An Assessment of Hospitality Management Study Programmes in ...

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Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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An Assessment of Hospitality
Management Study Programmes in
Greece: Industry’s Perspectives



Eleftheria N. Prinianaki
1

TEI of Crete
, Greece



Abstract
:


The purpose of this study was to examine and assess the relevance of hospitality
management programme
s to the current and future industry needs in Greece from an industry
perspective. Two single session focus groups consisting of hotel general managers
highlighted the need for hospitality management programmes to address industry current and
future requir
ements. The outcome of the study, based on qualitative data, also

supports the
need for a virtual education/industry co
-
operation
.
Keywords:

hospital
ity education, industry
needs,
hospitality curriculum



INTRODUCTION


On the threshold

of the third millenn
ium, the tourism industry faces a constant
changing and demanding environment where the human resources element plays a
vital role. This places even greater demands on the tourism and hospitality
management programmes which train future managers. Yet, rela
ted literature
documents that tourism as an area of study is attested to be immature. The lack of a
discipline base, agreed definitions and conceptual frameworks are but a few issues for
ineffective curriculum de
velopment (Cooper et al., 1998
).

Hence, in t
he international
scene, tourism
-
related programmes are as diverse as the industry they serve and the
types of academic units they belong to, while most of them are not relevant to the
needs of the real world (e.g Fayos
-
Sola, 1995). To compound the situatio
n further,
academe and industry have differing opinion as to why the approaches employed by
educational programmes to preparing present and future generations of managers are
inadequate.

In Greece, the increased importance tourism and the expansion of the

hotel
sector, coupled with the trends and developments occurring within the industry, have
generated critical needs for well
-
rounded, well
-
educated and capable human
resources in fields related to the operations and the management of hospitality
businesse
s. However, a survey of tourism and hospitality education in the country and
an analysis of the quality and quantity of hospitality management courses in particular,
have identified numerous issues. For instance, the BA courses in Tourism and
hospitality i
n the Public Sector Tertiary Level Institutes (Technological Educational
Institutes and Superior School of Tourism Professions) are centrally planned with little
or no collaboration with industry. The Private Sector courses in tourism and hospitality
manag
ement are said to be planned in close collaboration with industry. In addition, all




1

Prinianaki Eleftheria
: Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism Industries. Technological Educational Institute of
Crete,
(
P.O Box 140, 71500 Heraklion, Crete.

E
-
mail:

riap@sdo.teiher.gr
)




programmes are supposed to be relevant to the needs of the real world and to prepare
capable graduates to serve the tourism and hospitality (Law 1404, 1983; Alpine
, 2000
;
A
STE, 1999).

The work described in the present paper was aiming at investigating these two
issues. The specific objectives of this research study were to evaluate the relationship
between current policy in Tourism and hospitality Education, and the busines
s and
managerial needs of the industry; to evaluate the structure, content, and
characteristics

of the tertiary level undergraduate courses in Greece; to get insight about industry
attitudes towards the preparation of management personnel with specific re
ference to
the hospitality; determine the management level educational needs of the industry; and
finally to identify existing problems and limitations of education
-
industry collaboration
and to propose alternative courses of action according to the resear
ch findings. Mainly,
however, apart from providing qualitative data about the above issues, qualitative data
from these groups will be used to develop insights for the later stages of the study.

Curriculum that reflects the needs of the real world and educ
ation/industry
partnership are regarded to be critical components for designing quality based
hospitality and tourism educational programmes. The planners of these courses
(government officials and educators) need to look for ways
for
effective co
-
operati
on if
they wish to prepare well
-

educated graduates for successful management careers in
the hospitality industry. Therefore, the investigation of the current needs of the hotel
sector, the simultaneous assessment of the hospitality management programmes
offered in the country together with the evaluation of education/industry collaboration
(if any) are essential for the future of both the industry and education. In addition, the
outcomes of the exploratory research described here could serve as stimuli fo
r the
implementation of more detailed research in the future.


THE DIRECTION OF HOS
PITALITY MANAGEMENT
EDUCATION


The central mission of hospitality management education programmes is to
prepare students for careers in the hospitality indu
stry (Sneed and
Heinman, 1995;
Powers and Riegel, 1993; Ladki, 1993), while the hospitality industry, like every
organisation, is concerned with the quality of its managers (
Jones and Lockwood,
1989
). Yet, hospitality Management education is a relatively new discipline fo
und in
various academic units at different universities with numerous issues surrounding its
provision as well as its identity (LeBruto, 1996
;

Riegel, 1994; Ghei et al., 1995).
Hospitality management education is generally regarded as a type of professiona
l
education, although some researchers (e.g. Ladki, 1993) view it as a
professional/academic discipline. As such, (professional), it has been and continues
to be subject to widespread debate around the content and delivery of curricula.
Indeed, much of th
e academic literature on hospitality education contains concerns
regarding the direction of Hospitality Management Education and highlights the nee
d
to foster links with industry (Goodman and Sprague, 1991; Pavesic, 1993).


