Interview with Vatel Group President, Mr, Alain Sebban

The hotel industry is undergoing a major transformation and future employees in the sector must be trained accordingly. Here is the point of view of Vatel Institute specializing in the hotel sector that have been training the professionals of tomorrow for many years.

What are the most important elements for training a hotel professional in 2018?
Social skills. More than ever!
With new technologies, everyone has access to “knowledge” and “know-how”. Today, it is common to go on the Internet to check information, to follow a “tutorial”… And the schools that train managers in the international hotel industry today all provide very good training in the major fields of management such as administration, human resources, marketing, finance, etc. So in terms of knowledge and know-how, the graduates who enter the job market are all on a par. On the other hand, social skills are the result of a long, slow learning process. Students entering training must be very sensitive to others and open-minded, and the school must encourage them to develop these two very great qualities, in the service of the art of receiving.

And a strong predisposition to interculturality.
The hotel professional can no longer reason with his own cultural codes. Today, welcoming a client well means making them feel “at home”, anticipating their desires and therefore knowing their cultural codes. To do this, you must have travelled, learned several languages, let yourself be surprised, gone to meet the unknown, not let yourself be locked away by your own certainties… It is also a long learning process.

What approach(es) has Vatel Group taken to train its students? What are the specificities of your schools?

Social skills and interculturality being the supporting pillars of Vatel training, our 43 schools, even if they are spread all over the world, all practice the same pedagogy based on:
The alternation of theory and professional experience
This explains why all schools have a training restaurant and/or hotel. Everything that is learned in theory can be verified very quickly in practice. Compulsory internships, including international internships in the 2nd year of the Bachelor’s degree. The school organizes them for each student and knows exactly which student to send to which hotel and to which position.
Marco Polo, the Vatel international student mobility program
Spending their 2nd year of Bachelor’s degree at another Vatel school allows students to master an additional language, to acquire intellectual and intercultural agility, to confront other management techniques and to develop their listening and integration skills.

Specializations in the final year of the MBA
The students’ career path at Vatel is punctuated by many opportunities to live an international experience and the last one is the opportunity to do a specialization in the final year of an MBA: Luxury Management at Vatel Paris, Revenue Management at Vatel Lyon, Events Management at Vatel Nîmes, International Wine & Spirit Management at Vatel Bordeaux, Sales & E-Marketing Management at Vatel Brussels, Entrepreneurial Management at Vatel Marrakech, American Hospitality Management & International Business at Vatel Los Angeles, Resorts Management at Vatel Mauritius, Finance & Project Development at Vatel Switzerland, Ecotourism Management at Vatel Madagascar.

The multi-cultural nature of campuses
Their vocation is to welcome very diverse nationalities. Vatel Switzerland has 56 nationalities for a total of 300 students, who live abroad.

What do you think are the strong points of a career in the hotel business?
First of all, the variety and richness of the professions offered by the hotel industry. It gives everyone, those passionate about the arts, fond of gastronomy or travel, the opportunity to achieve their full potential. They are also professions providing personal services, which give meaning to those who perform them. “Do you want to be happy? Gives happiness,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. On this subject, we invite you to read in the latest Vatel Planet, the contribution of Jérôme de Fombelle, General Manager of the very beautiful LUX Le Morne***** hotel.
In his article entitled “What if we were all manufacturers of happiness”, he describes very well the very special pleasure experienced in giving happiness to customers. The hotel business is also fabulous for social mobility. This is one of the few remaining sectors where those who work well and are mobile have the opportunity to move up the ladder quickly and achieve a very successful career.

How to attract new talent and keep them in the sector?
We do not hear much from professionals on this issue. And schools have much less legitimacy to respond. However, compared to other sectors, the low pay, especially at the beginning of a career and with respect to the volume of hours, is becoming a barrier for young people. Business schools have worked hard over the past ten years to raise the level of admission requirements and the level of skills acquired by future managers in the international hotel industry. They have provided the industry with young, creative and hard-working talents. But beware, these young people who hear all day long in the media that they will have several careers in one lifetime have no scruples. Faced with an opportunity to be better paid and to have more recognition elsewhere, they will not hesitate to leave for a second. Ultimately, it’s quite simple to attract new talents and keep them!

Mr. Alain Sebban,
President and Founder,
Vatel Group

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