Students earn honors at national tourism and hospitality conference

May 14, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 18)
Article by Brian Vernellis

two students stand on stage, projection screen to their left

Carley Curtis, left, and Kate Snow deliver their presentation before judges and audience members during the final round of the Hotel Turnaround Collegiate Championship at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association’s national conference in Orlando.

A presentation by a pair of Grand Valley students recently earned one of the top honors at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

The conference’s Hotel Turnaround Collegiate Championship challenged 11 teams from seven universities to engage in a simulation aimed at analyzing underperforming hotels. In the final round, students were tasked with presenting operational and investment strategies to a panel of judges, offering solutions to sustain and enhance the efficiency of the hotels.

Carley Curtis and Kate Snow, both majoring in hospitality and tourism management, garnered the People’s Choice Award for their presentation, analysis and strategies. 

Duane Zuber, affiliate professor of hospitality and tourism management, mentored the Grand Valley team and said this year’s conference was geared toward growing involvement of a younger audience. 

“The AAHOA wanted to give back to individuals that were learning hospitality and are newer to the hospitality industry,” Zuber said. “It was a really cool experience for the students to participate in this and show what they can do and what they've learned at the university level. I'm incredibly proud of our students for doing so well in this competition.”

Also competing were teams from Oklahoma State University, Florida International University, University of South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Kennesaw State University and Northwestern State University. 

“All of these teams and these students got to connect and get to know each other and compare experiences at different universities and network with industry professionals,” Zuber said. “They got to meet industry professionals that own hotels, own management companies of hotels and work for large franchises such as Wyndham and Marriott. It was just an amazing experience for all involved.”

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This article was last edited on May 14, 2024 at 1:9 p.m.

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