The hospitality industry is always changing and schools need to keep up with the latest trends to provide students with the best education possible. In this blog post, we'll be talking about the significance of adaptive curricula and providing some helpful tips for schools to stay relevant and attract more students. We'll also be discussing some of the exciting new trends in the hospitality industry and education, and how schools can align their curricula with these trends to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in this fast-paced sector. So, let's dive in and explore how hospitality schools approach the challenge of preparing students for the hospitality jobs of the future!

Aligning hospitality education with hospitality trends

Hospitality schools are at the center of a whirlwind of change. On the one hand, the hospitality industry is growing strongly again, and it’s changing faster than ever before with the post-pandemic travel surge, new technology, and evolving customer expectations. On the other hand, those same factors are generating a multitude of emerging trends in education, with changing student expectations and new learning tools.

To succeed in this fast-changing landscape, hospitality education providers must align their curriculum with hospitality trends to ensure students have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this fast-evolving sector. And they must seize on the latest learning trends to keep their programs attractive and cutting-edge.

It sounds simple enough, but aligning curricula with industry trends is not as straightforward as it might seem. Proactively adapting and updating a curriculum requires professional industry insights, creative academic innovation, and strict adherence to the processes and standards that accredited institutions must uphold.

As a world reference in hospitality education, EHL offers Vocational Education & Training (VET), a ready-to-deliver solution that allows institutions to implement Swiss hospitality training programs with an up-to-date curriculum that meets today’s industry standards, preparing students for the hospitality jobs of the future. In this way, VET enables schools and companies to meet the dynamic demands of the ever-evolving hospitality sector and the expectations of modern students.


Common trends in the hospitality industry & education

The hospitality industry faces several trends and challenges that educational institutions must be aware of to align their curricula accordingly. By cross-referencing EHL research articles on the top trends impacting the hospitality industry and the education trends for 2024, we identify some key trends and factors that will influence the curriculum adaptation of hospitality schools.

  • Digitalization

Digitalization has revolutionized the hospitality industry, with the use of mobile apps and automation systems transforming the way hotels and restaurants operate. Similarly, technology has also transformed the learning experience for students worldwide with the rise of e-learning or hybrid learning, and the use of apps and other digital platforms for many courses and student services.

  • Artificial intelligence

Over the past few years, chatbots like ChatGPT and other AI-powered language tools have proven to be highly useful in hospitality customer services and student services. Just as these bots can help with the booking process and respond to recurring questions for hotel customers, they can also do similar things in the classroom, making this technology a must-have going forward. Hospitality education specialists can learn to harness these tools to reduce the overload of administrative and repetitive tasks for both students and teachers.

  • Sustainability

Sustainability is another trend that is shaping the hospitality industry, with customers increasingly demanding eco-friendly products and services. In general, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability are factors that concern both companies and schools, as the younger generations (Millenials and GenZ) place significant importance on these factors.

  • Shifting consumer preferences

Shifting consumer preferences, such as the rise of experiential travel and the demand for personalized experiences, are changing the way hotels and restaurants interact with their customers. This is also a factor in education, as personalization is a desirable element, even an expectation, for modern students. They expect to be treated as individuals when engaging with recruitment, enrollment, academic advice, and lifestyle services.


The importance of an adaptive curriculum

Traditional curricula may become outdated rapidly in today's fast-paced hospitality environment. Institutions that fail to keep up with industry trends risk losing their competitive edge and failing to meet the demands of the job market. In contrast, educational institutions that proactively adapt their curricula to align with industry trends and student needs position themselves as innovative and forward-thinking, attracting more students and enhancing their reputation.

In education, an adaptive curriculum is defined by Google’s The Keyword as “learning where students are given customized resources and activities to address their unique learning needs.”

For instance, VET by EHL combines online learning, on-site visits, and mentoring to provide an in-depth understanding of the hospitality industry with an individualized approach to career development.


Effective strategies for curriculum adaptation

To ensure their curricula remain relevant, educational institutions can employ several effective strategies and methodologies.

Well-Branded Partnerships: They can partner with industry experts and organizations to develop programs that are aligned with industry trends.

Integrating Technology: They can also integrate technology and sustainability courses into their curricula to keep up with the latest trends.

Follow Best Practices: Schools can seek to implement the actions that have been proven effective by referring to the case studies and success stories of institutions that have successfully adapted their programs to enhance their students' learning experience.

All of these strategies are a part of VET by EHL. The partnership that EHL offers through VET gives educational partners access to the expertise and resources of the world’s top-ranking hospitality management school. The VET programs integrate technology seamlessly into the student learning journey, and VET has numerous worldwide partners and case studies to take examples from.


Benefits for educational institutions

Aligning curricula with industry trends can enhance an institution's reputation and attract more students. Educational institutions that offer programs that are aligned with industry trends differentiate themselves from their competitors, positioning themselves as innovative and forward-thinking.

