SINGAPORE (Jan 15): At the 120-year-old École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), executive dean Inès Blal is aiming to train a generation of technology-ready hoteliers. “We try to instil in them customer-oriented service excellence,” Blal says. “It is just another challenge for us — to deliver competencies to our students so that they can face any new change in the environment. Those changes can be anything from robots to hotel substitutes like Airbnb.”

EHL’s comprehensive programme covers cooking, wines, housekeeping rosters and even foreign languages. The objective is to cover all the basic skills that any hotel manager would require. Dealing with technology is one of them. Robots that make beds and deliver food are opportunities that the hospitality industry should embrace rather than fear, Blal says.

“The challenge for students is: How do you integrate these new techniques and technologies to maintain a profitable business?” she explains. “My challenge, and the challenge of the graduates, is to make sure that the service experience and customer experience are maintained with that new parameter. The hotel industry has evolved since its creation. That’s why we focus on competencies rather than knowledge.”

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