Hospitality not just about attending hotel school

Cape Town – A delegation of about 16 school counsellors from African schools was hosted by the highly-ranked École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) hospitality management school at its campus in Switzerland recently.

It followed on an earlier visit last year by representatives of EHL, to look at the potential of expanding its network to SA.

Some of the SA school counsellors share with Fin24 what they gained fr…ing-hotel-school/om the experience and how they think the South African and African hospitality industry could gain from the EHL approach.

Business focus

Claire Hyman of St Cyprian’s girls school in Cape Town was impressed by the EHL campus. She found it gives the students a chance to experience the hospitality industry in everything they do.

“Everything that happens on a day-to-day basis at EHL is done to guide the students towards a successful career – from the required dress code, to the working hours and the extra mural activities,” she says.

At EHL there is a strong focus on business in the hospitability industry. It is not simply a hotel school. The students are able to use the skills learnt at EHL in almost any industry. This could only be of benefit to South Africa.”

During the visit trip to Lausanne Hyman realised that the hospitality industry is not just about attending a hotel school.

“The students at EHL go on to work as consultants and managers in various industries. They have an excellent understanding of what people need and how to ensure costumers return,” she explains.

“The focus of EHL is a focus of hospitality in all aspects of business. The focus is on customer comfort and retention. Hospitality is often the customers’ interaction with the client, and the first impression is made within a couple of seconds. The hospitality industry can ensure all companies are successful.”

She adds that EHL students are given a real-world experience from day one and practical experience is considered as important as theoretical knowledge. The lecturers are all experienced in their particular field and they are able to work closely with each individual student as there is a low student to lecturer ratio.


Esme Momberg of St Alban’s College in Pretoria says the biggest difference she found with the EHL and local South African institutions is the focus.

“EHL’s definition of hospitality is much broader than ours. Their intentional focus is training and developing managers. But managers that can transfer their skills from the traditional hospitality industry to any company that is serious about client service and team work,” explains Momberg.

“The range of companies that attend their recruitment fair speaks of the high regard companies have for EHL’s graduates.”

Her advice to young South Africans interested in the hospitality industry is to do some job shadowing.

“The hospitality industry can be quite a thankless job as catering to people’s wants can be draining. Young people must also remember the hospitality industry generally works when everyone else plays. So it does have an impact on family and social life,” she adds.

In her view, the hospitality industry is a good career choice, because people will always look for ways to relax.

“Therefore, you will probably always have a job and usually its in beautiful surroundings,” she explains.

For Momberg EHL as an organisation was very impressive.

“I think that pigeon holing EHL with our local hospitality training institutions is doing EHL a huge disservice,” she says.

“In the first six months of their preparatory year, students experience first-hand all aspects of service within the hotel and tourism industry and the next six months they spend on an internship within the tourism industry.”

This introduction creates a very firm foundation on which the following three years of study and internships are based. The following three years the students really focus on management skills.

“My impression of EHL was that they were intentionally developing their students to be absolutely top-class managers, who were able to work with all types of people from different nationalities and they were able to get the job done, whatever it took,” she says.

“The young people I met were intelligent, intuitive and driven. Nothing was ever too much for them and their ability to problem solve was incredible.”

Start at the bottom

Emma King of St. George’s College in Harare, Zimbabwe says what impressed her most was that everybody who train at EHL must start at the bottom and get their hands dirty.

This means, when they become managers in the industry, they have a good idea of what the actual work entails.

“In so many industries our privileged students go from school to university to junior managerial positions and never get to do any of the jobs they manage,” explains King.

“I was also impressed by the absolute attention to detail that results in fine hospitality.

In her view, the EHL approach can benefit the hospitality industry in Zimbabwe in that management should insist on more formal training for staff in the service industry.

She would encourage young Zimbabweans to consider the hospitality industry, something she thinks they do not tend to do.

“Our students tend to pursue more traditional education and careers. Our unemployment rate is above 90% and I believe high employability should be considered when choosing a career,” says King.

“A significant portion of the world’s economically active population are employed in the hospitality industry. The tourist industry in Zimbabwe is likely to reactivate if there is economic recovery here.”

King was surprised by how formal EHL is – as opposed to a university campus. She realised this is a necessary part of the training, and thinks it would appeal to people who enjoy formal attire and interactions.

Variety of fields

Lynn Moony of St Mary’s School Waverley in Johannesburg says the facilities at EHL are phenomenal and her impression is that the business model is key to their success and equips graduating students to enter into a variety of fields.

