Navigating the Future of Hospitality Management

Labor market shifts and workforce issues continue to challenge the hospitality industry due to the lingering effects of global travel restrictions and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. With decreased interest in hospitality jobs, many people exited the industry, creating a need for new talent and a push to bring back those who left. The profitability of travel and tourism businesses relies on how well hospitality leaders can address these issues.

In the Keynote webcast, “The Next 100 Years: Hospitality Workforce of Tomorrow,” industry experts J.D. Barnes, vice president of global workforce innovation and optimization at Hilton, and Katherine Grass, CEO of Optii, joined Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration faculty J. Bruce Tracey, professor of management; Vincent Slaugh, assistant professor of operations management and Tashlin Lakhani, assistant professor of management and organizations, to share valuable insights on adapting and thriving in the evolving landscape of human resources in the hospitality industry.

How have pandemic-induced labor market shifts transformed the landscape of HR in hospitality? 

Barnes: “The emerging trends around greater flexibility, the reset from the pandemic, the rise of the gig economy – all of these considerations are things that are now impacting the labor market. At Hilton, we’re keen on embedding greater flexibility, choice and control, bringing in the best talent and modernizing some of the roles and assignments within our hotels to make them more appealing to different generations.”

Grass: “It’s all about how to keep these new entrants into hospitality happy. How do you train them? How do you make things very easy for them? How do you engage in ways that maybe, as J.D. was saying, they were used to in other industries and offering that flexibility. And sometimes the challenge of hospitality is offering flexibility in new ways because you don’t always have that work-from-home option.”

What are some ways hospitality HR professionals can attract and retain talent?

Barnes: “We have an ability to bring in students who might not have traditionally looked at our employment because they can’t give up an eight-hour shift when they’re working in between classes or managing a workload. For them what’s important is a four, five, six-hour shift, which is why they may have looked at gig endeavors. And then similarly, (we have) encore retirees and people who have left the workforce but want some level of flexibility in between their retirement to pick up a different level of work.”

Lakhani:We really need to focus I think on the retention and the growth opportunities, telling the stories but also creating the stories, showing them that there are opportunities for growth and that they can see their colleague being promoted to positions, and that there is really a space for them to grow and have a lifelong career.”

Grass: “There’s all these different (talent) pools coming in who maybe are not familiar with hospitality, so how can you embrace them, how can you help them, how can you train them and bring them into the culture as quickly as possible?”

Which positions are first in line when it comes to redesigning work?

Barnes: “I do think that housekeeping, in particular, is one of the biggest areas in our hotels from a staffing perspective. If you look at the contribution that those team members make in terms of the guest experience and the amount of time they take in preparing a room, that experience is important.”

Lakhani: “Some of the most severe labor shortages are in housekeeping or in the back of the house – where we can’t create hybrid work.”

Barnes: “The more information we can gather ahead of the arrival of the customer, the more we can infuse that into the actions that our team members take in delivering that service and experience. Technology is playing a big part in making sure that it’s seamless, that it’s fast, and that the preferences are known.”

What are the influences of AI and other technologies on hospitality management?

Barnes: “We’ve incorporated AI from a training perspective in our ability to use virtual reality in helping team members understand what their duties are, how to personalize services, the sequence of steps and things like that. It’s really interesting for us to think about how we’ve morphed training across some of our hotels.”

Slaugh: “I think we completely miss frontline service work as a domain for analytics. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth. In recent years, I’ve worked on a hotel’s housekeeping scheduling problem. And that’s just a new model for our field.”

Barnes: “Things like text messaging recruiting. A lot of this AI technology is coming in here. Being able to schedule a candidate and say, hey, come in three days. We’ll be able to interview you in person. We’ve got to modernize a lot of that approach to recruiting.”

Grass: “Just even the diversity on the language front when you are managing departments: There can be a dozen languages spoken, so how does your software in real time translate conversations for them? We ensure that we do inline and real-time translations so that if a team leader is communicating something in Spanish, everyone is receiving that in their (preferred) language. All those communications are happening in real time. It’s giving that sense of community and ensuring that everyone has a voice and can make that voice be completely understood.”

How can leaders in hospitality increase the industry’s appeal?

Lakhani: “We’ve seen innovation. We’ve seen compensation go up. But I think there’s still work to be done in terms of changing the perception of what it means to work in hospitality.”

Grass: “When you have this personal connection and personal interaction, (you ask) how can the technologies help me eliminate or simplify the rinse-and-repeat that gets a bit monotonous, especially for people who are new to an industry and step in and say, ‘Oh, this is really kind of same-old, same-old every day.’ How can you smarten up and remove that monotonous bit to allow people to have more quality time to interact with the guest in better ways?”

