Merging Business and Hospitality Education

“The best way to stimulate and teach students how to be the best is through encouragement and technology. We see students come into the class who are passionate about the industry—that’s half the battle. The other half is being analytical.” Ricci further explains that in the past, professors found students would either have empathy and passion or possess drive and strategy. “My premise is you really need both in today’s world and industry.”

Ricci calls half of these qualities “soft skills”—empathy, compassion, responsiveness, and customer insight. He says these skills are what get students in the door, but once graduates make it to an executive level within a company, these “soft skills” begin to diminish. It is then that the “hard skills”—analytical, strategy, and critical thinking—grow. This is the core of the issue Ricci says hospitality program students and graduates have today.

“It is not that there is a lack of talent, it is that there is a lack of proper training and preparation with the talent,” he says. “I have students that have worked in the industry doing the same job for years, and I have students who have worked in the industry rotating through jobs. Who do you think is going to be more successful?”

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