UW-Stout to Offer Graduate Program in Hospitality Strategy

MENOMONIE, WI—The University of Wisconsin-Stout is about to launch a master’s degree program to give established managers in the hospitality industry a chance to advance their careers.

The Master of Science degree in hospitality strategy is intended for professionals who already have management experience, said Eric Brey, the new program’s director.

“We are focused on turning operational experience into leadership capabilities,” Brey said, “so all students will have to have some level of supervisory experience in an industry related to hospitality and tourism.”

While other institutions offer advanced degrees in hospitality and tourism, he said, no one offers the focused curriculum found in this program.

“It is the only program of its kind in the world,” Brey said. “We are the first program to focus on creating industry leaders who think strategically about business leadership by focusing on the needs of the customer.

“Another way to think about it is: this is a consumer strategy degree where we focus on creating executives who can lead and develop profitable organizations that exceed customer expectations through cutting-edge management and marketing practices.”

“UW-Stout is known nationally and around the world for producing top-notch employees in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Chancellor Bob Meyer. “This new program will elevate our status and help the industry find the leaders it needs to compete in the 21st century.”

The 30-credit, 10-course program will begin with a four-day educational retreat in Chicago. The remainder of the course will be taught online using advanced digital teaching methods.

The course will focus on:

  • Strategic thinking, including the fundamentals of organizational leadership supplemented by concepts at the forefront of strategic thought
  • Customer intelligence, including interpreting consumer information to align organizational goals with operational strategies to turn data into usable information
  • Value optimization, including building profitability and financial performance through attention to the driving force behind organizational success
  • Service innovation, including the importance of leveraging available data and information to provide quality service experience that meet changing marketplace demands

“We are training people to think big picture so they can move from management into executive level roles,” Brey said. “Really, the benefit is all about providing a different way of thinking about what it is we do: innovation at different levels.”

The program has brought together faculty from around the world, Brey said, to ensure that students get a broad view of industry trends and innovations.

The number of students has been limited to 20, and the first group begins in fall 2015.

“We are seeing a leadership gap in the industry,” Brey said. “There are those who have management experience but not the perspective to become great leaders. We are focusing on providing this unique skill set to move professionals’ careers forward by focusing on the needs of the customer.”