Barnes: “The greater desire is for us to continue to emphasize that life doesn’t have to fit into work, that work should fit into your life. And so enabling that functionality, enabling that choice and control for our team members across all our hotels. It’s also the flexibility of allowing that choice and control for the team member and for them to inform us about what works for them.”

Explore Cornell’s hospitality certificate programs to gain an edge in today’s transforming industry and prepare for the workforce of tomorrow.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Experience the full webcast “The Next 100 Years: Hospitality Workforce of Tomorrow” here.

Entrepreneurship program emboldens spice startup founder

For Abena Foli, the farm-to-table lifestyle is a birthright. Each day she uses the knowledge she gained from growing up on her father’s farm in Ghana to enrich her career as a food scientist and regulatory affairs leader.

“Working in the food industry, I get to sit in marketing ideation sessions, and research and development meetings. Whenever we talk about innovation in ingredients or products, West Africa is never mentioned,” said Foli, who now lives in Texas. “There was a lack of West African-originated products on shelves. I wanted to leverage my food science background as well as my West African heritage to solve that problem.”

She decided to start small for maximum impact: “When people are new to cuisines,” she said, “they tend to try seasonings first.”

Foli founded POKS Spices in 2016 to bring flavors from West Africa into American home kitchens. In 2021, she became one of the 60,000 women to participate in the certificate program offered by the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell, which is managed by the Cornell Law School and powered by eCornell.

Funding from Bank of America makes it possible for the students to gain the skills and resources to build a successful venture – and earn a business certificate from the university – at no cost.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle Website.

New Sustainable Tourism program charts course for travel’s future

At the intersection of travel and sustainability is sustainable tourism, a response to the growing need for the travel industry to ensure host communities receive socioeconomic benefits and are protected from adverse environmental effects. As business rebounds in the pandemic’s fourth year, tourism professionals are strategizing to reduce the “invisible burden” of tourism and address unprecedented challenges.

The Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) – part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business – recently launched Sustainable Tourism Destination Management, a self-paced online course designed to train hospitality and tourism leaders in managing destination assets.

Delivered by eCornell, the course equips professionals working in a wide array of destinations with data-driven methods for measuring the impacts of tourism, managing natural resources, creating climate action plans and tracking economic development goals.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle Website.

Certificate brings Cornell food production expertise to entrepreneurs worldwide

For more than 30 years, the Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC) has helped entrepreneurs transform family recipes and homemade eats into successful commercial food products. The center, located at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, has served hundreds of partners and facilitated the launch of more than 20,000 food products since 2000.

Now, a new online program from Cornell is expanding access to the CFVC’s expertise and supporting the growth of food entrepreneurs around the globe.

The Food Product Development Certificate is delivered by eCornell and authored by Olga Padilla-Zakour, CFVC director and professor of food science at Cornell AgriTech, and Bruno Xavier, CFVC associate director. Courses are co-facilitated by the CFVC’s extension specialists Cynthia James and Ann Vegdahl, and take participants step by step through product ideation, food safety and quality, processing, packaging, regulatory requirements, and commercialization.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle Website.

The Perfect Match: Pairing Beer with Food

Open a restaurant menu and you will often find a specific wine suggested to pair with a particular dish. But what if you prefer a crisp lager over a fruity Riesling? Certain beers pair just as well with food as wine does: Hefeweizen goes nicely with haddock, for instance, while IPAs are a fine complement to spicy food.

Restaurants all over the country are incorporating beer into their menus, and those who enjoy entertaining at home are considering their own menus. Is it OK to braise a turkey in pilsner? Which dark ale should you add to a beef carbonnade? Understanding the different flavors and complexities of beer can help turn any meal into an unforgettable experience.

In our recent keynote, “The Perfect Match: Pairing Beer with Food,” we explore beer styles and dish combinations with our expert panel: Doug Miller, lecturer in the Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration and author of the Beer Essentials certificate program; Ari Sanders, director of tavern operations at Fullsteam Brewery; and Michael Wille, associate professor of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America.

What are some basic rules about pairing food with beer?

Wille: “When I’m trying to pair food and beer, I usually look for things like the flavor impact of the beer; that can range anywhere from delicate to intense. I’m looking at the body of the beer and the type of food I’m pairing it with. Some beers can be light and citrusy and fizzy. Others can kind of have malt characteristics and be dark and caramelly.

