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Professor Shares Hospitality Spirit in New Podcast

“People who work in the hospitality and tourism industry have a great spirit—a sense to serve,” says Nicholas Thomas, director of the School of Hospitality Leadership and Associate Professor at DePaul University. Thomas aims to capture this sense to serve – and to educate students about the hospitality industry – in his new podcast, “The Hospitality Spirit.” Recorded live in his office with a microphone and mixing board, Thomas created his podcast to drive awareness of the industry as well as draw attention to the programming at the DePaul School of Hospitality Leadership.

“When most people hear hospitality and tourism, their initial visceral reaction is to think of hotels and restaurants,” Thomas says. “But there is so much more than that. There are so many more core functions related to hospitality such as graphic design, architecture, event planning and more. I want to capture the full picture of what hospitality has to offer in this podcast.”

Through the podcast, Thomas introduces listeners to a cross-section of people working in the hospitality and tourism industry and converse with them on a wide array of topics. Guests share their personal experiences, insights, industry trends and advice for those looking to make a career in hospitality. Guests have included Jerrod Melman, executive partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc.; Madison Kamp, sales manager for PSAV and former NCAA athlete; and Ashvin Lad, co-founder of Breakwater Chicago.

“What makes this podcast so interesting is that the topics are wildly varied and unique,” Thomas says. “Whether our guests are entrepreneurs or work in food and beverage or hotel management or meeting and event planning, they are going to bring a huge range of life experiences, which becomes a great teaching tool.”

Many students commute to DePaul’s Loop campus via the Chicago El or Metra lines, and Thomas is counting on students learning outside the classroom by listening to his podcast. But, the audience is not limited to students.

“The Hospitality Spirit has something for everyone,” Thomas says. “It’s for people working in the hospitality and tourism industry or who want to work in this industry. It’s for students who may want to pick up hospitality as a major or minor, people who are mid-life career changers, or people who want to enhance their knowledge in a particular area.”

When exploring the hospitality and tourism education landscape, Thomas couldn’t find anything that told personal stories and offered advice–not in brochures, social media or websites. Thomas uses the podcast as an educational tool to help his undergraduate and graduate course students get a high-level overview of every segment within hospitality and tourism and, hopefully, some inspiration on which way to proceed with their careers. A podcast like this can help them decide what segment they would like to explore in the DePaul program and their careers, he says. It also prepares them for what it is like to work in the industry through the personal stories of leaders and how they got jobs in the field.

“I wanted to create something with a larger reach where you could take a deep dive on topics and hold the audience’s attention,” Thomas says. “I also wanted our listeners to feel the emotion and the passion from our guests talking about something they love. You can’t convey that in a picture or tweet.”

Listen to the podcast at SoundCloud (below) or Spotify and iTunes.