Five students from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University traveled to Dallas October 19 – 21 to attend the Dallas Hotel Conference and to meet with executives from Aimbridge Hospitality, one of the largest and most dynamic independent management companies in North America and the Caribbean, whose headquarters are in Dallas.
Kirby Homer (BA ’19), Amy Majercik (BA ’18), Katie Gotta (BA ’18), Audrey Koutny (BA ’18), Ankit Patel (BA ’17), and Zach Repka (BA ’17) – all enrolled in The School’s Real Estate Investment Management Minor – attended educational sessions and networking events at the conference, and learned first-hand about trends in the market and social media, and the effects of governmental affairs on the hotel industry.
At Aimbridge, the students had the privilege of meeting individually with several key staff members, including CEO Dave Johnson, Senior Vice President of Development & Capital Markets Lynne Roberts, COO Robert Burg, and CFO Judy Hendrick. They received valuable advice about possible career paths, setting goals, and succeeding in hotel real estate development and asset management. The students were impressed with Aimbridge’s portfolio of over 450 hotels and resorts and more than 63,000 guestrooms, as well as the company’s ability to operate across a full spectrum of property types in addition to independent luxury, boutique, and lifestyle hotels.
“Attending the Dallas Hotel Conference and speaking to Aimbridge’s executive team were amazing opportunities to improve my knowledge in hotel real estate from hospitality experts,” says Amy Majercik. “They guided us through their day-to-day tasks and company culture, providing us with wonderful advice for our future careers.” The other students agreed, with Kathryn Gotta noting that “There is no better way to gain knowledge of the hospitality real estate industry than to go to company headquarters and meet with industry professionals the way we did.”
Indeed, “Aimbridge’s hospitality was phenomenal,” according to Ankit Patel. The students enjoyed accommodations at the company’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, assisted by travel scholarships from The School, established by a number of alumni and industry friends. “I can’t thank Aimbridge enough for their generosity,” says Audrey Koutny. “They truly gave us a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we are all incredibly grateful.”
The admiration was mutual. Lynne Roberts wrote afterward, “We really enjoyed having you all to our corporate office for meetings and joining the Dallas Hotel Conference! Many thanks to you, Dr. Singh, for making this commitment; we hope this may evolve into an annual pilgrimage!” In fact, the two seniors in the group were tapped for possible job placement upon graduation in the spring!
The students also had the opportunity to visit and tour Rosewood Hotel Mansion on Turtle Creek, hosted by Managing Director Andrea Gates. They met with Senior Food and Beverage Manager Andre Roberts for a tour of the historic restaurant, and with Guest Relations Manager Daniel Rister for a tour of the hotel.
“The School values this kind of experience for our students,” says Dr. Singh. “Many thanks to the Aimbridge team and the executives at Rosewood Hotel Mansion on Turtle Creek for sharing their enthusiasm and expertise.”