students2018 marks the first year that a group as large as 14 students from The School of Hospitality Business had the privilege traveling to Los Angeles during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS). Four students attended and served as conference volunteers at the ALIS conference, while the remaining 10 attended professional development programs organized by the MSU Real Estate Investment Club and Dr. AJ Singh.

Prior to the conference, students were hosted by Burba Hotel Network (BHN) for a backstage tour of the Microsoft Theatre. The students received one-on-one advice from BHN’s founder and president, Jim Burba (BA ’77), along with fellow School graduate Jonathon Zink (BA ’04).

Four of the over 3,000 attendees were representative of our own best and brightest students. While the four students were primarily volunteering, they also had the opportunity to participate in the conference while they were off duty. A couple highlights include sitting in on a panel of CEO’s discussing industry trends and an information session put on solely for the volunteers where they had the chance to ask industry professionals questions one on one. Arguably most importantly, the students were able to network and create relationships with other students and industry professionals from universities all over the world.

The additional 10 students had the opportunity to explore Los Angeles and learn about the city’s booming real estate market. Their schedule was tightly packed with visits to hotels such as the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, Le Montrose Suite Hotel, Chamberlain Hotel West Hollywood, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, and soon-to-be opened, Hotel Figueroa. While it was great for the students to be able to see the properties, the primary focus of conversation on each tour was about the financials. Whether discussing renovation and repositioning, or asset management best practices, the students were given a hands-on learning experience unlike nothing they could have received in the classroom.

Finally, all 14 students came together to meet and network with the expansive group of distinguished Spartan alumni/student networking event hosted by John Belden (BA ’85). Belden is the President and CEO of Davidson Hotels & Resorts, as well as a member of The School’s Hall of Fame, Class of the Accomplished.

  • Audrey Koutny (BA ’18): “Having volunteered at ALIS last year and helped plan the PDP’s this year, I can honestly say that these are two of the most valuable experiences of my college career. I will be eternally grateful to The School alumni for making these incredible opportunities possible!”
  • Amy Majercik (BA ’18): “Having the opportunity to attend ALIS as a student volunteer has been one of the highlights of my college career. The depth of information and lead executives we were exposed to was exceptional.”
  • Morgan Wheeler (BA ’18): “My favorite part of attending the ALIS conference was networking and the panel sessions regarding current trends/issues in the hotel industry. It was incredible listening and learning from the industry’s top professionals.  The Spartan networking reception was a great way to learn from alumni who are working in the industry.”
  • Ankur Patel (BA ’20):  “My favorite part of the trip was the tour of the InterContinental Hotel. We had the pleasure to hear about the property from the general manager (and visited the presidential suite and rooftop bar on the 73rd floor). The view was breathtaking and the one-on-one experience with the general manager was very insightful.  The MSU reception was another great opportunity.  I  had the pleasure to sit and talk with many alumni in a more social setting. It was nice to hear their path to success and advice they had for me when it comes to decisions I should make in the hospitality business real estate industry.”
  • Brandon Abbo (BA ’19): “It was amazing to have MSU alumni from all across the country to be in one spot at the ALIS reception. It was one of the strongest networking events I’ve ever been to.”
  • Jason Klee (BA ’19):  “This trip has been one of my highlights of my college experience because I was able to see hands-on hotel development, which is something I wouldn’t have seen just in the classroom.  My favorite part of the trip was seeing the historic hotels of Los Angeles and learning what they do to continue staying relevant and a significant part of the community they are in.”
  • Kirby Homer (BA ’19):  “I would like to thank The School for allowing me to attend this incredible trip. I feel honored to have been able to represent The School and MSU at the ALIS Conference. I had the opportunity to learn so much while volunteering at the conference and network with such amazing people.”
  • Alis Manoogian (BA ’18):  “My favorite part about the LA trip was the MSU alumni reception. Having the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the best in the industry was such an invaluable experience that we (students) could not have received without attending the trip.”
  • Taylor Kearly (BA ’18): “As a proud student of The School and MSU, I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend ALIS. It was a very humbling moment to be surrounded by the top people in the industry and even better to meet more impressive alumni. ALIS will forever be the highlight of my academic career. Thank you for all who have provided me this amazing opportunity.”
  • Joseph Titus (BA ’18): “The most enjoyable part of the trip involved the culmination of alumni who were not only willing to share their experiences in real estate but also their opinions and advice for being successful in the workforce. Each alumni proved to be extremely humble about their accomplishments and more than willing to help each student with questions they had about the industry.”
  • Elizabeth Thaxton (BA ’18):  “My favorite part of the trip was having the opportunity to visit the different properties at each stage of the development process. It was interesting to see how my studies of acquisitions are being applied in real life. It made me that much more excited to become a part of this exciting industry.  The reception was an exceptional experience that allowed me to talk with professionals about their career paths. The alumni were open to mentoring and helping transition us (students) to the professional workplace.”
  • Matthew McCarthy (BA ’18):  “Not only were we afforded the tremendous opportunity to tour beautiful properties, but we had the privilege to speak and learn the intricacies of those properties.  It was genuinely a privilege to be able to speak with and learn from many distinguished MSU alumni.  This trip greatly assisted me in determining my career path, both from meeting with several alumni, as well as seeing the ‘ins-and-outs’ of stunningly complex properties.”
  • Alexandra Chapekis (BA ’18): “It was a great opportunity to tour hotels in Los Angeles. We certainly appreciated Jim Burba’s time to meet and talk with us each year for the ALIS conference. He has good industry advice in the industry, as well as in life in general (as did all the alumni we met).”

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