“My sense is that the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries in South Africa would benefit from students receiving a solid foundation in business principles and from participating in entrepreneurship initiatives during their studies,” says Moony.

“I am aware that our tertiary institutions do usually offer business management as a module. Students are also required to work in the industry from their first year so they become aware of the challenges of the industry from the start.”

She noticed that EHL lays huge emphasis on customer service and respecting etiquette – from the perspective of people who live in Europe.

“Students at EHL benefit from including special training and plenty of experience in customer service with regards to each aspect of the hospitality industry – housekeeping, food and beverage, reception, food preparation – even growing food as they have their own vegetable gardens – concierge as well as business management,” she observes.

“There are amazing opportunities in the growing fields of hospitality, tourism and leisure in South Africa. Students would benefit from exposure to any customer-facing job whilst still at school, even if it is just a short-term holiday job.”

In her view, young people need to be aware that this is a growth industry with potential and that there is demand for skilled and hard-working graduates. However, students need to understand that this is a challenging industry with high demands in terms of hours and energy.

In her view, SA institutions offer sound training, but more emphasis on business and a deeper understanding that customer service is the core of hospitality-related jobs may benefit the South African industry.

“EHL is expensive and I do not see South African students being able to attend, unless there is sponsorship from corporates within the industry,” says Moony.


Monique Nyback of Herschel Girls’ School in Cape Town says she was blown away by the professionalism, attention to detail, striving for excellence, the facilities, the appearance of the students, the positive interaction between the lecturers and students, the relevance of the curriculum to practical career development and post study opportunities for the students.

“I think South Africa can learn so much from this approach, from the expertise and experience of those running EHL,” she says.

“I would say that it is a career that will stand you in good stead for life. It is flexible, exciting, offers so many opportunities to work all over the world and develops a myriad of transferable skills that will set you up for life.”

In her view, the hospitality industry offers opportunities for a diverse range of students in terms of the many and varied aspects of potential career paths.

“I think that the hospitality industry in general and EHL in particular offers the opportunity for students to develop a variety of skills and to explore many specific career paths within the broader industry. I loved how at EHL every student had the opportunity to work in every ‘department’, so to speak,” says Nyback.

“I loved that a potential CEO of a company or hotel would know what it is like to peel vegetable in the kitchen and clean floors and get up early to bake bread. I loved how the students were actually getting constant hands-on experience under constant supervision and mentoring of their lecturers. I also loved the contact that students have people and institutions in the real word by way of internships.”

A student’s view

Lee Warren from Cape Town is currently a student at EHL. She says the approach at EHL helps to broaden your mind due to the wide variety of subjects. She regards the diverse group of people the school attracts from all over the world as another positive impact on students.

“Schools in SA can learn from the EHL approach by enabling students to see the possibilities in the hospitality industry as a whole. It is about dealing with people, service and goods. It is about providing a service to someone and feeling satisfied by doing so,” says Warren.


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Fast Growing Demand For Hospitality & Culinary Professionals In SA And Abroad

With tourism numbers continuing to increase year on year, and new hotels and restaurants opening their doors not just in South Africa but all over the continent, all indications are that the industry’s positive trajectory will continue well into the future, says Erika Theron, Academic Dean at The Private Hotel School, an ADvTECH Tertiary institution based in Stellenbosch.

“All studies and forecasts also underscore the continued creation of jobs in this sector, which is good news for those who are considering this exciting field,” she says.

The hospitality industry is one in which increased automation is not a risk to the futures of these careers as customer experience and satisfaction are indisputably dependent on the human factor.  Automation may help improve efficiency of service, but it cannot take over the creation of the experience which is what consumers in this sector are looking for.  However, along with the great prospects, there will also be greater competition for positions, which means that prospective entrants into the field should ensure they can stand apart from their peers with a solid qualification, focused both on theory and practical experience, under their belt.

Statistics show that the tourism sector remains one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, contributing about 4.5% to total employment in 2015/2016. SA saw a 14% growth in tourist numbers from August 2015 – August 2016 and 1200 new hotel rooms between July – December 2017. A staggering 20 000 new jobs were created since 2014.

“The one statistic that truly underscores the opportunity in this industry for suitably qualified and experienced professionals, is the fact that our alumni rate of employment is a solid 100%,” says Theron.

“In addition to the benefit of being imminently employable upon graduation, many of our alumni also take advantage of exciting international opportunities every year, and they have been snapped up globally from the UK, Germany and England, to France, New Zealand, The USA and Dubai,” she says.

Deon Roets, Academic Head at Capsicum, ADvTECH’s Culinary school, agrees that opportunity combined with education in the field bodes well for the future of hospitality and culinary professionals.

