Two students from the School of Hospitality Business attended the Spring Conference of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association in Atlanta, GA from April 20-21.

Two hospitality business students pose with faculty and professionals at the HAMA conference.Grant Bowman (BA Hospitality Business ’17) and Jake Davidson (BA Hospitality Business  ’19) are enrolled in the Real Estate Investment Management Minor and traveled to Atlanta with Dr. A.J. Singh to represent the School and take part in the conference’s many educational sessions and meet with alumni and other executives in the asset management field. The pair competed in the annual undergraduate student case competition, along with teams from six other universities.

Their research topic and power point presentation was timely:  Presidents and the Economy: The Movers and Shakers in the Hotel Real Estate Investment Market.  The presentation examined several of the policies of President Obama, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA); Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH); the opening of Cuban markets; travel and immigration; the Dodd-Frank regulations; and the ACA – and how these policies affected the lodging industry.

Then they discussed the new Trump administration:  its initial effect on the Dow Jones; his attacks on Dodd-Frank; his promises to de-regulate small businesses; his attempts to repeal the ACA; his efforts to lower taxes for businesses and the very wealthy; and his unpredictable words and actions in foreign policy.  All of this was examined in light of possible effects on the lodging industry, as well.   The presentation included a discussion of current events – Brexit, interest rates and the Fed, the shrinking middle class, and the growth and availability of information – and how these trends affect the industry.

“Grant and Jake really thought ‘outside the box’ on this presentation,” says Dr. Singh, who is the director of the Real Estate Investment Management Minor.  “I was impressed with their willingness to go beyond purely business considerations and broaden the context to include politics and current events. Students should be aware of and discussing all these trends.”

The students had the opportunity to attend many of the educational sessions at the HAMA conference, including one titled, “An Unwelcome Guest: Understanding Cybersecurity Risks Lurking in your Portfolio, Who Owns Them & Strategies for Mitigating Them.  They also attended a panel on “Energy Efficiency & Energy Contract Procurement for Hotels,” which Grant says was useful in “making your hotel more efficient and more profitable.”  Grant and Jake also learned about best practices in retail and restaurant leases and owner considerations in brand consolidation.

Perhaps as important as the educational sessions, the HAMA conference also provided a networking reception and an opportunity for students from various other universities to meet and get acquainted.

Jake said afterward, “It was great to be able to meet students in the same position as me and be able to learn about their schooling. Who knows, we may end up working with each other someday! Thank you to the School of Hospitality Business for providing me with a scholarship and allowing me to attend and participate in such an important conference. I really feel that with MSU’s backing and education, I will be perfectly set up to go into the real world, be successful and accomplish my goals.”

Indeed, endowments and scholarships in the School provide for funding for students to attend industry conferences such as this one.  “The School is eager to assist serious students in their participation with industry conferences such as HAMA,” says Dr. Singh.  “It is a critical piece of their education.”