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The Education of International Students at U.S. Hotel Schools; A Conversation
with Stephen Barth, Professor of Hospitality Law and Leadership at the
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

by John Hogan, September 1, 2010

The hospitality education of international students has continued to evolve and many programs have growing ratios of international to domestic students. 

“What people hear they forget, what they see they remember, 
what they do they understand.” 

This quote is the leadoff message on an informational card that is included in programs on Powerful Presentations led by Stephen Barth, JD, CHE, Professor of Hospitality Law and Leadership at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. 

Dr. Barth is well known in the industry for both his articles and presentations, with a focus on legal and leadership issues.  His articles appear regularly in many industry publications.  His frequent presentations focus on positive leadership techniques and methods for preventing liability in the hospitality industry. 

Barth is the author of Hospitality Law, co-author of Restaurant Law Basics, and the founder of with its annual Hospitality Law Conference series.  He has over twenty years of experience in hospitality operations, which includes line positions, management, and ownership.  As an attorney and member of the State Bar of Texas, he serves as a mediator and a strong proponent for alternative dispute resolution. 

He assisted the National Restaurant Association in developing its Safety and Security Seminar and its Responsible Service of Alcohol program. He is a member of a select group of instructors worldwide designated by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association to teach its Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) program.

I asked Dr. Barth for some of his insights on today’s students.

Question #1
How do the students from around the globe interact with each other?

The global tourism and hospitality demands continue to increase and students of every nationality need to embrace the diversity of customs, travel experiences and business protocols.   There may be times when domestic and international students do not automatically mix, but the enthusiasm and desire to share experiences far overshadow those occasional moments of unfamiliarity. 

International students, particularly from the East including China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore have been studying in western higher education institutions for years.  There is also a trend for many western universities, like the University of Houston, to have student exchange opportunities with other international and eastern universities in order to expose their students to international cultures and business practices. Our program has relationships with the University of Angers in Angers, France,  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Monterrey University of Technology and Centro de Estudios Superiores de San Ángel  in Mexico, and Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

Question #2
Why do you think there is such a continuing demand for international hospitality learning?
Tourism and hospitality are two growth fields for almost every country in the world.  China and India, for example,  with the two largest global populations are modernizing their physical and organizational structures and want to offer excellence in value and experience.  The western students are excited about interacting with individuals from all around the world and expanding their horizons.
Question #3
I have attended a number of job fairs and related events over the past several years at the Conrad Hilton College  and have been impressed with the diversity of students by age, nationality, interest and career focus.    Do you find that international students studying in American universities have challenges adopting learning styles that might be somewhat  different from their domestic counterparts?
Today’s global students have adapted to various teaching and learning styles quite well through technology and a more mature approach to career planning.  They may have to work harder if there is a language challenge  and tackle some additional reading, but we find the presence of international students both here and abroad  has the impact of positively changing some content and learning processes.  The opportunity to share educational experiences with international students enriches everyone’s learning experience and broadens their outlook.
Question #4
Can you share how you personally embrace this outward reach for international learning?  I know  you spent a recent sabbatical in South America and are learning Spanish.
I found the people in Latin America to be incredibly hospitable.  The experience was exciting and rewarding. To interact with a culture in it’s native language is a fascinating experience. My classroom techniques are much more robust due to my time immersed in that region of the world. 
“One of the things we’re most proud of is that when our students graduate, they know how to think and they know how to lead.” 
Barth quote on UH web site.

“There are no limits to being an international student. I found great connections, a caring faculty, scholarships and a second home. I love this College!” 
Edith Nino, Graduate  May 2008 ;  Home Country - Venezuela quote on UH web site.

Dr. Barth is a highly sought after speaker for many groups and regularly interacts on many issues for the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Club Managers Association, the National Association of Catering Executives, National Business Travel Association, the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, and CHEERS.  In addition, he regularly interacts with many other hospitality associations and management companies, including Four Seasons, Hyatt, Hilton, Choice, Best Western Hotels, Intercontinental and Wyndham Worldwide.


  • In 2000, he received the University of Houston’s Distance Education Award
  • In 2001, he launched
  • In 2002, he initiated the Annual Hospitality Law conference series
  • In 2003, he launched the Electronic Journal of Hospitality Legal, Safety and Security Research
  • In 2007, he was the recipient of the Hilton College Outstanding Teacher award
  • In 2010, he became a Founding Associate of, a consortium of successful corporate and academic educators delivering focused and affordable counsel for the hospitality industry 

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week: 

Focus on the Benefits of Cultural Diversity

‘Doing The Right Things’

The biggest challenge is to understand what Cultural Diversity really means. 
Cultural Diversity is not just about race as it embraces (literally) 20 different qualities found in people. Celebrate the diversity of people, properties, locations and guests.

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: Hospitality Conversations: Examining the Learning Options Available in the Hospitality Field / Dr John Hogan / July 2010

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