Three Things Future Hotel Experts Must Know
The hotel industry is changing in the blink of an eye, which is why we're stoked to bring you all of the latest trends at our national Bisnow Lodging Investment Summit (BLIS) on May 13-14 in Washington, DC. Penn State School of Hospitality Management director John O’Neill, who's speaking, gave us a sneak peek at what's driving the curriculum for his school’s 700 students.
1) Asset management
Being a hotel GM is no longer just worrying about whether the lobby is clean, the food is hot, and the beds are made, John says. (You also have to worry if the lobby is hot, the food is made, and the beds are clean.) Hoteliers are now looking for GMs that have an asset management background and capital budget and operations experience, because they’ll likely be working with a hotel's asset manager in making such decisions. It’s a new course at the school, and John reports that it just placed its first student with La Salle. “When I worked as a manager for Hyatt, we didn’t even have an asset manager,” he says, “but now the asset manager is the eyes and ears for the owner.”
Another subject that's made its way into Penn State's hotel management curriculum is branding. The school analyzed how hotel brands affect hotel market value, from luxury to economy properties, and it found that there’s a particularly positive correlation between brand and the property value of upscale and mid-scale hotels. (Interestingly, researchers at the school found no correlation between luxury and economy brands and value, John tells us.)
You know STR for its hospitality trend reports and research benchmarks, but there’s a lot more you can do with the numbers, according to John. So the school has instituted a pilot course for STR certification, designed to teach the students how the data is calculated, its limitations, and how you can apply it to your everyday operations. (Above, STR's Jan Freitag will also be speaking at BLIS.) All hotel and event management students take the course, which is capped off with a qualifying exam. Will John’s children follow? He has three kids—college, high school, middle school—and the older two are sharpening their customer service chops by working at Wegmans. For many of Penn State’s hospitality students, it was a “major of discovery,” he says; they were everything from psychology to marketing majors and found the passion working side jobs in hotels and restaurants. “They then realized they could actually go to school for what they loved doing.” (Plus, they can throw out all the Freud.)
If you're more interested in where the students are resting their heads, don't miss Bisnow's national Annual Student Housing Summit (BASH), a must-attend event for anyone who touches student housing. Join top owners and developers from all over the US, including American Campus Communities, EDR Trust, Campus Crest, Campus Apartments, and The Preiss Company, as well as 400 of your peers on May 6 and 7 at the swank Rittenhouse Hotel. Topics will include trends in university life and housing, product design and development, and the environment for deals and new development. Sign up today!