THEM in the Midst of a Pandemic

By Alli Hoerner
April 30, 2021

It was two days’ notice; it was extremely last minute when he told her he had an extra ticket. She was working as a front desk manager, not making much, but she decided to buy an airline ticket. Next thing she knows, she’s in Las Vegas to see the Tyson vs. Holyfield fight. It’s hot as heck in the arena, and the whole thing only lasted 30 seconds. This was the fight where Tyson bit off part of Holyfield’s ear. People were gagging, and it ended up being a public relations nightmare for the casino that was hosting the event, but she was happy.

Amy Slusser, professor of Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management (THEM) experienced that fight through the people she knew and the people she met throughout her years of work.

This is her 18th year as a professor at GCC. The advice that she usually gives her students as they enter the real world has undergone some minor changes due to the pandemic. “There are actually a lot of jobs open in the industry, but they may look different than they used to,” she said. “Keep your mind open to what the future of the industry might look like! Events change the industry and have since the beginning of travel. Events like 9-11 changed the industry long term by making it safer overall.”

It’s obvious that working in tourism and hospitality at this time wasn’t exactly what the students had in mind which is responsible for causing a downturn of enthusiasm in some cases. “We have had many guest speakers from the industry who have explained the impact of the pandemic and how the industry is bouncing back,” she said.

Slusser also said that she has been very open to trying new “online resources to connect with students and help them learn the material.” Additionally, she and her students have attended virtual conferences and are willing to try anything that will help them learn. Slusser adapts the program quickly as the industry is changing, so students are highly prepared to enter the workforce, whatever sector they may choose.

Even with the new COVID remote teaching and learning format, she said “There definitely are learning opportunities that are better taught in person. When teaching hospitality, there is a natural tendency to thrive in an in-person environment. Generally, the type of students who enroll in a program like THEM gravitate towards people and relationships.”

The two specific tracks of Tourism & Travel Management and Hotels & Hospitality that GCC used to offer were combined into Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management (THEM). Slusser said, “This helps students be prepared for most any job in the industry, rather than a specific career. We have also added courses that teach them more about social media use by businesses, thinking creatively and practical accounting procedures.”