Other

studies address
the question of whether hospitality education will
survive in the future. For instance, Lewis (1993), Powers and Riegel (1993), sound a
note of warning that hospitality management education has not changed with the
times and many programmes will cease to

exist unless they recognise the need for
re
-
evaluation and deal effectively with change. The authors argue that positioning
the hospitality management programme is imperative as “trying to be all things to all


customers is a strategy for mediocrity”, t
hesis, which is also supported by Chen and
Groves (1999), who emphasise and explain the need for philosophical positioning of
the programme.

Nowlis (1996) argues against those institutions “still existing in the
Dark Ages” that have failed to progress in u
pgrading and modernising their curricula
and are ineffective in producing graduates with a dynamic, visionary, technically
sound education. The author suggests that hospitality education must undertake a
comprehensive curriculum reform to better serve the
hotel and restaurant industries
of the 21st century.




HOSPITALITY MANAGEME
NT CURRICULA


Searching for hospitality training management needs through industry


Hospitality management education goes through curriculum reviews largely
based on academically
perceived needs (Koh, 1994). Yet, Hospitality Management
programmes are closed linked to industry because industry provides industrial
placements for students and management career opportunities for graduates

(Botterill, 1996).

Therefore, in order to satis
fy the management needs of the industry
and to continue to prosper, all stakeholders have to engage with it in a positive and
genuine way. Courses should aim to integrate the teaching of skills and knowledge in
a way that is more relevant to the workplace
(Johns and McKechnie,1995), and
educational programmes should blend technical, professional and personal
development if to supply the basic tools required for success in the workplace
(Johns,1992). Hospitality academe owe graduates the kind of education th
at will best
prepare them for entry to middle


and upper


level positions in hospitality (Ladki,

1993), and one of the most important elements to be considered in the planning of
credible management courses is the issue of relevance to the needs of the

industry
and the collaboration between education and industry (Stutts,1995). In addition, as a
result of the growing concern among industry’ leaders around the world that
education does not equip graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and
competen
cies increases the need for the educational institutions to bridge the gap
between industry requirements and education provision.

The incompatibility between the skilled labour supply from educational
organisations and the demand from the industry, and t
he subsequent need for quality
education is reported in the Asia Pacific Region (Smith and Fagence, 1995; Hidayat,
1999; Singh, 1997), Latin America (Pizam, 1999), Egypt (Waha
b, 1998), USA (Walle,
1997
), Russia (Petroune and Voskoboinikov, 1998), Franc
e (E
lias, 1992), in the UK
(
Rimmington, 1999), in Greece (Prinianaki, 1994), and elsewhere.

The importance of education/industry partnership and the need to remain
knowledgeable of the needs of the industry is becoming increasingly recognised.
Hence, a number
of international and national organisations, educational institutions,
and researchers have implemented related studies and have launched different
initiatives to stimulate contacts and co
-
operation between industry and education and
to suggest measures f
or ascertaining success in quality manpower development
efforts (e.g. Botterill, 1996; Fayos
-
Sola, 1995; Davidson, 1996; Danvers and Keeling,
1995, Umbreit, 1992; Lefever and Withiam, 199
5
).

Particularly, several researchers have conducted studies to dete
rmine the
congruency between industry needs and expectations and the knowledge, skills, and


abilities of graduates of Hospitality Management programmes at graduate and post
graduate level, aiming to underpin educational efforts in redesigning courses a
nd
curricula according to the needs of the industry.

Sneed and Hei
n
man (1995) investigated the student and programme characteristics
that recruiters in the Hospitality industry consider most important
.
A study by Graves
(1996) investigated the personality
traits of successful hospitality managers aiming to
contribute to the development of desired personality traits with the students as
perceived by food and beverage recruiters
, while
Tas (1988), undertook an
innovative study, aimed at the analysis of manage
rial competencies needed to the
hotel and catering industry.

The study undertaken by Tas was repeated in the UK by Baum and in Greece
by Eaton and Christou. Interestingly, Tas (1988), Baum (1991), and Eaton &
Christou (1997) reported similar findings am
ong the hospitality managers they
surveyed in the USA, UK, and Greece respectively. All three surveys identified what
Baum identifies as the "soft" or human relations associated competencies as the
most significant.

