What do Oxford University, Harvard business school and the most prestigious hotel management schools in the world have in common?
They all offer distant learning programs.
It has been a hot topic for many years: can you be trained as a butler with a distant learning program? Immediately, the conservative were shouting ’NO!’ from the top of their lungs. I used to be one of them… Before we judge, let’s have a look at a few considerations.
Firstly, the Ivy League universities will never call it ‘an online course’ but rather ‘distant learning’. The lesson there is that there should always be a teacher-student interaction.
The next thing we see is that at any of these programs there is a mandatory presence, at some point in time, to attend real live classes and experience the campus of the school.
That got me thinking…
Before making a final decision I listed the pros and cons of brick and mortar butler schools vs online Butler training
Why would you not go to a brick and mortar butler school?
- You don’t have the time to be away from home for weeks or months
- The investment is too big
- You like the comfort of your home to study
- The balance with your current job: you can manage the training while working
- It gives you options, if you want to stop you can.
What are you missing when choosing to do an online butler training program?
- The experience of the training, guest speakers and real live guests.
- Intuition of a great teacher. Someone who will inspire by working closely with you.
- The immediate network of your fellow students.
- Working with you for many weeks, the school will get to know you in depth and it will be easier for them to get you a position upon graduation.
- Some schools really take you on amazing field trips. Places you would normally not get easy access.
What would-be Butlers should look for in a distant learning program
Videos are obviously the most inspiring way to learn and the number one choice in any survey by students. In fact, you need a healthy balance between videos, documents, tests and assignments.
The platform the content is accessible on is also very important:
- Is the user interface intuitive and easy to use?
- Can you use it cross platform? That means if you watch on your desktop pc, can you continue watching on your iPhone where you left off?
- Does it allow quizzes and assignments?
The interaction with the butler school
If you choose the right distant learning program you will attend the school at one point.Therefore you should have the right feeling from the very start. Look at how easily approachable the butler school is. Is it fairly easy to contact them by phone or email?
Should the online platform offer a feature where you can leave remarks per subject, then that would be best. It will allow you to not only connect with the instructor but also with fellow students and get other input.
The guarantee that you really learn something
Watching videos and reading documents is great to gain knowledge but a butler training program should also be hands on. You should really do the exercises at home.
Pause the videos, rewind, try and try again. Until you get it right. Take pictures, make videos and upload them to the school. That is the only way to learn.
In the end you need to be ready when you will be attending the school after the online part. You should be acting as a butler from the moment you arrive at the school.
How serious will the private service employment market take you?
Probably not that serious. There has always been a reluctance towards distant learning programs. It will be up to you to prove them wrong. From my own experience training butlers for several years I have changed my vision on this. In this industry I have seen starting butlers with far higher standards than ‘experienced’ ones.
The so-called professionals with years of experience dressed in not-polished shoes and unaware of the fact that a jacket needs to buttoned when standing.
There is a bit of danger with the term ‘experienced’. Some may indeed be at the same position for 5 years but have they improved over all those years or have they been repeating their one year experience five times?
So, even if you are a butler with a track record: training never sleeps. A real professional butler is recognised by the fact if he or she keeps studying, is interested in every aspect of the job. That could be a new wine, an undiscovered brand of cheese or the latest collection of Limoges porcelain.
As a final note, do not be scared of the people who are at the forefront of promising you a position after the butler training. If you have the self confidence and the skills to excel, then you will.
Many times have my students been interviewed and rejected for not having enough experience. The prejudice of a trained butler not being capable of fulfilling the role has been around far too long. However, the sheer number of butler students now in high level positions proof a lot of sceptical individuals wrong.
Whatever method you choose to become a butler: if you can dream it, you can do it!
Written by Vincent Vermeulen who is the Founder of the School for Butlers & Hospitality