Disserving the service industry

BON Blog - Disserving the service industry

Twenty years ago, South Africa had three prominent hotel schools, training approximately 600 students per year, very good, renowned hotels schools that each churned out around 70 white kids (mostly males, as women were generally considered too ‘soft’ for the industry) from the middle to upper-class suburbs of South Africa. As the large hotel groups also focussed on training industry ‘wannabees’, I would estimate that collectively our industry trained and placed 180 hotel school graduates annually. The South African hospitality school industry developed a solid reputation as these graduates dispersed across the globe, taking up sought after positions in hotels, kitchens and restaurants globally.

Since democracy’s institution in 1994, hotel schools were correctly encouraged to enrol students from previously disadvantaged environments. Moreover, our tourism industry was primed for an influx of visitors. These disadvantaged kids, though, were somehow expected to swiftly ‘get with the programme’ even though most had never even sat in a restaurant, let alone slept in a hotel bed. They were expected, unfairly, to ‘understand’ hospitality. Even today, hoteliers are still lamenting the calibre of hotel school graduates, but what are we doing as leaders of our industry to ensure a generation of top quality, passionate hotel operators?

I was recently invited to a very prominent and famous high school career day, to be available and share knowledge and passion for my industry. I had not one taker, not one single interested student. What I did learn, however, was that the industry is tainted with perceptions – some true and some false: perceptions of being white-owned and white-managed; perceptions of being an incredibly tough and demanding career that requires long hours and sacrifices; perceptions that hotel schools are expensive and reserved for privileged wealthy families. What a travesty! We are trapped behind a crippling image problem.
Even though I don’t generally point fingers, I must admit that the industry at large should take account. I don’t think that any South African hotel group or independent hotelier can honestly say that we are doing our best to develop our disadvantaged people. Why are we not actively recruiting far more young people into the tourism sector? Where are the new generation hotel school students? Why are we suffering so many unspoken realities?

If we could wave a magic wand, we at BON Hotels would develop our own hotel school. This requires time and patience and a little bit of common sense, quite frankly. Inspire these children. Take the time to give them the experience of hotel service, a hotel room, a proverbial flight across the ocean. Teach them that this is a very exciting industry, one of endless adventure, travel and learning, an industry offering broad horizons and global opportunities. Let them feel how rewarding it is to serve patrons and guests. Let them relish absolute satisfaction in the simple delight of happy faces.

It is time for us in the South African hospitality sector to take stock of our talent. Tourism is a huge industry for our country. We should be putting pressure on all parties, current hoteliers and government included, to dedicate time and energy, and to end this apathetic disservice to our most precious commodity – our youth.



Chief Executive Officer

Having grown up in the corridors and reception areas of Cape Town hotels, Guy Stehlik is no stranger to the hospitality industry.


10 000-hour rule 2014 2015 3 Star Hotel 5-star hotels africa African countries African Development African Experience African Opportunities Art of War asia Bank investment Big City Deals BON Academy and Training Institute BON Bill of Rights BON Blitz BON Ethos BON Hotels BON Principles BON STARS BONami Bosses Budget Budgets Business Business Coach Business Relationships Business Rescue Business Travellers Call Centre Cape Town Cape Town Hotels in the CBD Career Day Careers Cash Flow Citizen M Client Colleagues Company Culture Company Start Up Core Values Corporate Corporate traveller Corruption Creating Jobs Cruise Liner Industry Debtors Democracy Distressed Hotel Distressed Hotels Entrepreneur Entrepreneurs EXCO meetings Family Entertainment Food and Beverage foreign General Manager General Managers Generation Y Get the basics right Goals Good People Government Government initiatives Gratitude Green-fielding growth Guest comment Guest expectations Guests HICA Conference Home life hospitality Hospitality Company Hospitality Group Hospitality Industry Hospitality Industry Leaders Hospitality Industry; Statistics; Value-for-money; Government; Holiday; Tourism Hospitality Sector Hotel agreements Hotel basics Hotel contracts Hotel Design Hotel Developers Hotel Developments Hotel Guests Hotel Industry Hotel Investment Conference Africa Hotel Management Hotel Management Company Hotel Management Contract Hotel Management Contracts Hotel Management Personnel Hotel Management; Lease Agreements; Portfolio of Hotels; Management Companies Hotel Operator Hotel Operators Hotel Owners Hotel Rooms Hotel School Hotel take over Hoteliers Hotels Industry Events Industry exhibitions and events International brand International Hotel Brand International Hotel Brands International Hotels It's my Biz Job-seekers Kwazulu Natal Leader Life Lessons Local hotels Local Markets local travellers Long-haul Destination Loyalty Programme Loyalty programs Management Company Management Experience Marketing Strategies Mentoring Mentors Millenials mobile most outrageous job Namib-Cape Route Namibia Nedbank Networking new markets New projects nigeria ONOMO Hotels Operations organic growth organisation Outliers Owner's Bill of Rights owner-staff-guest-centric company Partnerships in Hospitality passion Plan Profitable Business Proposals Public Relations Publicity Relationships Resort Management Return on Ego Return on Investment Revenue Sales skills Sales Team Senior Management Sharing Economy Small Towns social media south africa South African Banks South African Government; Politics; Department of Home Affairs; Investors; Tourism South African Tourism South Africans Staff Staff movements Strategic Planning Student life Survey Talent Targets Team member Technology Teen Entertainment Third part agent tourism Tourism Industry Tourism markets Trade Shows Training travel trends Value Value adds Value for money Values Verbal abuse; Racial abuse Visa West Africa Wi-Fi Women in the workplace Work hours Xenophobia Young Talent Zambia


12% off when you
book online via www.bonhotels.com

You’ve got this in the bag!

Book Now

Hotel Reservations