The post-Covid world has not been the same for the tourism and hospitality industry. Customer experience and perceptions, change in consumption patterns, besides attracting skilled workforce to ensure better working conditions, including higher base pay, and ample time off in a competitive and overstretched jobs market remain a concern in a sector that supports one in ten jobs today. To top it all, inflation and climate change are some unprecedented conditions that have made the sector receive a severe backlash. However, one of the oldest industries in the world fortunately relies on human interaction. “The pause has been dealt with before, especially during World Wars, and this didn’t mean good for businesses. But we still survived,” says Dr Ines Blal.
As the executive dean and managing director of EHL Hospitality Business School, Lausanne, Switzerland, Blal feels there is a need to stay relevant or streamline the workforce to adapt to the ever-changing demands. The school prepares business leaders in the most sought-after soft skills combined with creativity, innovation, management and care, which are the strengths of the tourism and hospitality sector. With global learning and experience, the school offers placements to some of the best groups in the world including Mandarin Oriental The Hotel Group, The Ritz-Carlton, Kempinski Hotels, Swiss Airlines, Expedia, Tesla, UBS, LVMH, L’Oréal, P&G, Unilever and Nestle, to name just a few.
Founded as Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in 1893, EHL Hospitality Business School now has campuses in Switzerland (Lausanne and Passugg) and Singapore.
“Covid prepared us for new processes and technologies, and now we have a greater level of readiness. We challenge students to practise management techniques which help them become leaders in different business environments like luxury, banking, and insurance,” she says.
With over 4,000 students from 125 nationalities across three EHL Hospitality Business School campuses, academic learning here comes with a purpose. Will it be incorrect to say that the younger generation is not willing to work? “They work for purpose and development. There is the importance of authenticity and a feeling to contribute. This generation has seen their parents suffer during the financial crisis of 2011. They don’t want to own a house. They are a lot more than what we call a generation that binges only on Netflix. Academically, we give them skills, and they will have jobs. The knowhow can help them transfer it wherever they work,” she adds.
Today, EHL Hospitality Business School is one of the oldest hospitality schools in the world which is not just redefining its educational model with a focus on catering to lifelong learning for young adults and seasoned professionals but the change of name from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne to EHL Hospitality Business School shows the revolution over the years.
A brand new sustainable campus in Lausanne is now focused on living spaces and not on classrooms, purposefully built without any walls for students to be open-minded and ‘think outside of the box’. It encourages a sustainable lifestyle with a permaculture-inspired organic orchard of 300 trees and 5,500 shrubs of local species, educational garden, and 30 electric vehicle charge points.
The education sector is being disrupted. For now, it is technology companies, and not educators that are leading the way. “Covid has created an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate digitalisation and created a new learning environment. Our focus on learning outcomes on how to create engaging content and deliver interactive lesson formats via hybrid model forced us to reassess the key fundamentals in the traditional classroom setting,” says Blal.
EHL Hospitality Business School’s Incubator supports promising startups or entrepreneurial student projects that relate to tourism, hospitality or food and beverage sectors. Since 2019, over 250 EHL Hospitality Business School scholarships and loans have been given across continents for those with academic record and potential to contribute to industry interpersonal situations, adds Blal. “Scholarships are important because the fee is an obstacle for many students.” Tuition fee for the Bachelor’s programme of four years at EHL Hospitality Business School is close to 1,70,720 Swiss Franc (around Rs 1,41,96,089), excluding accommodation.