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What on earth does a hospitality management degree have to do with luxury retail?

on January 13 | in Alumni Hospitality Industry | by Guest Authors | with No Comments

Lena Bader used to work at the new Louis Vuitton store, housed within Selfridges, London. Here, she gives 5 good reasons why people wishing to work in the luxury retail sector should choose a hospitality management program at Les Roches.

1. Attention to small details

In practical classes at Les Roches, you learn the importance of paying attention to small details. The glass can’t be too far away from the knife. You can’t err 5 cm to left or right. You have to be exactly precise and the examiners will get their ruler out and measure you. Precision is important because it is part of the whole client experience. You want to walk into a 5-star restaurant and see perfection. You want a magic experience.

The hotel industry is years’ ahead of the retail industry in this sense, but luxury retail is catching up.

2. Making people feel special

When you walk into a 5-star hotel, you don’t see all the effort that is made, back of house. Instead, you just have this amazing feeling where you are treated like royalty and the staff call you by name. All the luxury stores have to learn this from the hotel industry. In a hotel, you are busy, busy solving all the problems; the client just gets the amazing experience. Much of clientelling is about that. Working hard to give the client a magical experience, knowing them, what their tastes are, what they want.

3. Flexibility

Opening a new store is a lot like opening a hotel. There’s really not much different in terms of process.
We have to get the groups to work together as a whole. People expect the same level of service as in other parts of the world, even though the store is new and the staff are new. We did a store opening just one month before our busiest period – the biggest store in the world that’s located within a department store; it was challenging, but good. We focused on creating a really good experience, in training staff in product knowledge and making sure they are all working well together.

4. Multitasking

Here, the principles in retail are pretty much the same as the principles in kitchen work. It’s about meeting deadlines. In Kitchens, you had to work with different teams. You had to work in a hectic environment. When you serve the food, the client shouldn’t have to see the stress that goes on behind its creation. It should look like the most amazing food in the world. So, you see, retail and kitchens are different ‘products’, but the process should be the same.

In my first job with Louis Vuitton, I got to experience all the departments and learn about best practice. It was all about change management. You have to work out how to make it work well.

Les Roches prepares you to work in demanding environments, with demanding clients. You learn how to manage yourself and your team correctly, in order to deliver the experience that your client expects.

5. Cultural fluency

There are so many cultures at Les Roches. It was one of the most valuable learning experiences I had, working with different people of different cultures, seeing what works and what doesn’t and how you need to adapt your own work style. This skill you can use in any working environment. In retail, the clients are the same as in 5-star luxury hotels. They are international. They are from all over the world.

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