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Booming hospitality industry spawns new training program at WITC

WITC is now accepting applications for the new hospitality specialist program for the fall semester. The two-semester program is conveniently offered at the Ashland, New Richmond, Rice Lake and Superior campuses as well as the Hayward and Ladysmith Outreach Centers. It is ideal for those who enjoy working with people and ensuring a positive guest experience.

According to the US Travel Association, "The travel industry creates jobs faster than other sectors of the economy. From 2010 to 2016, travel employment grew by 17 percent, versus 13 percent in the rest of the private sector. As a result, the travel industry generated 9 percent of all new jobs in the United States during this period."

Courses focus on customer service, professional behavior, marketing, guest relations and communications as related to the hospitality industry. Through case studies, industry-related scenarios and real-world problems, students will learn exactly what is expected of them to succeed in a hospitality or tourism career. Students will also participate in a hands-on field experience to practice the tasks and duties typically performed in a hotel, restaurant and/or tourist attraction. The blend of courses and field experience will provide ample networking opportunities to get ahead in the field.

Instructors for the program are all highly experienced in the field of hospitality. In addition to the years of experience in the field, they maintain connections to the industry that will help students advance their career.

Steve and Nancy Sandstrom are two of the instructors for the new program. They are now retired from the industry after owning and running Pinehurst Inn in Bayfield, Wis., for 20 years where their mission was to provide "over-the-top concierge service." As a small lodging operation, they were responsible for developing systems, operations and staffing to support year-round lodging in a summer tourism destination.

"The reality is that any successful lodging operation needs good staff," said Steve Sandstrom. "Our experience in hiring and training showed us that those who came to us with a greater understanding of how lodging works enhanced their success. These people were far more trainable and eager to learn."

According to the Sandstroms, businesses continue to struggle to find quality help. This program can help current entry-level employees in the industry grow their skills, which will benefit both the employee and the employer.

"A new employee who has gone through this program successfully will truly have a head start in their job," said Nancy Sandstrom. "In fact, through this program, they will learn the most current strategies related to operations, marketing, event planning and guest services. This provides a real advantage to them in their career in the hospitality industry."

Potential careers available after successful completion include meeting and/or event planner, guest services coordinator and reservation specialist.

"If you are thinking this is an industry that you might enjoy, the hospitality specialist technical diploma can give you a true advantage in seeking employment," said Nancy Sandstrom. "The combination of classwork and internship will provide excellent hands-on knowledge that employers value."

To learn more about the hospitality specialist program or to apply, visit or call 800-243-9482.