The impact of COVID-19 has been massive across all aspects of the hospitality industry, including education. The health risks posed by the pandemic to guests and staff and the imposed travel restrictions have hit the global hospitality industry hard. Massive layoffs and furloughs have been observed in the industry.
Today, more than ever, the importance of effective hospitality education cannot be denied. Hospitality and tourism staff need to be more evolved and sensitive to the needs of guests in the aftermath of the pandemic. Many roles that were previously considered evergreen are out of the fray, while new job roles such as ‘Sanitization Expert’ have emerged.
New terminologies such as ‘Sanitization’, ‘Social Distancing’, and ‘Contactless’ have become part of the new curriculum of hospitality education. Hospitality education is changing to sensitize the young students towards workplace safety, hygiene of spaces, and new protocols of health. Students also need to become technologically competent.
A lot of technologies such as ultraviolet ray sanitizing systems, thermal scanners, electrostatic spraying in the public areas and guest rooms, use of robots in housekeeping and bar operations and contactless check-in and check-out procedures are being adopted by most hotels in the wake of the pandemic.
The development of curriculum has to revolve around an evolved sense of responsibility, all the while readying the students to think on their feet. The hospitality teachers have to add the latest vocabulary and operational procedures employed by the hospitality industry including ‘sanitized cleaning’ and ‘clinically clean’, along side the explaining the meaning of general safety to the students.
Hotel operational process changes have started to include non-reusable amenities, mandatory sanitizing checklists, use of water proof mattress and pillow protectors, providing liquid sanitizers which should have 70% alcohol instead of gel based sanitizers, sanitization of mattresses and room after every check-out, and many more.
Students facing difficulties in sourcing jobs in the hospitality sector due to the current climate, should also be trained to find opportunities in other industries such as Food Manufacturing Corporations and sectors, such as Human Resources and Customer Services by the educators. After all, life must go on even after COVID-19.