Sarah Walsh Front of House Manager Red Carnation Hotels United Kingdom

Sarah Walsh

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Report on the Professional Development Program at Cornell University

Arriving into the regional Tompkins Regional Airport in Ithaca, I was greeted by a friendly and helpful member of the PDP (Professional Development Program) staff and was transported to Statler Hotel (the training hotel of Cornell University). This level of warm welcome and genuine care set the tone for my two weeks at Cornell University.

The first morning of classes Tom Kline, Executive Director of Education at Cornell University, personally welcomed us and while encouraging us to take full advantage of the learning opportunities also exhorted us to take full advantage of the opportunity to meet and engage with our fellow course participants who represented a broad spectrum of the hospitality industry

I completed four modules over the two weeks at Cornell culminating in being awarded a certificate in Revenue Management: The modules were as follows:
1. Hospitality Financial Management: Operations Decision Making
2. Hotel Revenue Management
3. Demand Management: Maximising Hotel Revenue through distribution
4. Advanced Hotel Revenue Management

The PDP education experience at Cornell University was of a very high standard and was structured to maximise the learning from the modules. The classes were small which facilitated a more personalised learning experiences and also offered a real opportunity to engage with and learn from the experiences of fellow course attendees.

Although each module lasted only three days, each of the days were maximised in terms of learning experiences and the coursework was supplemented by pre course preparation work, reading and assignments to be completed at night. The support course material for each module was of a very high standard and will act as a valuable reference guide in my work in putting the learning into practice.

By way of illustration, I would reference two specific revenue modules, Hotel Revenue Management and Advanced Hotel Revenue Management both of which were both facilitated by Professor Chris Anderson PH.D. Revenue management might not seem like the most exciting of subjects given its heavy dependence on mathematical models and probability. Nevertheless I can say with complete honesty that the Professor had me on the edge of my seat from the very start. Throughout the two modules we were challenged in a very interactive way with real life and simulated situations which cleverly forced us to use all available resources which invariably meant that we had to engage with each other to meet the various challenges posed. The environment was invariably friendly and comfortable but with just enough of a sprinkling of competition to make things interesting!!!

The learning experience and Professor Anderson’s enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge of the subject fired me with an enthusiasm for Revenue Management and left me in no doubt that Revenue Management is an essential ingredient in any successful hospitality business.

The other aspect of the programme which is deserving of mention is the calibre of participants on the courses. There were attendees from all areas of the hospitality trade including CFO’s and General Mangers from a number of hotel enterprises. We were encouraged at all times to engage with each other and this was facilitated by an active social programme in the evenings. It really struck me how, every time I sat next to a new participant, I was amazed by their journey in hospitality and the experiences they shared with me. I came away from Cornell feeling genuinely privileged to have met so many interesting hoteliers and I am most grateful for the opportunity to have made such a valuable set of contacts and friends for the future.

My experience at Cornell University can be summed up in the words, “a once in a life time opportunity”. I have returned to London after my time in Cornell truly energised. I am bursting to integrate my new learning and some of the international practices picked up from my fellow participants of the Professional Development Program in the Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel.