lunes, 28 de octubre de 2013

Designing the Next Decade of Hospitality Industry - Hector Oviedo (7th Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management)

Héctor Oviedo
7th Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management

Good morning everyone. First of all I would like to thank CESSA Universidad for giving me the opportunity to share my beliefs with all of you. I want to thank the Guerrero family, Oskar Palavicini, Gina Tello and Estela Cevallos for believing in me.

I believe that the future is not in 10 years, the future starts in the past and includes the present, we are building the future right now.

Before choosing to study in the hospitality industry we need to consider the fact that hospitality businesses are open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. We might not work all of them but the industry demands to work longer hours than other industries, work when everybody is out celebrating and having fun and we have to sacrifice so many things.

However the hospitality industry is one of the most satisfying and rich. It is amazing when people appreciate what you are doing for them and how your work can make the difference on someone else´s experience. Our job is not selling rooms, keep them clean, serve food and smile to our guests, we have the power to create a whole new experience which people will remember the rest of their lives whether it is good or bad. We can make dreams come true.

We also have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, travel, learn about all the different hospitality industry areas through cross training programs, work for different companies with different philosophies, different values, different people and that is what makes it so interesting and enjoyable. Moreover; it is guaranteed that people will always require the hospitality services, we cover the physiological needs of Maslow´s pyramid.

The main difference between the hospitality industry and other industries is that we produce guest satisfaction, which is intangible and cannot be measured; every moment of truth is vital in this process.
We cannot be taught how to give good service; we can only be given the tools but giving good service is a very difficult task. If it is in our blood we are good for this business but if it is not, it is going to take time and effort into it.

To become part of this industry we must be honest, hard working, being team players, be prepared to work long hours, work different shifts, be able to work under stressful situations, be good at decision making, having good communication skills and be willing to provide good service and exceed guests expectations.
Now the most important question is: What do we need to learn and how are we going to learn it?

It all begins with those who will transmit their knowledge to us, our teachers. We want to have teachers who have real experience in the hospitality industry. At school we are given theory and practice; however we all know that in the real world not everything is done by the book. That is why our teachers must have experience in order to teach us what we are really going to face when we become part of the hospitality industry. We need to have competitive advantages because there are a lot of people graduating every day from the Hotel Management career.

There are 185 universities in US that offer the Hotel Management career program. In 2011 there were 8,600 students who enrolled degrees in hospitality. In the US 9,762 students graduated from hospitality degree programs in 2006. In 2013, 13, 104 students graduated from hospitality schools, this represents a 34% increase in the number of graduates. This is more than the change in percentage of the graduating students from institutions for higher education in general, which is 12%. In Mexico 270,000 students graduated from hospitality degrees in 2011.

Textbooks are good tools but classes should not be based on them, the best way to learn is from the different perspectives and points of view that our teachers have gained throughout the years. Textbooks do not teach us the capacity of thinking, it is how teachers share their knowledge what makes us start thinking, questioning, analyzing, retaining what we think it is most important, and applying the knowledge acquired.
We should have a balance between the practice and academic hours, if we learn theory but we do not have the opportunity to put it into practice, we cannot have our own point of view. We have to go out and experience how working in the hospitality industry is through different internships. We want to have long internships to become familiar with the processes, reinforce the knowledge by repeating and then becoming experts. It is fundamental to know different areas through cross training programs in order to have a vision of the big picture.

Internships are the moment where we know whether we want to continue in the hospitality industry or not. It also helps us determine in which specific area or areas we want to develop in and focus our goals. It is important to learn as much as possible and to define our goals on time. I believe that nowadays we cannot be experts in one specific subject, the magic of hospitality is the variety, diversity, the glamour and everything involved; so, the more we know, the more we are valued. I believe that knowledge and experience are the most valuable things in this industry.

It is an amazing experience to have the chance to go abroad to do an internship because we learn about different cultures, customs, ideologies, behavior and traditions, which are different from ours. We also want to have opportunities to work for different hotel chains and different markets. I mean, it is not the same to work at a hotel where most people go on vacations, as it is to work at a hotel where most people go for business matters. We have to adapt and learn how to make good decisions even in the most stressful situations. For example; on one hand if a guest arrives to Bora Bora and the room is not ready we can ask them to wait on the beach while enjoying a piña colada and they will not complain about it because they just want to relax and have fun. On the other hand if a guest arrives to New York for business purposes an wants to check in at 8 am after a 12 hour flight because he needs to have a shower before going to an important meeting. He will not understand reasons and we have to understand his needs and expectations.

These days we have access to social networks that people did not have 10 years ago and we spend a lot of time on them. We should take advantage of these tools, create e marketing and get the most out of it. However; I believe that we should not forget about the human factor. It is not the same to interact through a social network, as it is to be welcomed by someone who knows your name, greets you with a smile, who knows your preferences, and likes what he is doing for a living, which is to produce guest satisfaction through a good and outstanding service.

At school we want to learn how globalization gives us the ease of access to information and what we have to do in order to achieve global coverage. Technology is constantly changing the world, which is why we must adapt to the changes because our guests are explorers and they do adapt to the new trends. We also have to adapt to the new emerging markets and what they demand. The hospitality industry is constantly growing and changing due to its nature, so we must adapt or die.

Technology should not replace us in the industry; it should help us to make processes faster so we can have more quality time with our guests. For example when checking in a hotel we can use a QR code and pay through mobile phones or tablets so we will not have to do everything manually, instead we can get to know our guests.

We want to learn how to use the new tools available to attract more customers, retain them and create loyalty. Of course we want to have happy guests but we also want to learn how to succeed, make money, how to read the numbers and understand every single aspect of the hospitality industry. We all want to become General Managers or property owners.

We have to be able to turn guest satisfaction onto a business, to understand the business itself and its characteristics. Adapt to cover guest´s needs, understand them and transform the intangible to tangible, so we have in the end a round business.

I believe that the hospitality industry is not about individuals, we are like a symphony, we all have to play our individual orchestral score to sound like a mass and follow the orchestra leader who is holding the baton, the General Manager.

“Long time ago, people who sacrificed their sleep, family, food, laughter and family were called SAINTS, now they are called HOTELIERS”.