I won’t spoil the broth – I went to MODUL!

Vienna is visited by millions of tourists every year – and Austrians like to travel and appreciate good service all over the world.

Some of the best hotels and restaurants of the world employ managers who were trained in Austria – this is also thanks to the MODUL tourism schools in Vienna. I would like to know what is so special about this type of training and make an appointment with Alexandra Ried, who is responsible for marketing and communications.

When you enter the building of the oldest school for hotel management in the world (!) on Peter Jordan Strasse in Vienna’s 19th District, you notice its many students dressed in their uniforms pouring into the corridors for recess.

Strangers are easy to recognize here and this is why Ms. Ried suddenly appears in front of me and takes me on an exciting tour.

The name MODUL (in English it means “module”) goes back on the honeycomb structure of the interior layout of the octagon-shaped building designed by architect Josef Fleischer and built from 1973 to 1975.

The 500 students are trained in two programs here. The five-year training program in this secondary school turns typical high-school students who choose to attend the MODUL into restaurant specialists, chefs and hotel specialists with a trading license. About 100 students are accepted every year and start their training, divided into three classes.

The second program is the college. This is where around 35 students start a two-year study course every year after graduating from school and leave with a diploma. They can, then, either start a professional career in middle management or keep on studying.

The graduates are highly sought after in the tourism and hotel industry. The list of the 6,000 “alumni” of the tourism management school – which is a private school with public status – includes names such as Mario Plachutta, Alexandra Gürtler and Michaela Reitterer, all of whom have become well-known names of their own in the hotel and restaurant sector.

This really sounds interesting and we take a look at the seminar rooms, some of which have a spectacular view of the Kahlenberg hill, before making it to the cafeteria where the students hand out the meals they helped cook – a lunchtime menu with several different courses.

At some point, I am allowed to take a look at the training kitchens where the students are working diligently. The fourth-year students are preparing a sophisticated four-course meal under the strict eyes of the chef. Every student has his or her own place with all the equipment they need. They seem to have quite a lot of fun doing their work because when I ask what they are cooking I get enthusiastic responses. I am impressed. Generally, the school focuses on theory and practice.

“It is important to us that the students really want to work in this field and are not just following their parents’ wishes,” explains Ms. Ried. We can usually see who really wants to pursue this kind of career during the interview. “We want our future tourism specialists to know what is in store for them. Someone who does not like contact with other people and is not very communicative will have it pretty difficult in this job.”

This sounds reasonable and I want to know what subjects are taught and the practical experience the students receive. “Our training is based on four pillars – general knowledge, communications and languages, economics and tourism management. Then, there is an   additional practice day per week during which the students learn about cooking and service and can gain practical experience in the cafeteria and school kitchen. After the second year, the students have to do a compulsory internship at a hotel or restaurant – all together eight months by the end of their schooling – this can be done in Vienna, in Europe or anywhere else in the world.

Seventy teachers and 30 staff members are committed to seeing the students finish their training successfully.

I have the feeling that this works well, as I look around on my tour. The school uniforms are already impressive and seem to give the students a sense of belonging and seriousness.

We keep passing seating and working areas where groups of students study together. There is also a library with an impressive selection of expert literature and standard-bound diploma theses of various years.

There are photos of well-known alumni along the corridor walls, who are now sought-after managers in tourism. Next to them are pictures of local and international events in which the students took part. These range from Formula 1 races and balls to international sport events and the Olympic Games.

Finally, we stand in front of a wall-sized reproduction of the memorandum of association — the 15th October was the 111th anniversary of the “Grand Opening of the Secondary School for the Restaurant, Hotel and Coffee House Industry” in Vienna.

I am impressed and say my goodbye to Ms. Ried and leave the school. The quality of the training at the MODUL School for Tourism Management is definitely worth the application of future specialists!