Published: 05th December 2017
Why Swiss Hospitality Colleges believe Asia, not America is the place to be
Swiss Education Group's CEO Florent Rondez explains how Asians have the spend and the need for hotels and luxury, much beyond Europe and America
It's ironic really. For a group that runs hospitality schools in some of the most gorgeous-looking mountain ranges in Europe (the world, really), Swiss Education Group's largest student base is Asian. Chinese, if you're splitting hairs. And that's exactly why SEG's CEO Florent Rondez is extremely excited about Asia. Not merely because it feeds his schools with students who want an out-of0the-world hospitality education experience — but also because that's where the potential for great hospitality jobs lies.
Excerpts from a quick chat, on the sidelines of SEG's International Recruitment Forum in Montreux, recently:
You've spoken very optimistically about the hospitality industry's prospects in Asia. Why?
The dynamism in Europe ensures that hotels don't pop up as fast (as Asia). China and India are booming. This dynamism is what makes the tourism industry in Asia attractive for us in the industry because it creates jobs. That and a rise in middle-class tourism boosts the industry.
I remember you said you started out in Asia.
When I graduated myself, I got low-salary jobs here and so I left for Asia. I worked in Hong Kong and Macau for 6 years and came back to Europe in a management position for the largest company in HK. Though I didn't go on an expat package, I could get promoted on a yearly basis. That's something students should look at.
Florent Rondez: The dynamism in Europe ensures that hotels don't pop up as fast it does in Asia
And yet, everyone wants to work in a hotel in America.
We always talk about the US. When I went there, I was so upset and disappointed by NYC, because it's so behind. The infrastructure and the metro is something the country should be ashamed about. Even countries like Thailand that were considered 'low' 50 years ago have a tremendous transit system. This is what matters when you look at the factors that help the hospitality industry grow.
Why do you think hotels want to invest in India, despite a global slowdown?
I would compare India to China, because 10-15 years ago they were at the same level. Lots of potential. Politically, things are a bit disorganised but some of the most sophisticated, literate people are in India. People speak very good English so that's an advantage for the hospitality industry. Add to that the upward movement of the middle class and their desire to travel inside Asia and you've got an amazing industry. Which is why all the big hospitality brands are heading there. It's a matter of time till they really expand. It's really a question of 'When?'