Ahead of the Curve in Hospitality Analytics

Among the UD graduate hospitality students who earned the new certification were, from left: Ajay Nayar, Wenqi Zhao, Jesse Plough and Mia Gioia.

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic this year, six students in the University of Delaware’s master of science in hospitality business management (HBM) program were among the first students to receive the new Certification in Advanced Hospitality and Tourism Analytics (CAHTA). The students, who were part of the Advanced Lodging Practicum, completed the course with a 100% pass rate, another first.

“Because of that success, Professors Sullivan, Miller and I were the very first academics to be certified as CAHTA instructors,” added Robert Nelson, who is an associate professor of HBM at UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

The CAHTA, Nelson explained, trains participants to master the creation and interpretation of the hospitality industry’s most commonly used analytics reports, including market studies, event impact analyses and feasibility studies. Students were required to pass a comprehensive exam and create analytics reports themselves in order to receive the certification.

William Sullivan, a Lerner College adjunct faculty member who, as Nelson mentioned, became a CAHTA instructor as a result of these developments, said that this new certification “comes at a vital time as the industry is struggling due to COVID-19 and needs the ability to analyze data to improve results.”

In earning this important new certification, Nelson said, students were patient in working through the bugs associated with being the first cohort to use online learning tools.

“The students also had to work with each other in different time zones,” he continued. “For example, one of the students was in China with a 12-hour differential to EST.”

Sullivan added that the cohort “bonded well to get this work done,” calling it “a true team effort!”

Cohort member and HBM graduate student Jesse Plough called his time in the Advanced Lodging Practicum a “great experience, especially since we were presented the opportunity to assess such an event as COVID-19 using industry tools.”

The students had to be “extra flexible… since we were not able to meet in person,” Plough said, but the experience was worth the effort.

“My favorite part of this experience was how the professors worked with us to provide quality lectures/tools for success and feedback when we needed,” he continued. “I am also thankful that I’ve made such great connections during this experience.”

Another member of this successful cohort, HBM graduate student Ajay Nayar, called it a “privilege” to be among the first students to earn the CAHTA, saying that he was proud of the group’s success. He also lauded the work of the group’s professors in supporting them through the new distance learning environment.

“Our Professors involving all of us from all time zones in this pandemic was really encouraging and appreciated,” he said.

Nelson and Sullivan said that in the future, this certification will help the graduates to excel and stand out among job applicants in the hospitality industry.

The Department of Hospitality and Sport Business Management, Sullivan said, “provides unique experiential learning, and even though remote in this case, the students got an excellent experience that will help them jumpstart their careers in hospitality and business analytics!”

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