I’m usually trying to find harmonies within the flavors. You also might want to look for contrasts. If you have something in your food that might be fatty, you might want to cut that with something acidic, light, or fizzy in the beer. Harmonies and contrast, I think, are two of the most important things to take into consideration.”

Miller: “Look for how the food’s being prepared. Is it fried, so potentially more fat content? Is it grilled, so does it have a smoky element to it, in the case of a steak? Build mostly off the protein. The sauce can come into play, if there is a sauce, but I would key your pairing off how it’s being prepared and the protein or the main component of that dish.”

Is there a hard and fast rule when it comes to pairing beer with food like with wine? For example, most of us think about pairing a white wine with chicken. Does that relate to beer as well?

Wille: “When you have high alcohol, that’s going to usually intensify the heat in a dish. But when you begin to understand some of the flavors and tastes of different styles of beers and you understand complementing and contrasting, the rules are there to be broken.”

Sanders: “I’ve always thought about it as, ‘What does meat eat?’ Meat eats grain. What’s beer made of? Grain. I think beer is always a very natural complement to food. I do think it’s very important to have some intentionality when you decide to set a pairing up. What are you trying to show off? Do you want to break the palate up to reset for the next dish? Are you trying to show off the light buttery complexity of a sauce? Are you trying to show off the richness of a red meat? What you are trying to accentuate when you make your pairing is really important. Intentionality is important, but play. I won’t say rules are meant to be broken; rules help us along the way to learning.”

With beer now becoming more prominent, have you seen a change in your students’ taste buds whereas before the major focus was on wine pairings?

Miller: “I started teaching a beer course 14 years ago at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and I would have the students try a sour beer. They were ready to throw it back at me. They just thought there was something wrong with me. And I’m talking about world-class sours like Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen. Now my students love it. One of the reasons this might be the case is we’re looking at the generation that grew up eating Sour Patch candy and sour items, so they were more accustomed to having sourness in their diet.

Also, now they’re shifting away from IPAs. When I taught the class last spring, they were indifferent about IPAs. When it came to lager or pilsner-style beers, they were all in. I’m curious to see when I teach it this spring if this indifference on IPA continues and we have another transitional shift of what’s popular amongst students.”

IPAs can be bitter. Are there some foods to pair with it to make it more palatable?

Sanders: “IPA is probably the broadest category of beer available in America right now. You’ll see an IPA that’s sitting at 135 IBUs, which is how we measure bitterness, and you’ll see one that reads sweet and juicy – almost like lemonade. What I would encourage is to think about what type of flavors you enjoy. Think about what a fruity, juicy, hazy IPA can go well with. I pair those about the way I would pair white wine, with fish or things with light buttery sauces. But every IPA is going to go great with a nice piece of fried chicken.”

Wille: “As chefs we say, ‘Fat is flavor.’ Any item that’s going to have that fat in there is going to be something that’s going to be strong enough to stand up to those IPAs and the bold flavors.”

Miller: “Also, make sure that your IPAs are fresh because IPAs do change. Those lovely, juicy, citrusy notes after about 60 days start changing to be more bitter. It’s not that they spoil or go bad, but the flavor profile changes.”

What are some things people should look for when trying to pick out a beer that they might like?

Miller: “I think the key thing is going to a place where you have a knowledgeable staff, go to your bottle shop or, depending on what state you’re in, a beer store, grocery store, whatever it may be; and talk to that knowledgeable person behind the counter. They could give you a lot of great insight about what just came in. They could make some suggestions on potential pairings. If you can get it from your local tap room or brewery, have a conversation with the people behind the counter. They’re a wealth of information and can help guide you through your beer journey.”

Sanders: “You know what you don’t like, and if you don’t like the food, you’re not going to like the pairing. If you know you don’t like bitter, it’s going to be hard to sell you on a super bitter IPA regardless. Be open to isolating what you don’t like and be open to saying, ‘I really like this thing. Help me find it.’ Again, knowledgeable staff is always key in that choice.”

Have you ever cooked with beer and what have you made?

Miller: “Yes, I’ve cooked with beer. If you look at countries like Belgium, they cook with beer on a regular basis. You go to a restaurant, and the chef is adding beer to the sauce, they’re braising with the beer. I think it also could be utilized if you have a little bit of barbecue sauce in a bottle – add a little beer in there just to shake it up and get the last little bit out. Then pour it into the pot. I use that sometimes.”

Sanders: “I always put beer in my pot roast. I generally use a dark beer. Any local stout I can find, I love in some pot roast. A good coffee porter is a great way to start braising off a pork loin. Sit it overnight in that coffee porter and then do a coffee rub. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Wille: “I agree with Ari on the stewing and braising. Those are fantastic culinary techniques where you do a combination of dry and moist cooking.

