If major hotel chains want a new generation of talented leaders to start climbing their corporate ladders, they may need to adjust some rungs.

Hotel chains are increasingly seeking to pull graduates of college hospitality programs into their ranks. And the traditional road to a top hotel position -- one that is often paved with frequent changes in title and mailing address -- can be a hard sell for today's college students.

Especially if the students are enrolled in one of the better-known hospitality schools, said Keith Kefgen, president of the New York-based hospitality recruitment firm HVS Executive Search.

"If I'm a graduate of Cornell, Penn State, University of Nevada-Las Vegas or other programs like that, I may be thinking, 'Why should I go spend 15 years coming up through the ranks when I could go into real estate development or go down to Wall Street?'" Kefgen said.

Paying the dues
Kefgen said 20-somethings are questioning the dues that so many of the 40-somethings now running many major hotels have paid.

It's a quality-of-life issue. Incoming hotel employees aren't as willing as those before them to sacrifice money for time, Kefgen said.

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