ACCORDING to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in the next eight years, 80 million jobs in the hospitality and leisure management business are waiting to be filled globally.
And in Malaysia, the industry is expected to create some 500,000 new jobs in the next four years alone.
Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts deputy dean Dr Vinayaraj Mothiravally said about 10,000 rooms are expected to enter the Malaysian market in the next three years.
“Key brand openings in the upscale and luxury segment will include the country’s first Harrods hotel and the first Fairmont hotel along with brands such as the St Regis, Banyan Tree, Westin and the Alila.
“This is expected to lead to an increasingly competitive upscale and luxury hotel landscape.
“Hospitality is not a stagnant industry, rather it is a transformational industry in accordance to the times. Because of its nature, the industry will adapt to accommodate new tech-savvy and sophisticated travellers and continue to grow in the future.
“There are 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals forecasted in 2030. This will translates to 125 million direct jobs in tourism worldwide in 2030 with a growth of 25 million from 2014 and 38 million jobs in Southeast Asia,” he added.
Since it’s a thriving sector, with much potential and a wide range of career options worldwide, the industry offers a broad range of career opportunities in areas like travel and tour; hotels; resorts; integrated resorts; events and conventions, or better known as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) as well as; airlines; cruises and food service industries.
While a degree is not always required in hospitality, having one will surely give students a competitive edge and added value.
MOVING UP THE LADDER
Vinayaraj said hospitality is the business of making people happy by creating a unique memorable experience.
He added that people in the industry will constantly learn new transferable skills, be exposed to new cultures, and meet new people — which makes them global citizens.
“Moreover, the hospitality industry offers a great career opportunity for young professionals with its benefits and a fast track movement to senior positions. The job scopes are varied in different sectors,” said Vinayaraj.
There are two types of jobs — operational and managerial. In the first category, the employees take care of the operations such as cooking and serving food and beverages; making the rooms ready for sale; and making the place appealing and attractive.
While in the managerial category, the employees supervise and make sure the operations are in place and running. The managers are also responsible for the financial success of the department or the section, if it is a profit centre.
Vinayaraj said potential job seekers who are looking for a great career in the hospitality industry require a formal qualification, either a diploma, or degree in hospitality management.
Hospitality Management graduates from Taylor’s University, for example, get about RM2,500 to RM3,500 per month as starting salary.
Meera Raj, 30, said her father used to work in the airline industry, and because of this, they had opportunities to travel and stay in some of the best hotels in the world.
“As a kid, I was always amazed at how magical hotels were to me. After realising that Science was not my passion, I decided to give hotelling a try. It was a huge culture shock at first, but I loved it and have never looked back,” she said.
A former graduate of Bachelor in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Taylor’s University, Meera said the university had prepared her for the basics. For example, you would learn how to open a bottle of wine, but doing so in front of a paying guest takes practice to perfect.
“It’s up to the student to make full use of the information given and apply it in the working world. I also think the lecturers who had experience in the industry give sound advice on what to expect, and a reality check on our attitudes,” she added.
Meera said industrial training is also important because that’s when they discover whether they were made for this industry.
“For me, the syllabus that I studied was very relevant. The tie-up with the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaur’s in France was a big plus, especially since we get to work with foreign lecturers and students (which is now a day-to-day thing on the job).
Meera is currently working at Holiday Inn (part of IHG) Pattaya, Thailand, as an executive assistant manager. She sometimes oversees the hotel operations of the two towers of the hotel, with 567 rooms, in the absence of her general manager.
“Trust is difficult to gain. Looking back, I consider the relationships I’ve built my biggest achievements.
“I often lead teams that are diverse, and consisted of those who have a lot more working experience under their belt compared to me.
“Being able to pull everyone together is something I am thankful for, as I wouldn’t have achieved anything without their hard work and dedication.
“Also, coming from an F&B background, I have been working in a male dominant sector, and I am proud that I’ve been able to overcome this prejudice,” said Meera.
For 30-year-old Chong Yi Shawn, who graduated with a Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Taylor’s University, no one can predict what graduates will do with their life after college or university.
“In my case, owning a bar business, Omakase + Appreciate in Kuala Lumpur, which was recognised as the 10th Best Bar in Asia last year, could not have happened without a degree.
“It gave me a great set of fundamental knowledge and skills which I could further develop. These are the most important things I have taken with me to start my career.
“Also, I have built myself in the bar industry over a relatively short period of time (nine years), so yes, I’m sure I had an edge when I started my career,” said Chong.
On a daily basis, he takes care of all aspect of the business. From administration to finance, to marketing and of course, the actual operation — mixing drinks.
“You gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills that enables you to have a head start at work. And with a degree, you will have a better head when dealing with management-related work,” he added.
A CERTAIN SUCCESS
As with any industry, Meera said success comes with passion. “I have seen many with high ambitions, but do not have the passion to do the work that comes with the position.
“Many people think it is a glamorous industry, but it takes dedication. We are dealing with people, and people are unpredictable, not to mention emotional. If you don’t love it, it will be torturous.
“Most importantly, realise that no one gets anywhere alone. We depend on each other, hence, humility, understanding, and communications are vital,” she added.
Chong said one should take the time to build a strong foundation in knowledge, techniques and work ethics.
“Together with hard work and perseverance, you will eventually enjoy job satisfaction, which money can’t buy. Think of how you can enrich a customer’s experience with your skills and talent rather than chasing monetary goals.
“That way, I believe that you will have a much more fulfilling career.”