Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 2, Page 2 Winter 1994 Keeping the light on The hospitality industry is enormous. It's the biggest industry in the world, currently number three in the U.S. Hospitality covers everything from food and lodging to travel, tourism and recreation. That means restaurants, cafes, pizza parlors, theme parks, cocktail and corner bars, hotels, motels, conference and tourist centers. It means golf, corporate and country clubs, complexes for senior citizens, holiday resorts, the company dining room. Essentially, it means guests-guests and the people who cater to them. Hospitality people brought the peanuts and Cracker Jacks into baseball and the popcorn and soda into a night at the movies. They're the people you'll contact to help celebrate your birthday, your graduation, your engagement, your wedding, your retirement, your funeral. So, what does all this have to do with the University of Delaware? The College of Human Resources' major in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) prepares students for careers in the hospitality industry. The major leads to a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources. HRIM program director Paul Wise sees nothing but further opportunity ahead. On any given day, for instance, roughly half of U.S. adults eat out. Anybody over the age of 8 consumes 200 meals a year away from home. And, as more and more families send both parents to work, that figure will rise. The restaurant industry alone represents 25,000 companies with 150,000 food service outlets. Frankie Miller, assistant professor in the HRIM program and a specialist in sales and marketing, looks beyond domestic demographics to growth on an international scale. "Right now," she says, "the world's traveling population is less than 50 percent. When you think of developing countries and the countries that have gained political freedom, what you see are more people with passports, more people at liberty to travel. We've only touched the tip of this iceberg." And, it is, already today, a fairly hefty tip. Tourism overtook agricultural exports five years ago. Wise points to several features that make Delaware's program special. While European establishments traditionally encourage apprenticeships, American institutions favor theory. Delaware's program has a carefully designed balance between applied experience and academic studies. "Great hands-on experience," according to Leslie Kramer, who worked a semester at Disney World in Orlando, attending formal seminars on Disney's management concepts while tending guests at its Polynesian Resort, wearing a floral sarong with a flower in her hair. Now, she works the desk at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., where actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were among the latest celebrity guests. The program's strong internship opportunities don't preclude theory. Candidates master a range of institutional management skills plus courses in economics, accounting, information systems and legal issues offered by the College of Business and Economics. They also study food science, food production, nutrition and related disciplines. Another innovation in HRIM is its buddy system, in which freshmen are paired with advanced undergraduates who show them the ropes. Combine this with a comprehensive advisement policy and the "Hospitality Mentor System," and you have a complete support network. The mentor system permits students to connect with industry professionals, and contacts may provide that crucial foot in the door, as Theresa Krill discovered. Krill, a senior from East Brunswick, N.J., chose as her mentor Ronald N. Magruder, president of The Olive Garden Italian Restaurants and a member of the program's advisory board. Krill says she plucked up the nerve to approach him when she heard Olive Garden was commissioning a site in her hometown. She landed a summer job, returning the next year to work on a store opening in Laurel, Md. Subsequently, under Magruder's tutelage, she has visited the chain's management training facility in Florida and the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. Now, she has a part-time managerial position at The Olive Garden on Route 202 in Wilmington, Del., along with high hopes for a career with the nation's largest, Italian dinner house company. The illustrious HRIM advisory board is a source of great pride to the program. With 35 representatives at regional, national and international levels throughout the hospitality industry, the board helps set long-term strategic goals, its expertise extending to journalism, finance, insurance and the law, though most advisers are practicing industry professionals. The list of members includes Edward Book, president of the Travel Industry Association of America; Ichiro Inumaru, president and general manager of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo; Duncan Dickson, director of casting for Walt Disney World; Hal Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Rosenbluth Travel; James Miller, vice president of human resources for ARASERVE; Paul O'Neill, managing director of the Sheraton Manhattan and Sheraton New York, to name but a few. National member Walter Conti, who runs the award-winning Conti Cross Keys Inn in Doylestown, Pa., is upbeat about Delaware students. "They look terrific," he says, "as good as any in the country." Employment prospects for these students are good. "We find we're in a luxurious position," says Miller. "We've only had three graduating classes, but already we've built a reputation in the industry. We receive frequent calls from industry recruiters requesting our graduates." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both hotel and restaurant managers figure in the "top 50" occupations. Hotel managers or assistant managers can expect starting salaries in the low $30s; typical top salaries exceed $80,000. Location is part of HRIM's success in job placement. Less than an hour away from Philadelphia and Baltimore, perhaps as far again from the nation's capital, the program's center in the newly renovated Amy Rextrew House on South College Avenue in Newark is neighbor to the nation's 5th, 12th and 7th largest markets respectively, with New York not much further. "We have every conceivable segment of the hospitality business within a short distance," observes Wise, which at the very least makes for plentiful, resume enhancing summer work for the students. Location also facilitates each student's marketing skills. Most recently, 16 students participated in a "sales blitz" for the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C., contacting 200 businesses in three days and producing 61 definite leads for the hotel. Chris Taggart, Delaware '93, of Wilmington, Del., loved the job: "Staying in the hotels, commuting back and forth on the metro to D.C., having a temporary expense account...made me feel like I was no longer in college, but out in the real world." In a program committed to meeting industry needs, academic focus is blended with real-world exposure. HRIM makes post-graduation prospects a priority. Its first annual career fair was the largest in the mid-Atlantic region and this year's fair features more than 50 recruiters. The HRIM program also provides an opportunity, in an increasingly professional industry, for active hospitality executives to return to academia and acquire advanced skills and qualifications. So, if you're looking for the academic study with a clear vision of the future, the HRIM program just might be the place. Get down to the Amy Rextrew House. They'll keep the light on for you. -Steven O'Connor, Delaware '94 Ph.D.