Do yourself a favor and go back to hospitality school

Attending last year’s Cornell Hospitality Research Summit was a delightful experience I’d recommend for everyone. But the venue — the university’s hotel school — had a secondary and unintended effect. It put me face-to-face with many young, bright minds who will soon enter the workforce, most likely in the hospitality field. 

Meeting students is always a positive experience, especially when they are enthusiastically volunteering to help orchestrate a symposium of this nature or willingly serving you at a restaurant. These encounters are opportunities for you to invigorate the next generation of hoteliers with your passion and wisdom, but they are also chances for you to rekindle your youthful (and perhaps naïve) excitement to start your career.

I took the time to talk with several Cornell Hotel School undergrads both while attending the summit and in the adjoining Statler Hotel that employs student interns for the front desk, reception duties and in the restaurants. Universally, the hotel students I met showed an unfailing commitment to hospitality. They were eager to embrace the fundamentals of guest service and recognized these values we hold so precious.

Unbridled by the need to deliver a RevPAR target or meet some unseen corporate head office revenue commitment, they have yet to be “ground down” by the P&L gremlins. They were consummate learners, eager to discuss all manners of hotel management or travel with gusto and not a hint of fatigue.

Remember back to the start of your career in hospitality. What was it that drove you to this profession in the first place? I will bet that the lion’s share of your day-to-day job was part of that train of thought. By chatting with the young minds of hospitality, you are in essence absorbing their aura. Yes, the conversation may be rather one-sided as said students prod you with never-ending questions, but this unto itself should “show you the light” in terms of what outlook you must have for consummate success.

So, what can you do to reinvigorate this youthful passion? Simple: Go back to school! For most of us, there should be a hotel school relatively close by. If not, then no doubt one is only a short flight away.

I am confident they would welcome your involvement. And there are many ways to shoehorn your way in — give a lecture, request a tour with a senior manager, have students visit your property, present your company as a vendor at a job fair, reach out to the alumni association or participate in student-internship programs. The students will benefit immensely from your experience, but you will as well.