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 Risto Karmavuo Degree Director, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.
What innovations, programmes and projects have been implemented in your school over the last two years?
We have implemented the Hospitality Insiders Club, a network for service professionals and providers within the hospitality business. Another project we have been working on is The Box, an RDI-project.
We also engage in various CSR projects and view sustainability as a major issue for the future of the tourism and hospitality industry.
Among the projects we are working with are Baltic Sea wellbeing with the John Nurminen Foundation, a project within our institution for Haaga-Helia to be carbon neutral by 2030, different projects for regional development and Hungry for Finland, a project that aims to develop nation wide sustainable food tourism.
What approach(es) has your school chosen to train its students? What are the specificities of your schools?
The Haaga hospitality campus is the largest higher educationlevel educator in hospitality and tourism in Finland. The Campus also provides research, development and innovation, commercial services and educational export services that support the development of the above mentioned industries.
Has the COVID-19 crisis impacted the students interest in the hospitality industry?
We have not seen an impact, the applicant numbers have remained the same as in previous years.
What values / skills do you think are necessary for the hospitality industry that should be taught in a hotel school?
We believe that currently a knowledge of Virtual and Augmented Reality is quite necessary. Sustainability is an important subject as well as carbon neutrality. All of these current issues are brought to our students while keeping in mind the most important, which is providing service always with a human touch.
What do you think hoteliers need to do to attract & keep young talent?
Hoteliers should focus on personalized management, human touch and openness. We think employees are also very motivated by the significance of their job as well as achieving a work life balance and having flexibility in the job. Digital pioneering is also an important issue nowadays, finding ways of providing better service while making processes easier to everyone involved through digitalization.
What features/partnerships are you looking for?
We are interested in networking domestically and internationally, relating to business in the hospitality and tourism industry. We are very focused on new innovations, automation and robotics as well.
What message would you give to hoteliers?
We have a school with over 50 years of management training with a proven high reputation. We are looking out for trends and we strive to grow with the hospitality business while finding new green business solutions. We take security and health issues seriously and give them an utmost importance.
What message would you give to future generations?
The hospitality industry will always be strong despite current dips and prepared employees who have improved views on current situations will always be needed.
Business and leisure projects will keep growing and elderly management is retiring, young blood is needed and fresh thinking and ideas will be strongly needed to develop the industry forward.