Freshers now have a smorgasbord of study choices if they opt for a career in hotel management.

Capt. C.P. Krishnan Nair, chairman of the Leela Group of Hotels sent his three children to study hotel management in the US and Switzerland. A few years ago, people would have laughed at the thought of formal education to run hotels. But that was when some folks still thought the world was flat and hospitality wasn't the booming industry it is today.

Currently, freshers can help themselves to a smorgasbord of study choices, ranging from the professional to technical training in thousands of hotel management schools in India and abroad. Ganesh Kohli, education counsellor and Director of KicUnivAssist explains that most offer a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes with subjects like culinary and food science, nutrition and hygiene forming part of the syllabus. Additionally, theoretical and practical training in hospitality operational areas, hotel and food administration, tourism management, human resources, sales, marketing, finance and related subjects are taught. The minimum eligibility requirements for one year diploma or certificate courses are 10 + 2 in any stream. A graduate degree is required for an MBA or a Master's in Hospitality.

But is higher education in this field really necessary? Meldan D'Cunha, proprietor of the Soul Fry restaurant chain, says, “Yes, but only for a managerial post.” Notwithstanding the specialty schools worldwide that offer courses in, say, bar-tending and baking and even waiting at tables, D'Cunha maintains “it is not necessary to be formally educated for skilled jobs like that of a cook, steward, or bartender.” But, he adds, “one must start young as a trainee to gain valuable practical experience and taste success at the right age.”

Most institutes have placement services and offer internships at leading five-star hotels and blue chip companies. Some have tie ups with foreign universities and offer international transfers. Michael Huckaby, Senior Vice-President, Laureate Hospitality Education, which runs eight schools in Switzerland, Spain, China, Australia and the US says that “more than 50 international companies come to our campuses each semester to recruit students.”But it's not all caviar and champagne. D'Cunha says, “the industry ought to match salary packages of the other corporates if they are to get quality employees. Right now, they are the lowest paid. Most of the profits are diverted to expansion of the business... namely new projects.”

Bright but economically-deprived students can apply for full or part scholarships in Indian and foreign institutions. At Gyan Vihar for instance, 100 per cent freeships are available to around 50 students on merit and to 50 students from economically weaker sections. Students scoring 90 per cent and above in 10+2 and dependants of martyrs are also entitled to full scholarships.

A day in the life of Sajid Hussain, Front Office Executive, Ritz Hotel, Mumbai

We work in shifts. On the morning shift, I start at 7.00 a.m. My first task is to check the register for guests; whether they are regulars, company bookings or VIPs. I make note of arrival times and allot rooms, check the mode of payments. I also confirm departure timings and reservations for the next day. Each morning around 10.30 we have a staff meeting with the General Manager to discuss and plan the day's programme, the amenities etc. I interact with guests who may have varied demands: some want to rent a car, some want a king-sized bed, and still others want sea view rooms, which we don't have. I also interact with the Food Production, Housekeeping and other staff to ensure that guests have a smooth stay. The noon shift is from 2.00 p.m. to 11.00 pm and the third from 11.00 p.m. to 7.00 a.m. Shifts are rotated and sometimes, I have to do back to back shifts, if a colleague takes leave or is unable to show up for some reason or the other. This can be tiring but we get used to it and besides, we get either compensatory off or overtime. Sadly, the pay is not good; the plus point is we get all our meals. Though I wish salaries were higher I would never leave this job.

A day in the life of Anshuman Nadkarni, Corporate Executive Chef, Vie Hospitality Group, Mumbai

I report to work at 10.00 a.m. I look for wastages, if any, authorise the checklist and send it to the accounts department. Around 11.00 a.m., I proceed to the Crawford Market outlet Revival, where our maharajas will have cooked the food; they start at 5.00 a.m and the food is made in batches in nutrition-enhancing kansa (gun metal) vessels. At 11.30 a.m., we have tasting rounds.

Next, we have a briefing session during which the service and food production staff discuss the preceding day's events and the menu for the day. We also discuss issues like sanitation, hygiene, style of service, guest anticipation and suggestive selling, where stewards ask open-ended questions to customers. The restaurant opens at 12 noon. I myself have lunch from 2.00 - 2.30 p.m. Between 4.30 and 6.00 p.m., the next day's menu is prepared taking guests preferences into account.

Every Thursday at 4.30 pm, we have a meeting with the Director on Management Information system (MIS) and Unit Sales Operation(USO) which involve cost analysis and whether production is running efficiently. We also prepare the menu for the next month. We have at least one organic food item on the menu every day. seasonal food variations, sensitised to an Ayurvedic influence and special diet needs of Jains and diabetic patients. Between 6.00 and 6.30 p.m. we create a new menu, which is circulated among the maharajas to enable them to come up with queries at the next meeting. At 6.30, I have a 30-minute break to freshen up. We also have random food samplings involving the food lab. We urge guests to step into the kitchen and give us feedback.

Between 8.00 and 11.00 p.m, I experiment with the new menu, cooking one or two portions to perfect a dish, and to demonstrate it to the maharajas at our monthly brainstorming. I also interact with guests and encourage our maharajas to do so to get their responses to the food.

At home

The Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (IHM ), Mumbai

Kohinoor College of Hotel & Tourism Management,

International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) in Kolkata, Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, Jaipur

Gyan Vihar School of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Jaipur

Welcomegraduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal

Centre for Mountain Tourism & Hospitality Studies, Uttarakhand

Dept. of Tourism & Hotel Management, Kurukshetra University

FHRAI-Institute of Hospitality Management , NOIDA

John Institute of Hospitality and Catering Technology, Thane

Abroad

Switzerland is the top draw though most Indians prefer the US

The School of Continuous Studies and Faculty of International Tourism, Macau and Hong Kong.

Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, Australia

Culinary School of Kendall College, Illinois, US

Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH

Les Roches International School of Hotel Management

Glion Institute of Higher Education

Glion also offers an Online MBA in international hospitality management which means professionals who are already working fulltime can obtain a degree without resigning from their current job. Brijesh Paleri, Sales Automation Manager for Starwood Hotels in Singapore, is currently on the Glion online MBA programme. He says, "Loss of income, leaving the family and also cutting yourself out of the career path were some key reasons I decided to study online".

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