2016 - 11 November

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Industry Spotlight

National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute Combine Forces

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) have announced a partnership for the largest foodservice trade association in the world to acquire the training business assets and products of the American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute (AHLEI). Currently owned by AHLA, AHLEI is recognized as the training and certifying body for the hospitality industry.  

Given the nature of the hospitality industry and the intrinsic sharing that goes on between the restaurant and lodging sectors, NRA and AHLA saw a unique opportunity to combine resources to produce an even more robust training program - that will benefit employees in their career development and improve overall consumer satisfaction. AHLA will retain the certification business, and the NRA will assume day-to-day responsibility for AHLEI's training program business. Under the intended agreement, NRA will purchase the AHLEI portfolio of 180 training products and assets, as well as the Lansing, Michigan building owned by AHLEI.  

"We are grateful that AHLEI business has found a home with the National Restaurant Association. It's a natural and logical evolution that combines two outstanding teams committed to excellence in the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality industries," said Dawn Sweeney, president & CEO, National Restaurant Association. "By adding the AHLEI assets and business lines to our offerings, we will increase our reach and enhance our credibility as the acknowledged leader in industry training and certification - while extending our expertise to the hotel and lodging industry."  

"AHLA's core mission is to provide employees with the best career opportunities through training and development. Recognizing important partnerships that help us achieve our goals has been and continues to be critical to the industry's success," said Katherine Lugar, president & CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. "This new partnership gives us the opportunity to focus on what we do best, providing the training and resources necessary to offer pathways to upward mobility for our talent and the future generation of hospitality leaders by maintaining the certifications program. We are very excited about this collaboration and are confident that the NRA will continue to grow and enhance training offerings for our industry."  

AHLEI will be run as a separate business under the NRA's Training & Certification division. AHLEI will keep its name and branding and continue to offer its current product line. AHLEI customers should not experience any significant changes to the sales and servicing of their accounts. The acquisition is slated to be completed by the end of this year.

New Products & Services

Hotel Industry Responds to Human Trafficking Crisis with New Online Training Program

Human Trafficking Human trafficking of children and adults continues to be a serious issue for the global hospitality industry, as traffickers sometimes use hotels to carry out their illegal operations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), in partnership with Marriott International , ECPAT-USA , and the Polaris , this month will begin offering an online training program to help hotel employees identify and respond to human trafficking at hotel properties.       

Your Role in Preventing Human Trafficking: Recognize the Signs, available through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), was developed in response to the growing demand from global hospitality brands for an expansion of the online course, The Role of Hospitality in Preventing and Reacting to Child Trafficking , released by AHLEI and ECPAT-USA in January 2014. The expanded training course provides an overview of the issues of human trafficking, suggested protocols for responding to suspicious activity, and signs of trafficking specific to different hospitality positions (in-room staff, restaurant, lobby, and security).  

"Training employees in a variety of roles in hotels is critical, so they can be the eyes and ears of identifying potential survivors in one of the most frequently documented human trafficking venues," said Courtney Walsh, Advisory Services, Polaris.   

Features of the expanded program include: 

  • Information on human trafficking of both children and adults for the purposes of both sex and labor
  • Globalized information to make the program relevant at properties around the world, not just in the United States-currently available in English, the training will eventually be available in 14 additional languages
  • Content that is compliant with many new city ordinances and state laws requiring hotels to train their employees on human trafficking.

"We are so excited that the update not only broadens training to include both labor and sex trafficking but it is also now relevant on a global level," said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. "The hospitality industry has made such headway in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and we know that with this re-launch, we will see even more progress."  

The new online training program is just one of the many resources available from AHLA to help its members educate their employees about human trafficking.  The "Combat Human Trafficking" page in the members-only "Best Practices Center" of AHLA's new website includes links to: 

  • Human Trafficking Awareness Poster
  • Human Trafficking Indicators card
  • Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign
  • Child Trafficking Webinar for AHLA members  

The page also includes links to human trafficking information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Alliance against Human Trafficking, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  

Your Role in Preventing Human Trafficking: Recognize the Signs training is available to hotel properties through a license agreement for one year with unlimited users. It is not available for individual sale through AHLEI's online store. For more information, visit www.ahlei.org/humantrafficking or call 1.800.349.0299 or +1.407.999.8100.

AHLEI’s Revised Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA®) Offers Modular, Online Content

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has developed new preparation and exam materials for the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA®). The CHA® is the most prestigious certification available for hotel general managers and hospitality executives.  

CHA Newsletter The revised review resources are offered entirely online, with study guide materials available for download in PDF or ePub formats. The program is accessible for online viewing or can be reviewed on the go by downloading the program content to a handheld mobile device, tablet or laptop for offline reading.    

