Since last semester I have been planning my organization, American Hotel & Lodging Association’s, trip to New York. Every year our national affiliate co-sponsors the largest hotel conference in the world, the International Hotel, Motel, & Restaurant Show. Last year I and the other board members went last year to get a feel of what it was like to go to the show, and this year we ended up taking 19 students. The planning was exceptionally difficult because thinking of things to do for 19 people can be challenging. I applied for a grant from the university and received it for $2,500. This made the trip cheaper for all the members. We departed Purdue on Friday to drive to Midway airport in Chicago, which is where we would be departing the next morning. We stayed at a hotel near the airport and had dinner with managers from White Lodging Services, a management company for hotel and a large recruiter from our HTM program. We received advice and got to know them on a more personal level. Saturday morning we left for New York. When we arrived we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and had the rest of the day to see the city. Because I had been there before, I was able to take some of the members to the places I had been to. We did the hop on hop off tour bus and really got to see the major attractions of the city. Saturday night we had dinner at Guy Fieri’s new restaurant, Guy’s American Bar and Grill. On Sunday morning, I attended a scholarship breakfast with a handful of executives from throughout the industry. I was able to meet CEO’s of a few different hotel companies and network. After my breakfast, I met up with the rest of the group, who were attending a breakfast put on by Starwood Hotels & Resorts. They were able to have a mentor session and make contacts as well. Once we met up, we went to the actual expo to see what different kinds of booths would be there. We were able to be a part of a taste testing session and many different food demos. After exploring the expo, we decided to end it with the silent auction by bidding on a few items. We unfortunately did not win any. After the expo, we were able to break into groups to explore the city for just a few hours, as we had to get ready for our black tie gala. Our national affiliate puts on a gala every year at the conference to honor their incoming chair for the association. The event this year was at the Plaza Hotel, which is famous for having Home Alone 2 filmed there. We once again had a chance to network with the executives, but this time in a more relaxed setting. Monday was our last day in New York. We had one more thing planned for Monday, and that was the tour of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. This hotel is a boutique hotel and has a lot of history behind it. It also has had a few movies and TV shows filmed there. A Purdue Alum from our program works there as the Assistant Director of Sales. After the tour, we departed for Purdue.
This trip was a great learning experience for me though because it involved a lot of planning. I had to reach out to a bunch of places to plan functions for our group and then ultimately coordinate the whole trip while it was happening to make sure that everything went smoothly. It has by far been the most real life experience, other then my internships, that I have had while at Purdue. It also has been the best experience I have had to network with executives. Last year, I met a few executives that I eventually had come to campus to talk with students. I hope to do that again this year. I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving break!
— Michael Nalezny, Hospitality & Tourism Management