The Saunders College Chair brings a passion for hospitality and research to RIT | RIT—Rochester Institute of Technology | Team Cansler

As a teenager, Edwin N. Torres recalls travel and was “fascinated by the possibility of hoteliers turning a place into an experience.”

“I was curious how developers and operators created an environment where employees could provide exceptional service in a unique physical environment,” Torres recalls.

That curiosity later grew into a passion that brought Torres to RIT in July when he became Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of International Hospitality and Service Innovation (IHIS) at Saunders College of Business. He came to campus after serving on the faculty at the University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

In addition to his passion for hospitality, Torres brought a zeal for research to Saunders College.

“My research has included customer attitudes and emotions, with a focus on customer satisfaction and even outrage,” he said. “I also studied quality of service and electronic word of mouth. On the HR side, I have studied asynchronous video interviews, cyber rudeness and occupational medicine in the hospitality industry.”

Torres also has extensive industry experience, including positions in hotel and restaurant management and as a consultant to a wide range of organizations. He has been published in numerous high profile management, marketing, hospitality, leisure and tourism magazines and has received thousands of citations throughout his career.

A textbook co-authored by Torres, Customer service marketing: Managing the customer experience, due out next month, covering all the key aspects of customer service, including the physical environment (servicescape), customer experiences, and cross-cultural interactions with guests of spaces.

Future research topics will include exploring the interplay of work and vacation time for remote workers, also known as “workation,” Torres said.

“I also study the readiness and best practices of hotels and other hospitality organizations across the United States to host international visitors,” he added. Torres will continue to closely study consumer behavior with the goal of developing a guide to help consumers become better customers in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Overall, he leverages his extensive teaching, research, and hospitality experiences to further differentiate IHSI from competing programs.

“Our program ensures students have rich experiences inside and outside of the classroom,” noted Torres. “In addition to all major hospitality conferences, exhibitions and events across the country, we offer them the opportunity to study at our hospitality program in Croatia, which combines the same curriculum as RIT with a completely different European hospitality experience.”

“As a hospitality program within a technology institute, we want to ensure that our students are exposed to the key developments that will shape the customer experience for years to come,” he added.

The hospitality program will continue to build on its strong legacy of placing students in leadership positions and advancing to senior positions, the department head said, while leveraging Saunders College’s vast alumni network – one of its many recognized strengths.

“We work with our funding partners to organize alumni events in cities where more of our alumni live,” he said.

Since arriving at RIT last July, Torres has worked with faculty and staff to expand the community college’s reach, launched a social media marketing campaign, developed a summer camp experience for prospective students, and engaged with regional high school programs in the field of hospitality management.

In addition to developing a minor called Hospitality as Real Estate in response to the exploding hospitality opportunity surrounding short-term homestays and experiences, Torres is working with IHSI faculty and staff to redesign the college’s Food and Beverage minor positioning to focus more on sales, marketing and distribution of beverages and creating experiences around beverages.

“We’re relaunching the program next year as beverage management,” he said.

While the hospitality industry is not without its challenges, including labor shortages across all industries, Torres sees a bright future for a field of study that is constantly evolving and redefining the customer experience.

“I’m seeing more customization of the experience as service providers use data to get to know their customers better,” he said, “along with the application of hospitality and customer service concepts to industries not traditionally part of hospitality, particularly healthcare.”

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