within this stimulating, constantly evolving global industry.

Read on to discover institutions in Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia which offer world-class hospitality courses…

DUSIT THANI COLLEGE, DUSIT INTERNATIONAL – THAILAND

Established in 1993, as an extension of Thailand’s leading five-star hospitality group, Dusit International, Dusit Thani College provides students with real-world experiences delivered in a hospitality-focused setting by qualified academics with professional experience in some of the world’s most prestigious organizations. Dusit Thani College offers valuable opportunities for learning through high-quality, nationally accredited courses which not only enable graduates to take their first steps into employment but to help them to develop the in-depth knowledge and skills necessary to succeed at the highest level in this demanding but rewarding industry. Read the full profile.

THE HOTEL SCHOOL SYDNEY, SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY – AUSTRALIA

A world-class institution which offers outstanding Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management and Masters of International Tourism and Hotel Management courses, The Hotel School Sydney combines the academic excellence of Southern Cross University and the industry connectivity of Mulpha Australia to create an innovative learning experience for its students. Proudly developing professionals with recognised, respected qualifications, the School’s association with major hotel chains results in exciting career opportunities for its graduates in hotel, tourism and services management. Read the full profile.

VATEL INSTITUTE, SDH INSTITUTE – SINGAPORE

A world-class establishment located at the heart of Singapore’s Central Banking District, Vatel Institute offers its students proximity to the central banking district in downtown Singapore and the buzz of life in a thriving international community. Vatel offers high-quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses in International Hotel Management, both of which are taught on the Institute’s modern campus using its cutting-edge resources and facilities. All students enjoy intensive, personalised tuition from trained members of staff, which provides them with the expertise they require to excel in the global hospitality industry.

HOSPITALITY AND BUSINESS SCHOOL, NEW ZEALAND MANAGEMENT ACADEMY – NEW ZEALAND

NZMA delivers outstanding industry-based vocational training with NZQA-accredited qualifications and prestigious work experience opportunities. Tutors are not only extremely talented, but also hugely experienced, and have a great deal industry-specific knowledge to share with their students. The Sylvia Park campus provides authentic training environments, too, courtesy of the student-run cafe and restaurant facilities. NZMA offers a variety of courses in Hospitality and Cookery designed to open up a world of employment opportunities. Students have the opportunity to choose a flexible pathway that begins at Certificate-level and progresses through to a Diploma and beyond. Read the full profile.

IMI UNIVERSITY CENTRE SWITZERLAND – SWITZERLAND

Founded in 1991, IMI University Centre Switzerland is a unique, private International Management with a welcoming, tightly-knit community of around 220 students per semester. The institution’s limited size allows students enrolled across its broad spectrum of undergraduate, postgraduate and UEPP and PSEC English courses to be sure that they will receive high-quality, intensive training and a personalised approach to their learning experience. IMI graduates can be found in senior management positions at leading companies across the world; their success reflects our belief that to reach the top, it pays to start learning at the top.

LE CORDON BLEU – AUSTRALIA

Le Cordon Bleu Australia offers its students a passport to a vibrant, stimulating career in hospitality, culinary arts and tourism. Providing a variety of prestigious qualifications across the discipline which encourage students to develop a blend of passion, motivation and commitment to excel in their chosen fields, Le Cordon Bleu produces graduates who are sure to stand out among their peers in the global job market. The institution hosts an impressive number of experienced educators who are leaders in their field, meaning that students have access to cutting-edge, high-quality and extremely rewarding tuition. Read the full profile.