• Maria Matskevich

Why I Am Glad I Studied Hospitality

Over the past year since graduating Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL), I’ve caught myself wondering whether a hospitality degree was a worthy investment considering that I am not exactly working in the field. I’ve run across various articles, some saying a hospitality degree is useless, others claiming that it’s excellent. So I decided to explore my take on this, hoping to provide some insights for anyone considering studying hospitality or those who already have a degree and are also overthinking its significance.

Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne entrance
Source: EHL New Campus

First of all, I think any education you may have received can’t be deemed useless or a waste of time cause like it or not you probably learned and gained something from the experience. It’s the truth. It’s the same with all other life’s experiences - the good, the bad, the ugly. If you are at least a little bit introspective then you’ve learned something from every single one of them. If you think you haven’t - maybe it’s time to do some self-analyzing. I just want to put this out there because it is something I’ve come to truly realize only recently and its been immensely helpful. So go ahead and contemplate your experiences. Perhaps write it all out, your thoughts I mean. I guarantee you - you will feel better and more in control afterward.

Now back to hospitality education in particular. For those of you not familiar, a hospitality degree (at least EHL’s one) is all about customer-centricity and providing immaculate customer service. From reception and restaurants to web bookings and other marketing activities. Excellent customer service is formed in all departments. It is all interlinked, all connected. And the best part? Every business I can think of requires customer-centricity. It won’t succeed otherwise. Hospitality students are taught almost exclusively that. It is the underlying theme of every course we take, every workshop we attend and every internship we complete. In restaurant, bar and reception workshops we are taught to tackle customer complaints and challenges that may arise during daily operations. In revenue management we are instructed about how lowering prices at the last minute is not a great strategy because it can offend and annoy the loyal customers who book in advance. In our marketing classes we are reminded about the importance of a great story and branding, and how the promises we make in our marketing messages must be kept when customers arrive onsite.

Those of you not from hospitality may be surprised. Yes - we have business courses, we don’t only learn to carry 4 plates simultaneously and make perfect cappuccinos. Yet, we are different from other business schools because we are taught all that with a focus on the customer. I admit I may be biased here. It’s not like I have other bachelor degrees in business, so I can’t truly compare. While I can admit that other degrees also provide some form of customer-centricity, I highly doubt any do as much of a deep dive into it as hospitality programs do.

Another great thing about hospitality education - professionalism. Sure, on a certain level we hate the dress code, and I do enjoy not having to wear a suit to work every day but I have to admit - the level of professionalism EHL portrays when someone steps into the building is pretty high. All students are in suits and besides portraying professionalism it is also aesthetically pleasing. By the simple rule of the dress code, we are taught the importance of first impressions and how it is best to present oneself. With hospitality graduates, you rarely will have to worry about how they are going to show up for an important meeting or what impression they will make.

I don’t want to generalize, there are always exceptions, but overall - you know they will be dressed for the occasion, will show up on time and be prepared to discuss whatever is needed. As I said, complying with the dress code for 4 years wasn’t always pleasant, but enforcing it was necessary. It allowed the graduates to go into the world and convey professionalism, so much so that nobody would be able to tell that just few months ago these young adults were staying up all night studying (or partying) till the sun came up.

To summarize, I provided 2 main reasons for why studying hospitality isn’t a waste - you learn customer-centricity to the core and you know how to be professional in any situation. Do you know what’s in common with both these skills (and everything else we learn about business)? They are highly transferable. You can apply what you learn in hospitality school to almost any other industry. Granted, you may need to learn some industry-specific topics and terms if you go into a different field, but most of these can be learnt on the job. The point I’d like to finish off with is not that a hospitality degree is better than all else. No. I just want students who aren’t sure of their decision, graduates who may be blaming themselves for not studying something else to just think about what I discussed in this post and consider just for a second that you are likely quite lucky with what you’ve chosen to study because the skills you have or will acquire will continue to serve you for years to come.