Lifelong Learning: The Benefits to Today's Hoteliers

By Robert M. O'Halloran Professor & Director, School of Hospitality Leadership, East Carolina University | March 03, 2019

Hospitality business education curriculums are ever evolving to adapt to the changing marketplace. Through research, engagement, and industry partnerships, hospitality programs are constantly updating and enhancing their offerings to produce graduates that will enter the workforce and hit the ground running. It is typical for seniors and soon to be graduates to think, "I will never be in school again". What most young professionals find is that they are required, formally or informally, to be a student forever.

Lifelong learning is not a new concept but one that continues to evolve in an ever-changing workplace. Hospitality education professionals are cognizant of the workforce demands for talent and their role in nurturing that talent to retain them in a competitive industry. 

Hospitality programs seek to offer sound educational curriculums that provide relevant educational experiences to students, alumni, and industry partners. In a new work world educational programs need to offer both academic and experiential forms of education and, more specifically for the hospitality industry, do so by utilizing the industry as a classroom in hotels, restaurants, resorts and all forms of hospitality and tourism businesses. Unique to hospitality programs among other business disciplines is the requirement of all students to complete work experiences and or internships.

Many programs also engage in other forms of experiential learning with local hospitality businesses in the form of projects for a business, volunteering and more. Hospitality programs offer a mixture of formal education and experiential learning including internships, projects for a business, volunteering and more. The result are graduates that see a business as a whole and how all the parts fit together. 

Hospitality business programs are also inclusive of technology. Many also focus on industry metrics and management and also offer at least some framework for small business and entrepreneurism. Additional content topics that go across the curriculum could include communication strategies, employee ethics, emergency management skills, and political action awareness and involvement. More recently, specific content is being offered that includes related topics such as wellness for guests and wellness options for hospitality managers and staff, as well as customer service and management reaction time.

In an era of Trip Advisor and more, guests expect an immediate response, and a response that maintains the value of their experience. This can be a challenge to teach, underscoring urgency, and thereafter reaction to the situation while still trying to stress the maintaining of quality standards.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.