Internships in the Hospitality Industry

What Students Want and What the Industry Needs

By Leora Halpern Lanz President, LHL Communications | June 04, 2017

Co-authored by Jovanna Fazzini, Assistant Director of Finance and Accounting, Boston Marriott Cambridge Hotel

Hospitality schools and industry professionals have been working together to provide internship experiences that introduce students to different sectors of the hospitality industry, as well as expose students to the corporate culture and skills required by companies the student could eventually work with post-graduation. But if industry professionals and students are to leverage one another’s abilities and resources for a successful internship experience, understanding underlying desires and motivations is key.

The Student Perspective: What do Students and Recent Hospitality Grads Want in an Internship?

Today’s hospitality students pursue internships to test the waters of an industry segment for which they are interested in working post-graduation. For example, Oliver Tang, recent Cornell Hospitality graduate and now analyst at Horwath HTL in Atlanta, knew the company presented an ideal internship opportunity for him, thanks to his interests in feasibility and development planning.

“I had recognized my strengths and interests in development planning while taking a feasibility class at Cornell,” shares Oliver. “So before I connected with Horwath HTL I had an idea that this was something I wanted to do. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to live as an industry professional in development planning through assisting in feasibility studies.”

Yoshihiro Kanno, recent graduate of Florida International University and former analyst with HVS in Chicago, also pursued the internship to test the waters of his field of interest- consulting and valuation services. Yoshihiro also noted his ability to grasp the corporate culture while interning. “The culture attracts intelligent and motivated individuals. I am challenged every day, and the environment is extremely supportive. Everyone is always willing to help.”

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.