Vatel Hospitality Management School Opens

Named Best Hospitality Management School in 2016, Vatel, a world-renowned business school in hospitality and tourism management is to open a university in Tbilisi in September. The agreement to open the school was signed last week between the Georgian National University, Block Invest and the Vatel Group.

First opened in Paris in 1981, Vatel’s education method has an emphasis on international education from the very beginning, oriented solely on teaching hotel and tourism management. Alain Sebban, the President and Founder of Vatel Group, decided not only to open a university but to establish Vatel Group. He spread the Vatel model in France, with universities opened in Lyon, (1984) Nimes (1989) and Bordeaux (1994), and expanded significantly from the year 2000 onwards. Vatel now has thirty-five universities on four continents worldwide, with 7000 students and 30,000 graduates across the globe.

Vatel collaborates with every major hotel company worldwide, their representatives regularly deliver training to Vatel Business School students and invite the students to participate in international meetings and forums. For the full 35 years of its existence, Vatel is said to have be able to guarantee 100% recruitment for those who study there.

GEORGIA TODAY met with Mr. Julien Liscouët, Director for International Affairs at Vatel International Business School, to talk about the ambitious mission to prepare a new generation of top professionals in hospitality and tourism management, now in Georgia.

What made Vatel Group decide to come to Georgia, and why now?

Why now? Because, the market needs to be mature, or to be in a phase of maturity. Then, you need to find the right partners and you need to have the right political conditions for it. The Georgian government has set up a strategy, ‘Study in Georgia,’ in order to build an educational hub here in Tbilisi, and we started working with Block Invest Group and the Georgian National University, starting with a joint meeting in Paris. We need to be on the same page because when you’re collaborating and you try to build a partnership, you also need to build trust. We had to meet and tell people what our expectations and visions were, and in this case, with our partners in Georgia, it was inline with ours.

Why do you think opening a Vatel Business School in Georgia is important?

In terms of tourism activity, sightseeing, culture - Georgia is a goldmine. Tourists come with very few preconceptions about the country and are often pleasantly surprised, but in order to have an unforgettable experience, the service needs to be improved. The School will train managers and senior managers in hospitality and the tourism industry. Being in the hospitality industry is like being in an army. You need to be on time, well dressed, always ready, and set a good example for others to follow. So, the idea is to train the managers and senior managers to set that example alongside training their staff. The hotel philosophy is based on a balance between theory and practice. The students will have internships in different hotels and will pass through all different departments, which is very, very important, and when the service rises, tourists coming to Georgia will feel more at home.

Tell us about the study programs, curriculum and the advantages Vatel Business School has to offer

Our study programs are in accordance with the Bologna process, with three years for Bachelor programs and two years for an MBA. Study will be in English, but there will be also classes in French to get a feeling where Vatel comes from. We’re planning to assimilate higher education and vocational training. Vocational training will be dedicated to operational positions - we’re planning an applied kitchen and outside training. The higher education will be divided into semesters, with semester one offering both theory and practice; two weeks in class and two weeks in hotels, and then a six-month internship. In the second year, it is compulsory to have an overseas internship, because hospitality is all about how to welcome a guest and you need to face various cultures to better understand the cross-cultural differences, especially managers. So, there will be six months of theory and practice and six months of internships, and a year and a half of intense internships and practice: it really will be a plug and play for the hospitality industry. I’m not saying that students will know everything perfectly, but they will be able to adapt and be pragmatic, which are the corner stones of the hospitality industry. We’re also building an international teaching team, and for the second year of study students will be able to travel overseas and study in other Vatel schools. This is what we call a Marco Polo exchange program. If a student lives in Georgia and wants to go to France or Singapore, he or she can do it, of course with the right language background. We might offer scholarships for both the Bachelor and Masters Programs, but it’s not been decided yet. Each Vatel School has its own scholarship program and there’s also a Group scholarship. For the people already working in the sphere, we will offer short term courses - they won’t get a degree, but it will be more of an attestation that they did a short course.

The tuition fees for Bachelor degree programs will be around $5000 a year. Alternatively, the university in Tbilisi will offer partial financing - and guaranteed jobs after graduation.

What would you say to a student deciding whether or not to apply? Why should they choose Vatel?

I would say take the challenge. Vatel is not easy training, but you are guaranteed to discover yourself!

Are there any trends Georgia still has to comply with in Hospitality Industry and Tourism Management?

Globally speaking, the hospitality industry is working more or less in the same way. Customer satisfaction is essential. But it has to be adapted to the country itself in the approach; to the culture, as the style of each country is totally different.

From your own experience in Georgia, what is lacking?

Efficiency. I see waiters walking too much and so being inefficient. And there is another thing, one which is very common in many countries: people need to learn how to smile more. When you see a customer, the first thing you do is say hello, and not everyone here does so. When you see a customer, you smile, you say hello – these are the basics and we need to train everyone to know the basics.

What is the advantage of the Vatel International Business School?

I would say the guarantee of getting a job, both domestically and internationally. You cannot imagine what the industry can provide in terms of jobs!

Nino Gugunishvili

01 June 2017 18:13