Greg Alexander

Diverse hospitality industry leads to varied management tracks

Baltimore Sun, April 13, 2008

Almost daily, everybody has contact with those employed in the hospitality industry. Going through everyday tasks, you’re bound to order lunch from a waitress in a restaurant or a tall latte from a barista at Starbucks, receive a bill from the registration desk employee at a hotel or coordinate a working lunch by relying on a catering company. And, the economic impact of the hospitality industry on Maryland is significant. According to a 2007 report by the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board Hospitality and Tourism Industry Initiative, the hospitality and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the state. The industry had a 7.2 percent employment increase between 2001 and 2004, more than four times the rate for total private sector employment, and the report showed that the industry will experience an estimated 1,068,525 openings through 2012. Like many other industries, there is a projected shortfall of employees to fill these positions, but luckily, several local colleges offer hospitality management programs, leading to myriad career tracks.

Host of options

Matching the varied career tracks within the hospitality industry, Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) offers countless program options for its students, who can earn an associate of applied science degree in hotel/restaurant management with two options: culinary arts operation and hospitality business management. The culinary arts option focuses on educating students on how to operate a successful and profitable culinary arts business and includes nutrition, food science and food, beverage and labor cost controls classes. Meanwhile, accounting, management and principles of supervision courses are included in the hospitality business management track.

“The hotel/restaurant management degree prepares students for entry-level management positions in the industry or for specialized industry management training programs in the lodging industry. An internship course and a range of specialty courses provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge and specialized experience in a variety of lodging operations,” says Winnie Higgs, assistant director of the Hospitality, Culinary Arts & Tourism Institute at AACC. The school also offers certificate programs in hotel/lodging management, baking and pastry arts operations and hotel/restaurant management.

“Our hotel/lodging management certificate is designed for the student who is primarily interested in a hotel management concentration without the broad liberal arts background. A graduate of this program will have established a basis for a career in the hotel industry and will be qualified for entry-level supervisory positions in this field. Individuals currently employed in the hospitality or tourism field will acquire skills, which will enhance their chances for promotion,” she says. Higgs adds that the program was developed based on the recommendations from the school’s Hotel Advisory Board, which noted that the growth of the hotel industry in this area has outpaced the rate of trained and skilled workers educational institutions can produce. “We will be delivering this entire certificate online by September, so it is available 24/7 to current industry workers who plan on bettering themselves for career advancement and promotion.” Some new courses include “World Culture and Cuisine,” “Revenue Management” and “Command Spanish,” designed to provide functional Spanish language skills for hotel management who supervise Spanish-speaking employees

Higgs says that AACC’s centralized location between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and proximity to Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) has resulted in a 100 percent placement rate for graduates of the program.

Strong industry-specific business curriculum

The key to success in hospitality management, says Charles Monagan, Ph.D., director of the hospitality management program at Morgan State University, is an education that combines industry-specific courses with a strong foundation of business and management courses. “Traditional business courses are important – our students take 45 to 50 hours of the same business classes as those in other business degree programs – but you have to also have courses designed specifically for the industry,” says Monagan. In addition to the required courses set forth by the School of Business and Management, students take such hospitality management courses as “Food Service Management and Operations,” “Travel & Tourism Management,” “Hospitality Marketing” and “Meeting and Convention Management.” Electives include “Labor/Management Relations” and “Casino Hotel Management.”

Monagan, who led the program’s move from the family and consumer sciences school to the business and management school in 1998, has seen program enrollment grow from about 25-30 students to about 120 students now. “We have a 90 to 95 percent placement rate, and graduates have gone on to become general managers in hotels and restaurants and in corporate positions at such national companies as Papa John’s. A general manager at a hotel can make $250,000 a year, while a general manager at a casino hotel in Las Vegas, for example, can earn over $400,000.” Monagan says that internships students take help them decide which career track they want to pursue, as they determine which culture is right for them. “Students get internships at area hotels, as well as placements in California, Atlanta, Miami and at Walt Disney properties. Experience matters in this industry, and these internships help lead to management opportunities more quickly. We stress to our students that it’s important to learn all the aspects of the industry from the kitchen environment in a restaurant to the housekeeping department at a hotel.”

Local, international focus

True to its name, Baltimore International College (BIC) has campuses in Baltimore City and abroad – the school’s international campus is located in Ireland – however, “Baltimore’s hospitality community is critical for our students,” says Susan Sykes Hendee, Ph.D., CCE, dean of academic studies at BIC. “The wonderful mix of opportunities that fall under the hospitality umbrella includes any place that serves and sells food, as well as beverage, tourism and lodging outside the home. [These are all] possible venues for our students. Baltimore has it all.” The school’s ownership of two local hotels and the Bay Atlantic Club on Redwood Street present further job opportunities, as well as great internships. Hendee notes that the five-week internship at BIC Ireland is now a requirement for all students.

BIC, which offers an array of programs in culinary arts, has a bachelor of science degree program in hospitality management and a bachelor of science degree program in hospitality management with a concentration in marketing. “BIC’s mission is to provide students with the education and experience needed to pursue progressive careers within the international hospitality industry. The best hospitality education is obtained from our hands-on instruction utilizing industry-directed curricula,” says Hendee. “One of many qualities that make our hospitality program unique is an appreciation of back of the house – the chef world and food preparation. Culinary and hospitality students complete hospitality management and liberal arts courses together, and this camaraderie supports mutual respect and success.” She cites the fact that hospitality management majors complete an “Introduction to Culinary Arts” class with a knife kit and chef uniform as an example of this hands-on focus.

The school’s hospitality management program blends traditional business classes with liberal arts courses and those dealing directly with the industry, such as “Financial Management in the Hospitality Industry” and “Current Issues in Tourism & Hospitality Management.” BIC also has a graduate program leading to a master of science degree in hospitality management (MSHM). “The MSHM program provides a competitive advantage to relatively inexperienced entrants into the industry and seasoned hospitality industry professionals an opportunity to advance academic qualifications,” says Hendee, who notes that a limited number of courses can be taken online beginning next month.

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