Three Trends to Watch in Hospitality Education

Twice annually the HSMAI Foundation convenes deans, directors, and faculty members in hospitality schools across North America to talk about what’s happening in the commercial arenas of sales, marketing, and revenue management education. Last year we learned from interactions with 94 faculty from more than 30 institutions. Recently, we published a white paper with a call to action for industry to support hospitality programs. Here are the latest headlines we are following:  

#1 – Less than 50% of hospitality students intend to enter the hotel industry upon graduation! 

  • Marketing faculty expressed the need for more industry advisors for student groups to facilitate industry collaboration and connection.  
  • Deans and directors agreed that more mentoring would significantly improve student interest.  
  • Career centers and fairs are seeing far more industry jobs than interested students.  

This lack of interest in hotel positions is especially surprising because most large hospitality programs require internships, often for more than 1,000 hours. These work experiences have typically catapulted students into employment opportunities.  

Realistic job previews and clear career paths were two tools that were frequently mentioned as lacking for many positions in sales, marketing, revenue, and commercial areas. The industry needs to rekindle the passion that has historically attracted talent to hotel opportunities. 

 #2 – Only 20% of sales faculty, 44% of marketing faculty, 38% of revenue faculty, and 15% of deans and directors have heard the term “commercial” referring to the collaboration of sales, marketing, and revenue teams.  

More than half of program leaders expressed that their faculty were not using the terms or concepts of commercial in their courses. Faculty expressed difficulty in identifying gaps between industry needs and graduate skills. They are concerned that the quickening of changes in the hotel space are widening the gaps. Faculty “externships” were common 20 years ago but perhaps now is the time to revisit their usefulness.  

The HSMAI Foundation will continue to invite speakers from our HSMAI Advisory Boards to speak to leaders and faculty at the Academic Forums, and to invite faculty to participate in all annual conferences. Educating educators along with industry professionals fosters learning, networking, and motivation.  

To address this gap further, HSMAI Foundation is funding a university research project designed to determine what faculty know about the shift to commercial and what resources and knowledge are needed to support their teaching. HSMAI Insights will cover this research when it is released later this year.  

#3 – Hospitality programs need industry support to remain a key resource pipeline. 

Deans and directors expressed frustration on how to get students interested in hospitality again. “What do we do when young people do not want to work in hospitality any longer?”one Dean asked. Their concern is that the industry situation and vision have changed and so have employment needs and expectations. Students are confused, concerned, and hesitant to commit to a hospitality career.  

We heard questions including:  

  • What’s the new normal?  
  • What skills are you seeking but not seeing in our graduates? 
  • What is industry doing to attract graduates? 

University program leaders and faculty have tried strategies to reach out to hotel partners – from working with state industry associations to making structured proposals for partnerships. Some program leaders report their greatest successes have been with DMOs, which involve students in local events, help recruit local leaders to serve on advisory boards, and provide interesting guest speakers.  

The most robust partnerships include providing guest speakers, recruiting for paid internships, and providing case studies and research projects. Many of these programs have been rekindled as the pandemic wanes, particularly in schools with strong revenue management offerings. Faculty strongly expressed that there are many ways for industry to bolster programs, such as:  

  • Providing advisors 
  • Offering mentoring and job-shadowing opportunities 
  • Creating video libraries of commercial professionals discussing their career paths and how students can prepare for careers in these areas 
  • Sharing case studies and early career professionals’ testimonials.  

Deans and faculty expressed further concerns that university-level research was not applicable to industry, and it was challenging to engage industry in partnering with faculty. The reality is that high-quality research findings destined for peer-reviewed journal publications are rarely translatable for industry practice.  

What’s Next?  

The HSMAI Foundation will be hosting deans, directors, and faculty in sales, marketing, and revenue again in 2023. We look forward to seeing how the landscape has evolved and will continue to advise our members of opportunities to strengthen their talent pipelines.  

Take Action! 

  •  Engage with schools that have hospitality programs. Seek out the faculty teaching sales, marketing, and revenue classes. Talk with them. Offer your insights. 
  • Get students into your hotels and offices. If paid internships are available, seek out students who are interested in sales, marketing, revenue, or distribution careers. Find entry-level jobs that lead to these career paths.  
  • Encourage job shadowing. Invite students to spend the day with you or your teams. Show them what a day in the life looks like. Share the glamour and excitement. 
  • Re-energize development programs. Many management training programs were paused during the pandemic, leaving a hole in the pipeline. Work to identify rising leaders in your organization and find outside and internal resources to help prepare talented young people to rise through the commercial ranks. 

Tools and Resources 

Categories: Talent and Leadership Development
Insight Type: Articles