Other studies examined the specific mana
gement skills that hotel
and restaurant managers perceive as important for success in the hospitality industry
(Breiter and Clement
, 1996; Mills and Riehle, 1993).

Umbreit (1992), however, has argued that “curriculum revision does not
necessarily mean th
e development of new courses, but rather a modification of
existing content and a focus on needed skills to insure graduates' success".
Specifically, the need for a redesigned curriculum responding to the changing
industry requirement for both general and

specific educational needs has been
recognised by many educational institutes. Ford and Bach (1996) detail an
innovative approach used by the University of Central Florida's Department of
Hospitality Management to identify the industry requirements and t
o develop a new
hospitality curriculum. Employing a “customer” based approach an advisory board of
25 leading executives in the hospitality and tourism industry and an innovative
technological tool
-
a TEAM
-
Net process (Technological Efficiency Applied to

Meetings Network), the work resulted in six
-
course core curriculum in hospitality
management and three electives: Guest Services Management I and II, Hospitality
Operations I and II and Enterprises I and II. The goals expected to achieve include
communic
ation skills, problem
-
solving skills, general and specific management skills,
financial and accounting skills specific to hospitality. These skills seem to be in line
with those found in the work of others.

Another study by Koh (1994), employed the Delphi
technique to determine
the types of management personnel that will be most needed and the type of a 4
-
year

tourism student ought to have, while the
Hotel School of Lausanne adapted the
practice of project mana
gement to upgrade its programme.

The approach e
mployed
considered both the changes taking place in the industry and the current and future
skills needed by the graduates for successful careers in the industry.

For the development of food and beverage management course in hospitality
management at East
Carolina University, Okeiyi, Finley, & Postel (1994) undertook
a research to determine importance ratings for food and beverage competence
statements for hospitality industry pract
itioners, educators and students.

The
competency statements were based on
the skills identified by Tas. The authors
reported similar results, that is, human relations and managerial skills were most
important while technical skills were less important.




RESEARCH METHODOLOGY


The first part of the study was a broad comparison, ma
inly from secondary'
sources of the management level courses provided in Greece, of the programmes
offered including course content, and of likely developments in the tertiary level
education and associated issues. Documentary data about management educ
ation
in Greece were collected from appropriate government agencies, private institutes'
association and by consulting the course providers.

This was followed by two
separate focus groups, of seven hotel management experts each, conducted in
Athens and in
Crete. Apart from providing information about their views on tourism
and management education, information from these groups will be also used to
develop insights for the later stages of this research study (which is still in progress).
Each group followed

a common format, and they included a range of questions and
exercises, with prompts provided as required (Peterson, 1987; Christou, 1999)..

Limitations of the study: Due to the nature of the study (focus group) and the
judgmental method of sample selecti
on, this study cannot be considered as truly
representative of the entire hospitality industry in Greece. It is at best a pilot study
that gives insights and points out tendencies.


Survey findings: Qualitative results


Future trends driving the hospitalit
y industry (open discussion)


Participants were asked to identify trends and developments driving the
hospitality industry in the next ten years. The purpose of this question was to look
ahead to the 21st century as it is well documented that (a) the deve
lopment of the
hospitality industry is dependent on the trends in the market place, and (b) both the
management of the hotel enterprises and the Hospitality Management Programme
provision need to reflect changes in the tourism industry (e.g. Lockwood, 1989
;
Jones and Teare, 1995). Industry leaders touched on numerous issues impacting
tourism in general and hospitality in particular. The main issues are presented in
Table 1.


Table

1:

Future Trends in Tourism and Hospitality




Information Technology



Increa
sed competition/globalisation



Customers are more demanding



Sensitivity for value for money



Increasing demands for quality



Lack of professional manpower



Pressure from Tour Operators



Increasing responsibilities for managers



Cost pressures in hotel operation



Increasing demands for safety and security



Increasing sensitivity for environment protection _______ ____


In detail, from an analysis of the findings, industry leaders stated their views on

the following related themes:



1

The trends driving the industry

in the year 2000 and beyond will stem from the
changes and developments that have been experienced over the last 10
-
15
years.

2

The golden age of tourism is over. The age of unlimited growth (in the 70s and
80s) and the lack of concern for the changing nee
ds of the customer and other
significant omissions are drawing to a close
-

or must come to a close for those
who have not realised the changing circumstances yet.

3

Growth rate is increasingly slowing down and the battle in the future will be for
market s
hare. Globalisation as well as local, regional and international
competition become major issues.

