Top 10 Lessons on Continuing Education Management: From the Hotel Industry (Part 1)Emily Richardson | Associate Vice President for Boundless Learning, Stetson University
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?
Author Perspective: Administrator