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Hospitality industry professionals offered unique opportunity during work slowdown to enhance skills

Free course gives Nashville’s hardest-hit industry opportunity to hone skills while waiting for return to work

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Tourists standing on riverfront looking at Nashville skyline.

While record numbers of Americans are out of work as a result of businesses closing to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, among Nashville’s largest industries — hospitality, entertainment and tourism — is also its hardest hit as restaurants and entertainment venues across Tennessee are closed resulting in thousands of employees finding themselves out of work. 

To help those in the industry retool and prepare for future job opportunities, Lipscomb University recently offered a unique opportunity for individuals to audit an online class free. The George Shinn College of Entertainment & the ArtsSchool of Hospitality & Entertainment Management and Lipscomb Online are partnering to offer this course.

“We know that this is an extremely challenging time for so many who devote their careers to serving this city on a daily basis as part of our city’s hospitality industry,”said Mike Fernandez, dean of George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts. “As an institution that believes in the power of education and that has a desire to serve others at its core, this is a way that we can give back to our community and to serve these professionals during this time.” 

Tourists in front of Nashville sign
We know this interruption is also an opportunity for individual learners to think deeply about what they offer to the world of work - and this is a way that Lipscomb can resource those hit the hardest during this time and to prepare them to be even better equipped for this rebound when it happens. — Beth Morrow, industry outreach director in Lipscomb’s School of Hospitality & Entertainment

The cancellation of the SEC men’s basketball tournament after its first day of action in Bridgestone Arena in mid-March started a domino effect of event cancellations, restaurant closures and a hotel occupancy rate that is in the single digits. According to the Nashville Visitors and Convention Corp this disruption has resulted in a loss of over $200 million in direct visitor spending just in meetings and conventions alone since that time, with 2020 shaping up to be the worst financial year for the city’s hospitality industry on record.
The industry is down more than 60% in customers and revenue since February, according to HospitalityTN, a not-for-profit trade association representing the hospitality and tourism industry in Tennessee and its preferred vendor partners.   Even with the bleak outlook, it is an industry that experts say will respond and rebound as it typically does following tough times. 

Head shot of Beth Morrow

Beth Morrow

“It has been excellent learning for our students to see the integrity and rapid decision-making from industry leaders in this moment,” said Beth Morrow, industry outreach director in Lipscomb’s School of Hospitality & Entertainment. “This city and this industry will be back better than ever. This is an industry that is resilient and always responds to and takes care of itself. But, we know this interruption is also an opportunity for individual learners to think deeply about what they offer to the world of work - and this is a way that Lipscomb can resource those hit the hardest during this time and to prepare them to be even better equipped for this rebound when it happens.” 

"We have seen an enthusiastic response from a strong hospitality workforce to this opportunity," Morrow continued. "While space in the course is limited, we encourage you to indicate your interest by completing the sign-up form. We are committed to being a valuable resource for this industry."

The course, Applied Organizing & Planning, focuses on establishing and communicating team priorities, training and developing others, how to reassess a situation to ensure correct priorities, time management, monitoring and prioritizing assignments and communicating changing goals or priorities to a team. The course is developed by Lipscomb Online as a part of its leadership development core and can be applied to a hospitality and entertainment management degree. The course is free and a limited number of spots are available. Currently all spots are filled, but interested individuals may sign-up to be added to the waitlist. Find more course and registration information here. There are no textbook costs or other fees associated with the course. The class is taken at a student’s own pace over the course of a month and begins on May 4. 

Interior of hotel room

“Effective leadership is an essential skill for professionals in any industry but particularly in the hospitality industry,” said Ted Meyer, interim executive director of Lipscomb Online. “Leadership is one of the big six core competencies and this course is part of that very important track. This course will help develop and enhance the individual’s leadership competencies and equip them to be better managers, team leaders and prepare them for future leadership roles. This also gives the student a head-start on our leadership track. We look forward to serving this industry that does so much to serve us each and every day.” 

Lipscomb University’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts launched a School of Hospitality & Entertainment Management in August 2018. The first degree offered is in hospitality management, which includes components from the #1 undergraduate business program in the state, direct access to a network of leaders in one of the United States' top tourism destinations, as well as developmental coaching within the first year on campus with hotel, events, catering and entertainment technology work. Advisory board members for the School include Andrea Arnold, Nashville Convention & Visitors’ Corp; Matt Bolus, 404 Kitchen, Adele’s, Pemrose; Shannon Bowles, TN State Parks; Ellie Chin, Williamson County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; Craig Clifft, Cabana; Irwin Fisher, (retired), Loews; H. Beecher Hicks III, National Museum of African American Music; Steve Hood, STR Inc.; Patrick Martin, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint; Rob Mortenson, Hospitality TN; Beth Murdoch, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens; Chris Oclaray, Chartwell Hospitality; Dee Patel, Hermitage Hotel; Randy Rayburn, Midtown Café; Rod & Susan Riley, Chick-fil-A Melrose Music City; Jason & Libby Sheer, The Tin Roof; Fatima Thompson, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; and Pete Weien, Ryman Hospitality Partners.

Inside of a ball room

The hospitality and entertainment management program offers experiential, paid learning labs on campus where students gain immediate skills and practice in food and lodging management, as well as high-level events production within their first year. Students will have the confidence and competence they need to grow in what interests them most and succeed in their chosen career. The program prepares students to create, collaborate and lead with a servant heart and an entrepreneurial spirit. Find more information here.

In addition, students may also earn an undergraduate degree in entertainment management, a completely online degree offered through Lipscomb Online. This innovative degree program highlights the financial and operational aspects of the entertainment industry to produce savvy business leaders who understand the unique aspects of working in this dynamic field. Whether students want to operate an entertainment facility or manage a talented artist, they will build the skills to oversee all aspects of the entertainment business. And with the guidance of experienced faculty who have connections in Music City, they will have access to Nashville’s booming arts and entertainment scene. Learn more

— Photos by Kristi Jones, Justin Wright