Hospitality Advance ReceptionThe Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Skyline College joined forces with the Language Arts Division to develop hospitality-specific language development training.

As part of the Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Initiative, Andrea Vizenor, Deputy Sector Navigator, worked with hotel industry leaders to identify specific training needs within their companies to advance the sector’s workforce in San Mateo County. Through a series of collaborative sessions, it was evident that a need existed to increase the English language skills of incumbent workers in major hotels such as the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Best Western.

Industry leaders were excited to join a session led by Vizenor to outline the essential skills and competencies that would be important to include in this type of training.  ESOL Professor Serena Chu-Mraz also joined the session and provided great insight and interest in the project.

As a result, Hospitality ADVANCE, a 12-module training program for Hotel and Hospitality incumbent workers was created.  It is a dynamic training program that integrates English language development competencies with a set of essential hotel operations skills and competencies.

Professor Chu-Mraz and the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program team partnered to develop the curriculum and training materials. The program also imbeds skills essential to prepare trainees to take the exam needed to earn the Certified Guest Service Professional, industry-recognized credential offered through the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Through the interest and added funding provided by the Allies Grant project awarded to the SMWIB, Professor Chu-Mraz was able to pilot the training program at the Best Western El Rancho Inn and Executive Suites in Millbrae for 9 of their employees and 2 adult school students interested in pursuing a career in hotels.  Upon completion of the training, 11 individuals earned a certificate of completion and a celebration was held to recognize everyone’s efforts.

The leadership of the Best Western El Rancho Inn and Executive Suites are very impressed with the increased confidence of their team, outcomes of this project, increased communication skills and the added cohesiveness of their team members this experience provided.

Professor Chu-Mraz’s enthusiasm, commitment and talent invested in this project and its delivery have been invaluable to its success.

Hospitality ADVANCE will also provide valuable training that will be able to be offered at Adult Schools as a bridge component to the new Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Skyline College.

For more information, please contact: Andrea Vizenor at

 Article and photo by Elizabeth Tablan