The MSU students who attended the summit pose for a picture with alumni and University of Memphis students

Chuck Pinkowski, Pinkowsky and Company; Zeba Razmi, graduate student, University of Memphis; Troy Davis (BA Hospitality Business ’20); Marc Greeley (BA Hospitality Business ’18); and Jim Burba (BA Hospitality Business ’77), Burba Hotel Network

Two students attended the 15th Annual Southern Lodging Summit in Memphis, Tennessee on Aug. 29 and 30, 2017.  The Southern Lodging Summit is a joint venture between Pinkoswki & Company and the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association.  Chuck Pinkowski, a member of the Hospitality Business Real Estate Investment Management (REIM) advisory council and chairman of the conference, invited two students to learn from industry leaders.

Both Marc Greeley (BA Hospitality Business ’18) and Troy Davis (BA Hospitality Business ’20), are students in the Real Estate Investment Management minor in The School of Hospitality Business, and members of the Real Estate Investment Club (REIC). They were graciously provided hotel accommodations by fellow REIM advisory council member, Michael Kitchen (BA Hospitality Business ’09).

From exploring Downtown Memphis and the new Elvis-inspired hotel at Graceland, to a fabulous dinner at the world-famous Peabody Hotel, their first day was filled with many opportunities to network with hospitality industry leaders. Marc and Troy assisted with attendee registration and attended several discussions and seminars.

  • Highlights of the conference included a presentation from Smith Travel Research Vice President of Lodging Insights, Jan Freitag, who discussed the industry forecast and pipeline. Both Marc and Troy enjoyed the presentation and Mr. Freitag’s perspective on how Hurricane Harvey will likely strew much of STR’s year-long forecast.
  • Keynote speaker was Jim Burba (BA Hospitality Business ’77), president of the Burba Hotel Network.  Mr. Burba gave an inspiring message sharing what led him to a career in the hospitality industry and how certain people provided much influence. Marc mentions, “His (Jim Burba’s) passion for connecting people really caught my attention. Mr. Burba kept everyone on the edge of their seat with his authenticity and knowledge of the industry.”
  • Unique portions of the conference included moderated panel discussions — where industry experts were asked open-ended questions.  The different and insightful responses were reflective of their unique skill set.  Each panelist provided inspiring conversation and discussion on a wide range of topics.

Both students agreed they gained more knowledge than anticipated.  They have a better understanding of the passion upper-level management must have to keep their properties afloat in a competitive market, as well as having a better grasp of the nuances that go into asset management and inspiring employees every day to provide the utmost service.