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By Quincy Knowlton

Why Earn a Hospitality and Tourism Degree?

Hospitality and tourism careers include everything from casino operations to lodging management to human resources administration. There is a wide variety of careers available with this single degree. Earning a hospitality and tourism degree will give graduates the industry skills, advanced training and exclusive knowledge needed to excel in their future careers.

Build a Strong Foundation

A hospitality and tourism degree will introduce students to a wide variety of business topics and principles. Students may take classes in sales, economics, accounting, marketing, administration and customer service. Classes may explore current ethical and emerging legal issues faced by hospitality and tourism professionals. Students may learn how to create promotional strategies, handle customers, improve advertising efficiency and eliminate marketing weaknesses. Most classes include common business themes, such as workplace diversity, operational efficiency, strategy development, global perspectives and exemplary leadership. A hospitality management degree provides students with the universal tools needed to succeed in the fields of travel, tourism, hospitality, lodging management, and food and beverage service operations.

Gain Advanced Core Skills

Hospitality and tourism management degrees translate business administration practices into relevant settings. For example, students may learn about microeconomic trends and macroeconomic analysis from the perspectives of hotel-casinos. Topics about operations may involve strategic planning, tourism law, financial management and technology implementation. Topics about research may cover business analytics, predictive modeling, customer surveys, competitor analysis, marketing tactics, and new product or service development. During the latter years of school, students may be introduced to sophisticated topics, such as business intelligence, managerial accounting, organizational dynamics and hotel management information systems.

How to Choose the Right Degree Program

The best hospitality and tourism management degree programs will combine classroom theory and field practice. Ideal degree programs will have strong partnerships with businesses in the hospitality and tourism field that provide internship opportunities. Successfully integrating theory and practice should be the driving factor behind the curriculum design, instructional delivery and classroom goals. When it comes to learning objectives, hospitality and tourism management programs should teach students how to apply various technical skills and management knowledge in real-world settings. This means that graduates will know how to create and communicate long-term visions and strategies for organizations. Programs must teach students how to monitor revenue activities, establish departmental budgets and conduct internal audits.

Professional Preparation

High-quality degree programs often prepare graduates for participation in industry organizations and the achievement of national credentials. For example, most hospitality and tourism management degree programs maintain a connection with, or at least introduce students to, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which is the national organization that represents every part of the lodging industry. Students who want to become industry leaders may become involved with the U.S. Travel Association, which is made up of 1,200 organizations across the country. Other organizations include The Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA), International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI).

Anyone who is interested in earning a hospitality and tourism degree should visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) career page to learn more about the associated job growth projections, work environments and recommended education. It is very important to select a quality degree program that has regional accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education and state-level accreditation through the higher education councils and commissions.

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