AlumniUnlocking The Power Of A Hospitality Education In The Luxury Retail Industry

From studying Hotel Management at Swiss Hotel Management School to joining the luxury retail industry.

Swiss Hotel Management School alumnus Malvin Hartwell never thought he’d join the luxury industry let alone thrive in the sector. When he returned to Jakarta after graduation, he joined luxury boutique Louis Vuitton as a salesperson. Within three months into the job, he was promoted to senior salesperson, and after another three months, he was promoted to team manager.

I realised the essence of being a good salesperson is people service. It is the quality service level that we learn in hospitality, not elsewhere.

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As team manager, Malvin was in charge of a specific store in Jakarta, he had his own team, and he had a sales target to meet. Even though Malvin is planning to move away from luxury retail and into social media marketing, he says that his time at Louis Vuitton has been great because he managed to convince the company to hire more hotel graduates.

 

At the end of the day, it’s no longer just about selling a product; it’s about the client experience and I learnt the value of having the human touch when I was at school.

 

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Why did you study hospitality in the first place?

I grew up travelling with my parents so I stayed in a lot of hotels when they went on their business trips. These places were basically home away from home, and I looked at them and noticed how the ladies and gentlemen were so professional in their work. They were nice and genuinely cared, and that made me feel at home. As a kid, that definitely left an imprint in me.

 

What are some skills you learnt at hotel school that are desirable in luxury retail?

I was surprised a lot of the skills I learned at school was transferrable to the luxury retail sector. When I first hosted a client at Louis Vuitton, I poured the champagne just like how I would pour it at a five-star hotel. The store manager looked at me and asked how did you know how to do that? I replied, ‘I’m a hotel student, of course, I can do this!’. Things like body gestures, the way we stand, the way we talk, these are things we cultivated early on in school.

 

What are the key attributes for success in hospitality and luxury retail business?

It’s all about your character. I think a lot of hospitality students are hard workers because from the get-go you are trained to stand for hours or you’re cleaning guests bathrooms – all these will really fortify your mental strength. Even when you have to handle the most difficult customer, you learn to do it with a smile. You’ll be able to read people as we are encouraged to interact with people from so many different backgrounds. And that is key to success in any industry. In hospitality, you engage with people all the time. Similarly in luxury retail, what makes your brand valuable and will allow you to stand out is the way you make people feel. That’s the client experience.

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What is your five-year plan?
 
I’m actually moving to Bali in a few months to start a social media company and write a book. I will be partnering with a friend and we’re looking to manage a few marketing and social media across the island. We’re going to visit the local businesses and see how we can help them increase market penetration and brand awareness.
What is your advice to hospitality students who are looking to move across industries?
 
Every business needs two things - sales and clients.

Whatever industry you join as long as you’re focused on your client and you put yourself in their shoes every time, the sales will follow

If you’re good at managing those two, you can transfer your skills easily between industries. Also, don’t put yourself in a box. Be open to different opportunities to learn. After I graduated, I applied for various positions in hotels, financial consultancies and so forth. I eventually went with my guts because at the end of the day if you love it, you can make it work.

Looking back in your education, did you think that you’d be given so many opportunities?

I think my hospitality education gave me immense exposure and an edge when I joined the workforce. When I went to Louis Vuitton for an interview, other candidates were in fashionable clothes. I went for my interview just as how I was taught in school - business-like, in a suit. After I was hired, I asked human resources why they chose me and they replied that it was my professionalism that gave me an advantage.


Graduate from SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School

 

 

Malvin Hartwell graduated from Swiss Hotel Management School in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management.

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