The hospitality industry is a burgeoning industry but, as in most other fields, you must have a hospitality degree to get the best salaries and benefits. The term “hospitality” encompasses many areas from unskilled and skilled laborers to management. At the lower end of the spectrum workers earn minimum wage or below but at top-rated hotels and spas managers can make six-figure incomes. Your degree makes all the difference in securing a management position in the hospitality industry but is where you earn your degree important?

What Hospitality Managers must Know

The field is diverse. Hospitality includes everything from food service and activity directors on cruise ships to events planners and tourism specialists. That takes in tour guides and food service managers in chains of high-end resorts too. Hospitality courses must teach students the fundamentals of the industry, normally referred to as the breadth of the field, and specific courses which comprise the depth of the education. These courses include legalities in hospitality management such as the regulations involved in food service and gambling, employment law and international issues. That, in itself, is a huge field of knowledge but hospitality majors must also possess the skills of property management and maintenance. They must understand the basics of human resources and also know how to handle the financial aspects of running a department or even a facility. Hospitality degrees usually also include marketing courses.

Advantages of Small Universities

Smaller schools translate to smaller classes and that means more interaction with the teaching staff. Some students function better in intimate settings. The extra attention can boost self-confidence and allow students to concentrate on things like building resumes and performing well in interviews. If you intend to work in a less populous city or manage a small business you might do well to consider a smaller school.

What Large Schools Offer

Hospitality is a relatively new term and so the areas it encompasses tend not to be standardized. In Europe these courses don’t focus on business ownership the way U.S. programs do. Still, smaller schools might prepare students to own businesses so what advantage do the large schools have? For one thing, since hospitality covers such a broad range of jobs, it is an advantage to have an instructor who specializes in things like managing staff in a chain of restaurants or in coordinating all the services needed to plan a huge event for a corporation. In small schools there is often limited staff and teachers must be “Jacks of all trades.” Large schools usually have more resources as well. Some big schools own restaurants at which students specializing in restaurant management or food services can get hands-on experience. There are a few smaller schools that have restaurants but they are located in areas with a lot of tourist trade. Bigger universities often have simulation laboratories and other resources as well, provided by generous endowments often unavailable to small schools. Large schools can usually offer more kinds of experiences and the International Student Guide advises students to choose their school according to the area in which they wish to work. Someone wanting to study casino management would do well to consider a university in a metropolitan area that allows gambling, for instance. Another advantage of large schools is that, because they are generally located in metropolitan areas, they have networking possibilities with diverse businesses in the hospitality industry, That not only means more internships, but more employment opportunities after you earn your hospitality degree.
The hospitality industry, though diverse, has one common denominator: people. Whether it involves hotel guests, restaurant patrons or tourists, a hospitality position involves working with the public. While some students may be able to accomplish their goals at a smaller school, the opportunities they derive may be limited. Developing a hospitality degree that encompasses the depth and breadth of the field is probably easier at a large school where students have the resources and the hands-on experiences of working with the public.