“Consumers continue to become more educated and discerning, and any business in the hospitality industry is well aware of the need for their employees to be professional and effective in the workplace, and to ensure that valued visitors receive the best possible service and experience,” he says.

In the past decade, more than 4000 chefs have graduated from Capsicum, with many snapped up by leading local and global restaurants.

“The hospitality industry isn’t just expanding internationally.  The growth in South Africa remains exceptional but with more discerning consumers it is critical that training focuses on ensuring that graduates are able to cope with demanding customers.  For this reason, our focused combination of exceptional training with experiential opportunities results in confident graduates who are in high demand,” says Roets.


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Top 6 Digital Transformation Trends in Hospitality and Tourism for 2018!

In the past few months, we’ve been looking at digital transformation trends in different industries like healthcare, retail, finance, and media and entertainment. Today, we look at an industry that’s been completely turned on its head in recent years, due to extreme digital transformation: tourism and hospitality.

It used to be that we’d visit a brick-and-mortar travel agent every time we needed to plan a family vacation or work trip. (Granted, some of you may not remember that.) But today, thanks to mobility, travelers are playing a much larger role in the experience. They want to find a hotel that matches their style—on their terms—the very moment they need it. And thanks to players like AirBnB, which set the stage for a completely new era of travel, they can. Indeed, when it comes to the hospitality business, digital transformation is a mix of greater customer demands—and the technology that can help meet them. Let’s take a look at the top trends impacting the hospitality and tourism industry.

Mobile Integration

The digital transformation is a dream come true for introverts who like to travel. With mobile-first and mobile-only brands continuing to grow, customers can do practically anything on their phone, from checking in—to ordering room service—to unlocking the room door itself. In fact, one can plan an entire trip—from booking to bedtime and home again—without ever talking to a live human.

AI and Chatbots

Remember when all hotels used to have clunky welcome binders on the desks, outlining where to eat, what to see, and what to do in the area—everything you needed to know? Today, hotels can provide all that information—and more—via AI-powered apps and technology. Guests can access the information at any time they need, right from their phones in the form of an e-concierge. They can even access voice-activated chat bots to open the curtains, set the alarm, or order breakfast, without ever talking to a human being. At the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, you can even text a robot named Rose at any time, 24/7, and she’ll find a way to fill your request, fast. Meanwhile, Marriott has been using AI-powered chat bots at nearly 5,000 hotels to do things like make reservation changes, and check on account balances or redemption vouchers.

Integration of the IoT

As more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), it makes sense that the tourism and hospitality industry would begin to harness that data to improve the customer experience. After all, the more they know about their guests, the better they can please them. If the IoT data tells them the customer has visited their resort every year for the last three years, it can automatically send a message proactively asking the guest if they’d like to make another booking this year. You just saved your customer a step—and guaranteed a booked room—without ever lifting a finger. The same could be said by harnessing information about food selection, excursions, and in-room amenities. The opportunities for up-sells and better CX are endless.

Focus on Data

As noted above, data is going to play a huge part in the new era of hospitality and tourism. In the case of AirBnB, they were able to use customer data to determine that guests who chose not to book were doing so because they were discouraged by hosts who failed to respond to their inquiries. (I’ve been there—it’s annoying.) By offering instant booking feature to guarantee their reservation, they helped alleviate many of the customers’ concerns and helped automate what had previously been an incredibly arduous part of their business model. Data didn’t just improve CX. It improves the bottom line, as well.


The fact that guests can book instantly also means they can share their opinions instantly via Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and other travel review websites. That’s why technology has pushed hotels and restaurants to focus even more on providing quality customer service. Yes, there are outliers. I’ve experienced them myself. But there is no doubt the trend is toward better service for guests—not just a better return for operators.

Virtual Reality

Whether it’s a hotel property, museum, or a tourist destination, guests can take a look without even leaving their living room via virtual reality. The goal is either to offer a preview of what guests will experience—or offer the next-best-thing to visiting at all. (For instance, would you rather pay $4,000 to visit Paris in real life, or $200 to take the same trip in a virtual world?) This isn’t being done on a widespread scale yet, but some major operators are offering guests the chance to experience at least a snippet of their travel experience—offering greater piece of mind especially to those planning a visit to a faraway destination. Others destinations, like the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA) are already offering VR installations as part of  their exhibits.

