Five Michigan State students from the Real Estate Investment Club were invited to attend the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) annual convention in Washington D.C. Thanks to the generosity of the AAHOA board, students had the opportunity to network with the over 4,000 attendees at the largest convention and trade show in the hospitality industry.

This year’s convention hosted the most CEO’s ever on a single stage – fifteen. The students heard speeches from some of the most influential people in the industry, including but not limited to the CEO’s of Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Radisson, and Choice. Outside of the general sessions, students attended breakout lectures on tax reform, social media, and youth in hospitality among others.

One of the highlights of this year’s convention was the opportunity to listen to a speech given by Michigan’s own Manoj Bhargava. Bhargava is the founder of 5 Hour Energy drink, but is perhaps better known for his company “Billions in Change.” Billions in Change has developed inventions to help the less fortunate around the world obtain basic needs like food, clean water, and reliable energy. In his speech, Bhargava emphasized the importance of giving back to our communities and those in need. This speech, along with the rest of the conference, left a lasting impact on each of the students.

Below are quotes from students about their experience:

Audrey Koutny (BA ’18) “As hospitality business students we are provided with opportunities that you just don’t see in other majors. We are incredibly lucky to have the support of alumni and those throughout the industry that enable us to enrich our education with these extra experiences.”



Lauren Trumbull (BA ’18)  “I’m extremely thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to attend the AAHOA conference. I learned a lot and it was a wonderful opportunity to gain more exposure to the world of hotel ownership.”

Amy Majercik (BA ’18) “AAHOA has been one of the most beneficial conferences I have attended as it opened my eyes to how diverse the hospitality industry is. This is something you cannot learn in class.”

Warren Crummett (BA ’18) “AAHOA was an experience that I will regard as one of the highlights of my undergraduate education.”