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SAIT partners with leading Calgary hotels to embed students in industry

With demand for travel expected to increase, industry says the timing couldn’t be better
With demand for travel expected to increase, industry says the timing couldn't be better

Some of Calgary’s leading hotels are welcoming a unique group of guests to their properties. Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) students specializing in Hotels and Accommodations are checking- in, figuratively speaking, for a 12-week practicum to connect with industry and apply their skills in a real-world setting.

The all-star roster of hotels includes Azuridge Estate Hotel, Fairmont Palliser, Hotel Arts, Hilton Garden Inn and Suites Downtown, Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel and Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire.

Launched in Fall 2021, HTM offers six specializations and programming was built with a balance of technical and human skills, business acumen, immersive learning and a deep sense of community — further blurring the lines between the classroom and work environment.

“At the core of a SAIT education is experiential learning and engaging industry as an active partner,” says Hala Dehais, Academic Chair, Hospitality and Tourism. “This new practicum component allows our students to learn about the interconnectivity between all departments of a hotel and how each one is dedicated to enhancing the guest experience.”

Perfect timing

Before COVID-19, the city’s hotels employed more than 5,000 employees. To return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 and meet anticipated demand, industry experts say filling and growing leadership roles will be key.

“The timing is excellent — recovery is happening and will continue to grow,” says Sol Zia, Executive Director, Calgary Hotel Association. “This is an opportunity for hotel partners to help build a stream of future leaders — they’re going to need more than a general workforce, they’re going to need leaders.”

Dehais echoes the sentiment.

“As Canada’s top hospitality school, the demand for our students has always been strong. It’s the opportunity that’s increased for our students, with industry looking for future leaders in our grads.”

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SAIT students at Hotel Arts Director of Human Resources, Chelsea Moriarty

A welcome experience

Victoria Flemming, an HTM student with the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel, has been counting down since September to start her practicum. She says it’s the fast-paced and dynamic experiences that attracted her to the sector.

Victoria Flemming at the Front Desk of the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel
Victoria Flemming at the Front Desk of the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

“I’m just so excited for this experience,” says Flemming. “I came to SAIT because I really want to get to that next level in the industry.”

Flemming and her classmates will each spend 120 hours in their designated hotel developing versatility and resilience, rotating every four weeks through three departments while navigating the challenges of a pandemic on the industry. They’ll also debrief weekly to provide classmates a peek into various properties.

“The hands-on component is what really sold me on the program,” says Flemming.

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