The travel and tourism business is a $1.2 trillion industry. Clearly, there is incentive to invest to grow it even more. Whether the IoT is improving the accuracy of flight schedules, or the lure o f VR is convincing someone to take their first overseas trip, there is truly no end to the value tech can add to travel. They just need to be careful it doesn’t become so good that guests prefer the tech over the real thing.


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The Underestimated Value of Housekeeping

There are many factors that contribute to a guests’ enjoyable stay, however, one aspect that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

There are various departments in the workings of a hotel that greatly contribute to an enjoyable stay for their guests. When staying at a five star establishment, small things like a warm welcome at the door or a speedy check-in time can greatly improve a guest’s overall impression. However, one aspect of a guests’ stay that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

Housekeeping is a vital mechanic that has the potential to make or break an establishment’s reputation. The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.

Dependent on the rating of the hotel at which you stay, standards and the level of housekeeping may vary. Remember, hotels with various ratings may not provide the same service. However, having said this, no hotel should compromise on the cleanliness of their establishment.

Housekeeping is comprised of many different aspects such as the cleaning of guest rooms, public areas, carpets, furniture, metal wares, et cetera. For many hotels, big and small, the housekeeping staff are the unsung heroes of their establishment and more often than not go unnoticed. Housekeeping staff ensure that the rooms are cleaned daily, stocked with in-room amenities and that common areas like the reception and restaurants are presentable, tidy and welcoming.

Although housekeeping staff do not necessarily interact with their guests on a daily basis, the quality of their service is critical in moulding the experience and memories their visitors will take with them when they leave. A guest who has had a wonderful experience at a hotel will most likely return in future, ensuring customer loyalty for the business.

The role of housekeeping staff is vital for any hotel that wants to maintain a high level of success in the hospitality industry. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, but is in fact about the standard. It is one of the most important services a hotel can offer and therefore time should be dedicated to training staff correctly to ensure an enjoyable and pleasurable experience is had for their guests.

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Top 5 Hotel Tech Trends for 2018

2018 will see a breakthrough in five technologies for the hospitality industry. Some hotels have already acquired and tested the technologies on this list.

1. Virtual Reality can be used to market in-destination activities

Hoteliers have now realised virtual reality’s potential in the travel and tourism industry with leading hotel brands including Best Western and Marriott, having already introduced this technology to guests.

The Marriott introduced an in-destination VR service called VRoom Service which guests can use for 24 hours. The VR devices are loaded with ‘VR postcards’, which provide guests with travel inspiration, showcasing people’s first-hand travel experiences. This has the potential to encourage new holiday bookings and even experiences offered in-destination.

“By using the technology in the rooms, we’re bringing the experience to guests inside. It’s a property renovation,” says Michael Dail, Marriott’s VP of global brand marketing.

2018 will see the rise of Virtual Reality, which will become the norm for hotels. Guests will not only want to familiarize themselves with the location pre-check-in but also experience local activities before booking them.

2. IOT: Guest enabled Rooms are on the way

Hotel brands have considered IoT platforms due to better cost efficiencies and enhanced guest experience. Hilton, for example, has built a beta test room control for selected hotels.

“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room,” says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta at SKIFT Global Forum.

Hilton is using the DIY approach of proprietary technology which is built from the ground up instead of picking off-the-shelf technologies to implement. They are looking to build a brand-new hotel room with built-in voice control, temperature and lighting settings that are controlled via a custom app, available on the guest’s smartphone.

Despite hotelier’s reluctance to be ahead of the curve or gimmicky in their technology adoption, the signs remain strong that both brands have shown commitment and progress in IoT room technology.

3. Guest-facing technologies provide a more personalized experience

Apart from the Free Wi-Fi, personalization of the guest experience is going to be the biggest factor a hotelier needs to consider. With the availability of guest data and technologies to plug into a Hotel’s CRM, it provides tremendous intelligence information about the guest behaviour all the way from pre-trip, in stay and post trip.

IHG Study reveals that “Nearly three in five (59%) travellers say their hotel stay is significantly more comfortable if services are personalized and more than have (54%) admit it makes them feel more valued.” 

While hotels are utilizing technology to avoid private data exploitation, guest data analysis can be derived from smart guest connectivity devices. This provides more behavioural insights, which helps hoteliers offer a deeper level of personalization. Expect more developments and success in this area.

4. Digital Concierge will produce an efficient service

By 2021 the number of people using messaging apps to communicate will reach 2.5 billion according to Statista report, making messaging a primary form of communication.

According to Phocus Wright research; “39% of people surveyed said they are completely comfortable using chat to contact the hotel front desk, while only 7% said they would not be.” 

