From hotels to cruise ships, Hospitality students see ‘latest and greatest’ first-hand
When Dr. Joe Scarcelli says he wants his York College of Pennsylvania students to get out-of-class experience, he’s not kidding.
For example, recently he took 13 Hospitality Management majors to New York City and the “HX: Hotel Experience” trade show.
The group also went on to tour four different places that offer varying types of hospitality, demonstrating what some of the options students may have when they chose their careers.
“The show is the latest and greatest in hotel and restaurants,” Dr. Scarcelli says. “We do what we do in the classroom, but it’s important to all of us in hospitality that we connect directly to the industry outside the classroom.
“I can lecture until I am blue in the face, but until they are on property they can’t see for themselves how theory is put into practice in this profession.”
The New York trip isn’t the only example of York College providing this type of experience for Hospitality Management students.
In December, another 17 students will head to Port Bayonne in New Jersey to tour a Royal Caribbean cruise ship while docked between voyages.
The students will get a complete tour of how a cruise ship functions, not just from the customer’s eyes, but how the manager sees things.
Seeing all sides of many types of properties
While in New York, Dr. Scarcelli’s group toured a luxury hotel, a high-end property, a private club, and a boutique hotel – all of which are potential career choices for students. The properties this year included The Four Seasons, The Mandarin Oriental, the Princeton Club, and the Sanctuary Hotel.
The attendees learned how things are different at a five-star resort compared to a private club, where the members are the people in charge.
“The best part is that these tours are just for me and my students. They are essentially one-on-one, and the students can learn about the challenges management goes through,” Dr. Scarcelli says.
In both the New York trip and the cruise, the groups experience every aspect of the property, especially behind the scenes. This includes everything from food preparation and greeting people to linens and suppliers.
“You don’t normally get this from photos,” says sophomore Hospitality Major Andrew Fare. “It’s really important to be able to go on this cruise ship and see it for yourself. It shows you this is where you will work, and this is how it functions behind the scenes.”
Andrew says he’s really looking forward to seeing what is more than meets the eye for the customer.
“Not everyone in our major wants to work in a hotel,” he says, “But, this might change my perspective.”
Arranged by Andrew and York College professor Dr. Shelly La Motte, students will be aboard the ship for four and a half hours, which includes getting to enjoy what cruise ships are known for – the food, via a buffet lunch.
Andrew added that they expect to see the entire ship, including the rooms, bars, dining areas, casinos and where the crew sleeps.
Having good contacts leads the way
While the trade show itself is quite beneficial, Dr. Scarcelli calls it secondary. He uses his many contacts in the industry to give his students a wide range exposure to various types of properties. He enjoys this aspect of the New York trip every year.
Dr. Scarcelli likes when the tours are conducted by younger people within the industry. For instance, the tour of the Four Seasons was conducted by a recent York College alum that works there.
“Others are alumni from previous institutions and contacts of mine,” he says. “We are starting to spread our alumni out there. It’s always nice to use this trip as a reconnect point and make sure my former students are doing well.”
Dr. Scarcelli says it’s helpful with people not too far out of college, because they can relate to his students.
“For me, it’s a phenomenal experience to let the students see what is possible and give them a much-needed additional perspective.”
A stop-at-nothing approach
Another benefit of trade shows and tours is the many great networking opportunities, from meeting representatives of various companies to fellow students and recruiters.
It’s all part of the out-of-the-classroom teaching York College provides.
Like many of the majors at York College, the Hospitality Management program makes the most of real-life experiences that benefit its students.
“The program stops at no end to give students the experience they need,” Andrew says. “They make sure they are not just seeing pictures in a PowerPoint in the classroom. It’s definitely important to go to any lengths to get there. We understand in our major how important it is, and how this cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”