The interview: Amanda Belarmino | Information Center

A year after COVID-19 put the brakes on tourism around the world, the hospitality industry is heading for a rebound. But the road to recovery has been particularly difficult for major tourist destinations like Las Vegas.

Fortunately, UNLV hospitality professors like Amanda Belarmino are using their expertise to help industry, students, and the general public understand changing guest expectations and industry practices in the post-pandemic world.

Belarmino has recently been featured in dozens of local and national interviews, commenting on topics ranging from buffets to mask protocols, from industry innovation to the hiring boom. His media presence shows how the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality and UNLV are shaping the global understanding of the impact of the coronavirus on tourism while helping the industry move forward.

Tell us about your research.

I research the impact of cultural and social changes on strategic management and pricing. I focus a lot on revenue management and what influences consumers’ willingness to pay. I like fun things, so I watch things like Airbnb and literary tourism. One of my doctoral students did his thesis on what impacts people’s willingness to pay for casino buffets, and because of that, I got a lot of media interviews. I think it helped save buffets during this pandemic – I don’t take all the credit for it, but I think research has shown the importance of buffets to the city’s identity.

What impact do you hope your research will have?

Part of the goal of research is to bring information into the classroom for students. I’m also looking for trends that are not only great for publishing, but are also helpful for the industry moving forward.

How did you go from industry to university?

When I was training new employees, I liked watching their reactions when they understood a concept, and I wanted to do more. I never thought I would teach, but I’m really happy to be doing it. When you work in industry people are great sometimes, but they are not well suited for the job they have. By working with students, you can always find a way to reach them and help them find their way.

What surprised you about UNLV?

Being able to teach in a state-of-the-art facility is incredible. We sometimes underestimate the impact of architecture and lighting, but it can really invigorate your students. There is an energy in Hospitality Hall that you don’t feel anywhere else on campus.

What did you miss on campus?

I miss being with the students. I miss the face-to-face teaching and the student outlook. The pandemic has isolated students, but it has also isolated teachers. You feel like you’re sending things into the abyss.

Tell us a surprising fact about yourself.

I was on “Jeopardy!” in 2006. I came third, but I was still on “Jeopardy!”

They had a whole category on religion in business. Who is preparing for it? They also had biology questions, and one of the other candidates was a biology professor. Then they wanted us all to be the same height, so they made me stand on a box, and I was so scared of falling. I did not do it.

What advice would you give to hospitality students?

The future of our industry is bright, and we are going to see a good recovery, but take full advantage of this period to be flexible. Maybe you don’t find yourself in your first choice of career, but you can still have a very rewarding and successful career by being open to new ideas and opportunities.

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