The hospitality and tourism industries are booming right now in Colorado,
particularly in the Denver area. In the middle of that state-wide boom
is Aurora, which, thanks to new development in recent years, is hosting
many new residents as well as people visiting the area. Pickens Technical
College is a part of the Aurora community, of course, and has for years
worked to bring its students as close to the booming hospitality and tourism
economy as possible so they can get the skills and the connections they
need to pursue a successful career.
PTC’s Hospitality Program is split into two parts: Semester one is
all about learning the theory behind the hospitality and tourism industry.
This includes all the components that go into it, such as transportation,
attractions, food and beverage, and accommodations. Reiser puts an emphasis
on accommodations, particularly how hotels and all of their departments
work. Semester two examines those hotel departments further with a leadership
perspective, including how marketing theory fits within this context.
The course’s capstone project is a marketing cooperative learning
experience at a pre-approved site.
Kim Reiser teaches the class. Reiser has 19 years of experience at the
high school, middle school, and community college levels as a business
and marketing instructor. Her instruction approaches the hospitality and
tourism industry from a strategic marketing angle, a refreshing perspective
for anyone who’s sat through any of those awful training videos
in which you learn how to greet a customer.
PTC has a unique partnership with the tourism and development group Visit
Aurora, a consortium of local businesses with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
Visit Aurora connects PTC students with internships and other opportunities
on a regular basis. Reiser has gotten many of her students this semester
into internships at several Visit Aurora partner hotels and other organizations
connected with Visit Aurora. Via these connections, Reiser’s students
are interning as you’re reading this (although it depends on what
time of day you’re reading this) and getting front-line experience
in the tourism and hospitality industry at Double Tree, Radisson, Mariott
DIA, the Denver Aquarium, and more.
Reiser explained how she prepares her students for the real world with
My students are learning about Hospitality and Tourism and earning a certification
from the [American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute] which requires
that they complete 100 internship hours. We obtain those hours through
guest speakers [such as]…Hotel General Managers, Human Resource
Managers, and Parks and Recreation Directors, skill sessions at a local
hotel, Double Tree Aurora, once a month in the evening, and industry tours
[like] DIA [and] Union Station, and 30 – 40 hours on site independently.
Reiser’s students have found success in their burgeoning careers
because of their on-the-job training and Reiser’s emphasis on marketing
strategy. One student works at the Denver Aquarium, where she combines
the skill and experience she acquired from two PTC programs: photography
and hospitality, at the photo kiosk. Another works the front desk at a
Town Place Suites near Park Meadows while she furthers her education at
Metro State University. Still more of Reiser’s former students have
found careers at DIA, fancy Las Vegas resorts, and local businesses.
The Hospitality program at PTC is designed to set up students for success
in the tourism industry and creates opportunities for them to rise quickly
in a hospitality organization with their knowledge of how these businesses
work from the top down.