Ari and I were talking about battering and frying items. Beer is a really important component when you’re making a batter. When you dredge something like fish in flour and then you put it in a wet batter, that beer helps to aerate that batter and give it the light crispiness.”

What are your thoughts on a perfect beer to pair with heavy comfort food?

Wille: “I’m thinking about the malt flavor that’s going to be in those beers or maltiness, having that kind of sweetness that goes with heavy comfort food, so English-style brown ales or something along those lines.”

Miller: “I think it also depends on the weather, too. Being in Upstate New York in the winter, I’m thinking of something a little bit more robust, maybe a little bit higher alcohol, versus if you’re in Arizona where it’s still hot or Texas, maybe you are looking for something lighter like a pilsner or lager.”

What about food preparation? How might that impact pairing?

Wille: “I personally think it’s easier to craft the food to the beer. The beer has already been made, and it’s been put in the keg or the can or the bottle. When you have a taste of that beer, then you could start thinking about the notes that are in there or the alcohol content. Then you craft your food.”

What are the weirdest beers you’ve tried and were you pleasantly surprised?

Sanders: “It was a peated malt sour, and I was very surprised. It never occurred to me that the smokiness of scotch would even be nice soured.”

Wille: “The dill pickle sour, which I thought was a pretty cool, pretty weird beer. Professor Miller and I were talking about the possibilities with that, pairing it with a Reuben or a corned beef sandwich.”

Miller: “When I judged the New York State Brewers competition three years ago, the winner brewed a beer utilizing maple water. Not maple sap, but the maple water from the tree. It was absolutely delightful because it had a slight acidic note to it, almost like a sassafras note to it.”

What are your thoughts about new beer innovations?

Miller: “Beer is always reinventing. You’re now starting to look at new yeast drinks. There are students at Cornell that extracted yeast from an ancient Egyptian vessel and then brewed a beer with it just to see what would turn out. You’re starting to see innovation on lager styles. With the Craft Brewers Association, there are over 120 different beer styles recognized. Don’t get too deep in the weeds on the different variations of these beer styles. But that’s where the beer world is going. Beer is art right now.”

Final thoughts?

Wille: “When you’re pairing your food and your beer, taste both the food and the beer intermittently. Typically, you’ll have one of three outcomes: the food overpowers the beer, the beer overpowers the food, or the two products go so well together that they create more than the sum of their parts.”

Sanders: “The whole point of beer is community coming together, opening a glass, cheers-ing to friends and loved ones. If you like it, don’t be ashamed. Go out there, fly your flag about it. Enjoy the beer you enjoy.”

Miller: “Don’t get caught up in trying to make the perfect pairing. Just enjoy the company you’re with, enjoy the food, and enjoy the beer. Are there opportunities to get geeky on it? Absolutely. But don’t overthink it.”

Want more? Explore Doug Miller’s Beer Essentials certificate program delivered by eCornell.
This post has been edited for length and clarity. Experience the full keynote for “The Perfect Match: Pairing Beer with Food” on the eCornell website.

NASA engineer is Alabama’s first certified Black woman winemaker

Rada Griffin works long days as a senior software engineer and subject matter expert for NASA, providing support to the project that’s going to put the first woman on the moon in 2024.

“It’s a big responsibility for us to ensure that everything goes perfectly,” she said. “And then, whenever I can find the time, I do my thing with wine.”

Griffin, based in Huntsville, Alabama, juggles three lives in one. On weekdays, she’s a contractor for NASA. On weekends she hosts wine and food pairings – and sometimes flies to Napa Valley, California, to check the progress of her first vintage. In 2019, after honing her wine skills in a series of online classes authored by an instructor in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, she launched Anissa Wakefield Wines, becoming the first certified Black woman winemaker in Alabama.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle website.

Produce grower training offered through eCornell

Food safety is critically important throughout the supply chain, but it begins with the grower.

Farms have many microbial risks, and in order to protect the fruits and vegetables grown and packaged on a farm, every grower needs to be able to identify and reduce those risks. Cornell’s new online Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training course complements an existing in-person course that, since 2016, has reached more than 56,000 individuals in all 50 U.S. states, territories and commonwealths and 32 other countries.

The course helps growers understand the regulatory requirements in the 2016 Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, the first science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

With an emphasis on managing food safety, environmental management goals and the first-ever fresh produce regulation, this course is designed to help fruit and vegetable growers develop and implement an effective and viable farm food safety plan.

