Published: 22nd July 2020
How Encovate is helping hospitality professionals skill up during the pandemic downtime
Subhra Banerjee, the founder of the learning platform Encovate speaks about how the pandemic has helped them explore new opportunities in the hospitality sector and why blended learning is essential
Online and blended learning is essential in the hospitality industry, much like with any other industry today. Subhra Banerjee sure thinks so. She is the founder of Encovate, one of the best blended and outcome-based learning platforms in India for hospitality organisations and professionals. In times like these, online and blended learning is what comes to the rescue of industry employees, students and teachers. Subhra who has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, says, "Like there is a learning curve, there is also a forgetting curve and that is where online learning plays an important role. The users can go back and watch the videos that are available on Encovate, thus, helping them improve their skills and work efficiently in the industry." We caught up with Subhra to discuss Encovate and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Unlike Engineering and Management, it is difficult to employ blended and outcome-based learning in streams like Hospitality. So, what led you to create Encovate?
When I was working as a consultant on different projects in the hospitality industry, I realised that while we were training employees in the hospitality industry, it was difficult to help them attend regular classes. Though industry experts or professionals would be available to train them, the employees would not be available for various reasons. I decided to start Encovate to ensure that learning and development opportunities are provided to everyone. The second reason was the fact that learning skills is a one-time activity in the classroom. It is difficult to go back and revise or analyse what was taught. However, the hospitality industry requires repetition of skills training in order for them to work efficiently and quickly at the same time. At Encovate, we provide online training for these employees so that they can go back at any time and re-watch what they have learnt.
Can you tell us more about these outcome-based learning programmes?
Before the lockdown was announced, Encovate's programme was a B2B solution platform meant only for hotels and restaurants. But after the lockdown was imposed, we reached out to our clients and informed them that we would be moving to a blended learning model. They readily agreed to what we said. What we did was we took the list of participants who were to be part of this programme and uploaded it on to our learning app. They have access to the bite-size learning available on the mobile app, offering fun, interactive, repeatable and on-the-go learning. The online learning is combined with sessions that focus on experiential learning and on-the-job learning. We also have different matrics put across in the offline front that measure the productivity of these employees. This is a pure outcome-based learning programme. Currently, we cover Managerial Development, Sales Optimisation, Team Bonding and Guest Service Excellence.
Subhra along with participants during one of their workshops
What opportunities have you explored since the lockdown in terms of conducting online classes?
We have started to work with educators in the hospitality sector and conduct virtual workshops with the help of professionals. Most of these educators have taken it up to improve their teaching skills, engage students in the classroom, build two-way interaction and so on. Currently, teaching these aspects is in a workshop model and we intend to implement it as a part of our online programme permanently. It is called the Educators Preparatory Programme for the teacher community. We have a separate programme coming up from the students' point of view. The opportunities to revive the industry are plenty and we are going to add a few more new courses designed from the post-COVID point of view.
There seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the future of the hospitality industry...
The hospitality sector will take at least two years to return to where it was earlier, once this pandemic is behind us. But this also depends on the speed of recovery in other sectors. First, international travel has to begin which is the biggest revenue generator for the hospitality industry.
Of late, many Indian institutions have been collaborating with international institutions to offer courses in hospitality. With a good number of international students coming to India, don't you think that it is high time our institutions improve the infrastructure and courses?
Absolutely, I think the pandemic has pushed us to adopt many more things than we were doing earlier. And a lot of Indian institutions in the hospitality sector are collaborating with the international institutions in terms of starting a new course or offering students exchange programmes. India is ready now to improve and make changes in the academic curriculum which was supposed to change a long time ago. The academicians in the tourism and travelling industry have also understood that the syllabus needs an overhaul.