Twenty students in MSU’s the School of Hospitality Business traveled to Boston January 12–15 to attend the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) 2014 Convening Leaders annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center. All are members of the School’s PCMA student chapter, which was named Chapter of the Year by the National PCMA and is advised by https://www.gse.harvard.edu/ Associate Professor Jeff Beck.
The students joined over 4,000 PCMA members from around the country who gathered to catch up on the latest trends and technology associated with convention management, a dynamic segment of the hospitality industry.
The MSU group traveled to Boston with scholarship assistance from the School, provided by sponsorship funds donated specifically for student travel to industry-related conferences. Two officers of the chapter, Ariel Lessons (BA Hospitality Business ’14) and Allison Langley (BA Hospitality Business ’14), were given scholarships for the conference directly from the national PCMA. “We place a premium on exposing our students to the realities of the hospitality industry segments that interest them,” says Dr. Jeff Beck. “Conferences such as Convening Leaders allow students to attend valuable educational sessions and network with our alumni and other professionals in the meeting and convention industry.”
For example, a session on “Crisis Management: A Case Study of the Boston Marathon” discussed the responses of the organizers of the Boston Marathon after the bombing and through the several days afterward. One student noted that “In a situation that serious, it is important that those in charge maintain a calm demeanor, reassure others, and not give in to their own fear.” Another valuable session was called “The Elephant in the Room is Laughing,” with an interactive presentation by Izzy Gesell, who talked about using humor in the workplace in order to meet your goals.
The students also interacted with those from other universities, including James Madison, DePaul, Grand Valley, Roosevelt, and even Queen Margaret in Scotland. Only one other university had more than essaysonline org the 20 representatives from MSU, with 22. In fact, this year’s MSU student group was the largest in the chapter’s history. The students met plenty of Spartan alumni in the convention and meeting planning fields, who, upon seeing the students’ MSU nametags, were quick to respond, “Go Green!” One alumna, Jennifer Miller, a 2013 graduate working with the Sheraton (conference headquarters), hosted the students on a tour of her property.
The theme of the conference was, “What Happens in Boston Changes the World.” Using the word “(R)evolution,” conference organizers referenced the many historically significant innovations that have come from Boston and hoped to inspire change and progress within the convention and event planning industry.
Sophomore Caitlyn Kuskowski (BA Hospitality Business ’16) says, “The conference was an amazing opportunity for me, especially as a first-timer. It opened my eyes to different avenues of the industry and it allowed me to network with many different professionals as well.”