GVSU students host conference for hospitality, tourism management
Offering chance to network with industry professionals
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For the past two years, Grand Valley State University has hosted the Hospitality Summit for more than 300 students at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.
The summit is a professional development conference held for hospitality and tourism management majors, but it is open to all students. Participants have the opportunity to talk with different companies, get a professional LinkedIn headshot and network with professionals in the industry.
The summit was designed by students in HTM 240: Introduction to Meeting and Event Management to meet with different people in the hospitality and tourism business. This year’s hosts are in the midst of putting the finishing touches on their program with registration for the event beginning on March 1. The event will take place March 28.
“This is an invaluable opportunity for students,” said Gail Zemmol, a GVSU affiliate professor of hospitality and tourism management. “They’re putting on a real event where they have to problem solve and be creative. When they move into their future careers, this experience will help them to have background that will prove useful throughout their life.”
The summit will include presentations from Dave Lorenz, manager of Public and Industry Relations for “Travel Michigan,” and Brandon Solano, vice president of brand innovation at Domino’s Pizza, as well as many other guest speakers. The speakers will focus on the impacts of tourism across the nation and ways to keep ideas and representation fresh to the public.
Last year, the summit “A Ticket to Tomorrow” featured a travel theme to express that hospitality is worldwide and that many guests can relate to the feeling of desire to travel, learn and explore. Students were given a chance to try out the elements taught inside of the classroom in a professional and real life scenario. Students dealt with problems regarding timing and budgets.
“The hospitality and tourism management majors that take the class to plan summit get hands-on experience working with a team to coordinate and execute a 200 to 400 person conference. That’s experience that’s great to get while in school to put on your resume,” said Sherri Anderson, last year’s student program manager. “Students also get to see the work that goes into putting a conference together and a feel for the hours a planner might actually work. Event planning is the main passion of most of the students in the class, so it’s fun.”
In addition to providing students with a professional experience, the conference brings money to the Grand Valley Hospitality and Tourism program. Depending on the success of the program, the money left over goes toward student scholarships and helps to bring speakers from the hospitality industry to campus.
“I am excited about having the opportunity to meet professionals in the hospitality industry and gain knowledge on unique topics,” said Shelbi Rushing, a hospitality and tourism major. “This is a great way to network and check out what hospitality tourism management is all about.”