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Dishy fare

There is a new buzz in hospitality circles. The hosting of an international sporting bonanza in the capital city has opened the floodgates to widespread opportunities in the sector. Coupled with the boom in the tourism industry, this spells a golden chance for students of hotel management and related fields.

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010, to be held in New Delhi in October, has infused more energy into an already happening field. And with India projected to emerge as the top destination in Asia by 2020, it’s clearly a happy time for a career in hospitality.

Hotel companies are preparing for the Games in a big way. The Claridges Hotels and Resorts has renovated an entire wing of its Delhi property. A new hotel was also opened in Surajkund last year to cater to tourists during the event. “We are adding 135 rooms, a new spa and an Indian restaurant to the Surajkund hotel,” says Harshita Singh, director of corporate communications, The Claridges Hotels and Resorts, New Delhi.

Park Hotels too launched units in Chennai, Hyderabad and Cochin this year. “There’s a high front office attrition owing to many new properties being launched in the hospitality industry,” says Saurabh Khanna, training head, Park Hotels, New Delhi. Park Hotels intends to hire 5 to 10 per cent more employees in the current fiscal year.

According to the ministry of tourism, there is a need for 2.03 lakh professionals every year but only 18,000 students graduate annually in the hospitality sector. The demand and supply gap will further increase with foreign chains like Accor, Marriott, Hilton, Choice, Holiday Inn and Best Western foraying into the country. Domestic companies such as Indian Hotels, the ITC group, Sarovar Hotels and newcomers like Berggruen, Royal Orchid and The Lemon Tree too are expanding. Sarovar Hotels — which runs 42 units under different brands in the premium, mid-market and budget segments — is adding 27 hotels by 2012. Berggruen, which has five hotels, aims to add 25 in the next three years. The Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) also plans to open 23 new mid-market Holiday Inn hotels in the next few years. Besides, four-star and budget hotels are also increasing their presence.

The hospitality industry has traditionally been concerned with food and living space. A hotel has four core operational areas — front office, food and beverage services (F&B), housekeeping and food production (kitchen), apart from marketing, accounting, finance, computer applications, engineering and public relations. But today, hospitality is longer just about great food and lodging. “It means exceeding expectations and building relationships,” says Ankur Chawla, assistant manager, Wasabi restaurant, Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi.

No wonder the tourism industry, the retail industry, BPOs, telecom service providers, hospitals, airlines and cruise ships are hiring hotel management graduates in hordes. Hospitality students are also welcome in event management and consultancy firms, corporate offices, and sports and leisure outfits.

So what does it take, apart from formal training, to cash in on all this action? “Good communication skills in English, strong interpersonal skills, team orientation, drive and an eye for detail,” says Paul Zupan, dean, Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development, New Delhi.

According to Bishnu Prasad Tripathy, principal, Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Bhubaneswar, a service attitude is important. “The desire to serve with a smile on your face is what counts,” he says.

Internships for second and third-year students exist in large and mid-segment hotels. Plus Two students too can start by learning on the job. Though most hotels employ only trained graduates, some hire students straight from high school for apprentice programmes.

The Systematic Training and Education Programme (Step) offered by The Oberoi group is for those who have either completed or are in Class XII. The students are even paid a monthly stipend. The Step programme is designed to offer young enthusiasts specialised training and knowledge in kitchen and other hotel operations.

Interestingly, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has already recruited 600 students from Delhi University and hospitality institutes for the CWG. “This will groom them in the hospitality sector and create a buzz about the industry in the coming days,” says Jitin Chawla, a New Delhi-based career counsellor.

The students selected are to be posted in one of the ITDC properties for three months till the Games are over. “Many can look forward to a career in the field after this experience,” says Tripathy.

According to an official of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games, around 30,000 students will be employed as volunteers. “They would be trained in hospitality and allied services. This could be an advantage if they want to enter the hospitality industry,” said the official.

Remuneration in this sector is decent though growth and salary structures vary from hotel to hotel (see below).

“Hotel management graduates can also start individual catering projects or become entrepreneurs,” says Tripathy.

Some people go for higher qualifications with a master of hospitality administration or master of business administration (MBA).

“An MBA in human resources taught me how to balance the carrot and the stick,” says Aditya Jaimini, executive chef, The Park Hotels, Delhi.

WHERE YOU LEARN

There are around 31 state-run Institutes of Hotel Management and 150 private ones that offer degree and diploma courses in hotel management and catering. Check out the website of the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (www.nchmct.org) for details. Some important institutes:

  • Institute of Hotel Management (www.ihmkolkata.org), Calcutta
  • Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (www.oberoihotels.com), New Delhi
  • Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (www.ihmctan.edu), Mumbai
  • Oriental School of Hotel Management (www.orientalschool.com), Kerala
  • FHRAI Institute of Hospitality Management (www.fhraiinstitute.com), Greater Noida
  • NSHM School of Hotel Management (www.nshm.com), Durgapur

FOREIGN FLAVOUR

  • Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (www.ehl.edu), Switzerland; bachelor of science in international hospitality management
  • Glion Institute of Higher Education (www.glion.edu), Switzerland; diploma in hotel & restaurant administration
  • Le Cordon Bleu (www.cordonbleu.edu) , Paris, Tokyo, London, New Jersey, Bangkok and other places; certificate and diploma programmes in the culinary arts
  • The Tourism Academy (www.tourismacademy.edu.sg), Singapore; diploma in hospitality & tourism business
  • Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (www.hotelschool.cornell.edu), the US; bachelor of science in hotel administration and master of management in hospitality.

WHAT YOU EARN

  • At the entry level, one gets a salary of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
  • In the mid-level, one can expect between Rs 20,000 and Rs 60,000.
  • The salary of an F&B manager can be between Rs 80,000 and over Rs 1 lakh.

What’s HOT

  • Scope to earn much more than the salary in terms of tips and gratuity
  • You develop a well-groomed personality
  • You’ll meet important personalities
  • It’s a glamourous industry

What’s NOT

  • Long working hours of 12 to 14-hour shifts
  • Manual labour involving peeling, grinding and cleaning
  • Job may require standing for prolonged periods
  • Remember: the customer is always right.
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