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Is Switzerland the Best Place to Learn Hotel Management?

Taylor G. asked Insightful Service if Switzerland is the best place to learn hotel management. I felt I had to answer this question considering my bias towards my alma mater, UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) which I truly believe to be the #1 best university to learn about hospitality management.


Bruce Claver | Insightful Service | January 29, 2023


Summary: My reasons why UNLV is the very best university to get a hospitality education with a bonus added reference to the very best hotel management company in the world, Four Seasons Resorts.


 

You are probably looking at The QS World University Rankings which ranks EHL Hospitality Business School in Lausanne as the #1 hospitality school. Let’s clear up a misconception. The fact that EHL is the very first hospitality school (thus being the oldest), does not make it the best. Rounding out the top 8 are all schools in Switzerland. #9 is in the Netherlands and #10 is in Hong Kong. My guess is that these schools really focus on service standards but I am partial to the school that is ranked #2 on the list because I cannot see Switzerland as the best place to learn hotel management. It’s not the country that counts, it’s the specific university you want to focus on.


For example, Cornell University (ranked #13 on the list) is typically pegged as the #1 University to learn hospitality in the U.S. but like EHL, that distinction comes in part because it is the first and oldest in the U.S. (and probably in part because it is an Ivy League school.) They have their own hotel on campus and most graduates go off to work for high-end consulting firms rather than run hotels. Why should that make them the best in the U.S.?


UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) is ranked as #2 (before Cornel) on the same QS World University ranking, just behind EHL. UNLV has over 100,000 hotel rooms less than a mile from campus with a program that requires real paid working experience prior to graduation. Most graduates take 5 years to get through the program. You cannot get that experience and access real-life experiences at Cornell or EHL. Don’t believe the marketing about Switzerland because there are a lot of factors that should be taken into account to define “best” starting with curriculum and graduation requirements.


The best place to learn hotel management is at a university that has an all-encompassing curriculum with financial, marketing, operations, food & beverage, human resources, accounting, and law courses. It is at a university that requires real working experience in multiple departments prior to graduation. And most importantly, it is at a university that has a curriculum that you have an interest in.

In case you have doubts about the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), here is what they offer. I don’t think any university in the world can compete with the variety.



You need to consider one more thing about learning hospitality and that is working at a top hospitality brand that understands the importance of taking care of people and not just the people who come to spend money, but the people who are employed to take care of those people who come to spend money.


The best place to learn about hotel management is to get a job at a top-rated five-star hotel and learn from the management team how to manage a five-star luxury hotel. I would also suggest you do this in a country that does not subsidize the company. For example, there are many Asian & middle eastern brands that are State run over-the-top beautiful properties with butlers and a 2 to 1 ratio of employees to guests. Airlines such as Qatar Airways are State-run and throw money into their operations. There is no way for a capitalist company to compete. Besides, a beautiful property does not mean the company knows how to manage people or understands how to be fiscally responsible.


My suggestion is to get a job at any Four Seasons Hotel. They are the most consistent and well-operated luxury hotel brand of any brand out there with the most properties worldwide and value a company culture of employee happiness. Not convinced? Have a look at their landing page below. They could show any number of their 100+ five-star hotels or resorts but they don’t. They feature their most prized asset, two of their employees. As a hotel company, they are in the people business and they take it seriously enough to make a statement that THEIR people are their most prized asset and so they feature two of those prized assets.




As for careers, note how they include “Our Culture” on the header menu:


So I suggest before jumping on a plane to the Swiss Alps, you review the details of the schools you wish to get your education from and consider all factors, including what is best for you personally.


Thanks for the question Taylor G.


 

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