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Open Online Courses in Hospitality

What is Hospitality?

Hospitality is the study of hotel, restaurant, and tourism management, and is concerned with customer satisfaction in the lodging, restaurant, event, entertainment, and travel industries. Hospitality programs are commonly divided into subdisciplines or specialized areas that include food service management, hotel and lodging management, event management, travel and tourism management, and sports entertainment. Despite the specialized areas of hospitality, the study of hospitality as a whole is based on the core principle of providing friendly customer service and efficient facilities and operational management of all activities related to travel and tourism.

What Can Online Courses in Hospitality Actually Teach Me?

College hospitality programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) and the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE). ACPHA- and CHRIE-accredited online courses in hospitality offer standardized curricula and are taught by qualified professors who have professional industry experience. By enrolling in these accredited courses, you can be certain that you will receive an up-to-date education in all areas of hospitality studies since these accrediting bodies carefully regulate the educational material offered to students in these programs. Online hospitality courses are common, as hospitality involves a significant amount of theoretical coursework, such as tourism sales, marketing and hotel revenue control, which can be learned through independent study. However, most programs require you to participate in an internship or field-based experience, which gives you the opportunity to understand what it is like to work directly in the field with customers. This hands-on experience also allows you the opportunity to put the theoretical principles of hospitality and tourism management taught in these courses into real-life practice.

Hospitality online courses are particularly useful when studying marketing fundamentals, pricing strategies, customer service theories, management techniques, and other foundational principles of hospitality. Attending these online courses in hospitality can prepare you to answer questions like:

  • What strategies are used to market hospitality services or products to a specific target audience?
  • What are ways to create a competitive advantage over other hotels and restaurants targeting the same set of customers?
  • What is the importance of segmentation and price organization when maximizing profits?
  • How can you maintain customers during nonpeak seasons of travel?
  • What techniques can help please unsatisfied guests?

If you feel that an online hospitality course is right for you, consider conducting some research before enrolling. Is the college or university you are looking to attend ACPHA or CHRIE accredited? Does the school have a good job placement rate? Is the online hospitality class you are considering taught by an industry-experienced professional with a Ph.D. in hospitality or other related field that demonstrates their mastery in the subject? Do student reviews suggest this is a class worth taking?

Free Online Courses in Hospitality From Around the Web

The following is an organized list of free open courseware from top-notch hospitality programs from colleges around the world. This collection of courseware includes video-lectures, exams, text files, and other materials available for review that may be helpful to someone who is interested in enrolling in a hospitality course for credit in the future.


Hospitality (6)

Training and Human Resources DevelopmentUniversity of California, Irvine

Open Courseware

Organizational Management, Business

Course Description:

Using the materials offered in this organizational management online course can help you learn how to develop and improve training programs for an organization, including training responsibilities and practical classroom management skills. This course is offered at the undergraduate level, and has no prerequisites, though a grasp of business concepts can help you to understand the material. The course offers advice on how to build effective training systems for leadership roles as well as introductory job training, as well as how to analyze the needs of specific training situations.

Introduction to TourismUniversity of Southern Queensland

Open Courseware

Tourism, Hospitality, Education
Taught by: Ms. Frances Cassidy

Course Description:

This introductory course taught by Frances Cassidy gives students a general understanding of tourism, and then explores the development of tourism and tourist destinations before examining the tourist industry. Additional topics include marketing, market segmentation, and the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts that must be considered when planning for the future of tourism. Students are required to have access to a personal computer, email capabilities, and Internet access to UConnect. Current computer requirements can be found at http://www.usq.edu.au/ict/students/standards/default.htm.

Spa and Hospitality OperationsUniversity of California Irvine

Open Courseware

Spa, Hospitality, Private Clubs, Administration

Course Description:

This online hospitality course offers an overview of the general operational and administrative procedures in spas, private clubs, and other organizations within the hospitality industry. You'll develop an understanding of the unique sensitivities that are required when managing and operating a business in the lucrative and complex spa industry. Other topics include business planning; marketing; licensures; compensation models; legal and ethical issues governing clubs and spas; insurance issues; technical considerations; billing and inventory control; client file management; privacy issues; and the implementation of standard operating procedures. You'll also learn how to optimize energy efficiency in facility operations, including design, energy, and water and waste management. This course is available for credit through UC Irvine Extension.

Strategic HR ManagementMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Open Courseware

Strategy, Human Resource, Management
Taught by: Prof. Diane Burton, Prof. Paul Osterman

Course Description:

MIT’s Sloan School of Management originally offered this graduate course in 2003. Taught by professors Diane Burton and Paul Osterman, it covers the design and execution of human resource management strategies. The course establishes two main themes: How to think systematically and strategically about managing an organization's human assets; and what needs to be done to implement these policies and to achieve competitive advantage. Adopting the perspective of a general manager, the online course addresses human resource topics like reward systems, performance management, high-performance human resource systems, training and development, recruitment, retention, equal employment opportunity laws, work-force diversity, and union-management relationships.

The Impact of Social Media on Lodging PerformanceCornell University

Open Courseware

Hospitality Management, Hotel Management
Taught by: Chris Anderson Ph.D.

Course Description:

Many in the hospitality business believe that social media plays an increasingly important role in the industry, and impacts customer satisfaction. One of the more compelling aspects of social media for hospitality providers is its ability to drive customer purchasing patterns and influence lodging performance. This report by Chris Anderson, Ph.D., available online from Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research, combines data from ReviewPro, STR, Travelocity, comScore and TripAdvisor in an attempt to assess the return on investment for social media efforts.

Customer Preferences for Restaurant Technology InnovationsCornell University


Hospitality Management, Restaurant Management
Taught by: Michael Dixon, Sheryl E. Kimes Ph.D., and Rohit Verma Ph.D.

Course Description:

When restaurateurs are deciding whether to adopt new technology that improves service, they weigh not only the costs and benefits, but also how their customers will react to the changes. Technology that does not resonate with the customer may not be worthwhile, no matter how much it reduces labor costs. Professor Rohit Verma of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration explains that customers react differently to technology at each stage of the meal, and that diners may become more accepting of innovations, such as online reservations, as they become more familiar with them.