As the hospitality industry continues to grow and mature in response to emerging and changing customer expectations, technology and global events, the manner in which students are educated and employees trained changes along with them. The changing situation of the hospitality industry has strongly encouraged many to explore more creative educational options. It has driven employers to discover ways that they can adapt, retain and develop their staff’s skills so that they can continue to provide their customers with outstanding service.
Jens-Henning Peters, the head of Vocational Education and Training (VET) at EHL recently was a guest on a webinar hosted by Hospitality Insights to share some of the latest ideas that he has worked on surrounding VET and its role within the modern hospitality industry.
What is Vocational Education and Training?
Vocational Education and Training (VET) is education and training that focuses on providing skills for work. It is a great solution for hospitality employers looking for ways to improve the skills of their employees efficiently. These businesses want to know that when the time comes for hospitality businesses to reopen, and when the tourists reemerge and return to their favorite destinations, their organizations will be ready to provide outstanding service and address the needs of their customers.
"This places important hospitality topics at the forefront of the industry."
For Jens-Henning and the EHL Group, their program draws from the wisdom and finds inspiration from several different educational systems and models including the Swiss, German and Austrian ideals. They use this insight to create educational packages for governmental and non-governmental training to prepare people for the future of the industry.
These packages and products work to harness the experience of EHL in the world of education to create programs that students can easily consume and engage with to further their learning. The ease of engagement means that even the smallest hotel or restaurant can run the program and have the content tailored to their business.
What makes hospitality training such an important topic for today?
The world continues to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down businesses and halted travel on a global scale. Even as some countries begin to relax restrictions, others find that they have to tighten theirs. This has resulted in a situation where bookings have plummeted around the world and countries are not experiencing the levels of tourism that they and their businesses had become accustomed to seeing.
As a result, many organizations in the hospitality industry have closed their doors and those that remain open often have employees with little to do. Those with the right resources have recognized the potential of this time period to provide training and education for their employees to prepare them for the time in the future when tourists and travelers begin to return.
Alongside the pandemic, however, some of the needs and concerns of customers have changed as a result. Hygiene, cleanliness and safety have become pressing concerns for many, particularly as they begin to venture to various hospitality businesses again. The organizations that manage these changes will need to have the training and resources to reassure their customers that their standards will keep them safe and reduce the spread of germs within the business.
The most important topics in hospitality today
The topics important to those in hospitality today have changed as the pandemic has kept businesses closed. There are a few main topics, however, that the creative educational solutions developed by Jens-Henning and EHL work to help businesses address.
Improving and retraining hospitality skills
Recognizing that the industry continues to change quickly, particularly as technology and the digital transformation emerge, calls for continued education in hospitality skills. Those who have been in the industry for a while may not have had opportunities to receive training on some of the latest advancements in the industry. Others may have begun to forget important skills from their training. Programs can help improve students' skills and retrain them in areas that are weak.
Helping with training in the kitchen
The kitchen remains a critical part of the hospitality business, but particularly after the pandemic, customer concerns with cleanliness are expected to grow compared to pre-pandemic. Providing training that focuses on kitchens can help provide this experience and education for students.
Helping hotels improve the booking, check-in and check-out experience for customers can enhance the business’s reputation and entice customers to come to visit. Creating smoother processes for everything from booking to checking out and removing obstacles to success can help hospitality businesses increase new customers and repeat customers alike.
In addition to learning about kitchen safety, customers want to know that the hotel takes their health and safety measures seriously and is following the established hygiene protocols. Courses to help students and professionals prepare for certifications in this area can help reassure customers and ensure that the hotel’s employees know the latest best practices with regard to keeping their customers healthy and safe. This will play one of the biggest roles in encouraging customers to return to the business.
These types of popular themes are implemented within the educational packages that EHL creates for businesses around the world.
Hotels today have to re-earn the trust of their customers.
People feel nervous about traveling after the pandemic, as there is an increased awareness of the risks of contracting diseases. With the warnings about gathering in large groups, many have decided to stay away from possible interaction with strangers, which includes hospitality businesses.
As countries and businesses begin to reopen, hotels need to show their customers that they have taken the necessary steps to protect them and their health. These courses provide an excellent way to begin earning the trust of customers, particularly as employees can earn certifications to prove that they have completed various courses on hygiene, protecting the health of those in the hotel.
Industries interested in creative training solutions
The courses offered by EHL have attracted a wide range of interest from a number of different groups. On an individual level, these educational options draw employees who recognize that this time when the industry is slow provides them with an excellent opportunity to improve their personal skills and position themselves for career growth.
Great interest has also been demonstrated from those who have lost their jobs. Those who used to work in the hospitality industry recognize that one day the hospitality industry will begin to reemerge, and they want to make sure that they are well-positioned to get a job when that time does come. Using the time when they are in between jobs to begin training themselves in important areas, such as hygiene and safety, can help them stand out as a candidate when businesses begin accepting applications. These applicants will have the training that can make them an asset to the prospective employer and a draw for customers who want to know that their hotel (or other hospitality business) is clean and safe.
Interest has also been expressed by the public and private sector. While the private sector pursue the training opportunities because they want to help their businesses grow by demonstrating their commitment to the customer and outstanding service, government agencies have also begun to examine these creative learning solutions.
For governments, the draw lies in creating a strong hospitality industry in their country that will attract tourists or help them create a strong, highly-trained workforce. Other Governments also bet on training and then exporting their skilled labor to other destinations for periods of time. Governments have also experienced the impact of the loss of travel and the revenue that it brings. Investing in educating their workforce so that the country is ready for the future of travel benefits them as well.
The creative training solutions taking hold across the industry represent a shift in how businesses in the industry manage themselves and attract customers. As those across the sector are adapting to the changing life conditions and finding ways to use their time as wisely as possible, these creative educational and training solutions have become increasingly popular. For students themselves, many still see the hospitality industry as an excellent opportunity for a career and an interesting field in which to work. Demand still continues to press forward, signaling the coming re-emergence of the sector as a means of providing safe and enjoyable accommodation to travelers everywhere.