Schools can also gain flexibility and reduce costs by integrating updated, ready-to-deliver modules into existing programs, thereby reducing the expense of developing new programs from scratch. According to software experts, the cost of developing a new digitally-based program from scratch usually starts at over $100,000 and can reach or exceed $500,000.

Additionally, an adaptive curriculum can help ensure that students are prepared for the workforce, by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed for the job. This benefits the school by raising it’s employability scores and reputation in the industry, creating a positive feedback loop that will continue to drive enrollment and student engagement.


Benefits for students

Students benefit from enrolling in programs that are aligned with industry trends, as they gain practical skills and enhanced employability.

A well-known factor of Switzerland’s economic success is its world-leading vocational education and training (VET) system. Firmly rooted in the Swiss culture and economic engine, this model combines theory and practice-based learning in the industry, and it is the most popular form of upper secondary education in Switzerland. Two-thirds of young people opt for this type of education, which prepares them for the world of work and supports them throughout their careers. This system is also one of the main reasons behind the country’s low youth unemployment rates.

Furthermore, students who are trained in the latest technologies and sustainability practices are better equipped to meet the demands of the job market and stand out from their peers. For example, students who learn to use Python for machine learning are more likely to find jobs in the tech industry.

By enrolling in programs that include internships and a curriculum that is aligned with industry trends, students gain real-world experience, mentorship, and career connections that boost their chances for fulfilling and lucrative employment. They graduate with first-hand knowledge of the latest trends and are prepared for the challenges of the industry.


Testimonials and success stories - VET by EHL

VET by EHL was worked with many institutions to successfully adapt the curricula to meet industry demands. Its programs are constantly updated to the latest industry trends, vouched by EHL, and easy to implement. As a result, students who enroll in VET by EHL programs gain practical skills and enhanced employability, positioning themselves for success in the hospitality industry.

For the Metropolitan College in Greece, the partnership with VET by EHL had the objective to strengthen the link between its programs and the labor market. The updated curriculum based on industry needs resulted in increased graduate employability. In this case, the model promoted work-based learning and employer involvement. It was complemented by some of EHL’s best practices for preparing students to enter the job market such as organizing career events, providing students with CV clinics, interview preparation, and advice. All in all, this proved the positive effect that partnering for vocational development can have on the education and employment of young people.


In another example, EHL Education Consulting (formerly EHL Advisory Services) joined forces with UM6P SHBM (Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morroco) in designing the curriculum for their 4-year bachelor’s program in Hospitality Management based on EHL best practices. The curriculum was designed to balance practical and theoretical components, based on the industry needs, prioritizing the future employability of the graduates.

In addition to getting a financial return on investment from its hospitality programs, institutions like these become a platform for research and insights into future technologies, trends, and opportunities for the industry. By embracing a vision similar to UM6P SHBM and being supported by industry leaders through the complex implementation process, schools can become drivers for continued growth and innovation shaping both the hospitality industry and its local economy.


The future of hospitality education

The landscape of hospitality education is expected to evolve rapidly for institutions and students in the coming years. Educational institutions must continue to adapt their curricula to keep up with the latest industry trends, ensuring their students are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the fast-paced hospitality sector. By aligning curricula with industry trends, educational institutions can stay competitive and meet the demands of the ever-evolving hospitality industry.

In anticipation of the latest advancements in education, we propose that schools and teachers must equip themselves with knowledge about the following five education trends that will continue to grow over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Technology in teaching and learning: gamification, blockchain, AI & more
  2. Soft skills training: entrepreneurship, public speaking & leadership skills
  3. Decreasing attention spans: the Nano Learning trend
  4. Facilitating learning versus teaching
  5. Life-long learning

For an in-depth analysis of these trends, read the article on EHL’s Hospitality Insight Blog.

In conclusion, hospitality education providers must prioritize maintaining an up-to-date curriculum along with contemporary learning tools and strategies. An adaptive curriculum allows them to continuously elevate their offer and stay ahead of their competitors as they position themselves as innovative and forward-thinking institutions.

Adopting a solution such as VET by EHL allows hospitality schools to save on financial resources and time, which are some of the biggest challenges that schools face in adapting their curriculum. EHL’s VET licensing model offers solutions for these challenges and creates many opportunities for hospitality education to align with the needs of the industry and support the future growth of hospitality professions around the world.

For more examples of how VET programs are shaping the world of hospitality, read more about this subject on our blog.

Written by

Learning Content Designer - EHL Education Consulting

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“Tourism-related studies have started to gain the importance and validity they deserve and are gradually becoming a conscious choice. We, at SETE, are true believers that learning never stops in an industry such as ours, and we applaud this initiative between Metropolitan College and EHL.”
Mr. Yiannis A. Retsos, President of the Greek Tourism Confederation - SETE