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Interviews

"Any technology and innovation must be at the service of creating a sustainable and equitable world." Christine Demen Meier Les Roches

In our special Hospitality ON issue on hospitality management schools and trainings (No 308-309/May-June 2021) we interviewed Academic Directors of renowned hotel schools around the world. Here we unveil insights from Christine Demen Meier Managing Director from Les Roches.

What innovations, programmes and projects have been implemented in your school over the last two years?

Even before the pandemic, Les Roches identified the growing need for the hospitality industry to find innovative and digital solutions in order to enhance the user experiences and of course to match the expectations of the customers without forgetting the improvement of the internal company processes.

As entrepreneurship and innovation are strongly embedded in the DNA of Les Roches, following the launch of the Master’s in Hospitality Strategy and Digital Transformation in 2019 (introduced in Fall 2020), the idea of SPARK Innovation sphere by Les Roches was naturally born bearing the objective to accelerate the development of new concepts and projects by combining the premium hospitality education and innovation.

SPARK Innovation Sphere integrates applied Research Projects: In the MBA specializations, two per semester, in the Postgraduate Diploma program, one per semester, and in the Bachelor program one per semester. Students are also part of a number of international innovation competitions: Mark Challenge, YHS EHL, Accor Competition. To conclude, SPARK provides an incubation program to external start-ups but also to our students’ start-ups.

What approach(es) has your school chosen to train its students? What are the specificities of your schools?

The overall approach is to maximize critical thinking, advance the academic and professional excellence of the students. We are following the Swiss education system which offers a balance between art and science that means for us also between practical courses and academic courses.

 The BBA program has three specializations: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Finance
The BBA program has also a dissertation, for the students that select that route

 MBA Program: Two specializations, Advanced Revenue and Performance Management and Entrepreneurship

 MHSDT: focused on digitalization, reallife projects, and innovation throughout its curriculum.

 Postgraduate Diploma: the approach is on experiential learning with an emphasis on leadership and innovation in hospitality

 Internships: part of the BBA program, Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Hospitality Innovation and Digital Transformation.

Has the COVID-19 crisis impacted the students interest in the hospitality industry?

At the beginning of 2020, we were afraid that the COVID-19 crisis will impact the students’ interest in the hospitality industry. However, we have seen the opposite a few months later.

Of course, while the traditional hospitality industry is currently suffering and facing major challenges, the latest studies show that the hospitality industry is sufficiently resilient and will re-invent itself. Studying hospitality encompasses related sectors such as retail, luxury, real estate, finance, and many others. As our DNA is clearly innovation and entrepreneurship, our students remain keen to develop the necessary soft and hard skills which will help them to reshape the sustainable future of the hospitality industry and to lead through the crisis by means of disruptive innovation.

What values / skills do you think are necessary for the hospitality industry that should be taught in a hotel school?

The values of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Crisis and Change Management, Leadership, Service Delivery & Logistic, Food and Beverage, Digital Marketing Strategies, Data analysis, Revenue Management (among many others), Etiquette, Empathy, Team Work, Hospitability, Understanding, Collaboration, Multiculturalism, Diversity, Inclusion.

These values and skills are highly important in the hospitality sector, as well as in any customer-centric field. The development of these skills is a precious asset for a diverse range of careers.

What do you think hoteliers need to do to attract & keep young talent?

In order to attract and keep young talent, hoteliers will need to understand and adapt to the different generations be that in their interactions, their recruitment strategies, as well as the growth opportunities they offer.

This starts even before the entire applicant journey – hence, employer branding is a key USP in attraction and retention.

Attracting talent nowadays requires the right marketing and branding; real-time, fast communication and engagement tools with applicants; onthe- job feedback and mentoring; open communication channels; long-term talent development strategy through variety in tasks, connecting learning strategies and skills acquisition with the company ethos and values.

What message would you give to hoteliers?

Please work on the digitalization of all your processes in order to give your customers a great experience and to add value to all the jobs in the hospitality industry. It will help you to keep the oriented customer passion of your staff and their loyalty to your company. Involve the hospitality students of today in the development of solutions as they will be your talent and customers of the future.

What message would you give to future generations?

Everything is possible nowadays! Make the following your mantra: Any technology and innovation must be at the service of creating a sustainable and equitable world.

Any other comment you would like to add.

By choosing to study at Les Roches, you will be able to study in our different campuses in Switzerland, Spain and China and you will also have the opportunity to transfer to the campuses of our sister school Glion, in Switzerland and the UK.

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