Hospitality: A world of opportunities for young entrepreneurs

Sonia Tatar
Sonia Tatar, CEO Worldwide of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management

Sonia Tatar, CEO Worldwide of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management explains how a changing hospitality landscape is giving way to a new breed of entrepreneurs and how educators should best prepare them for success.

Entrepreneurship: a trend among millennials

At just 20 to 35 years old, more millennials are becoming entrepreneurs, already creating and starting up more new companies, managing larger, more agile teams, and targeting higher profits and returns than previous generations, according to a recent study by BNP Paribas.

The reasons for this development are manifold: the corporate environment is becoming less appealing and attractive to this generation, who cherish freedom and creativity as key aspects in the workplace, while barriers to entrepreneurship are lower. Technology and the co-owning spirit of the sharing economy have heavily contributed as well: Young entrepreneurs are inspired by the success of companies such as Airbnb and Uber, which have raised an impressive 1.5 and 2.1 billion US$ in 2015 alone, and they see themselves following this trend and creating new fast-growing businesses.

An expanding travel and tourism industry

Despite international uncertainties and security concerns, the global travel and tourism industry continues to grow at an impressive rate: More than one billion tourists travel to an international destination every year, while tourism contributes 10% of global GDP and 6% of the world’s total exports, according to the UNWTO 2015 Report.

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Behind this surging demand for travel is the millennial generation: increasingly mobile consumers who travel more than their seniors. They are more flexible in their travel plans and rely on technology and social platforms to find the best experiences suited to their lifestyle, needs and budget. This explains the emergence in the hospitality market of new concepts and “sharing economy” platforms.

Why teaching entrepreneurship is key

These examples highlight the tendencies of this coming generation, but also their importance in shaping the future of the hospitality industry and ultimately the global economy. The key question for every educational institution should be whether the right skills are taught to this generation of graduates to help them think and act as successful entrepreneurs in the future.

There is some debate among academics about whether entrepreneurship can actually be taught or if it is more a state of mind. As Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at The Wharton School, points out, we need to distinguish between knowledge transfer and practical learning. Universities must provide both the supportive setting and the expert guidance most conducive to learning from experience. Entrepreneurship professor Tina Seelig of Stanford University believes that creative problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment are the cornerstones of an entrepreneurship education.

We see entrepreneurship as the catalyst for change and evolution within the hospitality industry, whereby entrepreneurship is more than a wave of new start-ups — it is about fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that challenges the status quo, disrupting traditional ways of doing business with innovative solutions.

Nurturing entrepreneurial thinking is also essential for employers: By believing in their creative potential, businesses empower entrepreneurial employees to bring innovative change to a company from within.

Preparing entrepreneurs for hospitality

To equip young entrepreneurs with the relevant hard skills, Les Roches offers an entrepreneurship stream for its hospitality management programs, teaching students to develop an understanding of strategic market opportunities, financial values and returns, and project management as well as organizational effectiveness. As part of their studies, they develop their own hospitality business concepts and enter global competitions with students from other institutions.

As educators, we are committed to offering students a safe environment that empowers them to launch their own projects and events, from TEDx talks and innovation summits to hosting wine fairs. They develop their own approaches and take ownership of entire projects, under the expert guidance of the school’s faculty.

We are proud to already see 33% of our global alumni succeeding with their own business ventures: A young alumna recently launched Social Belly, a peer-to-peer dining platform and social marketplace in London, while another graduate from our Marbella campus co-founded the mobile booking app Hot Hotels, which recently received an award for best start-up in Andalusia.

About Les Roches International School of Hotel Management

Les_Roches_International_School_of_Hotel_Management_logoLes Roches International School of Hotel Management combines practical hospitality courses with internships and management lectures. Students obtain hands-on experience and put their learning to work. In a diverse learning environment with peers from over 90 different countries, they are required to develop valuable leadership and soft skills during their studies.

In order to reinforce its  entrepreneurial direction, Les Roches has announced a new collaboration with Seedstars World, a start-up platform linking entrepreneurs and investors in emerging economies. Through this partnership, student entrepreneurs will gain access to workshops, launch pad events, boot camps and a unique global network of entrepreneurs that will help their pursuit of creating viable new businesses.


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