Enterprising Hospitality
Date PublishedJan 22, 2015

When Casi Johnson was a college student majoring in hospitality management, she thought she knew a lot about hotel accounting from working in a hotel during her schooling. In a recent blog post describing her experience 17 years ago, Johnson explained, “I loved being able to work in the hotel at night and craved the hands-on learning experience it offered to complement what I was learning in school, taking what was learned in class and applying it to real-life situations in the hotel on a regular basis.”

But shortly after graduation and earning a promotion to general manager, Casi realized that there was a lot more to managing the financial aspects of a hotel than the classroom had taught her. As she progressed in her career and ultimately became executive vice president of operations for one of the industry’s leading hotel accounting software platforms, M3 Accounting + Analytics’ AccKnowledge®, Johnson is now giving back to her industry as a professor, providing access to real-life experience for today’s hospitality students.

“When Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu, Dean of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership, approached our company to create a real-life learning environment centered around utilizing ‘real’ hotel accounting software in the classroom, I could not have been more excited to be involved,” Johnson explained. “Based on my own experience as a college student years ago, I immediately recognized the benefit of providing hospitality students a comprehensive picture of hotel accounting functions to help shape their understanding of the big picture.”

The program is called M3 University, and over the last three years, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership has developed and promoted complimentary software and curriculum for both AccKnowledge® and M3’s business intelligence and analytics tool, M3 Link® to universities across North America. With the addition of major universities such as the University of Florida, Michigan State University and Auburn University in 2014, over 20 hospitality schools are now incorporating M3 University into the classroom.

“Programs like M3 University offer today’s students a greater opportunity to be prepared for their careers than many in previous generations have had,” surmised Casi Johnson, who is entering her second year teaching the M3 curriculum. “I’m pleased to help play a role in helping tomorrow’s hoteliers be a bit more prepared than I was so many years ago.”

In addition to M3 University, M3 Accounting + Analytics also supports the Association of Hospitality Financial Management Education (AHFME) through sponsorship of their annual Best Graduate Student Research Paper Awards, presented each November at their annual meeting at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate in New York City. This award is presented to recognize emerging scholars with an interest in accounting and financial management education. This year’s winning papers, selected by the editorial board of the Journal of Hospitality Management, were Who are the Bulls and Bears in Global Lodging Markets? by co-authors Albert A. Barreda, Ph.D. of Missouri State University and Murat Kizildag, Ph.D., MBA of the University of Central Florida; and A Comparative Analysis of the Performance of Hotels as Against Traditional Commercial Property in a Mixed-Real Estate Portfolio by Nicholas Worsley, University of Cambridge. Both articles will be published in the Journal of Hospitality Management in 2015.

“We see our partnership with the educational community as a great way to give back to the industry through access to real-life hotel accounting scenarios,” said Allen Read, president and chief operating officer of M3 Accounting + Analytics. “As veteran hoteliers ourselves, we remember what it was like to be a new hotel leader, and we hope that through classroom experience with our software, young hoteliers will have an advantage when it comes to understanding the financial aspects of running a hotel.”

To learn how your educational institution can access complimentary software and curriculum through M3 University, contact program coordinator Gunce “Georgia” Malan at the USF College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership, at gunce@gmalan.com. For more information on M3 Accounting + Analytics for hoteliers, contact Scott Watson, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing, at scott@m3as.com or 770.297.1925, Ext. 571.