This online course includes modules on:

  • Introduction to Produce Safety;
  • Worker Health, Hygiene and Training;
  • Soil Amendments;
  • Agricultural Water Part I: Production Water;
  • Agricultural Water Part II: Postharvest Water; and
  • How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan.

This course was co-developed by Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and members of the Cornell-based Produce Safety Alliance, including Director Elizabeth Bihn.

Upon completion, participants will earn a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials and the PSA. To learn more about this online course, visit the eCornell website.

Certificate program examines winemaking in the U.S.

Interested in enhancing your knowledge of wines produced in the United States?

Cornell’s new Wines certificate program, guided by Cheryl Stanley, lecturer at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, takes an in-depth look at the wines produced in the U.S.’s four major wine-producing states: California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

Ideal for current and aspiring hospitality professionals, wine distributors, retailers and wine enthusiasts, this online program offers participants the opportunity to develop a more nuanced knowledge of and appreciation for wine by exploring the winemaking process from grape to glass. Participants will learn how to interpret wine labels and navigate wine selection.

They will also connect grape varietals with the influences of geography effects and production factors to anticipate expected flavors and aromas.

“There is so much to be learned about wine,” Stanley said. “This program will build a foundation for professionals and enthusiasts alike to expand their knowledge of regions and varietals to ultimately prepare them to make better selections and pairings.”

This program consists of three three-week courses:

Wine Essentials;
Grape Varietals of California, New York and the Pacific Northwest; and
Experiencing Wines of California, New York and the Pacific Northwest.
Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and 60 professional development hours. Visit the eCornell website to learn more about this program.

Bailey Karfelt

This holiday season, give the gift that keeps on giving

Looking for a great gift idea? Consider giving a gift that will stand the test of time.

The Wine Lover
This holiday season, focus on something everyone can agree on—wine. If you love wine and want to take your appreciation to the next level, you’ll benefit from this hands-on course offered by Cornell University. Take a journey through the winemaking process from grape to glass, learning how to taste and evaluate wine with guidance from world-renowned Cornell hospitality experts. Learn more


The Beer Enthusiast
With so many beer options out there, how will you decide? It’s a question restaurants and enthusiasts alike are asking. Discover the answer with the Beer Appreciation certificate program at Cornell! This program provides an end-to-end understanding of beer production, tasting, and selection for making educated decisions on your choice beverage. From ingredients and process to sensory analysis, you will expand your knowledge and appreciation of beers.


The Entrepreneur
Have a great idea? Master the skills needed to get it off the ground with Cornell’s new Entrepreneurship certificate program. Designed for both entrepreneurs and new investors, this program guides you from assessing your concept’s viability, to navigating the pitch process, securing the right kind of funding and maintaining key relationships. Don’t wait; turn your side hustle into your main gig!


The Techie
Python is one of today’s fastest-growing and in-demand programming languages. The Software Development in Python certificate program follows a rigorous, real-world approach to developing proficiency in Python programming and software development. Don’t hesitate to add this skill to your resume!


The Health Guru
Striving to be the healthiest version of yourself? Earn a Nutrition and Healthy Living certificate to get an in-depth, contemporary scientific look at nutrition, exercise, weight loss and disease prevention. You’ll come away with a holistic view of how biochemical pathways work together with physiological systems and behavior to determine nutritional health and overall wellness.


Certificate program develops understanding of beer selection

The craft beer industry is exploding. Consider this: New breweries open at a rate of more than one a day, giving people access to a broader selection of ingredients and flavor profiles to taste and explore.

This presents a challenge for restaurants and bars, which must reevaluate their beer offerings in order to stay relevant to the expanding taste buds of their clientele.

In response, the School of Hotel Administration has launched a Beer Essentials certificate program to help hospitality industry professionals develop the end-to-end understanding of beer production, tasting and selection necessary for establishing an effective beer program.

Applicable to anyone with ties to craft brewing, this program will provide in-depth knowledge of the beer industry, including how to analyze and make informed decisions regarding beer selections.

“Customers expect more diverse choices now than what they’ve traditionally been given,” said Douglass Miller, faculty program author and lecturer at the Hotel School, who has more than 30 years of industry experience.

“This program will provide a comprehensive look at developing an effective beer program,” Miller said, “from ingredients and process to sensory analysis, to serving, training and sales.”

The Beer Essentials program consists of four two-week courses:

  • Beer Ingredients and Production
  • Beer Styles
  • Establishing a Beer Program
  • Beer Sales and Training

After completing the courses, participants will earn a certificate from the Hotel School and 40 professional development hours. Visit the eCornell website to learn more about this program.

Bailey Karfelt