Charlie Higginbottom is currently studying a Hospitality degree with Les Roches in Switzerland, and recently took advantage of the option of free student membership with IoH. Here Charlie shares why he has chosen to study hospitality and how IoH membership has been beneficial.
Tell us about the qualification you are currently studying.
I am currently studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) specialising in Hospitality and Hotel Management at Les Roches, in Switzerland. The degree is spit into 7 semesters, each 6 months long. The first, which I have completed, is the practical semester where students are taught all aspects of a hotel or restaurant; this really allows students to gain the ground knowledge in order to be a future leader as well as give insight into an aspect they might want to explore further for their internships. As the course develops it moves to a more classroom-based environment, with specialisation in your last few semesters. I love my course and know that Les Roches is the place for me, I’m looking forward to getting back to my studies soon.
What attracted you to a career in hospitality?
As cliché as it may sound, I believe I had wanted a career in hospitality since I was very young. My parents and I moved to the remote parts of Spain when I was 3 and had planned to open a hotel, I was always very lucky in that we visited lovely hotels and restaurants, so perhaps it grew from this. As I got older, I became more aware of what good service was. Providing this art of great service can be just as, if not more so in the long run, rewarding as being on the receiving end of it. My love of travelling was just another reason that a career in hospitality was right for me. Also, who doesn’t want to travel the world to work in a lovely luxury hotel!
Have you had any practical experience yet of working in hospitality?
I am very aware that hospitality is not solely hotels and restaurants, but my career focus and passion is on hotels. I have been fortunate enough to work for the opening season in 2018 of 7 Pines Resort in Ibiza and was subsequently asked to return for the second season before it turned into 7 Pines Kempinski this year. I’ve worked in both a small boutique hotel and a larger city business hotel here in the UK and I think exploring all types of hotels, or what ever sector of hospitality you wish to pursue, is very important in order to focus on what makes you happiest.
What role would you love to be doing in five years time?
After COVID-19, I am very aware, like many, that we have to remain flexible in both what we want to achieve and how we do so. Having said this, my 5 year plan is to be Front Office Manager of a luxury 5* hotel, I’m still open to all opportunities that come my way, but I’d prefer a warmer climate!
What challenges do you think the industry faces over the next few years?
There are many challenges facing our industry. Being a typically slow to adapt industry, hospitality has had to deal with major changes to the way we work due to the still on-going pandemic. Be it large events having to socially distance and reduce numbers, the redundancy or evolution of the breakfast buffet, the housekeeping focus on cleanliness down to the simple use of masks. With all of this in mind, I think the biggest challenge will be with consumer confidence. We have to show that we are taking these necessary precautions and that it is safe to travel, having said this, sometimes it can be out of our control with many governments imposing quarantine on arrival; putting many tourists off travel. It may take time but the industry will recover, and we will be more ready than ever.
Which hospitality brands do you admire and why?
A brand that I have been fortunate enough to have briefly worked with and look forward to finishing my internship with this December, is Kempinski. Values are very important to me and I believe this hotel group fits with them very well. Whilst I have never worked for them, Marriot have a huge foothold in the hotel industry, and I have heard great things about them. They seem to put a lot of emphasis on training and growth within the brand for their staff. Accor and LVMH also seem to be staying ahead of the game, through large scale and rapid growth to successful market predictions respectively.
Why did you join Institute of Hospitality and which elements of the membership do you expect to value the most?
I initially joined Institute of Hospitality because of the industry connections that you can make and although I have only recently joined as a member, I aim to utilise the rest of the benefits. One benefit that I think I will value the most is the CPD that IoH offers, following graduation continued learning will be very important to me. The industry recognition through their post-nominal letters as well as the accredited and endorsed courses that IoH recommends will be something that I will definitely make the most of!
You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn.