USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Expands Programs to Meet Industry Demands

The University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business is adapting its hospitality and tourism management school to create a talent pipeline and keep pace with changing pandemic-era trends. industry.

“COVID has accelerated the use of technology in the industry,” said Cihan Cobanoglu, acting dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and endowed chair of McKibbon and director of the M3 Center.

In restaurants, for example, it is more common to find menus with QR codes, mobile or contactless payment systems and online ordering. More and more hotels have room keys and TV remotes managed by a mobile app and the ability to text for concierge service. In the aftermath, the school now offers three courses in Technology, Hospitality Business Analytics and Revenue Management.

This summer, the school plans to make further changes, starting with a strategic review of its hospitality program. Hospitality industry stakeholders, academics, students and government officials will come together to envision the construction of a brand new School of Hospitality and determine what courses, skills and competencies should be taught.

“We will take what we learn from the review and compare it to what we offer,” Cobanoglu said. “Then we will find the gaps and fill them by making changes to our program.”

Not only is the school improving its curriculum so that classroom education reflects today’s industry, but it is also forging iconic business partnerships to provide students with hands-on training in the field.

In November 2021, the school announced a new partnership with McKibbon Hospitality, which operates 98 hotels and 20 major brands, including Marriott and Hilton. The next generation of hotel managers can now shadow hospitality industry professionals and gain hands-on experience in hotel operations, executive-level leadership, and property and hotel development.

This is McKibbon’s second transformational gift since 2013, when John McKibbon, president of McKibbon Hospitality, established the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and the McKibbon Endowed Chair. The M3 Center conducts cutting-edge research that advances the global hospitality industry and benefits hospitality education.

“We are thrilled to partner with USF on this exciting and mutually beneficial initiative, inviting hospitality students to experience hotel operations in an immersive and hands-on setting,” McKibbon said. “As well as providing unique training and development in preparation for their future careers, we look forward to the new perspectives and ideas that students will share with our hotel leadership teams, strengthening not only our operations, but the industry. in its entirety.”

The first semester of this partnership took students enrolled in the Introductory Hospitality and Tourism course to McKibbon Hotels. At the end, the students gave feedback which proved to be positive reinforcement for the partnership. According to Cobanoglu, a student in his senior year said he would have changed his major to hospitality if he had taken this course in his freshman year; another student felt it was the most practical course he had ever taken at USF; and another student had an eye-opening experience folding napkins because he was able to put himself in the shoes of the employees he would need to motivate as a manager.

Two additional partnerships were just announced this month with Aramark, the mainstay of on-campus dining and dining, and Mainsail Lodging and Development, a specialist in the tourist accommodation industry. This provides 130 scholarship students with funded on-the-job training over eight years, for a combined value of $3.6 million.

“Over the past two years, we have doubled the size of our business, and our future portfolio of new projects requires us to continue to develop and find quality talent for all key leadership positions,” said Juli Corlew , Vice President and Managing Partner. Accommodation and Mainsail Arrangement.

At Mainsail, scholarships give hospitality students the opportunity to learn day-to-day operations at boutique hotels, including Epicurean Tampa, Fenway Hotel in Dunedin, and Luminary Hotel & Co. in Fort Myers. Fellows will also learn sales and marketing, reservations, revenue management, and corporate housing at Mainsail’s corporate headquarters in Tampa.

David Vandenberg, regional vice president of Aramark, said this collaboration with USF will open more doors for students. But what he hopes never to change is his passion for hospitality.

“The passion to serve others and the need to support people’s needs is absolutely at the heart of this company,” Vandenberg said.

Between these three partnerships, students will now receive top-notch training across the industry spectrum. From select-service three- or four-star hotels to full-service five-star hotels and catering, students will be ready for anything.

“A typical journey to a general manager takes about 10 years, even with a degree,” Cobanoglu said. “We hope to cut that in half for our students by integrating these partnerships into education at USF, so they receive management training before they graduate.”

This fall, the revamped Hospitality Management major will expand to all three campuses. The school will continue to be headquartered on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and offer hybrid courses, but students will soon have the option of taking most of their classes in person at the Tampa and Saint campuses. -Petersburg. Interest in the host program is on the rise according to Karen Holbrook, regional chancellor of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. Registrations for the summer have increased by 95% and by 75% for this fall.

The hospitality and tourism industry has gone from a complete shutdown and being forced to lay off millions of employees to skyrocketing and in dire need of more staff. While the workforce has started to rebound, adding 78,000 employees in April 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has still not recouped the 1.4 million jobs lost since February. 2020.

According to Visit Florida’s 2020-2021 annual report, the state’s hospitality and tourism industry is outpacing the recovery in other states, likely due to Americans’ willingness to travel. He estimates that the total number of visitors to Florida in 2021 increased by 54.6% compared to 2020, and for the first time since the start of the pandemic, hotel demand in Florida exceeded pre-Covid 2019 levels. in the first quarter of 2022 only.

USF’s efforts to attract and prepare a strong talent pipeline are designed to continue to help repair the industry and support its growth.

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