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Hospitality sector to expand before Commonwealth 2010

With the hotel industry looking to double its infrastructure in the next decade, the hospitality industry is all set to go on an expansion spree, reports Garima Sharma.

business Updated: Apr 14, 2007 16:45 IST

How often has a gracious host or a pleasant waiter prompted you to take that extra helping of food? Quite often? Today, when the dining experience has become as important as the dinner, the profile of a hospitality graduate has also undergone a sea change, opening the floodgates to a host (pun not intended) of other related industries. Hospitality is no more only about food. It is also about making the customer feel special.

Explains Nisheeth Srivastava, Director, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) Institute of Hospitality Management, "Hospitality is anything that makes an individual feel comfortable — the ground staff taking care of air passengers, the hospital front office staff greeting patients, et al.

If someone feels taken care of, you are extending hospitality." Going by this definition, the hospitality industry is just not limited to hotels and restaurants. Global growth and the development of tourism have opened up innumerable openings for hospitality graduates. Students can even enjoy employment options in hospitals, event management firms, the insurance and banking sector, call centres, cruise liners and the corporate world.

According to rough estimates, India churns out a total of 18,000 hotel management graduates every year. Out of this number, a marginal 5,000 join the core industry. A strong 13,000 plus community of these graduate students choose to gravitate to greener pastures. And employers in restaurants and hotels are certainly feeling the pinch.

Measures and pleasures

The opportunities in the hospitality sector are not only immense but well paying too. Explains Praveen Roy, Principal, The Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad, run by the Taj Group of Hotels and the Maulana Azad Educational Trust, "The hotel industry will need to double its infrastructure in the next decade in order to meet the enormous changes in the competitive business environment of the future."

Supporting this is the fact that companies like the Oberoi Hotels and Resorts offer programmes like STEP, the Systematic Training and Education Programme. Under this, young students, who have just cleared their Senior Secondary are recruited to become trainees. In a three-year comprehensive training programme in an Oberoi Hotel or Resort, STEP offers students the opportunity to learn and train in hotel operations coupled with the chance to graduate.

Basic ingredients

The minimum qualification for a hotel management course depends basically on the course as well as the institute. There are approximately 230 institutes throughout the country that offer hotel management courses. Out of these, 25 (inclusive of Dehradun, which is a tentative centre) are run by the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT).

The total intake at NCHMCT is roughly 3,150 students. Besides institutes run by NCHMCT, some popular private ones include The Taj Group's Institute of Hotel Management in Aurangabad, the Welcomgroup School of Hotel Administration in Manipal, the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD), Delhi, the Kolkata-based IIAS School of Hotel and Tourism Management and the FHRAI Institute of Hospitality Management that has been launched in collaboration with the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland.

Whereas the NCHMCT demands a basic 10+2 qualification for its Bachelor and certificate programmes, FHRAI also emphasises on a 10+2 qualification for admission to its four-year programme in International Hospitality Administration, and its other course in International Culinary Administration. The selection process varies from institute to institute, but a written test followed by a group discussion and a personal interview is the general practice.

Wealth at C'wealth 2010

The most palpable consequence of the Commonwealth Games 2010 happening in Delhi is the apparent boost for the hospitality sector. However, Srivastava begs to differ, “This is just a hype that has been created around the games. Even today, we are short of about one lakh rooms in the country. Yes, the games are boosting tourism and hospitality, but domestic travel and demands in the country are equally overwhelming at the moment.”

In simple terms, this means that graduates have much more to gain by remaining in the industry than by leaving it. If we assume that two individuals are needed per room, then by rough estimates, the country is short of a staff of two lakh graduates (for a deficit of one lakh rooms). And considering that we come up with only about 18,000 graduates in a year, the demand is more than the supply. Which means that the available opportunities for graduates get meatier.

However, if students need to look beyond, there are multiple options on offer. Prashant Sinha, currently employed as a Service Delivery Leader at Patni Computers, shares his experience, “I passed out from IHM, Chennai in the year 1999. I was not prepared to spend a decade in reaching a respectable position in the hospitality industry, so I switched base to the corporate world. However, the hospitality course has helped me immensely, and I do not think that any other graduation course could replicate the experience.”

Explains Srivastava, “The initial salaries for hotel management graduates may not be very encouraging but in about 10 years, a talented individual can become the General Manager of a five star hotel.”

However, a word of caution: if you are coming for the glamour, you will be disappointed. The industry is meant for confident students, who have strong communication skills.