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What college hospitality programs need to stay relevant

Having read a lot of the new trend articles coming out early this year, let me tell you what I hope would become a trend in our industry, although unfortunately it is not: My wishful trend is for hospitality school programs to hire “real” hospitality people.

Recently, several hospitality schools were looking for senior leadership positions, and the top criteria they named for candidates are advanced degrees and academic experience – not relevant current industry experience. 

The hospitality programs need to focus on hiring professors who are currently working in the industry or recently left a position in the industry. In my experience, most of the professors in hospitality programs have been out of the industry for so many years, if not decades, and are totally out of touch with current industry trends and standards. 

I have a friend who was teaching a yield management class at a hotel program while he was working in the industry. He was required to use the hotel school’s yield management textbook, which he said was so out of date that he spent the first half of class using the book and the second half telling the students how it really worked in today’s world. I know when my daughters were in college, the classes they enjoyed the most and felt they learned the most from were classes taught by people currently working in their relevant fields of study.

I know I will take some heat for this, but frankly, students working their way through college in a hotel industry job are more in touch and know more about the industry than their professors. Higher education institutions need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and prepare their students for today’s industry and not worry about research and publishing articles.

I tell peers that the only reason to recruit a hotel school graduate over any other college program is that the hotel school graduate entered the program with a passion for the industry that cannot be taught, but that what they learned is not currently relevant.

Let me know your thoughts. 

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