The School of Hospitality Business student chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) had 15 of its members, ranging from freshmen to seniors, travel to Las Vegas, NV for the PCMA annual meeting, Convening Leaders 2011. From January 9-13, the MGM Grand was host to over 3,000 meeting and supplier professionals in the industry, as well as 270 college students from across North America.

Educational sessions, networking luncheons, keynote speakers, and receptions filled each day’s schedule. Some highlights included the general sessions by President and COO of Luxor Las Vegas and Excalibur Hotel Casino Renee West, on Learning the Language of Success, and by CEO of Zappos.com Tony Hsieh, on Delivering Happiness. Students learned about how convention centers can create customized events, how to plan a meeting in 30 days, and how multimedia and social media play an integral part in the marketing of meetings. Convention and Visitors Bureaus marketed their locations in major cities to the meeting planners through engaging presentations.

The trip was well worth the journey from Michigan to Nevada, as several students made business connections for possible internships and career opportunities.

The city of Las Vegas is much more than blackjack and Elvis. Las Vegas has become a premier location for meetings and conventions because of the expansive supply of exhibit halls and meeting spaces, in addition to the endless options of food and beverage outlets and entertainment activities. Moreover, the hospitality exhibited at the various hotels gave the students an impressive example of customer service that went above and beyond their expectations.

Valuable lessons from Convening Leaders 2011 are now being implemented in the students’ everyday lives and PCMA biweekly meetings. This educational and travel opportunity was made possible for the students through PCMA fundraising efforts: t-shirt sales, recycling cans and bottles, and restaurant socials. The next PCMA event is on April 15, 2011, when it will host its second annual “LIKE A FINE WINE, LAP ONLY GETS BETTER WITH TIME.” This is a food and wine fundraising event the organization co-coordinates with Lansing Area Parent (LAP) Respite Center for the second year in a row.