For almost thirty years, Dr. Deborah T. Curtis has been a highly acclaimed leader in the hospitality industry. Her hotel industry experience ranges from ownership of a 60-room property to Director of Sales and Marketing at a 500-room Hilton to National Sales Director with a Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“A goal of mine is to provide better opportunities to students. The focus is getting students prepared and, in a position, to obtain great job opportunities,” Dr. Curtis said.
In her role as an associate professor for the College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management, she specializes in teaching students about hotel, restaurant, and club management. Dr. Curtis shared her perspective on the industry and program at NU during a recent interview
Hospitality can be perceived as easy by people outside the industry. Could you share how complex hospitality and tourism management is?
Many people look at the industry as a guest checking in and checking out of a hotel. Depending on the property you are managing, it’s like running a small city. A large hotel has people coming in for events, meetings, job interviews, tourism, and much more, so you play an integral role in making sure their stay goes smoothly. It is about ensuring visitors that they have an enjoyable and hassle-free time, so they can prepare themselves to address their business, honeymoon, or other needs. In the college, you learn about people management, supply management, and understanding the importance of delivering a high-quality experience.
What qualities are the best fit for someone looking to succeed in this industry?
- A person who possesses the desire to help others. You get enjoyment out of seeing someone else happy and seeing things work out for them.
- A person who likes a hands-on environment where they can be involved rather than sitting behind a desk.
- A person who likes variety and spontaneity. The people dining in a restaurant or staying at a hotel are never the same, everyone is different, and situations are different.
- A person who is excited to do new things and cares about the success of others.
What opportunities are present for students to get more involved in the industry?
- Club Management – An abundance of employment opportunities in clubs to gain education, experience, and support in further developing students and current managers.
- Hotel Management – Through partnerships, hotel companies provide students with scholarships, job opportunities, and internships throughout the year.
- Restaurant Management – There is a huge alumni network that connects students with job opportunities in the restaurant industry.
- International Opportunities – Students apply for a coveted opportunity to live and work during the summer in Lake Como, Italy to explore luxury operations in the hotel industry.
- On-Campus Student Clubs – Allows students to travel to conferences and site visits across the country. Students receive professional development, networking, and paid internships.
What initiatives are you looking to implement that will strengthen the College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management?
In fall 2022, we are launching a program that will grant students the opportunity to obtain more coaching during their internships. It is common for students to work in their internships, but at the same time be nervous to make mistakes and try something new. The new initiative will implement a system where coaching happens throughout the internship rather than only at the beginning and end. Providing coaching each step of the way will allow students that are uncomfortable or unsure to get the support needed to prosper. This program will allow mentors to work with students one-on-one to get them through the experience. There are many more initiatives, opportunities, and guidance coming soon to strengthen the students graduating from the program.