Brands such as IHG Group and Hyatt are already using third-party social media messaging platforms, while others such as Marriott have built apps to facilitate instant messaging. Notably, as hotels attempt to engage guests through this technology, travel agencies are also entering this space to drive loyalty.

Technology providers are looking to integrate chat with hotel systems. Chat communication is just another digital channel hotels can use to increase guest engagement and communication. Through a smartphone amenity with an app, for example, we should see more engagement opportunities than just to change booking details, such as pre-stay and post-stay communication.

5. AI & Chatbots lower operational costs

As Artificial intelligence (AI) & Chatbots mature we see more complex algorithms to perform complicated tasks increase, which should eliminate a lot of overhead operational costs. Finding the balance between human hospitality service and technology is going to be key as hotels try to reduce operational costs while increasing guest’s overall ratings.

“We’ve been building bots on IRC [for] many years … now it’s just that it’s on mainstream platforms,” says CEO/Co-Founder of The Bot Platform.

2018 will continue to see predictive guest technologies related to AI & Chatbots emerge and provide Hotels with the opportunity to offload tasks that hotel staff and customer support are trained to do.

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A Visit from CTHs’ Academic Director, Angela Hagenow

The Trip


dinner CTH

CTHs’ Academic Director, Angela Hagenow, received a warm welcome from the ITHSA team in the Cape Town offices South Africa. During a two-day workshop, which was facilitated by Angela, the ITHSA team felt empowered with CTH knowledge which Angela shared. The outcomes of the inter-active workshop conducted at the ITHSA offices with the ITHSA team and Angela proved to be a valuable experience for CTH and ITHSA in terms of key suggestions to the alignment of current ITHSA work processes to CTH processes and policies.




Angela’s extensive knowledge of the Culinary Skills Programme, is greatly appreciated as she left the ITHSA team feeling confident in our product knowledge in the Culinary Skills space. After two days extensive product, process, and policy knowledge empowering at the ITHSA offices in Cape Town, it was time to hit the road to visit our training providers in Johannesburg.




CTH visit 2The CTH Academic Director, Angela Hagenow, accompanied by ITHSA Business Development Consultant, Lesley Ann Kriel, conducted various ITHSA provider site and courtesy visits during our two days stay in Johannesburg.


Included on this list of provider visits, was the newly accredited ITHSA centre, Prestige College. We also had the privilege of being in the company of our new provider while we introduced Angela to a South African steak for dinner. Joined by ICB business consultant in Johannesburg, Mandisa Gumede, the evening was spent engaging in business discussion topics of which valuable points were raised in terms of implementing marketing strategies for the ITHSA programme offerings in South African schools. After much chatter, dinner was eventually served, and it was time to relax and enjoy the meal.


On day two, Angela, myself and Mandisa conducted a site visit at the international Hotel School, in Sandton, Johannesburg, where the friendly front desk consultant greeted us. Thereafter, we were given a tour of the Kitchens, which proved to be of high quality. Chef Candice Adams, head chef facilitator of the JHB campus engaged in a key discussion regarding the Culinary Skills and Arts programmes. Prior to our visit, a skype call meeting was arranged with the College Dean, Jolanda Bierman, to meet Angela and briefly discuss academic related topics. Angela shared her knowledge and experience during our meeting and was dearly thanked by the Dean, for selecting the International Hotel School to be one of her site visits.


cth visit 5Our next provider, welcomed us with chocolate and velvet cupcakes and tea which we enjoyed thoroughly. The ladies from the CTU Training Solutions, were thrilled to have us there and once again, showed their appreciation with the inter-active discussions which took place that afternoon.


Angela certainly left our ITHSA providers feeling motivated and positive. I anticipate that our new business figures for ITHSA will increase significantly next year.

With the industry knowledge and the CTH experiences that Angela shared with us, it assures me that we are on the road to success.



A Career in Hospitality: Challenges to the job

We recently came across an article discussing some of the challenges, solutions and rewards that come with working in the marketing and PR team at a hotel. The article raised some good points about dealing with challenging situations.

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Measuring Success in the Tourism Industry

Measuring success can be difficult because success is relative; take the tourism industry for example, every year, lists titled ‘top tourist destinations’ or the ‘most successful tourist destination’ are printed.

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The Future Tech in the Travel Industry

Technological advancement has been moving at extraordinary speeds over the last couple of decades. New industries have emerged and existing ones are changing.

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Entrepreneurship: Where to Get Started?

Entrepreneurship is an ability that can be cultivated through your every day interactions, through studying at school or through work based learning. However, before committing to it, there are a few things to consider.