Suhel Yahoo is the Director of Traverse Institute of Hospitality Management – Mumbai. He is a Business Management Graduate specialized in Advertising, certified trainer with ‘Train the Trainer Program’, Green Belt Certified Counsellor from Univariety. He is also the founder of Meri Unnati, My life My way. In exclusive interaction with the Higher Education Digest, Suhel talks about the opportunities in Indian hospitality sector and many more.
- India’s hospitality industry is booming. Do you think, the country has adequate number of institutes that can create quality manpower to support this growth?
Today Hospitality is the only industry that is booming in India, as we cannot live without our basic needs, which are food (including water), shelter and clothing. Out of that Food and Shelter belong to our Hospitality Industry. However, when we talk about an adequate number of institutes; we should admit the fact that we do have a good number of colleges, so we lack quality manpower. We are not even touching the benchmark of the quality service. If we exclude 5-stars and 4-star hotels, the quality of service and hygiene are neglected everywhere. Because of that many restaurants and hotels at the local level losing their business.
- Comparing to the developed nations, what should be the focus of Indian hospitality colleges now?
The reason we are not touching the benchmark of quality manpower is the training and teaching pattern. We have the old school teaching style with new school students. Some people in the industry think students should feel the pain because they have gone through it. It’s not necessary. Today, kids use social media platforms where they can learn so many things by just watching it. So, I feel somewhere, somehow, we must change our training and teaching style. We have already started working on it. In our institute, we teach in a manner that students understand the concepts and we do explain to the students why they have to do things in a particular way only.
- At present, what are the global challenges in the hospitality education sector?
The main challenge that the Hospitality education sector faces is the mentality of our people. They still think housekeeping and servicing the guests at a restaurant or in a hotel is not a good job. Sometimes, students really want to make their career in this filed but their parents don’t allow them. That’s very sad.
- What should be the focus of hospitality institutes when they prepare workforce of the future.
Basically, hospitality institutes should focus more on practical knowledge and exposure. They do provide On the Job Trainings but when students actually go on filed, they see lots of reality which institute don’t share with them.
- What are the major changes that you have noticed in the way hospitality students are taught to engage with the world?
Over the past 10-15 years, Industry has seen a drastic change. The growth and development of online reservation systems are bringing new complexity to the industry. Technology has helped to reduce costs, enhance operational efficiency, and improve services and customer experience. Technology has helped tourism and hospitality industries replace expensive human labor with technological systems. This helps to reduce labor costs but also helps avoid customer service issues. Earlier it was tough to give feedback to the right person about the bad experience. Nowadays you will find the whole team just working on guest complaints. Due to Companies like OYO, Trivago booking of a Hotel room has become so user-friendly. Online Marketing and booking are the whole new subject for students.
- What are the global trends in hospitality education?
There are many global trends running like Virtual communities, Online Travel Agents (OTAs), Digitalized guest experiences, Booming global tourism, Professionalization, Generations change, Sustainability.
- What are the career opportunities available for students who completed Master Programs in Hospitality?
There are a plethora of opportunities available for the students; they can choose from hotel, events and catering management to business development and marketing, a masters in hospitality management provides you with the skills and knowledge for a successful career in a range of positions including Accommodation manager, Catering manager, Chef, Conference center manager, Event manager, Fast food restaurant manager, Hotel manager, Public house manager and Restaurant manager.
- What advice would you give to a student thinking about becoming a hospitality professional?
I always tell the students to find their area of interest. Where they want to make their career. Where they feel they can give their 200%. Because the Hospitality industry requires a lot of attention and presence of mind. You have to learn how to handle different types of guests and customers. If you think you love to speak to new people, this industry is for you. If you want to overcome your weakness or if you want to boost your confidence, then you can join the field. This industry makes you a better person as a human being.
- Tell us about your vision for Traverse Institute of Hospitality Management.
We are a unique institute that believes in karma rather than in numbers. Hospitality and culinary institute with par excellence. Located in the Heart of Mumbai. We create Hospitality Management professionals through Practical training sessions the same way a chef showcases his culinary skills in the kitchen. Industrial visits are the backbone of our curriculum. We give Hands-on kitchen Training and run many entrepreneurship programs to make our students self-dependent.
Our Vision is to achieve superior results through our unique approach to hospitality management.