The IRF, one of many reasons for our school's success

The IRF, one of many reasons for our school's success

The International Recruitment Forum continues to hold court in the global arena of hospitality recruitment fairs. A long-time favorite of the industry partners who come biannually to hire new talent for their establishments. 


By Swiss Education Group

4 Minutes
Student networking at the SEG International Recruitment Forum 2024


Recently, the QS World University rankings were announced for 2024, and the four schools of Swiss Education Group (SEG): Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS), César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, HIM, and Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland (CAAS), not only continue to remain in the top 10 in their class worldwide, but all four schools climbed in rank and now land squarely in the top 7, of which 2 placed in the top 3 in the world. 

The International Recruitment Forum (IRF) is one contributing factor to this success. Now in its 31st edition, representatives from around the world come in droves with their banners to recruit students for internships and jobs in all aspects of the hospitality industry, from the kitchen to the front office. They know that at the IRF, hosted by SEG, they can meet a wide assortment of students from four different schools with varied areas of expertise, interests, and abilities. Global hospitality brands converge to scout for talent at the IRF, but each comes with distinct needs. 

Nikolai Bloyd, Managing Director of Das Achental in Germany, is a veteran attendee of the IRF, having participated in 21 events held at various locations, including Caux Palace, Montreux's convention hall, and online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the changing venues and formats, Bloyd emphasizes the consistent quality of the fair, which always offers top talent who are ready to work. 

Bloyd has extensive experience with recruitment fairs across Europe and the USA. Still, he finds the IRF the most effective, having personally hired around 300 students from these events for his boutique hotels and properties. He contrasts this with other large companies at the fair, like Jumeirah  or Mandarin Oriental, who may be looking to fill as many as 200 positions in a week. Despite the presence of these major players, Bloyd's consistent success at the IRF underlines its effectiveness for both large and small-scale recruiters.

Bloyd remarks that the IRF stands out because it allows him to build long-term relationships with potential hires, not just fill immediate vacancies, he finds that the IRF opens opportunities not just for internships but for career progression. 

Over the past nine months alone, five interns from the fair have secured permanent positions at Das Achental.

This year, culinary talent recruitment has been particularly successful for Das Achental, with their pastry chef, Desiree Nieder—who recently won Germany’s Rolling Pin Award—recruiting eight pastry students at the fall IRF. This was a fantastic opportunity for the young pastry recruits to work under an award-winning pastry chef in an internship. At this 31st edition of the IRF Das Achental brought another award-winning employee, offering yet another great opportunity for our students. Louis Steinle, recently named Next Generation Hotelier of the Year 2024, is resident manager at Das Achental and is also searching for roles under his management.

Louis Steinle is searching for interns.
Louis Steinle, Next Generation Hotelier of the Year 2024 and resident manager at Das Achental, is searching for interns.

Having award-winning hospitality hoteliers recruiting at the IRF is not surprising, given that all four SEG schools are among the top seven schools in the world. Bloyd was happy to be quoted saying, 

The IRF is hands-down my go-to recruitment fair. It is the most consistent in delivery of quality students and a quality event. 

Looking ahead, Das Achental is actively preparing for the opening of a new hotel in November, increasing its recruitment needs. This serves as yet another exciting opportunity for interns to be involved in a hotel launch, adding a unique dimension to their training and development. 

Oskar Schönbeck, CHRO for Embassy-Kirchhofer Group, is also no stranger to the IRF, having attended it seven times. His experiences span various venues, from the standard confines of a convention center to the current, more picturesque settings. "Each location has its merits, but here, it feels more authentic," Schönbeck reflects. Unlike the cold uniformity of the convention center, where booth sizes are consistent and somewhat impersonal, the IRF's current venue allows for diverse booth dimensions and an elegant location, adding a unique touch to each exhibitor's presentation.

This year marks a departure from Schönbeck's usual circuit of recruitment fairs as he introduces a new property to the marketplace. Opting to debut at the IRF is a strategic move. "It's a compliment that we chose to start our recruitment journey with IRF," he notes. Schönbeck admits that his decision was sealed by the warm invitation from Antonia Vollet, Employer Relations Director and primary organizer of the IRF, who reached out personally when Schönbeck informed his network about his transition from his previous hotel group. This level of personal engagement was a reminder of the quality found at the IRF, which was unmatched by other fairs, making the IRF the obvious choice for his new venture.

Schönbeck also appreciates the breadth of talent the IRF attracts, "The mixture of knowledge and skill levels among the students here is impressive," he observes. The focus on high-quality service and various educational backgrounds contribute to a richer recruitment pool. Additionally, the international diversity of candidates is particularly beneficial for properties like those in Interlaken, where a significant Asian tourist presence necessitates staff who can cater effectively to this demographic.

Movenpick, a stalwart in the Swiss hospitality industry, echoes this opinion in contrasting IRF with other fairs like EHL for its international flair. "EHL has primarily French-speaking candidates who can meet the need for French, but the IRF is attractive for its diverse, international students, essential for Movenpick's operations across multi-lingual and tourist-heavy Switzerland.

Paula Zamorano from Marugal Distinctive Hotel Management shared the observation of Schönbeck regarding not just the quality of the candidates but also of the staff at SEG schools, "Career coaches here are proactive, contacting us in advance to inquire about our current needs and connect us with the right students, which makes this fair my favorite," Zamorano enthuses.

Jarik Tschirky, Executive Assistant Manager at Grace, St. Moritz, offers advice to young recruits. Whether pre-advised by their career coaches or not, he clearly sees that the best candidates usually show up early, well-prepared, and know their career objectives. Tschirky observes that the motivated students from the first wave after arrival often remain the primary focus of recruiters by the end of the day.

Chloé Lacroix, a newcomer to IRF and Director of Operations at Ambassador Zermatt, admitted that she does not usually do recruitment fairs and that it is her first time at the IRF. 

"I am not doing any other school fairs; I am only attending the IRF. I was so impressed with the interns we had from HIM last year – they were so well-educated and professional– that I am here hoping to find two more quality students. And the IRF is so lovely, it is a pleasure to attend, it's so beautiful here at Caux Palace." 

As these leaders from various corners of the hospitality industry share their experiences and strategies, it's clear that IRF is more than just a recruitment event—it's a nexus of opportunity and growth for both companies and candidates alike. The success of this event for all participants is a clear reflection of the success of our schools.


This article was originally published on Swiss Education Group.  

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By Swiss Education Group