COMPANIES are increasingly appointing hospitality management graduates to senior positions outside of their “traditional” roles because of the noticeable breadth of transferable skills gained during their studies and practical training, particularly their ability to interface effectively with the public and handle different crises.

“A fairly fixed perception and expectation of the role and responsibility come to mind when we refer to a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or a teacher. But what do we know about the careers of professional hospitality management graduates? Are they all employed as hotel managers and chefs? Absolutely not,” said Susina Jooste, a director of The Private Hotel School.

She said examples abound in recent years of hospitality management graduates being appointed to senior roles that would not usually have been associated with their qualifications, for instance client relationship managers at banks, key account managers at large corporate companies, real estate company principals, training and development, customer service, business development and PR managers, and facilities managers at private hospitals.

“We are certainly witnessing a trend of more and more corporates recruiting hospitality graduates for management positions,” said Jooste. “Due to an increase in expectations regarding what constitutes good customer service on the part of the general public, companies look for those leaders who have a track record of being able to fulfil the needs and demands of their customers, and a hospitality management background is emerging as a qualification that encapsulates the diverse range of skills required to do so.”

She added that in recent years, the definition of hospitality evolved beyond the traditional one of “the cordial and generous reception, and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers” into a whole new perception of what it means to live and work in the hospitality industry. “This is opening up an abundance of career opportunities for graduates,” she said.

Therefore, it is crucial for hospitality and tourism training institutions to continuously review their curriculums to incorporate the shifting demands of the industry and to ensure that graduates are empowered to fulfil their responsibility in a wider hospitality management context.

“The demands of a dynamic industry necessitate the development of integrated competencies that draw on various disciplines including management, entrepreneurship and innovation, finance, law and legislation, and leadership development. “A prime example of this shifting customer demand in hospitality and tourism is the growing consumer desire to adapt to an all-encompassing ‘Wellness Lifestyle’.

According to the Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report of 2019, wellness tourism has been growing at more than double the rate of “general” tourism and is creating new opportunities for all tourism and hospitality-related businesses. “Aspects of well-being should, therefore, also feature in the curriculum at educational institutions and should focus on health and wellness, nutrition, resorts, retreats and spas as additional services to enhance the guest experience.

This focus will also impart valuable information for the personal well-being of the hospitality professional.” Jooste said within this evolving landscape, academic institutions must ensure that they provide a relevant, career-focused education in order to be able to produce graduates who have mastered appropriate skills and are able to apply the knowledge in a dynamic workforce locally and globally.

“Twenty years ago, few would have imagined that holding the title of hospitality manager could open key leadership opportunities outside of the traditional hospitality field, today it is increasingly becoming par for the course,” she said.

Supplied by Meropa Communications.

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