By Cady Inabinett, News editor
University of Montevallo students majoring in family and consumer sciences will have a new concentration option for the Fall 2022 semester. The department announced on March 23 that it is adding a hospitality and tourism concentration.
“For us, hospitality and tourism is just going to be a great addition to the concentrations that we already have,” said Dr. Donna Bell, program coordinator of the Family and Consumer Sciences department, about the impact the new concentration would have on the department.
Bell explained students majoring in Family and Consumer Sciences can choose to major solely in the subject, or focus in on a concentration. Concentrations include retail merchandising, human development and family studies, family and consumer sciences education and, now, hospitality and tourism.
She also outlined the different career paths students could take within the hospitality and tourism industry, such as event planning, working in lodging and working as travel agents or tour guides.
“I could just list on and on and on,” Bell said about the applications of the concentration.
She emphasized that hospitality and tourism is a worldwide industry, saying, “When we talk about event planning, we have conferences. We have sporting events. You know, all of those different types of things that are here in Alabama – but not just Alabama, nationwide and, of course worldwide.”
Bell pointed out several opportunities in the Birmingham area that would require workers in the hospitality and tourism industry, mentioning events like the upcoming World Games or the annual NASCAR races at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Those are major events and we need to be able to have students graduating going into fields,” she said.
Students studying hospitality and tourism can look forward to classes such as The Hospitality Industry and Travel and Tourism, according to Bell. Both of these classes will be offered during the Fall 2022 semester. Additionally, Bell shared that future courses will include Lodging Operations, Conventions and Trade Shows, Event Planning and Professional Hospitality Meeting Management. Students will also have opportunities to complete internships in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Bell added that the Family and Consumer Sciences department is looking to hire a faculty member to focus on course within the concentration for the Fall 2022 semester.
Focusing on how the hospitality and tourism concentration would connect with the family and consumer sciences major as a whole, Bell pointed out that students would also be taking family and consumer sciences core classes such as classes in visual merchandising and individual and family development.
“One of the things, if you do a little research into hospitality and tourism industry, is you have to create relationships, obviously with your guests because, if you don’t have a good relationship with your guests in the industry, well then they won’t return,” Bell commented. “And so, good customer service is a part of that. And so, you know, having a good foundation about individuals and relationships is part of that, so that’s just a foundation in family and consumer science anyway, and so that makes perfect sense for us.”
“We do have opportunities for electives, you know, in the student’s plan of study. And so I think definitely some electives in communications, electives even in the College of Business, possibly even with communication in public relations, a couple of those course. I think several things across campus would be good options for students to take in their elective fields.”
She pointed towards communications and marketing as being particularly applicable field for students to minor in.
Bell spoke on the need for more workers in the hospitality and tourism industry, pointing towards the COVID-19 pandemic as having an impact on the industry.
“I think definitely that people have been home for some time. They didn’t travel quite as much. And as you go around in a lot of areas you see help wanted signs. And I think in the hospitality and tourism industry over the next few months and year, I think people are going to want to get out and move around and travel,” said Bell.
However, she said it was too soon to make any definitive prediction on how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect the industry, saying, “We want to make prediction but we’re a little too close to it.”
Overall, having a degree can improve workers’ ability to advance in the industry, according to Bell, who said, “If you want to move up into more managerial roles, most of them are looking for individuals who have four-year degrees. So, I think it’s a great opportunity for students to get a degree to start their careers in these areas.”
Bell pointed out that it’s easy for people outside of the industry to forget the work that goes into hosting large events such as conferences.
“We forget about the people on the other end in the hotels or the venues that have to do the planning on that end, and they have to think on a different level than we do,” she said.
Ultimately, Bell concluded that adding the hospitality and tourism concentration would provide many new opportunities for Montevallo students and graduates, saying, “I think having this is going to benefit our students, definitely. Because that is a huge industry all around. And not just in Alabama, but worldwide.”