Why Study Hospitality Management in the United States?
Hospitality Management goes by many names. Even so, its importance in the world of business is clear: it is the largest business activity in the world. How this business operates, and its impact on the local economy varies from country to country, but its importance is undeniable. Most of the major hospitality companies are either headquartered in the United States or have a major corporate presence in the U. S. Nearly all major hospitality companies worldwide recruit from hospitality schools located in North America. Numerous hospitality programs in the U. S. offer students the opportunity to learn how to become managers in this dynamic, and growing field.
What's in a Name?
"Hospitality" is a relatively new term. It includes all kinds of food service, hotel, tour, and travel businesses. Most schools in the U. S. call themselves either Hospitality Schools, or Schools of Hotel and Restaurant Administration. The emphasis in the United States is on training students to become managers in either the lodging industry (another term for hotels, motels, resorts, and the like) or manager / owners in the food service industry (which includes restaurants, bars and nightclubs, as well as food service activities on cruise ships, in hotels, and elsewhere.)
Many programs also offer degrees in travel and tourism, two fields of study that are more widely taught in Europe and South America. In the United States, the terms usually refer to actual businesses such as airlines, cruise lines, as well as those companies that offer tours (such as a tour of the Grand Canyon.)
Size of the Industry
The hospitality industry is huge. There are nearly 1 million food service operations in the United States, and nearly three hundred thousand hotels. It is estimated that there are over 1 million hotels and more than 7 million food service businesses. Given these enormous numbers of job opportunities, the demand for graduates of hospitality programs is easy to see.
What career tracks are available?
Graduates of hospitality programs generally go into one of several areas of specialization. Those who find a love of food service have the choice of working as managers for one of the numerous food chains, investing in a franchise and owning and operating their own food service establishment (with the name and guidance of such companies as Starbucks or McDonalds), or opening their own food service operation. Students who show interest in the glamour and allure of the lodging industry usually become managers in one of the multi-national hotel chains. These students also can invest in a franchise and manage their own small hotel or motel.
A sizable number of graduates take managerial positions in the airlines, on cruise ships, and other tour and travel related businesses. Many graduates open their own travel companies in their native countries, catering to the desire of tourists who seek opportunities to see the graduate's own country with an informed guide. In many countries, the principal business is tourism, and there are many government job opportunities for graduates as well.
Finally, there is the opportunity to manage food service in schools, hospitals, and in all the numerous other places where people congregate. These jobs offer some great job benefits, as well as an opportunity to work with people who truly appreciate the food they are receiving.
Why study Hospitality in the United States?
As mentioned before, the United States is the major location of innovation in the hospitality industry. Numerous restaurant and hotel chains originated in the U. S. and have expanded worldwide. Additionally, the U. S. hospitality schools are the best in the world. Only a very few of the top ten hospitality programs are located elsewhere. For the best educational experience as well as being in the place where most of the new development in the industry is taking place, the United States is the only country to consider.
What types of programs should I look for?
While we Americans like to rank everything, for you, the potential student, perhaps the ultimate deciding factor should be what kinds of jobs graduates of a particular program receive upon graduation. Many hospitality programs seem to specialize in teaching about how local industries in which that program is located operate. This allows the school to bring in managers to meet with the students. Thus, a hospitality school in a large resort area that offers gambling may offer classes in casino operations. A school located in (or near) a ski resort area could have classes in ski area management. The first step in choosing a hospitality program, then, might be to decide what types of activities you find most interesting. Those students who like to sun themselves on the beach, for example, may wish to attend a program whose graduates find careers in beachside resorts.
Another thing to look for when selecting a hospitality program would be the program's concentration of studies. Some programs concentrate on graduating people for the hotel industry. Their courses emphasize the various operating aspects of hotels. Other schools come from a tradition of food service education. They offer students the opportunity to learn how food is prepared and served. A close look on the school's website might help you determine what courses they offer and the job opportunities they are emphasizing. Most websites include brief biographies of some of their alumni, including information on when they graduated and where they are working now. This could help you decide if you want to be one of those alumni some day.
Where can I learn more about what is available?
There is an organization of hospitality programs known as the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE). You may wish to access their website at: www.CHRIE.org. On the site are some answers to questions that you may have. Also available through the website is a listing of hospitality programs. It is a good idea to collect information concerning several programs before making your final decision.
Remember that higher education in the United States is divided into several distinct parts. Colleges and Universities offer a traditional college education, four or so years of study that results in granting a Bachelor's degree. These institutions often offer a Master's degree as well as an undergraduate degree. Community Colleges and Junior Colleges offer a two-year degree, usually known as an Associate's degree. Usually, these programs offer courses of study that concentrate more on "hands on" learning. Their graduates often become chefs, and other supervisors in hotels and restaurants. If your goal is to own a restaurant or a hotel, than perhaps a two-year degree is what you should be looking for. Generally, (but not always) the large hotel and restaurant chains recruit management personnel from the four-year colleges and universities.
Since the hospitality industry is so large, and its major companies are so often headquartered in the United States, it would seem logical that you would want to study hospitality in the United States. A visit to any major city around the world will show you how common the presence of a U. S. company is. Names like Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, or Marriott should be familiar to you. All of these companies, and hundreds of other ones, visit the major hospitality schools every year to recruit students who want to begin their management careers with a major hospitality company. Instructors in U. S. hospitality programs have experience cooking most international cuisines in addition to teaching you how an international hotel operates. No other country offers a student the opportunities for a well-founded career in hospitality like the United States and no other country has the range of college programs where you can learn about those career opportunities.