With today’s technological advancements, tourism & travel, hospitality and other sister streams are taking over the global landscape in new and unexpected ways, creating opportunities and ideas that would have found it hard to exist just a few decades ago. Technology has completely changed our lives, while enabling other industries to intertwine into our everyday existence. Our society and consumer expectations are no longer just about the product – the service surrounding it has become just as important as the product itself, with the knowledge of having the right formula on delivering an authentic, enjoyable and personalised experience a key factor for companies and corporations the entire world over. Delivering the right experience to consumers has now become crucial – and professionals who know how to do so are absolutely indispensable.
With technology helping usher in a completely new era within hospitality, it’s imperative to adapt the same approach to the education that is preparing talent for this industry. Successful graduates shouldn’t just be aware of changes or technology – they need to be change ready. For too long, institutes across the region have been using irrelevant curriculums, outdated teaching practices and have failed to integrate technology of any kind into their pedagogical approach. As a result of this, we are facing the current manpower and skillgap we have today – with many of our major brands unable to reach their full potential due to a scarcity of capable talent. Underskilled graduates are costing companies time, money and human resources to retrain – with training taking up to almost two years at times. That’s extending a graduate’s educational cycle by a whopping 50% – something that can be negated entirely with a reimagined, future-ready approach to hospitality education – saving corporates resources and helping graduates climb the corporate ladder faster.
Which brings us to the question – how does a high tech approach enable a high touch result within hospitality education? First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the students of today are already lightyears ahead in their relationship with technology compared to previous generations. The millennial generation takes in information more efficiently and has a natural knack for adapting to technology with ease. By failing to take these characteristics into account, many of today’s hospitality institutes fail to connect with their students, providing an education that is lackluster, unengaging and irrelevant to students’ learning habits. The world of hospitality is nowhere near what it was a few decades ago – so why should hospitality education remain the same?
It’s time to integrate technology into campus design – students will be spending more than a quarter of their day on campus – and it’s important to make that time count. Don’t let your campus be isolated from the outside world – connect with current happenings through digital screens to help spread an information stream across the campus, helping students feel more connected with their own institute and the world of hospitality and its brands at large.
Make learning – and knowledge retention – more engaging – the world of hospitality is almost limitless – and has a varied curriculum to match. While a good curriculum manages to balance the theoretical and practical aspects of hospitality, students are still expected to master numerous disciplines at an in-depth level. Other disciplines have been harnessing the power of virtual reality to help make the learning process more engaging – something we are also adapting at the Indian School of Hospitality. Through the use of virtual reality, absorbing large amounts of information or undergoing otherwise tedious tasks becomes more of an exciting exercise, allowing students to process information faster, and retain it for longer.
Connect your classroom to the rest of the world – one of my favourite aspects of bringing technology into hospitality education is the ability to connect my students with experts from across the globe. Through the use of virtual classrooms, students can be given a masterclass by an international CEO across the Atlantic in real time. A lack of physical presence doesn’t mean that the knowledge passed on it any less. If anything, the convenience of simply pressing a button to dial in to a classroom of students 6000 miles away opens up avenues for connecting with industry experts who would have otherwise never had the possibility of engaging with students.
All in all, I believe technology is of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal in reimagining hospitality education for tomorrow’s generation. It connects teachers to students better. It brings the outside world into your institution – helping forge a connection to the rest of the industry before your students even graduate. It provides an opportunity to bring an international perspective into your classrooms from global experts without them needing to even leave their office. Technology is connecting the entire world in new and never before seen ways – I think it’s about time we let it connect our students to their industry in the same way too.