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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Hotel Operations Management

Dates: June 24-July 15, 2017 (3 weeks)
Credits: 3 credits
Eligibility: current sophomores, juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)
Status: This program is not being offered in 2018


This first-class introduction to hotel operations is taught at Cornell's world-renowned School of Hotel Administration, which is part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and currently ranked number one in the world for hospitality management.

The instructors, Reneta McCarthy, academic director, and Mark McCarthy, between them have four degrees from SHA, twenty years of operations experience in the hospitality industry, and an additional thirty years of teaching experience at SHA.

During the program, which combines elements from several required freshman courses at the School, you'll:

  • explore the world's largest and most dynamic industry,
  • develop your business, management, and leadership experience,
  • refine your computer, communication, and analytical skills, and
  • prepare for and take the Certification in Hospitality Industry Analytics (CHIA) exam.

The hospitality industry—which includes hotels, resorts, restaurants, food service businesses, casinos, cruise ships, spas, clubs, transportation, and tourism—is a high-growth service-industry within the global economy. It touches everyone.

Through presentations, case studies, research, guest speakers, computer simulations, and more, this program will introduce you to the scope of the hotel industry, to the major players, and to the market forces at play in this competitive field.

First, you'll develop a framework for understanding the hotel industry. You'll examine the primary business models and ownership structures in the industry and identify the values that drive luxury, mid-price, budget, traditional brand, franchise, and independent hotels. You'll also become familiar with the operating strategies and structures of some of the largest hotel companies, including Wyndham Worldwide, IHG, Marriott/Starwood, Accor, Choice, Hilton, Best Western, Carlson, Jin Jiang and Hyatt.

Next, you'll focus on an individual hotel operation to learn more about hotel departments and their management, people, functions, and influence on the guest experience. To understand how revenues and expenses are managed, you'll review a "typical" full-service hotel's financial statement. Through this advanced analysis you'll learn how to maximize your hotel's revenues and profits while also meeting the needs of your guests and your shareholders.

As part of this course you will take the Certification in Hospitality Industry Analytics (CHIA) exam. CHIA is geared towards revenue managers, general managers, corporate staff, and research professionals. It is the only hotel-related certification for industry professionals focused on analytics. You’ll learn how to analyze various types of hotel industry data and to make strategic inferences based upon that analysis. And you’ll learn how to "do the math" and interpret STAR reports to identify specific areas of improvement.

The CHIA certification is jointly offered by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and STR. It provides recognition of thorough knowledge of the foundational metrics, definitions, formulas, and methodologies used by the hotel industry.

Throughout the program you'll develop professional and effective oral and written business communication skills, learn to write a concise and well-organized business memo, and practice Microsoft Office skills in our state-of-the-art computing lab. You'll also hear about hospitality careers and the real challenges and rewards of working in this exciting industry.

The School of Hotel Administration—part of Cornell's SC Johnson College of Business—is the first school in the U.S. to offer college-level education in hospitality management and is the only hospitality program in the Ivy League. It focuses on preparing students for career success at the higher levels of management as well as producing successful entrepreneurs. The School of Hotel Administration was recently ranked the number one hospitality and hotel management school in the world. (Read full article.)

Course expectations

You will be expected to work hard—but the instructors and teaching assistants will work hard with you, teaching you the content and providing you with opportunities to be successful.

You will be expected to:

  • analyze and interpret information and present it in a concise, professional, and well-organized fashion,
  • learn how to analyze various types of hotel industry data and to make strategic inferences based upon that analysis,
  • learn how to "do the math" and interpret STAR reports to identify specific areas of improvement in preparation for your CHIA certification, and
  • produce an oral presentation on a hotel company as part of a group.

In addition, you will be expected to keep up with assigned readings, to practice your Microsoft Office skills, and to review lecture materials. In-class quizzes will be given on a regular basis to ensure that students are keeping up with their assignments, and there will be a comprehensive final exam.


You'll be enrolled in the three-credit course Hotel Operations Management (HADM 1101)

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the theory and practice of management in the hospitality industry as defined through leadership, managerial communication, and business analysis. It comprises four components:

  1. Hospitality Industry Overview and Trends
  2. Hotel Operations: Tactics for Profitability
  3. CHIA: Certification in Hospitality Industry Analytics
  4. Computing: Microsoft Office

This course meets Mondays through Fridays from 8:30–11:30 a.m. and 12:30–2:00 p.m. In addition there are required study hall hours from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Maximum enrollment: 80

Credit note: The use of this course to fulfill basic core requirements or to grant academic credit is solely at the discretion of the university or college that admits you as a degree candidate. The School of Hotel Administration grants three free elective credits to students who matriculate having completed HADM 1101.

Computing labs in the Hotel School support Windows PCs only. (Unfortunately, they do not support Macs.)

Note: You may combine this program with Hospitality Operations Management: Entrepreneurship in the Food and Beverage Industry or any other three-week-2 program to create a six-week Dual Program.