All sections of the preparatory material have been updated, and a new section on revenue management has been added. The program also includes an assessment tool with practice tests for each section. The topics, which can be completed in any order, include: 

Financial Management

Food and Beverage Management  

Human Resources  


Marketing and Sales  

Revenue Management  

Rooms Management


The new format features an exam at the end of each module, rather than one comprehensive final exam.  The modular format enables candidates to complete the certification exam over multiple sessions.   

For more information, prospective CHA® candidates should contact AHLEI's Professional Certification department at 888-575-8726 or certification@ahlei.org .   

International Spotlight

New Hospitality School in Mexico Addresses Employment Needs of High-Tourism Region

New Hospitality School in Mexico Quintano Roo, Mexico is a vacation paradise known as the Riviera Maya. Including Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum, the blue water and sandy beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula are home to more than 400 hotels-many of which employ between 1,500 to 3,000 workers. The new Hotel & Culinary University of the Americas (UNIHCA) in Playa del Carmen, which will begin offering classes in January 2017, aims to educate hospitality management students who can quickly and successfully take their places in those resort hotels. The school is also one of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's newest Global Academic Partner institutions, using AHLEI textbooks and certifications to prepare future hospitality leaders. 

Describing itself as a "boutique university," the school will offer small classes and one-on-one teaching and experiential learning, located in one of Mexico's leading tourism destinations. The campus features a working hotel lobby, restaurant, kitchen, and guest rooms, as well as classrooms and other learning spaces.  The founder and rector of the university is Mauricio Algazi, who has a long career as a hospitality educator. He is a previous AHLEI partner, and in 2001 was awarded AHLEI's Lamp of Knowledge Award for Outstanding International Educator. 

"We believe we have the right school at the right place at the right time," said Algazi.  "From my past experiences as an educator, I know what works and can change what didn't work before in order to provide the best hospitality education for students at our school.  I'm especially excited to once again be partnering with AHLEI-that will make a big difference for our students and is very much needed in this area." 

Algazi described the Riviera Maya as "the most important tourism location in Latin America," attracting people from all over the world and creating lots of jobs. 

"The hotels and restaurants need high-quality employees, but there was nothing here to develop those employees. There was a lack of a good hotel management educational institution," he said.  He noted that he had tried three times in the past to start a school in the area, and finally he was approached by investors interested in helping him launch a hospitality college. He is using a successful format that he developed several years ago when he operated a hospitality program in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  

Algazi also brings a lifelong love of hospitality and impressive hospitality background to his role as director of the new university. 

"I was meant to be in hospitality," said Algazi.  As an 8-year-old traveling with his parents, he fell in love with big hotels like the Hyatt and Hilton, and knew even then that he wanted to be a hotel manager. His father recommended that he aim to go the École Hôtelière Lausanne in Switzerland, which he did---but only after earning a bachelor's degree in business administration and working for two years at the front desk of a hotel in San Diego, California. 

After completing his master's degree studies at Lausanne, Algazi was hired by Hilton International and began working at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico, where he gained valuable experience that helped him focus his career direction. 

"The manager had me rotate through all of the departments, analyze the systems and procedures, and then report back to him about what was going right and what was going wrong, and then come up with ways to fix those things," he explained.  "That's what I did for two years. I got to know all of the aspects of hotel operations very deeply. I was solving problems and training people." 

"Two things happened from that experience," he continued. "I learned my mission in life-what I really loved was training and teaching.  And second, I learned that there was a huge lack of training in the hotel industry." 

Looking around Latin America and the Caribbean, Algazi realized that there was a need for a new type of hotel management school.  The few that existed used a traditional college model where students learned theory in the classroom for four years, but were not prepared for real-world hospitality jobs. 

"You have to get your hands dirty, you have to experience it," he said.  "I wanted to design a hotel management school in the European style. Students would get 50 percent theory and 50 percent practice. We built our school with a front desk, restaurant, rooms, etc., and students were in class for a week, then practicing their skills for a week. It was controversial, but successful." 

That school in Cuernavaca became AHLEI's first GAP institution in Latin America.  Algazi's new school, the Hotel & Culinary University of the Americas, is built on the same model, with state of the article hotel facilities where students will be able to practice and apply what they are learning in the classroom. 

As the January 2017 opening date approaches, Algazi has been visiting high schools and industry events to introduce the school, and also visiting hotels to encourage current employees to improve their skills by taking courses.  The response has been very positive. 

"Twenty years ago, a career in hospitality wasn't well known or well regarded," said Algazi.  "Now, tourism has become so big and is such an economic asset to the region, that hospitality management is well known and respected."