According to a recently published survey conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres, the top three hotel schools in the world are Swiss: Ecôle Hotelière de Lausanne, Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management. The success of these schools is attributed to a unique “combination of professional excellence and international business in a truly multicultural setting,” says Alain Brunier, president of the Swiss Association of Hotel Schools. While expensive, particularly for Swiss students – many internationals have their own income sources – these establishments tend to ensure high-quality educational services, stemming from a protracted need to develop both the student and the name of the institution. In light of this, tolerance, diversity and ethics are on a par with professionalism and business acumen. The schools rely on strict codes of conduct and the portrayal of an image that is meant to define the students throughout their professional careers.
This pragmatic approach highlights Switzerland’s historic links to the tourist industry and hotel-management schooling. The first school, the Vaud-based global reference EHL, was established in 1893. Director Michel Rochat expresses a vision that conjectures not only the value system of a particular establishment, but of Switzerland itself. This ideological symbiosis has created a reputation that propels Switzerland and its hotel schools well beyond their international peers. This provides a reputation unequivocally based on a “special profile” that extols Swiss touristic savoir-faire.
Many students from across the world opt to study at these schools precisely because they are Swiss. Though seemingly esoteric, the best hotel establishments enable alumni to experience an array of specializations while developing interpersonal skills and linguistic fluency. This in turn gives credit to the schools around the world, as many recent graduates are employed by leading hotel chains.
According to Rochat, this quid pro quo stems from a Swiss value system based on innovation, personal engagement, tradition, linguistic abilities and attentiveness. It is by staying true to these values, while adapting to the evolving trends of the industry, that Swiss schools have managed to create a name not only for hotel management, but Swiss hotel management. These Lake Geneva schools emulate what the hostelling culture is all about: internationalism while remaining Swiss. The progressive nature of these establishments also mirrors the direction Switzerland must take if it is to stay at the top of the global hotel management industry.