Required textbook

Title Author Cost

Students are asked to read Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp before the start of class.

Special scheduling


  • Tuesday, July 4: In observance of Independence Day, we will not have classes.
  • Monday, July 10: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.
  • Friday, July 14: Hotel Operations final exam 8:30–11:30 a.m.


On Friday, July 14 we will wrap up the class in the afternoon and students will receive their Cornell University Summer College certificate and will have a chance to say goodbye to their fellow classmates, faculty and teaching assistants. This event is for the students only. This activity should conclude by 2:00 p.m.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program directors

Director Reneta McCarthy

Academic director Reneta McCarthy is a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration, where she joined the faculty in 1995. She teaches Introduction to Hotel Operations, Introduction to Casino Operations, and Wellness and Spas. She is committed to experiential learning, a method she incorporates into her coursework.

McCarthy began her career at Marriott International, where she worked as a housekeeping manager and then as director of services in the full-service hotel division. She later transferred to Courtyard by Marriott, where she became one of Courtyard's youngest general managers. She returned to Cornell in 1992 to begin work on her master's degree and a year later became the director of rooms at The Statler Hotel. She earned a BS from the Hotel School in 1984 and an MPS in 2001.

"The Hotel School is an amazing place where students who are passionate about service businesses or entrepreneurship excel. Our students learn strategies and techniques to enhance their lifelong business, management, and leadership skills while refining their computer, communication, and analytical skills. As lecturers at the Hotel School, Mark and I are focused on educating the next generation of leaders for the world's largest and most dynamic industry. If you have ever been interested in learning more about the hospitality industry or have entertained the idea of attending the only Ivy League school that offers a BS in hotel administration, you owe it to yourself to apply for this program." —Reneta McCarthy

Mark McCarthy

Mark McCarthy has been an instructor at the School of Hotel Administration in the areas of information technology and operations management since 1998. His focus is on reducing the resistance, fear, and complacency inherent to the introduction of technology in the workplace. In addition to teaching the freshman requirement Business Computing, he also teaches upper-level electives in Excel modeling and database management. His wealth of operational experience includes seven years of managing private clubs, which solidified his food and beverage and special-event planning background; four years in the front office of a three-star hotel property; working for a beverage catering company; and running a bed and breakfast. He earned both his BS and MMH degrees from the Hotel School.

Alum in the news

Jeffrey Liao, 2015, writes about his summer in the Hotel Operations Management program in World Student magazine (May 2016). Read article.

Student experiences

"I learned so much about the hotel industry. Not only did I love the class, I gained the experience of what it is like to be a college student and adjust to a new home. I realized that I want to pursue a career in the hospitality industry." — Alexandra Mantz, 2016

"My Summer College experience at Cornell exceeded almost all of my expectations. The course, instructors, and teaching assistants expanded my knowledge and passion for the hotel and hospitality industry. " — Soheila D. K. Mosun, 2016

"The world-renowned school has interested me for quite some time because of my love of hospitality. To be able to learn the basics and what goes on behind the scenes seemed like a unique opportunity." — Jack Bronsky, 2016

"Summer College was a memorable experience and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It allowed me to explore something that interested me in a fun but rigorous environment. It also allowed me the independence to go out on weeknights to hang out with friends and helped me develop lifelong friendships." — Olivia Ling, 2016

"Any student interested in hospitality or hotel management should come take this course. It will give you SUCH an advantage when you go to college, because you'll already know basic terminology, basic information about the industry, and industry-specific calculations." — Jeffrey Liao, 2015

"Our professors, Mark and Reneta McCarthy, were the most awesomest people in the world. They knew exactly when to crack a joke and lighten up the mood and when to be serious. They helped us in areas where they felt we needed help, which I think helped us a lot in being independent and figuring out solutions on our own. " — Fida Faisal, 2015

"This program provided me with the most challenging, rewarding, and enlightening experience of my life. Reneta and Mark McCarthy are truly outstanding. Their professionalism, knowledge, and enthusiasm made me eager to participate in class and to become excited about the School of Hotel Administration." — Stefanie Comins

"I liked that our professors got to know every one of us. Also, the class was full of information that I knew nothing about. But what I liked best was how passionate Mark and Reneta McCarthy were about what they taught, that made it much more fun to learn! The knowledge that I gained both in and out of the classroom made be a better student and person. Cornell is a great place with amazing professors, challenging academics, and a gorgeous campus." — Debi Lindsey

"My course was just perfect: perfect professors, TAs, and students. We all collaborated to make the most of our time at Cornell University. I also liked the office hours, where if we had any concerns or questions, we were helped immediately." — Hyemin Lee

"Attending Summer College at Cornell helped me gain knowledge in the hospitality industry, a subject that I was interested in without having had experience in the field. It also helped me gain experience in college life, learning how to manage work, courses, and social life in college." — Nicolas Klocanas

Student blogs