By Kunal Vasudeva,
Post the pandemic, the hospitality sector has gone through a facelift. The crisis has brought significant learnings and changes, which are now making way for a more agile future for hospitality. Digital innovation took over rapidly, newer ideas emerged, safety and security became a priority, high-tech low-touch operations came into play and the need to stay connected with customers digitally increased tenfold. This had implications for hospitality education, which aims to complement and lead the future of the industry with a talent pool that is equipped with a diverse skill set. There is now an increased incorporation of technology within hospitality education as well as a new set of employability skills. Apart from helping students acquire business, management, financial and analytical skills, institutes now include life skills training and focus more on research, technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
Given the current business landscape and its evolution, it can be said that now is a great time for aspiring students to explore exciting career opportunities in the hospitality and allied services sector. Similarly, for current hospitality professionals, it’s a good time to upskill and reskill themselves and give a new direction to their career. The hospitality sector is rapidly recovering from the effects of the pandemic and in the process, is reinventing itself, giving rise to new career opportunities which will fulfil the changing requirements of the industry.
As we often demystify, the hospitality sector is no longer limited to hotels. Hospitality is characterised by service-oriented businesses with human capital at their core. We see brands from all industries and sectors focusing heavily on service. Business today is as much about delivering a great experience as it is about a great product. Brands are spending millions on humanising their brand, and even more on hiring people who can translate this into consumer experience. This differentiates good brands from great ones – good brands sell a good product, but great brands build a relationship with their customers and make them feel good about buying their product.
As the career landscape for professionals broadens to cover diverse areas, the demand for candidates equipped with the right set of skills is increasing. The industry welcomes professionals who can understand evolving customer requirements. Businesses prefer individuals who are proficient in human skills, and accustomed to rapidly changing technology. Hospitality management institutes should use this critical time as an opportunity to redesign their academic offerings to help students develop new-age skills.
A closer look at the industry will reveal evolving opportunities within many areas in the sector ranging from hospitality to culinary entrepreneurship, revenue management, media, e-commerce, client servicing, lifestyle consulting, cultural and health & wellness. We see an increase in demand for genuine cultural experiences, which are refreshing and experiential. Traditional hospitality avenues, such as travel and hotels are also rapidly evolving. For instance, there’s been a rise in bespoke tourism and hospitality, which is all about providing a sumptuous experience in terms of authenticity, quality and uniqueness, and establishing genuine one-on-one relationships with clients.
To lead the industry, businesses require an agile workforce which can adapt to the new normal and make the most of emerging possibilities. Brands today want innovative minds who are capable of identifying such opportunities and turning them into reality. Hospitality graduates are valued in essentially all industries which keep service and user experience at the centre. Current changes will make hospitality a highly appealing and widely applicable career choice. Offering versatile career choices for young graduates and professionals, the industry demands an aptitude for innovation and independent thinking, which will lead to the creation of more personalised experiences for its customers.
(The author is COO, Indian School of Hospitality. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)