Switzerland offers top-notch hospitality education
By Yun Suh-young
More and more students are considering studying overseas. For those interested in hospitality, this might be essential because few Korean schools offer courses in the subject.
Switzerland is home to the largest number of hotel management schools. Famous for its high quality tourist industry, educational approaches there are well established.
“The country is the birthplace of hospitality education. The first hospitality school established in the world was in Switzerland. Swiss schools balance academics with practicality,” said Florent Rondez, CEO of Swiss Education Group (SEG) during a recent interview with The Korea Times.
“The hotel industry is booming in Asia and in Latin America. The tourism industry in general will triple by 2020. The prospects for those graduating from hotel management schools are bright.”
There are over 20 hotel management schools in Switzerland ― five large and many smaller ones. Four are government sponsored. Of these, however, not many provide English education and out of the ones that do, the Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS) is the largest.
“The SHMS probably holds 60 percent of the market in Switzerland,” said Rondez.
The school offers a vast range of specialized subjects. During the first year, students receive practical education mainly in food and beverages. In the second year, practical training and theory studies are offered side by side. By the third year students mainly study theory and case scenarios.
“It’s because food and beverages need more practice to understand them,” said Rondez.
The school has facilities that are much like a four star hotel. It has shops, bars, a disco, classrooms, kitchens, and a front office.
The building used to be a hotel but was later converted into a school. SHMS has five schools and seven campuses.
“From day one, you will feel like you’re part of the hotel industry rather than feeling like you’re going to a school,” said Guy Peters, the Asia Pacific director of marketing at SEG.
“Students get exposed to real life scenarios, working in a hotel with people from all around the world.”
Students at SHMS learn the skills of service. As they proceed through the course, students participate in debates, role plays and learn how to deal with difficult customers.
“The student pool at SHMS is so diverse. There are about 500 students per school and they’re from all over the world. Although they may be students, they are also people that you don’t know and learning how to deal with them during role play gives students confidence. Students actually serve in our restaurants,” said Peters.
Although the school facility resembles a hotel, potential students should not fantasize about school life like it is studying in a high class environment. It’s all about being dedicated to a career according to Rondez.
“The practical day starts at six in the morning and ends at 8 p.m. Students are taught strict discipline and they wear uniforms in school. It seems to be paradise but much of it is hard work actually,” he said.
After graduation, most of the students work in related jobs but some go on to do different things.
“Mostly they go into the hotel industry but since the students have also studied finance and marketing, some go into finance, consulting, become entrepreneurs or even take over family businesses. Education in hotel management allows you to work in any service industry,” said Rondez.
The school recruits students all year round and students are selected based on their English abilities and academic background. But the most important criterion is motivation, says Rondez.
“It’s the mind-set that understands what service is all about that’s important. Students must be able to think globally and be open-minded.”