Tourism Principles and Practices is a core course in the MS in Tourism Management program. Professor Ed Salvato, the instructor, tells us more about his background and the course in this post.
What is your background?
As a child I longed to visit the stars as an astronaut. My first paycheck in my early teens financed my very first trip, which was to Disney World in Orlando. After completing my bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard College, I decided to live in France for a few months while contemplating my first career steps. I ended up in Paris for five years where I taught English and tended bar with a work visa afforded by a scholarship I had won to study computer programming. My partner at the time was a travel agent and a typically adventurous French traveler with whom I discovered remote parts of Thailand, the Philippines, southern China, Normandy, Guatemala, Crete and many more then-off-the-beaten-track destinations way ahead of the tourist masses.
I returned from France and dutifully attended business school at Northeastern focusing on market research which was my chosen profession for a number of years in the Boston area. Though I continued to climb the corporate ladder of ‘success,’ I realized I was miserable. I didn’t enjoy the confines of boring corporate projects we worked on (checking accounts! packaged tomatoes!) During that time every spare dollar was invested in travel, which lead me to an epiphany: My passion is traveling and telling people about my trips.
Since then I worked as a travel writer, then editor of numerous travel publications (mostly relating to LGBTQ travel). Later I published the definitive book on LGBTQ travel marketing. Through my research I discovered many questionable approaches to LGBTQ travel marketing and travel marketing in general. I wanted to make sure the next generation learned good practices gleaned from my research and interviews with best practitioners around the world. The book lead to my first teaching gig at NYU. Three classes into my burgeoning teaching career, I am smitten! I am passionate about learning best practices across all aspects of our industry and helping my students form their own understanding based on those insights.
At the Tisch Center, you teach the Tourism Principles and Practices course. What are the objectives of the course?
The course encompasses the entire tourism system including demand, supply, the role of public and private stakeholders, travel providers, travel intermediaries, legislative and regulatory factors, DMOs, sustainability, travel motivation, communication technology, future trends and, well, everything relating to the industry! Among these disparate and important components, the challenge is to focus on the most critical areas currently challenging the tourism sector especially the multiple, unprecedented crises unleashed by the pandemic.
While we cover the basics, we are also highlighting pandemic response and recovery through a group project, current events articles and, importantly, a number of live discussions with industry leaders to really engage the class. We have had speakers from NYC & Company, ITB, UNWTO, Google Travel, TripAdvisor and other key leaders (via Zoom naturally!) outline the hard facts of today’s travel industry but also encourage the class to be hopeful and think creatively.
Why is this an important and interesting subject area in our fields?
The curricular objectives of the course are clearly outlined in the syllabus: students of tourism and hospitality need to understand the tourism product and all parts of the system. They need to see how the parts fit together and how technology continues to impact most aspects of the overall system. But at its heart it’s a very human business and while we have moved to a virtual life which has grossly impacted our industries, we will get back to humans actually traveling to other places and meeting with each other again. The study of the tourism system is the study of the very human need to engage, learn, grow and feed one’s soul.
What impact do you hope to have on your students through this course?
My personal professional objectives for my students are not only to help them get a clear picture of the reality they will graduate into next year but also to fortify them with best practices, a hopeful outlook and a widening list of industry contacts for them to bolster their network and as a possible source of market intelligence and job leads.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I think the class is going very well, and I’m enjoy it immensely. I’ve also been incredibly impressed at how hard working, focused and dedicated my students are. I’m super excited about their individual and group projects which are without exception interesting and important to today’s harsh reality.
Also, as a pulse check on their ‘customer satisfaction,’ I gather regular updates from my students anecdotally and through exit tickets. However, mid-term I distributed an anonymous survey allowing them to provide unvarnished feedback and it was eye opening, They love the materials and the speakers but wanted me to shift my focus in a couple of ways. This led to a productive class discussion and a slight realignment for the rest of the term to cover areas of interest they raised in the survey.