Hoteliers, in its simplest sense, are those individuals who own or manage a hotel establishment. This includes, but is not limited to the Founder, Chairperson, CEO or General Manager. Recent graduates from Hotel School as well as those who have been in the hospitality industry for a while will agree that Hotel School prepares you with the basic skill sets required to be a successful hotelier. As a result of globalization however, the industry is changing at a rapid pace, and what you learn in school may become obsolete by the time you join the industry. As hotel employment rates are expected to rise by as much as 13% in the next 10 years, here are the top five picks of the things you won’t learn in hotel school, but which you should know in order to pursue your passion and be a successful hotelier.
• The importance of networking – As the old adage says, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Building professional networks are not limited to those linked directly to your industry, but the community at large. A successful hotelier will recognize the importance of engaging with the state, local communities and even religious organizations and being aware of their surroundings in order to capitalize on opportunities and develop marketing strategies. Hotel school won’t teach you how to make contacts and use them to your advantage in an industry that’s in a constant dynamic, but connections are everything in order to be successful.
• Global capacity of the Industry – The industry is changing at break-neck speed, and what’s more, it’s becoming ever more global in scope. This mandates the need for a truly ‘Global’ hotelier with command of multiple languages. Hotel school won’t teach you a new language, but to be a successful hotelier, it’s prudent to take up a new language or two which will give your establishment a truly international feel.
• There are no shortcuts – More often than not, people look for a miracle worker to put their establishment in the front. But, as the business author Jim Collins states in his best-selling book, ‘Good to Great’, there are no shortcuts. Successful hoteliers not only delegate the workload, but roll up their own sleeves and share the work, leading by example instead of looking for temporary fixes. They have the capacity to inspire others to greater heights. Hotel school doesn’t prepare you for the less glamorous aspects of the job which are required in order to progress. But learning how to pull the rope in the same direction collectively, will lead to your being a success.
• A sense of urgency – Hotel school moves at half speed, while in reality, you’re expected to go in fifth gear. Your guests are there to relax. But you aren’t. While you may have learnt what your guests might expect from you, carrying out countless requirements for dozens of guests every hour on a daily basis is not something you can learn at hotel school. It doesn’t prepare you to think on your feet in a matter of seconds, nor does it train you to cope with the physical and mental wear and tear in a productive manner, which successful hoteliers learn on the job.
• Ability to be intuitive – To be a successful hotelier, you need to be able to see things that other don’t. Being able to read and correctly understand body language, see if the food tureens are full during meal times, indentifying the weak links in staff and finding ways to improve upon them are some of them. Success isn’t always directly linked to the bottom line. It has much more to do with customer and employee satisfaction. Being observant helps you to preempt guests’ needs, thus providing them with quality services. With regard to your colleagues, hotel school won’t teach you how to work well as a team with a group of strangers outside the classroom, but improving skills and services of the team as an entirety will undoubtedly lead to better results. Having an eye for details and perfectionism and being intuitive is key.
Hotel school will teach you about the basics, but there the practical aspects to the industry are manifold and hotel school won’t prepare you for them. To be a successful hotelier, it’s important to maintain a clear focus on unparalleled success – It’s far more prudent to be busy doing a few small things correctly, than engage in a host of activities that don’t add value to the establishment and industry.