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Careers in hospitality: Some unusual options
Navin Kumar
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February 29, 2008

Part I: People's person? A career in hospitality might be for you
Part II: Careers in hospitality: Colleges and courses

The hospitality industry in India is huge: a complex mixture of top end five-star hotels offering immense luxury at steep prices and low-end hostels offering merely a bed and shower. The recent economic transformation of India has thrown up a number of unusual and rewarding places looking for skilled workers and willing to pay for them. Here we take a look at two promising options:   

~ Spas
In India, the Spa has been around for 10 years but has really taken off during the last five and is expected to explode in the near future. However, the industry is being plagued by skilled manpower shortages.

Says Dr Pramod Mane, an ayurvedic physician at Ananda, a spa in the Himalayas, "The spa is going to be a big industry in the near future. But the truth of the matter is that the sector faces a huge shortage of well-trained staff. If awareness levels are increased and people show interest in getting trained in spa therapy, then the sky is the limit."

Indian spas have distinguished themselves form their international counterparts by offering a combination of yoga, ayurveda and massage therapy rather than mere pampering. Most of India's 20-25 major spa centres are located in the south, in Kerala [Images]. Health tourism is being given a lot of importance, by both private players and the state governments.

A spa therapist's job profile includes providing massages: Swedish, Oriental, Thai, Indonesian, Balinese etc. The job also includes aromatherapy, scrubs, wraps and facials. Having a working knowledge of pedicures and manicures is an advantage.

There are many treatments to be provided as well like seaweed hydrotherapy, reflexology, blitz shower, jet hydro massage, hydro jet body blitz, exfoliation and skin care treatments. A candidate should ideally possess complete technical and practical knowledge of international spa treatments, beauty treatments and therapies as well as good communication skills.

People joining the spa start with a package of Rs 5,000-6,000 per month and depending on their performance, they are even eligible for incentives. The package could increase to Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per month and go as high as Rs 60,000 to Rs 80,000 per month.

There are no dedicated spa training institutes in India. There are a few centres that are usually attached to resorts. Many hotels and big spas are planning to open up institutes. Ananda plans to open one in Hyderabad which will be the first in the country.   

Spa therapists begin their careers as trainees and could go up to the level of spa manager or even spa director, in five to seven years. There are also options for entrepreneurship.

Says Bob Christo, director of Health and Fitness, Golden Palms Spa & Resorts, "Most people getting trained in the hotels, venture abroad or even start their own set-up. With the kind of demand for spas being forecasted and its availability in most cases being limited to top-end hotels, small outlets are bound to come up and many will surely be from those who have had their training from hotels resorts like us.

"There are many people who come to learn spa therapy even though they are holding good jobs. It is mostly an entrepreneurial bug in them especially considering the big boom waiting to happen."    

~ Budget hotels
One of the growing trends seen in India is 'more for less'. Following the explosive growth of low-cost airlines is a remarkable growth in the mid-tier hotel segment of low-cost or budget hotels.

While these have always existed it was the Tatas, with Indione, who opened up this segment, thereby transforming the experience to an elitist taste.

A number of brands have entered this space including:

While the brand name might not be as good as that of a top-end five-star hotel, budget hotels are much better in terms of career growth.

Says Vaidyanath Purohith, partner, Globegrid International Consulting, a recruitment firm with major interests in international hotel placements, "Budget hotels have more responsibility and students are exposed to a wider picture in a short duration. In a big hotel where there is a huge hierarchy, in both length and breadth, the scope to get even the basics of all operations is a mammoth task. Also a budget hotel has promotional advantages, which is quicker, easier and comparatively competitive as far as the package is concerned."

A lot has changed as a result of the entry of branded chains into the budget hotel segment. These hotels not only want to tap into the budget traveler but also create a niche by providing a luxurious atmosphere.

It is a good idea to join the budget brand of a large hotel chain because one can grow within the brand and finally find a place within the parent brand. Large hotel chains offer better opportunities for advancement than smaller independently owned establishments but relocation is necessary very few years for advancement.

Contemporary budget hotels are able to lure graduates as a result of their branding as a result of which the growth ladder is unlimited.

The two, dramatically opposite, examples given above are merely a preview of the kind of prospects that the booming hospitality industry has thrown up. Many new sectors will rise in coming years and there are no limits for those who are able to see the opportunities and willing to take on the challenges.  

Part I: People's person? A career in hospitality might be for you
Part II: Careers in hospitality: Colleges and courses


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