On Sunday, the MSU Meeting & Events Club, part of the Broad College’s Hospitality Association, traveled to Grand Rapids on a field experience trip. The day was spent touring the city’s Downtown Market, a mixed-use facility that houses local restaurants, coffee shops and a variety of artisanal storefronts, as well as several hotels in the area. All the lodges seen were part of hospitality company AHC’s portfolio, including AC Hotel by Marriot, JW Marriott Grand Rapids and the famed Amway Grand Plaza.
Claire Murray, a senior studying hospitality business and current president of MEC, described the purpose of this trip and its benefits. “It was our goal to educate our members of different venue types and how each unique venue is able to accommodate different groups and events,” she said. Murray also explained how the experience provided insights into conducting actual site visits in the event management industry.
In true Broad fashion, the tour was guided in part by Broad alumnus Brian Demeester (B.A. Hospitality Business ’98). Demeester currently serves as executive housekeeper at the Amway Grand Plaza.
“It was so awesome to see an alumnus from the school so willing to share his passion and give back to the students of the industry,” Murray said. “Brian truly cares about the success of future leaders.”
In addition to visiting several locations in the area, the MEC group attended a panel discussion at the Amway Grand Plaza. During the discussion, the students received valuable input on career navigation post-graduation. The panel included Kelly Van Dyke, Kristen Burnett and Darrin Letinga, all events and catering heads at Amway Grand Plaza.
The panel offered encouraging words to MEC members about learning, career growth and passion. “With a passion for success, you can end up anywhere,” said Letinga, catering sales and event manager. “I am a perfect example of this. I graduated college with a Russian literature degree.”
“This is an industry of learning from your mistakes,” added Burnett, corporate director of catering. “We can’t grow without taking the chance to step out of your comfort zone and learning from it.”
The hospitality business students expressed their appreciation for getting this inside look to the industry. MEC Director of Social Media Brooke Desormeaux shared, “This was an awesome opportunity to see not only the front-of-house but also back-of-house operations.”