4

There are changes in consumers’ behaviour, values, and expectations.
Consumers are becoming more demanding, more quality conscious, and more
sensitive on valu
e for money.

5

Information and Communication technology creates new opportunities in nearly
all areas of hotel management.

6

Service quality and qualified labour shortages are and will continue to be pressing
issues.

7

Hotel enterprises face a continuing economi
c pressure


as spending decreases,
and pressures from the tour operators

increases
.

8

Quality management, marketing, and human resources take on a new
importance and require new management techniques and attitudes.

9

There is a shortage of well
-
trained pers
onnel in the Greek hospitality industry,
particularly at the entry
-
level and middle managerial level.

10

Currently, hotels are looking for better educated and qualified personnel due to
the changes occurring within the industry. At the same time in
-
house tra
ining and
the importance

of

continuous (life
-
long) learning have been recognised as the key
to survive.


When asked how they will respond to the opportunities and problems resulting
from these trends industry leaders supported that the external and intern
al pressures
and changes require both individual and joint efforts. In their view, the first step to
success is government responsibility to recognise the changing and demanding
nature of tourism. A firm and far
-
sighted policy in tourism must be employed b
y the
Greek National Tourism Organisation in order to face the wider inadequacies and
problems of Greek tourism which affect the management of the individual firms.
Tourism seasonality, infrastructure, marketing and promotion, new forms of tourism,
en
vironment protection, and human resource developments were particularly
emphasised as areas of concern. The establishment of new organisations such as
the Tourism Company of Crete and the activities of the regional tourism offices
towards up
-
grading tou
rism were mentioned as positive initiatives. Conversely, the
main criticisms about government's policy were focused on the lack of a Ministry
directly responsible for Tourism and the frequent replacements of the General
Tourism Secretors.

The second step
to success is business entrepreneurs’ and management
responsibility to recognise the need to change and to act accordingly. As one
participant pointed out, “if we manage today the same way as we did five or ten
years ago, we are in vain”, to further expl
ain that the traditional practices and
responsibilities are not enough to cope with today’s requirements. Also, participants
expressed the view the entrepreneurs and managers need to look for strategic


moves in order to stay ahead. In this context, industr
y leaders reported several
synergies, mergers,

and alliances within the Greek tourism market as successful
recent initiatives.

They reported, that particular action taken within the hotel units includes:
Reorganisation, in
-
house education and training for

both management staff and
personnel, development of new services/products (e.g. all
-
inclusive, spa

thalassotherapy
-

facilities), emphasis on customer care and satisfaction, effective
use of technology (e.g. promotion and sales through internet), develop
ment of
strategies to ensure productivity
-
personnel commitment and quality, participation in
exhibitions and trade shows in Greece and abroad, exploitation of new markets and
collaborations, and facility renovation.

In addition, there was widespread agreem
ent that, in general, well organised,
scientific
-
managed hotel companies are more likely to cope with difficulties in facing
the challenges. Being aware of the environmental forces and their effects upon the
hotel business, and having recognised the nee
d to change, they are in a position to
adapt to changing demands. Industry leaders, also, emphasised that in
-
house
training is well developed and common practice for these enterprises. Adversely,
the situation for the medium and small enterprises is rath
er disheartening as argued
by several participants. They supported that many firms are in a disadvantaged
position as most of them are still managed in an amateur way, failing to recognise
the need to change. Industry leaders also argued that the future c
ompetitiveness of
Greek tourism will, to a certain degree, depend on the success of these enterprises,
as they influence the overall quality and image of Greek tourism.


Skills and abilities necessary in graduates for the industry



General managers

were asked to record on paper the skills and abilities of
hospitality management graduates considered to be necessary for employment in the
industry. In this context participants touched upon a plethora of skills and
competencies needed to be an effectiv
e hospitality management graduate. The 14
members made 34 statements that the researcher put into c
ategories. Table 2
delineates
skills and competencies, ranked in descending order.


Table 2
:
Skills and Abilities for Graduates


1

Ability to maintain the s
tandards and to improve job (service quality concerns).

2

Positive attitude toward customers (ability to understand the customer).

3

Ability to understand the total hotel operation (all round knowledge of hotel industry).

4

Ability to supervise and co
-
ordinate a
ctivities of subordinates.

5

Ability to perform technical operations at supervisory level.

6

Ability to handle complaints.

7

Ability to identify and resolve problems, decision making and creativity.

8

Job experience.

9

Effective communication (foreign language ski
lls).

10

Job commitment, professionalism, personality characteristics.

11

Strategic planning, budgeting, forecasting, and marketing.

