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Sixty years of hospitality training

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The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) has kept pace with the education and training needs of the hospitality industry for six decades and still continue to explore new avenues for delivering professional development content that will help the industry to thrive

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association since 1953, EI is committed to providing hospitality professionals with industry-focused training, professional certification, workforce development programmes, and online learning.

“At a time when there were very few professional development opportunities available for hotel workers, EI stepped in and filled a need,” says Robert L Steele, III, CHA, president and COO, EI.

The idea for EI was first proposed in 1949, when Arthur Landstreet, a Tennessee hotelier and chair of the American Hotel Association’s Education Committee, requested an independent training organisation to prepare hospitality personnel. Industry response was lukewarm. Finally, Hilton vice president J B Herndon embraced education as the focus of his AHA presidential platform, announcing the formation of the American Hotel Institute (EI’s original name) when he accepted the presidency in 1951.

The actual organisation did not become a reality until 1953, when EI had its beginnings at Mississippi State University. The school’s faculty worked closely with hospitality leaders to determine the industry’s training needs, developing a 12-course home-study curriculum for middle managers. EI moved to Michigan State University in the late 1950s, drawing on the expertise of professors at MSU’s hospitality school. In 1997, the company’s headquarters moved to Orlando, Fla., while maintaining an office in Michigan. Since 1994, EI has also had a field office in India.

Robert Steele

Over the years, EI’s offerings have grown from home-study courses (now offered in both print and online formats) to include professional certification, training videos and DVDs, compliance training, online learning, and even a mobile training app. Resources are offered in multiple languages to serve the needs of EI’s global customers on six continents.

EI’s first customers were hotel supervisors and managers who wanted to get ahead, but who didn’t have the time or money to enroll in a college programme. In the 1970s, EI developed its first professional certification programme for general managers, the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA). Other certifications followed. EI textbooks began to be used in college and university hospitality programmes worldwide, and in the 1990s, EI reached out to the high school and workforce markets, as well as to military hospitality operations. International customers include schools, hotel associations, tourism ministries, and hotel groups.

“EI has kept pace with the education and training needs of the hospitality industry for six decades and we continue to explore new avenues for delivering the professional development content that will help our industry thrive,” says Steele. “Our anniversary is an occasion both to reflect on the past and to commit to the future, as we work with schools, hospitality organisations, and international partners to achieve our goals,” he adds.

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