Published on 2013/07/03

Top 10 Lessons on Continuing Education Management: From the Hotel Industry (Part 1)

Top 10 Lessons on Continuing Education Management: From the Hotel Industry (Part 1)
Hotel management has a number of lessons for continuing education leaders, if they look in the right places. These are three of the 10 lessons Richardson learned from her previous experience in the hospitality industry.

Often, I’m asked how I prepared myself to be a continuing educator. My response initially was, “I didn’t prepare.” But, over time, I realized everything I know about continuing education I learned during my time as a hospitality manager working in various departments in multiple hotels and resorts nationwide.

In the method of David Letterman, let me give you my “Top 10” as they relate to similarities between hospitality and higher education.

Number 10: A seat not sold this semester is lost forever

Think about this concept, especially in terms of revenue. Just as you can’t recoup a lost night of revenue on an empty bed, you can’t recoup an empty seat in a class. Managing the registration process, pricing functions and marketing to ensure top occupancy (or enrollments) is critical for a continuing educator.

Number 9: It is all about your customers and how to keep them coming back

Hotels and continuing educators spend a lot of money on marketing. Why? We need customers! Yet, perhaps the larger focus should be on building long-term relationships with existing customers and partners. It is easier to get someone to return for another experience in a classroom after they have had a positive learning experience. How do we truly create lifelong learners? When was the last time, as a continuing educator, you left your desk and entered a classroom to thank those attending a course? Relationship marketing is a significant key to success.

Number 8: Determine what sets you apart from your competitors

How does the Hyatt Hotel distinguish itself from the Marriott, the Hilton, the Sheraton, the Holiday Inn and the Four Seasons hotels? How does one property exist and stay competitive in a world of heavy competition?

Continuing education isn’t any different, especially for those of us that have multiple colleges and universities in a metropolitan market. And, with the advent of online learning, the competition scope has increased exponentially. How do we gain attention for our courses, our education and our services as we compete against other schools? For example, in the Philadelphia market, there are more than 72 higher education institutions.

The answer to both scenarios is value. Is a bachelor degree amongst all of the schools really the same? How do we provide services, scheduling and courses that mean something to our non-traditional students? How do we get the message out about who we are?

This was the first installment of Emily Richardson’s three-part series. To read the second part, please click here. To read the third part, please click here.

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Readers Comments

James Branden 2013/07/03 at 8:36 am

I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. Great idea to draw lessons from other competitive sectors. It’s time higher education institutions started thinking more like private sector companies, particularly in their approaches to marketing and customer service.

Ian Richardson 2013/07/03 at 10:09 pm

I think #9 is a really important point that, surprisingly, many institutions overlook. I struggle to understand why institutions spend so much on marketing to get their brand out to new students when they have, essentially, a captive market in their current students. If you give your students a great experience, they will keep coming back. And if you can’t guarantee that, then give them a financial incentive to come back to you — like how I consistently book with Holiday Inn because I have the InterContinental rewards card.

Soma Chakrabarti 2013/07/04 at 1:46 pm

Emily: Great points. Number 8 is very important and leads to a question to ask ourselves: What can we do differently to create a distinctly recognizable brand. Emily: Thanks for sharing your thoughts wth us. I look forward to Parts II and III.

    Madison Riley 2013/07/05 at 7:52 am

    Agreed – this was a theme we’ve seen a lot of discussion around over the past few months and now more than ever institutions need to start looking for their own answer.

    I’m also looking forward to the next installments! This is a fun series

Andy 2014/08/17 at 3:03 pm

Points 9 and 10 are really important, being unique is vital in the hotel world, and the educational aspects that take us to the top. Create anything that ‘stands’ out in the crowd, and your there, anywhere you want to be! Great series, heading over to parts 2 and 3 now.

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