12

Technological competence (ability to use technology).

13

Competition awareness/Ability to adapt to change.

14

Application of knowledge
.





Then, during the lengthy discussion, the participants further clarified the
meaning of their statements. From an analysis of the findings the following issues
emerged:

Although there was continued support for the significance of operational
and tec
hnical skills, the participants acknowledged the growing importance of
managerial skills. The focus groups discussions highlighted the importance of
operational and technical skills in the early stages of a graduate’s career. They
argued that these skills
though important even to general managers, they are far
more important to middle and supervisory managers, while they take precedence
over all others for newly entrant graduates, as well as for the management of
medium and small sized enterprises. They cl
aimed that this is not to under
-
evaluate
the importance of management, leadership and other skills. These are necessary
too, but not sufficient to understand and control the operational aspects of the hotel.

They also emphasised that knowing the body of i
nformation that is required
for successful performance in any level of supervisory and management posts,
possessing the basic skills in dealing with clients and the necessary functional skills
to handle operation problems and to co
-
ordinate departmental o
r inter
-
departmental
activities are the keys for successful entry in the industry.

Another issue was that job experience in the hospitality industry is of crucial
significance. Participants suggested that Educational Institutes need to incorporate a
well
organised element of industry experience in hospitality management
programmes. Some mentioned that students need to be encouraged to obtain work
experience prior to graduation in order to be competitive in the job market.

Industry leaders touched upon the
problem of competition and pointed out
the need for graduates to be aware of related issues and to possess skills to
effectively confront intense competition. Industry leaders pointed out the need to
adapt the hotel product to the constant changing needs o
f the customer, indirectly
implying the need for effective marketing skills.

Service quality awareness and sensitivity was also highlighted by several
participants as key issue for concern. There was a widespread agreement that
hospitality management gradu
ates need to be service quality conscious to
understand the needs of the customer and to care about customer satisfaction. They
repeatedly emphasised that this requires graduates to possess a positive attitude
toward the industry as well as a professional
attitude and personality.

In further explaining what is meant by professional attitude, participants
stressed the need for students to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals
and to respect the industry. Distinctively, one participant stated he w
ould not recruit
a hotel management graduate that has not a positive attitude toward customer care
or undervalues service operations.

Last, but not least, industry leaders reported significant difficulties in
recruiting qualified graduates partly because
employment standards have risen. They
concluded that educational institutes should understand that the current and

future
needs of the tourism industry require in depth knowledge and understanding of the
total hotel business, ability to integrate theory i
nto practice, good practical and
interpersonal skills and relevant industrial experience if their graduates are to be
competitive in the hospitality job market.




Assessment of Hospitality Management programmes offered in Greece


When asked to assess the ho
spitality management programmes offered in
the country the members of the focus group expressed the view that these
programmes


were not very effective in preparing managers for work in the
hospitality industry. In this instance,


the public sector’s hos
pitality management
programmes were sharply criticised by several participants for their general and
unreali
stic nature. Distinctively, the
chairman of the Athens hotel managers'
association


argued that in general, Hospitality Management programmes in Gr
eece
offer a formal qualification, without essential value with the exception of a few
programmes and a small number of motivated graduates. Several industry leaders
repeated


that the hotel sector experiences the difficulty and shortage of trained
person
nel to fill supervisory and middle management jobs.

Similarly, when asked to express view on whether the programmes offered
are structured so as to anticipate and respond to trends within the industry, each
participant alluded that the public sector progra
mmes are far behind from anticipating
and responding to trends within the industry, while the private sector is more likely to
match the developments in the professional world. Most participants agreed that the
majority of hospitality management graduates
(on work placements and new hires)
seem not to understand the quality principles, the nature of tourism services, and
seem to lack in both traditional and current requirements of the industry.
Professional commitment is rarely to be found among graduates,

while the majority
have unrealistic expectations and view of the industry. However, the best point came
from one of the participants who supported that


young graduates who have spent
four years studying to make hotel management their career must know t
he
fundamentals of the industry to facilitate their career development.


Obviously, a key theme that emerged from the study is that there is a clear
gap between education and the reality of the industry.


Aiming to investigate this highly controversial is
sue further, industry leaders
were asked to evaluate the particular programmes of the
T.E.Is
2

and

A.S.T.E.R
3

offered by the public sector as well as the programmes of the private sector. Once
more, both groups, in main, expressed converging views. Partic
ipants generally
showed a negative attitude towards the public sector's programmes; ignorance of the
majority of the private sector's programmes; the Athens group referred to three
private institutions which, in their view, are doing an excellent job. Two
of these
private institutions were named as schools of excellence by the Cretan group. The
participants, however, showed less insight into course factors of these institutions
comparing to the insight shown into the two courses provided by the public secto
r.
Their view was mainly based on the reputation and image of these private institutes.


