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Hotel School Students and Professionals Perceptions Of Future Hospitality Career Opportunities And Key Job Paths Post Covid

June 2, 2020

Frederick J. DeMicco, Ph.D., RDN; Allen Reich, Ph.D. and Muhittin Tim Cavusoglu, Ph.D. School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. 

NAU Surveys: Executive Summary

In April and May of 2020, Northern Arizona University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) sent out two surveys, one to hospitality management students and another separate online survey to academics and industry professionals about the future of the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industry (using the Group Think, Collaborative Strategies web-based software:  click here.

The first survey dealt with the outlook of the hospitality industry for future graduates. The second survey asked about the training and education needs of a post-COVID19 economy, and which careers will be the most hirable and have the most growth in the near future. Over 100 surveys were completed. Overall, participants of the survey predicted that hospitality would continue to be a strong career path for Hotel School graduates. On a scale of one to seven, participants ranked the outlook of the Hospitality industry for HRM graduates at a mean average of 6.33. (See Figure 1). Participants agreed that understanding technology, risk management, health, and safety/sanitation would all be important for the future.

In a post-COVID19 economy, participants predicted training needs to focus on marketing, especially social media marketing. Additionally, there must be an increased emphasis on training and implementing more effective online ordering practices. In light of the long-term trend toward online ordering and the increase in its perceived importance during the pandemic, it is expected that an online presence will be increasingly more important for businesses.  Several respondents suggested creating videos or virtual tours to educate customers on the ordering and food preparation process so they would have more confidence that their food is being prepared and packaged in a safe and sanitary manner.  In a similar vein, another respondent stated that many of the heightened COVID19-era sanitation procedures would become the new norm.

The participants who responded seemed to agree that in the near future (around 2025-2030), all or most of the current hotel and restaurant management positions will still be needed, but there could be additional responsibilities.  Future hotel and restaurant management careers with significant potential for growth include sanitation and cleanliness, risk assessment, information technology, logistics/supply chain management, recruitment, and marketing and sales. Along these lines, participants believed that new careers could arise in regard to quality assurance, virtual reality, remote learning, risk management, and supply chain safety.

Finally, participants ranked the most important needs for training and educating staff and students post-COVID19. The top three results were understanding online technologies and tools, managing online learning and training, and the ability for managers to create and implement adaptive strategies (See Figure 2). Participants also ranked the most hirable hotel and restaurant management careers of the near future (2025-2030). The top three results were digital marketing and social media; information and innovative technologies; and safety, sanitation, and health (See Figure 3).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

For more information, contact Frederick.DeMicco@NAU.edu.

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