Saunders College of Business expands minors to meet evolving hospitality industry demands

New real estate in hospitality minor, renamed minors provide specialized training for changing careers


The new real estate in hospitality minor is designed to prepare those who want to work in areas such as corporate hotel development, asset management, branding and franchising, and project management.

To meet the ever-changing needs of the hospitality industry, the Department of International Hospitality and Service Innovation (IHSI) at RIT’s Saunders College of Business is adding and revamping minors to deliver on employer requests.

The new real estate in hospitality minor enables students to develop expertise in the planning, development, and management of real estate projects in the hospitality and related service industries, according to Edwin N. Torres, department chair.

“The industry needs professionals with a strong understanding of critical hotel development concepts such as site selection, financing, franchising, branding, project management, financial forecasting, and modeling,” said Torres, who became head of IHSI last July. “This new minor is designed to prepare those who want to work in areas such as corporate hotel development, asset management, branding and franchising, and project management.”

The principles involved in the development, financing, and monitoring of hotels will be applied to other types of commercial real estate ventures, including retail, office space, restaurants, theme parks and attractions, casinos, and mixed-use properties, Torres observed.

Students will learn how to conduct feasibility analysis, site selection, project management, select appropriate branding strategies, and identify financing for new projects. The curriculum will prepare students for positions in hospitality asset management, real estate development, consulting, and ownership of hospitality-related businesses. 

“By adding this minor, we seek to open doors of opportunity for students to work beyond the property level and obtain key positions as analysts, developers, associates, consultants, asset managers, and similar roles for real estate investment trusts, the corporate headquarters of major hospitality firms, consulting, and real estate brokerage,” Torres said.

The Saunders College IHSI program also is increasingly connecting to the investment community by participating in the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) and similar events. With the addition of this minor, RIT is joining “a small group of elite hospitality programs who prepare their students for positions related to hospitality real estate,” Torres said.

In addition to the new minor, the IHSI department is renaming other minors.

The beverage management minor, formerly the global food and beverage management minor, focuses on the food and beverage industry, developing product knowledge on wine, beer, and spirits. Students learn how to effectively plan menus, pair food and beverages, manage customer experience, operational management of finances, and beverage distribution. This minor is designed to prepare students for careers in beverage sales, beverage management, marketing and distribution of beverages, procurement, and ownership of businesses related to this sector.

“Our department decided to take a more focused approach to the food and beverage sector,” Torres explained. “More specifically, we decided to change the emphasis on the beverage industry to prepare our students for careers in sales, marketing, and distribution in this dynamic industry.”

Given the growth of the beverage industry, especially in the Finger Lakes region, including wineries, breweries, and beverage distributors, “it makes sense to have a minor focused on the needs of this sector,” Torres observed.

This minor exposes students to how to create experiences in the beverage sector and how to devise strategies for marketing and distribution of beverages, joining only a handful of hospitality programs across the United States that have entered this specialized space.

The sports, events, and entertainment management minor, formerly the sports and entertainment management minor, provides students with a background in business strategy, analytics, customer service, purchasing, negotiations, contracts, and event and venue management. The curriculum focuses on developing, implementing, marketing, and managing sports and entertainment organizations to optimize consumer and employee experiences. Students are prepared for positions related to managing facilities, talent, events, sales, and other aspects of the events, sports, and entertainment industries.

Torres said this minor was modified to eliminate too many prerequisites, which made it difficult for students outside of Saunders College to enroll. The new iteration only has one prerequisite, which should make it easier to enroll for students throughout all colleges at RIT, he said. Event management also has been infused in the newly revamped minor.

“The sports and entertainment industry regularly designs, produces, and executes events of different magnitudes,” he said. “The addition of events will add an additional career track for those pursuing careers in sports and entertainment.”

This minor prepares students for careers in sports sales, marketing, data analytics, events, entertainment, managing sporting arenas, catering, and many other areas, Torres said.

The IHSI department will continue to offer the hospitality management minor, which focuses on hospitality industries and related entrepreneurial businesses that include lodging, resorts, food, entertainment, events and conventions, and tourism. Students learn about service-oriented businesses that are a significant portion of the economies of many countries.

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