There is never a downside to education.

The hotel business is changing. The role of hoteliers is also changing. While the roots are still deep in service, someone needs the business sense to make a success of the investment. Hoteliers are no longer here simply to deliver services. Here’s a few reasons why having a business degree might help you to stay ahead with your hotel business.

The way we do marketing changes

There is no right and wrong in doing marketing. Every product and service is different. I remember a panel discussion some years ago where a group of CEOs agreed that F&B outlets wouldn’t make money and were a waste of the marketing budget. Other CEOs and hotel brands have since proved otherwise and are doing very well.

Often marketers are stuck in their ways - ways that work, but don’t encourage too much thought about ways that could work better. But that doesn’t mean you should try to amaze through creativity, constantly pulling rabbits out of the hat. Analytical skills play a huge role in marketing today, so an understanding of the theoretical background to marketing combined with the statistical know-how to make sense of the data mountain available to the modern executive can help you to create far more effective marketing strategies.

Marketing isn’t about predicting the latest trends, but it does require the identification of issues to be addressed, followed by the application of professional skills and management knowledge to complex and unstructured problems in hospitality and tourism.

“Marketing plays a pivotal role in hospitality and the Masters of Science in Global Hospitality Business from Hong Kong PolyU has set me up with the skills to contribute to my company’s global marketing strategy in current times and the years to come,” said Kristina Park, Global Social Media and Media Content Manager at Shiji Group.

Meanwhile, Leanne Reddie, Head of Commercial at AZERAI and the holder of an MBA from Murdoch University pointed out the importance of understanding data across multiple platforms. “Ultimately, I look after all touch points of revenue. I’m very comfortable understanding data across multiple platforms. There are other practices in other industries that can translate into our industry, creating a fresh narrative,” she said.

Revenue management has advanced

Everything we used to know - patterns and stats - is obsolete thanks to Covid. This has never happened on this scale before, so how do we predict and forecast?

Although a master’s degree won’t show you the trends or give you the answers, learning in greater depth about revenue management concepts, identifying essential components, and manipulating them to enhance company revenues will help you to overcome the principal challenges your business faces.

“If revenue management isn't done right, then you're not maximizing potential revenue, and if finance isn't done right, then you're bleeding money unnecessarily - it all ties in together. If you've made the right assumptions and all of these are done right, then you have a success story in hotel investment,” stated Kyu Baek Kim, Acquisition & Development Manager at Ovolo Hotels, and another Global Hospitality Business MSc graduate of Hong Kong PolyU.

IT is part of our job

Being familiar with technology is no longer enough to thrive in the digital age. You will need skills to manage, implement, and understand the functionality of the most innovative IT systems in hospitality.

IT goes hand in hand with big data. Once you understand the concept of big data you can start making better business decisions. You will know which information is useful and which isn’t for your organization. This will enable you to build an advantage over your competitors.

“As more and more mobile and digital technologies become available, the way hotels run their operations, whether it's revenue management or marketing or investing, has changed into a more seamless form through technology. The biggest change has come from the increase in accessibility to technology and the growth in integration between different technology vendors and products,” argued Kristina.

You are in the business of real estate.

Managing hotels is no longer just about room revenue, F&B revenue, or spa revenue. You need to be able to debate the concept of asset-heavy versus asset-light hospitality enterprises and understand which approach would deliver greater profitability for your owners.

But before making any assumptions or decisions you need to have a fundamental understanding of real estate finance with in-depth knowledge of topics such as real estate capital markets, portfolio theory, and investment analysis. Once you are equipped with these skills you are then in a position to analyze complex real estate investment scenarios, develop an optimal portfolio consisting of real estate assets, and foresee emerging topics in real estate.

Do it for your personal brand

Brand You is just as important as the brand you work for. There is never a downside to education.

As Leanne points out, further study can be critical. “It sets differentiation for ‘my personal brand’ while a lot of my peers don’t pursue higher education. Also, it’s critical to never stop learning, ensuring that you keep cutting-edge,” she said.

“Generally speaking, having at least basic knowledge in various areas will allow you to make better decisions in your job, no matter what your role is,” added Jennifer Klar, Corporate Sustainability Manager at Six Sense Hotels Resorts Spas, who studied business and finance before embarking upon the Global Hospitality Business MSc at Hong Kong PolyU which included semesters in Switzerland and the USA as integral parts of the program.

She elaborated that “The program equipped me with general hospitality business knowledge and allowed me to develop my own interpersonal skills and become better at working in international teams. This is why I chose to do the Masters Program in Global Hospitality Business offered by EHL as a tripartite program with a semester each at EHL in Switzerland, Hong Kong PolyU and Conrad N. Hilton College in Houston.”

"I come from a business background, having majored in Global Business here in Hong Kong during my undergraduate studies. But I've always been interested in hospitality and sought out hotel operations experience for my internships with a thesis that in order to understand hotels from a macro-perspective, you have to understand it from a micro-perspective first. With the advice of my mentor, who also happens to be a PolyU graduate, I extended that thought process by taking up a master's degree in hospitality, which was a great segue in fusing all of my experiences together. The global nature of the program, the classes I took at the schools, and the connections I made during the degree have been incredibly helpful in expanding my viewpoint and perspectives," explained Kyu Baek Kim.

“I was inspired to pursue a master’s degree in Global Hospitality Business as it would introduce me to the world of hospitality at three prestigious hospitality institutions in three crucial regions around the globe. Not only did the program allow me to learn within the classroom, but it also provided me with the opportunities to meet with hospitality leaders from various parts of the industry, connect with alumni from three universities, and build relationships with like-minded peers to last me a lifetime,” concluded Kristina.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, one of the best options if you want to join the growing number of hoteliers who decided that further education is the right career move is The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where the School of Hotel and Tourism Management offers a Master’s Degree in Global Hospitality Business and works in conjunction with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) and Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management of the University of Houston.