Monday, 18 January 2010

Commonwealth Games brings hospitality industry back in focus

Hospitality industryIf you love to look after people, bring a smile to their faces, cook them a nice dish, and give them an experience to remember, then the hospitality industry may be the place for you. Every year, there's a need for 2.03 lakh professionals in the industry, says the Ministry of Tourism but only 18,000 hospitality graduates pass out, annually. Clearly there's a dearth of skilled professionals in this sector. With the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and several international hotel chains such as Carlson, Starwood, Accor and Marriott coming to India, both opportunity and exposure in hospitality is going to be staggering.
(Click here: Delhi needs more masseurs)
This sector is essentially divided into four broad functions:
  • Food Production, where food is designed and created,
  • Food & Beverage Service (F&B), where the guests' needs are looked after in a restaurant or in an office cafeteria,
  • Front Office, that welcomes guests and tries to make their stay as hassle-free as possible, and
  • Housekeeping, where the staff sees that you feel at home in your room.
In fact, the wellness industry that includes spa and fitness, is also becoming a popular service in hospitality.

Front Office, in demand

Food Production, where chefs work in kitchens has been traditionally a big attraction for many young people wanting to join the industry. But now young people prefer Front Office jobs. "Fifty-five percent of our students went for Front Office jobs," says DD Sharma, head of department, Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Delhi. This tilt towards Front Office and F&B is because of the ample opportunities that are present in the service sector. Also, it signifies greater confidence amongst today's generation who is not shy to interact with customers.

Soft skills acquired by Front Office executives such as communication and managerial skills also double up as skills required in customer relations, business development, human resource function, sales and marketing. In fact, banks, hospitals, telecom and BPOs are recruiting hotel management graduates in large numbers, says Anita Sharma, senior faculty and placement coordinator, IHM, Catering & Nutrition, New Delhi.

Over the years, hospitality has extended beyond hotels and restaurants and has become integral to the service sector.

There's also the incentive of better salaries and a less strenuous working schedule. Food Production is labour-intensive points out Mr Sharma of IHM. Sameer Sharma, a hotel management (HM) graduate, agrees. "There are heavy crates to be picked, sacks of onions and potatoes to be carted, and working hours could stretch to 12 to 16 hours a day." On the other hand, Front Office has regulated working hours and industries such as telecom and banking, pay well.

Where's the money?
Although chefs and general managers at four star hotels and five star hotels are paid in lakhs, a fresh HM graduate may have to start with a leaner package. NS Bhuie, director, Studies, National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology, admits that the pay is average.

Fresh HM graduates, as management trainees get a stipend between Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000. The stipend goes up to Rs 26,000 after the completion of the training at a hotel, which is usually two years. In comparison, industries like BPOs pay a fatter take-home to fresh graduates, says a recruiter.

"Forty per cent of students who do hotel management join other service industries," says Sudhir Andrews, dean, Ecole H teli re Lavasa, a hospitality management institute in Pune. Hotels are already feeling the pinch, he says. But a senior manager at one of the top Delhi hotels says that salaries have gone up by more than 60 per cent in the past few years.

Long working hours

Hospitality is a round-the-clock function; it's a 24x7, 365 days-a-year job. In fact, when the whole nation is off on August 15, the hospitality industry is buzzing, says Ashima Sukhani, public relation executive of ITC Hotels. And as room service and coffee shop kitchens are open 24 hours, working hours go up to 18 hours. But KS Srinivasan, vice-president, HR, Taj, Mumbai, doesn't see working long hours as a drawback at all. "Just look at the experience you get after working in this industry for two years. You get scrubbed and polished and after two years you shine!"

While hotel management institutes prepare students for a managerial role, the industry wants to hire them as waiters. Both sides have their arguments. Jay Rathore, general manager, The Oberoi, New Delhi, says that while he picks graduates, they start at the staff level. "People expect to do managerial or supervisory jobs right away, but I ask them 'are they prepared to manage 25 people?' With no experience how can you lead 25 people, how can those 25 people look up to you for career and advice?" While the industry needs people with managerial qualities, it's only after a few years that young graduates can step into that role. "People have to walk in with the right attitude."

In this week-long series, we will look at the opportunities in the Hospitality industry - Front Office, Food Production, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping and Wellness - and how you should go about plotting your career.

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Cialis said...

Everything you mentioned is so true. Great article!

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Elliott Broidy said...

I believe it.

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