The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has been serving the training and professional development needs of hospitality industry professionals for more than 65 years. In 1949, Arthur Landstreet, a Tennessee hotelier and chair of the (then-named) American Hotel Association’s Education Committee, first proposed an independent training organization to prepare hospitality personnel to fill the industry’s many open management positions as hospitality began to expand after World War II. Industry response was lukewarm, but Landstreet managed to interest renowned hotelier Conrad Hilton in his idea. J.B. Herndon, one of Hilton’s vice presidents, embraced education as the focus of his AHA presidential platform, announcing the formation of the American Hotel Institute when he accepted the presidency in 1951.
AHLEI began at Mississippi State University in 1953, where the school’s faculty worked closely with hospitality leaders throughout the country to determine the industry’s training needs and develop a 12-course home-study curriculum for middle managers. AHLEI moved its offices to Michigan State University in the mid-1950s and consolidated with the AH&MA’s education department in 1959. In 1997, the company’s headquarters moved to Orlando, Florida, while academic sales, publications, and fulfillment remained in Michigan.
From home study courses, AHLEI began to expand its professional development resources in the 1970s, with the introduction of the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA). Today, AHLEI offers more than 20 professional certifications for every level of hospitality from line level through hotel owner.
Throughout its history, AHLEI has responded to industry needs with new programs and delivery methods that keep pace with the times. The first AHLEI training video was produced in 1985. In 1996, AHLEI introduced language-free videos for line-level training, responding to the industry’s diverse workforce. In 1999 AHLEI began offering online, web-based training in a subscription model. Throughout the 2000s, AHLEI has moved many of its training programs to online formats, with web-based training, online certification exams, and eBooks of its popular hospitality management textbooks.
In February 2017, AHLEI became part of the National Restaurant Association’s Training & Certification division, expanding that organization’s training reach to include the hospitality industry and leveraging its product development resources to enhance and expand AHLEI’s training products.
“We are grateful that AHLEI 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.”