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The Changing Landscape in Global Hospitality Education and Training

by John Hogan, June 24, 2010

The economic forecasts remain mixed, but the overall message shared in many publications, news stories and online services implies a more optimistic outlook in hospitality and the hotel industry in the foreseeable future.   This positive upswing will mean the need for both additional staff and increased training in evolving markets.

In this series of “HOW TO" columns titled HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS, I chose a topic that is of universal interest to all hotel managers, human resource professionals and associates themselves:

How To Provide Training and Professional Development that positively hits the target of engaging staff in meaningful programs while providing measurable results. 

For this topic, I contacted a well-known professional in the industry, Dr. Marc Clark, CHA CHE of Kentucky.  Clark is a hospitality veteran of more than three decades, with a strong reputation as a corporate educator. In his career, he has conducted over 3,400 domestic and international seminars in such locations as Mexico, Canada, Panama, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Switzerland, Spain, Africa, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

We are all aware of the dramatic changes in both our customers and staff, as the global shift in travel and employment opportunities continues to evolve.  With that in mind, I asked the following questions about adult learners:

QUESTION 1:  What different teaching styles and practices might you use today when you are lecturing in India compared with Switzerland ?

My teaching/educating style and practices today are similar, whether I am presenting to a group of hospitality students in Anand-Gujarat, India or an assembly of university faculty members in Leysin, Switzerland.  Success with these groups evolves from the adult learning conditions that are set into practice to aid in the learning process. 

I support open discussion. 

I believe that participants in any educational gathering should be allowed to intellectually challenge, discuss and question ideas, methods, and issues that have been brought forward.  Such dialogue takes learning beyond the basic level of retention of information and brings participants into higher levels of thought.  It is statistically proven that the greater an individual’s involvement is during the learning process, the better their understanding, retention and transfer of information occurs.

Understanding how people learn is also critical to the learning process. 

People learn in different ways. There are visual learners who learn by seeing, auditory learners who learn by hearing and tactile-kinesthetic learners who learn by doing.  Taking time to research facts about a group that I will be spending time with aids me in selecting the proper method or methods and support media that will be used in presenting content.

I do believe that the learning experience should be up-beat, informative, engaging, relevant and connected to real issues. There must be practical issues in which the learning can be applied. 

Teaching and learning is a two way street, that when traveled should be fun no matter what direction you are moving.

QUESTION 2:  You have been the team leader for training programs at such diverse organizations as Ponderosa Steakhouses and Opryland Hotel. How are adult learners different from the  students of 20 years ago? 

First is the realization that the world has radically changed. Technology has seen to that, as has the social scene. Attitudinal differences between generations are somewhat startling. It is no longer possible to think workers have the same approach to living, working or learning as those who came before them.

The adult learner today is becoming more tech-savvy simply because it has become a survival technique.  Individuals are in some way, shape or form connected 24/7 via a mobile device or a PC.  Social media tools such as wikis, blogs, and social networks provide immeasurable opportunities to connect and expand their horizons.

I believe that today’s learners differ from the traditional learner of two decades ago in the following ways:

  • They are inundated by massive amounts of information coming in from many sources.
  • They parallel process and are skilled multi-taskers.
  • Attention spans are shorter so learners prefer bite-size chunks of content to deal with and process.
  • They seek relevant information that can be applied immediately (prefer to learn "just-in-the-nick-of-time)
  • Collaborating, sharing and exchanging ideas with others are important.  Creates a sense of community.
  • Enjoy learning through fun (games, simulations, interactive activities). These form an environment of discovery.

“The least of learning is done in the classroom.” 
Thomas Merton,   (1915-1968)
20th century American writer, who was a poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. 

Dr. Clark, CHA CHE is the author of SMART MANAGEMENT and The Manager's Toolkit: 61 Building Blocks for Success and he serves as a Senior Advisor for GATE Hospitality University in Katmandu, Nepal.  The  American Hotel & Lodging Association presented Dr. Clark with its prestigious Lamp of Knowledge Award, identifying him as an outstanding national educator and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association awarded Dr. Clark the Certified Hotel Owners (CHO) designation.

Keys to Success 
Hospitality Tip of the Week

Focus on Hotel Service 

Cross-train at least one person in another department next week.  This will communicate your commitment to the development of the individual, who will appreciate the recognition. It will also help at least two departments in staffing and quality delivery.  This is essential in these times of tight budgets and high customer expectations. 


KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my new 2010 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings will focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles and HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS. My segments Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success will be featured at appropriate times in the year as well.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements …………. 

And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES are available from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE,  and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.   The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication 

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: How to Find the Right Manager to Effectively Lead Your Hotel / Dr John Hogan / May 2010
An Open Letter to Hospitality Students in their Junior Year / John Hogan / April 2010

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