Program responds to social media's growing influence in hospitality industry

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The School of Hospitality Management (SHM) understands the impact Facebook “likes” and Twitter “retweets” can have on a brand, particularly with the hospitality industry.

That’s why the school hired Brian Cliette, a social media and hospitality guru, who will teach a new course focusing on successful social media marketing techniques for the hospitality field. The course, Social Media Marketing and Management for Travel and Hospitality Professionals, will be offered as an elective in the spring.

Social media outlets, from Yelp to Trip Advisor, impact a company’s brand recognition, and therefore are a critical aspect of hospitality management, according to Cliette, who joined Penn State in August after serving as an adjunct professor and distance education coordinator with the Hospitality & Tourism Administration Program at North Carolina Central University.

“Brand recognition is invaluable. It creates a competitive advantage,” Cliette said. “Anything that jeopardizes or enhances that brand recognition is something worth paying attention to and social media has the power to magnify a brand and a brand’s message, and on the contrary has the power to diminish a brand as well as the power to misconstrue a brand message, so anything that has that type of power is worthy of attention.”

Cliette’s assessment is spot on with the Penn State SHM Industry Advisory Board, which formed in 2011 and features dozens of hospitality corporate leaders. The board pushed for SHM to hire a faculty member who specializes in social media.

“This is a great addition, which makes the school unique and progressive in keeping up with industry trends. Brian's background and role is proof that the school is committed to maintain a leadership position,” said Plato Ghinos, president of Shaner Hotel Group and board member.

John O’Neill, director of SHM, said hiring Cliette is a direct response to industry and alumni boards’ recommendations.

“We're ecstatic that we were able to attract Brian Cliette to come to the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State,” O’Neill said. “He brings a unique background of education, experience and energy to our faculty. He's already helping us to improve the quality of not only our undergraduate education, but our executive education programs, as well.”

Cliette specializes in online and social media marketing, hospitality sales and marketing, eCommerce development, search engine optimization and Web analytics. He has worked as a social media and new media marketing consultant for various companies and is the author of multiple books regarding social media and online marketing.

Cliette earned a bachelor’s degree in restaurant management, a master’s degree in hospitality management and a master’s degree in international real estate, all at Florida International University.

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Last Updated October 15, 2014