Hospitality & Travel Club at Smith

October 31st, 2011 by under Smith Clubs. No Comments.

Next week Clay Gaynor, Narda Ipakchi and I will state the case to the MBAA to create a Hospitality & Travel Club at Smith for the first time. Our presentation will be the culmination of many months work identifying the need and strategizing how to implement the club.

The DC-area is home to 3 major hotel companies

Few people come to Smith realizing that it lays in the center of the country’s hospitality industry. Just miles from College Park are three of the biggest companies in the hotel business – Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Choice Hotels International.  Surrounding DC are three major airports, all of which serve as airline hubs. Throughout the city and metro area are restaurants and restaurant groups started by entrepreneurs with a passion for food and/or beverage. Until now Smith students have not had a way to tap into these markets.

While this would obviously be exciting to a club co-founder, I also believe it represents a big opportunity for the Smith community. Last year alone five second year students found full-time employment at a local hotel company, and four more found a summer internship – all without any organized engagement with the local hotel community. Imagine what Smith could do with a more organized and targeted effort led by the students towards these potential employers?

Recently Narda, Clay and I visited Marriott’s HQ to meet a few Smith alums. We were shocked at the number and the depth of interest from this untapped resource. Marriott does not formally recruit at Smith, but it seems like a relatively large portion end up there every year. Imagine if Smith could teach its current students a little about this industry before they join it?

At Smith we are previliged to be home to the Center for Service Excellence, led in part by Dr. Janet Wagner who has graciously agreed to serve as advisor to the Smith Hospitality & Travel Club.  This Center already partners with major industry players to provide research and share best practices. Imagine if Smith could leverage the intellectual capital of professors already engaged in hospitality-related research projects to attract potential employers?

Altogether we believe this makes for a great case to add a hospitality-focused club to the Smith community and we are excited about the potential of a better educating our classmates on this exciting industry.