The most common comments about weaknesses of the T.E.Is’ programme
involves lack of integration between theory and practice; general nature of
programmes; programme is

too theoretical and too broad; production of educated
workers instead of properly educated and skilled professionals; these institutions

should not claim that they prepare graduates for the hospitality industry; graduates



2

Technological Edu
cational Institutes: Departments of Tourism Industries

3

Superior School of Tourism Professions




have unrealistic expectations of

the industry; most graduates do not understand the
fundamentals; ineffective planning of industrial placements; ineffective use of public
funds. Graduates are familiar with technology and good in foreign languages were
the comments about the strengths of
the programme.

The most common comments about weaknesses of the A.S.T.E. programme:
specific hotel management but it does not keep in pace with current developments;
poor professional attitude of the graduates comparing to the past. The comments
about the
strengths of the programme included: well
-
planned students' industrial
placements; programme delivery in hotel premises; graduates are familiar with
technology; graduates are good in foreign languages; graduates have more realistic
expectations of the indu
stry comparing to T.E.Is’ graduates.


According to the focus group's opinion, three private institutions are making
serious attempts to provide effective hospitality management education. “They are
doing an excellent job”, was a comment made by several ma
nagers. One third of the
industry leaders reported that they have provided work placements and/or employed
private institutes graduates and were in a position to comment on well developed
student’s attitudes; knowledge of the current issues; good level o
f service quality,
communications and computer skills; competency to understand the total hotel
business activity.


Type of course work a 4
-
year hospitality student ought to have


Both groups were asked their opinion as for the type of course work a 4
-
year

hospitality student ought to have most participants agreed that such a programme
needs, above all, to be relevant to the needs of the students and industry. They
supported that a greater responsibility in programme planning is required by the
government f
or the healthy progress of both the important hotel industry and
students. The participants made clear that contemporary, industry specific
programmes in hospitality management are needed.

During the lengthy discussion the following subject areas were id
entified as
being of crucial importance to a graduate: Operations, Information Technology,
Marketing, Finance and Management. Table 3 shows the subjects mentioned. When
informed that many of their suggestions are already in practice in many
programmes,
mos
t participants,
argued that what is important is not the subject itself but WHO
teaches it, WHAT is taught, and HOW is taught.

Further to this,
in the researcher's effort to probe deep into the problem,

industry leaders were asked to

further analyse the p
oints of concern in relation to
programmes’ design and delivery. The discussion revolved around several criticisms:
most programmes provide education about tourism, not in tourism and hotel
management; many educators are out of touch with the real world,
are unaware of its
evolving needs, teach the same material they did ten or twenty years ago; most of
the material taught in hospitality management institutions are irrelevant and
parochial; the practical training provided is inadequate; education is far be
hind the
industry. These criticisms, however, seem to contradict the comments made on the
strengths of certain hospitality management programmes.







Table 3:

Subjects mentioned

1

H
ospitality management

2

Service management

3

Food and beverage operations

4

Food
and beverage management

5

Rooms division operations

6

Reservations

7

Sales and promotion

8

Accounting
-

financial analysis

9

Cost control/costing methods

10

Budget planning

11

Total quality management

12

Human resources management

13

Computers/information Technologies

14

Tourism s
ystems

15

Marketing

16

Foreign languages

17

Conference and event management

18

Facility planning

19

Purchasing



Of particular interest were the criticisms and the issues raised by both groups
on how these programmes could match the developments of the real world. In bo
th
focus groups the following general themes emerged:



The majority stated that the government has not paid the attention tourism
education deserves, which in turn reflects government’s attitude towards tourism.
Every single participant highlighted the majo
r importance of tourism for the
economic survival of the country and agreed that the only way to progress is
through effective education. The government must create mechanisms to ensure
quality in education.



The majority of the industry leaders underlined
the need for effective planning
and development of the educational system according to the “European
standards and practices”. It was persistently argued that without major changes,
hospitality management programmes are not serving either their graduates o
r the
industry.



A comment made by several participants was that co
-
operation between
hospitality industry and education could resolve many of the problems and that
the contemporary nature of the course could be achieved by strong links with
leading touris
m companies and organisations.



