Five years ago, my family’s foundation partnered with San Diego State University to create the China Hospitality Education Initiative, or CHEI. Our idea was to establish relationships with a few Chinese schools and offer hospitality teachers hands-on operational experiences and teaching resources to supplement textbooks.
The first CHEI program, a month-long faculty internship, was piloted in the summer of 2013. Eleven teachers from nine schools checked into various Marriott hotels in China. Throughout the month, they shadowed our associates in different departments. Because they were residing at the hotel, they also learned from the guest experience. The program was very successful and the word about CHEI spread to many other schools.
CHEI quickly surpassed its initial goals. Today, CHEI has 86 partner schools in 20 provinces. More than 800 teachers have participated in many CHEI programs. These teachers are sharing what they’ve learned in their classrooms and are having an impact on more than 100,000 students.
These students are essential to the future of hospitality, especially with the travel potential China holds. In fact, we just announced a partnership with the preeminent Chinese online retailer Alibaba. This joint venture will help create true end-to-end travel services for Chinese consumers whether they are traveling around China or the world.
It’s our duty and privilege to help prepare these students for what the future holds. I’m so proud of our Marriott associates at the nearly 90 CHEI partner hotels in China who love giving back to their communities. They are inspiring teachers and students by opening their doors for field trips, presenting guest lectures on campus and even acting in educational videos that teachers are using in their classrooms.
One month ago, the Shenzhen Marriott Hotel Nanshan hosted CHEI’s largest event—an annual four-day teaching conference for more than 300 teachers. The conference offered educational workshops, hotel tours, networking with industry and academic leaders, and more to help teachers learn about the latest hospitality trends and teaching techniques.
I heard that our Shenzhen associates literally got into the act at the conference, creating entertainment routines that showcased various jobs in different hotel departments. They inspired the teachers and showed them a bit of the fun side of a hospitality career.
Earlier this year, we were so honored when CHEI received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Tourism for Tomorrow People Award.” CHEI was recognized for its dedication to helping build a skilled tourism workforce for the future.
The teachers at our CHEI schools are doing a tremendous job helping students build the foundation they need for success in this exciting field of hospitality and tourism. We are honored to play a role in that. You can learn more about CHEI by visiting www.chei.org.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.