Hospitality Training: Australia at your Service
When the International College of Management Sydney opened in 1996 to offer diploma courses in a range of areas including tourism, hospitality and events, it attracted overseas students as one of the very few institutions in Australia offering this kind of training. Its first general manager, a graduate of the César Ritz College in Switzerland, succeeded in securing a partnership with the prestigious school that delivered a drawcard for both local and overseas students.
“They were coming here to get the quality of César Ritz but localised under Australian conditions so it gave them a lot more of a global perspective on quality,” says ICMS general manager Frank Prestipino. “They wanted the quality and the standards of the César Ritz hospitality education but they also wanted the global perspective to using that quality. Initially they were from Europe but it was just a matter of time after that before other overseas students started coming.”
The ICMS now also has partnerships with the Queenstown Resort College in New Zealand and the USA’s Johnson and Wales University, which provides hospitality training at four North American campuses. The college attracts enrolments through an extensive network of overseas agents in Europe, Scandinavia, North and South America, Asia, India and the Middle East, along with its own international development managers, and takes in around 250 new hospitality students each year in a ratio of about 60 percent local to 40 percent international, according to Prestipino.
Prestipino believes that today students worldwide see having part of their education in another country as giving them a competitive edge. He says that there are three aspects to ICMS’ appeal: the ability to study abroad, the Australian experience from a cultural point of view and providing a practical work experience program as part of the course.
“The Australian culture and way of life is something that comes through in the way we apply it to hospitality. It seems to resonate through our ability to perform service. It’s certainly different to others; it’s different from the US and if you get service from the US it feels different to that of an Asian country. Equally, here in Australia there’s a different way and approach, and people like the idea of Australian hospitality.”
Prestipino credits our multicultural input for the character and diversity of the Australian hospitality industry. “You walk into a five star hotel and the menu is laced with foods from all over the world.” Plus, he says, the European and Asian cultures of service “have rubbed off on everybody, in an Australian way”.
The demand for Australian hospitality education is only going to increase, he predicts. “As we see the Asian boom with the number of hotels they’re developing and their entire hospitality and tourism business exploding over the next few years, they’re going to rely on partners like Australia to fulfil those demands. They are looking for that Western influence because a lot of their tourists and business people occupying the hotels will be from Western countries.”
Prestipino says the college is positioned to meet the expanding demand by ensuring its hospitality program content meets global expectations and benchmark practices. “We are preparing for the global student. The perspective needs to be broader, which gives them more opportunity. The working lifecycle of the generation that’s coming through is going to be far more global and transient and therefore we need to prepare them with tools and knowledge in expectation of that.”
ICMS graduates are proving his observations. Kristin Hansen came from Norway to Australia to gain international tourism and business management qualifications and is the owner and operator of Soria Moria Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which provides a boutique experience for international travellers. Valentina Gonzalez from Mexico City is now working for W Hotels in Barcelona in Spain and cherishes the dream of opening a backpacker accommodation chain in Mexico, while Ballarat boy Alex Scott runs the rooms division for the six Resorts World at Sentosa properties from their new Hotel Michael in Singapore.
The college is now working on making distance education active, providing theory and fundamentals online to be linked with practical experience in a hands-on environment, perhaps through a hotel chain partnership, to meet growing international demand.