Specific suggestions highlighted the need for reassessment and improvement of
the existing hospitality management courses; programmes need a new
philosophy and faculty that are capable in teaching what industry needs today
an
d will need in the future; these faculty members need to have a positive attitude
toward the hospitality industry; institutions should not hire instructors with merely
academic credentials; existing faculty should be encouraged to gain relevant
knowledge

and experience; programmes should emphasise graduates’
operational skills, level of commitment and ability to deliver quality services;
faculty should inform students about the realities of the industry and work towards


developing a positive career orie
ntation.



Both groups perceive a need for a greater depth of knowledge in all subject
areas; greater emphasis on management and operations; emphasis on the basic
principles of all technical subjects.



CONCLUSIONS

One of the primary aims of this study was t
o empirically examine the
challenges generated from a review of tourism and hospitality education literature
and a survey of the hospitality management courses provided in Greece.

The tentative results of the research study of a small sample, using focus g
roup, as
described in this preliminary study, indicate some areas for concern and allow for the
following conclusions to be drawn:



Industry leaders in Greece seem to be cognisant of and concerned about the
trends and developments taking place within the ho
spitality industry.



Hotel managers and entrepreneurs need to operate differently today. Instead of a
relatively narrow operational focus

they need to be more responsive to changing
needs and more proactive and responsible with situations occurring in thei
r
changing environments. However, only flexible and innovative enterprises
implement the best practice in hotel management.



Industry leaders look for a wide range of skills and competencies in hospitality
management graduates. They are looking for technic
al skills, operational, human
relations, communication, management skills, commitment, professionalism, and
work experience and reported significant difficulties in recruiting qualified
graduates.



Industry leaders in Greece considered that hospitality
management programmes,
particularly in the public sector, failed to address the skills requirements of the
industry.



Graduates are not only judged by their skills, but also by other factors, such as
knowledge and attitude.



A significant point that emer
ged from the focus group findings is that there is a
gap between education and industry needs.



Five subject areas
-

Operations, Information Technology, Marketing, Finance and
Management
-

should be included in a 4
-
year hospitality management curriculum,
a
ccording to industry leaders opinion.



Education/industry co
-
operation was considered very significant and very
feasible from industry leaders point of view.



Educational institutes were found to have a low
-
level of collaboration with the
tourism indust
ry.


The perceptions of the industry relating to the trends and developments
driving the hospitality industry, and particularly the comments made suggest a course
of action that government, tourism enterprises and educational institutes should
consider if
this industry is to prosper in the future. These findings are consistent with
numerous academics’ and researchers’ recommendations regarding the changes
taking place within the tourism industry and the changing roles and responsibilities of
the industry’s

managers and workforce. For instance, Poon (1993) argues that
tourism industry is in metamorphosis; Fayos
-
Sola (1995) suggests that a new age
of tourism is emerging; Cooper and colleagues (1998) point out that a well trained


and professional workforce
is required to successfully respond to the challenges
facing the tourism industry, and Jones and Lockwood document
, as early as in 1989,

that a new approach to hotel management is required for the future.

The results relating to the skills needed in hotel

management graduates
indicate that industry leaders look for technical skills, operational, human relations,
communications, management skills, commitment, and professionalism. It is however
important to conclude that industry leaders seem not to regard k
nowledge, skills and
competencies in hotel management as a minimum operating level, but as a complex
interplay of creative thinking and effective action at both functional and behavioural
levels. This means that to be effective, graduates need in
-
depth kno
wledge of the
operational aspects of the business, a professional attitude, as well as good
conceptual, managerial and creative skills. This finding is consistent with the four
major areas of competence (relevant to all levels of management) described by

Jones (1990). These are: competencies pertaining to dealing with people,
competencies concerned with managing activities, competencies reflecting a

sensitivity to environment or external factors, and competencies reflecting personal
effectiveness. It is

also consistent with the required competencies at various levels
of hospitality management analysed by Dittmer and Griffin (1993), that recommend:
“to be successful in the hospitality industry, managers must be adept at planning,
organising, directing, an
d controlling the operation for which they responsible. To be
successful managers, they must also have certain additional skills: technical, human
relations, and conceptual. All three are necessary”. Additionally it is consistent with
the hospitality mode
l proposed by King (1995) that recommends social skills, in
-
depth knowledge and understanding of guests’ needs and expectations, knowledge
of the service delivery process, and employees’ empowerment. Furthermore, it is
consistent with the key job demand
s on hotel general managers identified by Nebell
III & Ghei (1993) as well as with the skills and competencies needed by the
hospitality industry as identified by a number of related studies (e.g. Baum, 1990;
Eaton and Christou, 1997; Nikolaides, 1998).



