According to a recent AT Kearney report, there are around 2.5 million hotel rooms in China. Yet while the industry is worth around $45 billion, it still has plenty of room to grow – whereas in the USA there are 20 hotel rooms per 1000 people, in China there are just four. Already huge, this sector will continue to expand.
This means China will need to train a lot of men and women to work in its ever-growing numbers of hotels. And as the country continues to become more appealing to international visitors, its hotel staff would benefit from gaining greater understanding of international hospitality and the people who frequent it.
The China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) is a charitable project of The J. Willard and Alice S.Marriott Foundation designed to meet this burgeoning need. Its goal is to enhance hospitality education in China to better prepare students for meaningful hospitality and tourism careers, and in so doing to improve the socio-economic status of the country’s youth.
Working with global industry and academic advisors, CHEI has designed a unique portfolio of programmes to help hospitality and tourism educators gain industry knowledge; hands-on experiences in operations; advanced teaching resources; and business community connections. Where Chinese hospitality teaching has traditionally focussed more on theory, CHEI ensures that the practical application, conversational English, and soft skills needed for career success are addressed in depth, while also making sure that students – and their parents – fully understand the industry and the opportunities it presents.
Throughout the year, CHEI visits all partner schools and works closely with teachers and administrators to select and customise the programmes that will best meet their needs. Results indicate that hundreds of teachers are enhancing their teaching methods, incorporating CHEI resources into their classrooms, and having a positive impact on students’ readiness for careers. Meanwhile, CHEI’s industry partner, Marriott International, engages senior leaders, general managers, HR professionals, and other associates at 69 hotels in mainland China to assist with various aspects of the program’s development and execution.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. On partner school surveys, 99% of teachers and 100% of administrators indicated they are satisfied or very satisfied with CHEI programs. Thanks to CHEI, China is developing a generation of hospitality workers ready to meet the challenges and opportunities the sector’s ongoing growth will bring.