The perceptions of the industry leaders relative to the effectiveness of the
hospitality management programmes’ provision coupled with the proposals made
regarding the type of course work a 4
-
year hospitality student ought to have highlight
two major

themes: First, the industry seems to be aware of the factors that may
affect the quality of education provision and graduates’ success in the workplace


namely quality and relevance of course content, quality of teaching staff, the
industrial experien
ce component, etc. Second, hospitality management programmes
need to consider a course of action so that students graduating form their respective
programmes are qualified to succeed in the workplace. As a matter of fact, the
results indicate that an in
-
de
pth education is required, an education that reflects an
understanding of the total hotel activity and the highly complicated external
environment. Above all, they indicate that any initiative aiming at upgrading the
courses provided needs to be based on a
n scientific approach to course design and
development, in collaboration with industry. In addition, the findings seem to be
positively related to the issues and the status quo as per literature search. Hence, all
stakeholders need better to understand T
ourism and Hospitality Education’s role,
dilemmas, constraints and opportunities while the void of theoretical underpinnings to
support the field of Tourism and Hospitality Education in the country should be
minimised.




In particular, the findings suggest
ed that as a result of the general nature of
the T.E.Is' programme and inadequacies related to the quality of resources most
students could be lost to the hospitality industry. This should be a source for concern
for both the educational institutes and th
e Ministry of Education. It is essential to up
-
date and re
shape the curricula ensuring that it reflects the industry needs and job
prospects for students. It seems that a separation between hospitality management
and related tourism studies is required. I
n addition, a scientific approach is necessary
for curriculum planning and development. As derived from the tourism and
hospitality education literature research, to achieve quality tourism and hospitality
programmes the following five components need to
be ensured: quality students,
curriculum that reflects the needs of the workplace, qualified teaching staff adequate
facilities and education/industry partnership. There is nothing particularly surprising
in these findings for two reasons: First, they ar
e compatible with the content analysis
of the course and its comparison with other courses both nationally and
internationally. In the first part of this study, related evidence documents that,
despite its re
-
design in 1995, the course remains too broad
and general. Second,
they are consistent with the author's
-
6
-
years ago
-

study on industry leaders'
attitudes to the T.E.Is' course, thus reconfirming programme’s failure to adapt to the
needs of the industry.


The results relating to the strengths and we
aknesses of the A.S.T.E
programme should also be a source for concern for both the institute and its Central
Administration. This Hotel Management programme, inter alia, should redesign and
upgrade its curricula and strengthen education/industry partners
hip. These findings
are positively related to the issues raised by Goldsmith and Smirli (1995) who
suggested that the structure of the A.S.T.E. course is

in urgent need of revision and
upgrading. “The lack of coverage and/or depth in teaching in housekeep
ing, food and
beverage administration, facilities planning and buildings maintenance results in a
lack of skilled specialists available for employment as well as an absence of
fundamental knowledge in all but the most rudimentary of conceptions in some
ca
ses”. The authors went on to argue that “the more esoteric concept of customer
awareness is absent as a doctrine in the educational system and its importance as a
key to success is not recognised by educators or managers. The value of quality
service as

a means to customer satisfaction and profit enhancement is under
-
exploited".


The perceptions of the industry lenders relative to the effectiveness of the
private sectors' programmes suggest that the majority of these programmes are not
well known among i
ndustry leaders. Obviously, the private institutions need to
familiarise the hotel industry with their programmes. However, a few of these
programmes enjoy a good reputation.



The
outcomes from
the
open discussion

concerning educational institutes’ link
s with
industry
s
uggest that education/ industry co
-

operation is kept to a minimum despite
the hotel industry's needs and requirements, and mainly, despite the industry
leaders'
expressed

willingness for such a co
-
operation. Obviously, both the Public
a
nd the private
education
should
cooperate more closely with industry.




In summary, this piece of research lent insights into the dynamics of the industry and
its expectations and claims on education. It confirmed that Greek tourism is in a
new era whi
ch is characterised by the pursuit of a more scientific and professional
approach to the hotel management comparing to the past. This trend has not been
recognised by the majority of hospitality management course providers as most
programmes seem to be i
rrelevant to the changing needs of the industry. Hence,
students and graduates seem


to be poorly prepared for managerial roles and their
future progression. A prominent reason for this problem, out of many, seems to be
the lack of adequate co
-
operation
between education and industry
.

Above all, this
exploratory study raised further questions and inspired further research. For instance,
an analysis of the career paths of graduates of these programmes in the hospitality
industry, with particular emphasis o
n the value of the education of education they
have received seems to be a prominent issue for the future of both industry and
education.






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