This past spring quarter, School of Hospitality Management students in the Conventions and Large Meetings course (HOS 481), taught by Dr. Glen Ramsborg, diligently worked on scenarios to plan and execute a large meeting at the Hilton Chicago. The quarter started off with dividing the group of 20 students into three teams. Each team was given a scenario outlining the needs of the meeting. It was the team’s responsibility to conduct a site visit of three properties and the Hilton Chicago was the only site that all three teams visited. This experience began the process of putting all of the pieces of the project together, which included an educational program, social events, exhibits and administrative details essential to make the meeting successful.
By lottery, one team was selected to present their meeting at the Summit Meeting, also known in the industry as a PreConvention Meeting, to the staff at the Hilton Chicago on June 15. The team consisted of project manager Ingrid (Andrea) Belck-Olsen, Taylor Karas, Christina Kim, Katherine Yap, Jennifer Burns, Ezel Arvizu and Estefania Veraza. The meeting this team planned was for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Chicago Chapter. Other members of the class were observers to the meeting as well as students from the Special Events and Event Marketing course (HOS 482).
The Summit Meeting takes place usually one or two days before the major arrival of meeting attendees with the purpose of reviewing all of the details of the meeting one last time before it begins to unfold. John Wells, general manager of the Hilton Chicago, welcomed the group. Approximately 15 department heads from the hotel gathered to ask questions and clarify information presented in the Event Specifications Guide and Banquet Event Orders (BEOs) that were completed by the student team. Some of the hotel departments represented were reservations, accounting, event management, security, catering, banquet and events and sales. It was apparent the hotel staff took this simulated learning experience seriously as they had read the materials that the student team submitted the week prior and were prepared with good questions to ask them.
This “real world” learning experience gave students the unique opportunity to interact with industry professionals who are, on a daily basis, involved in executing meetings and conventions. All in all, it was an extremely positive learning experience and brought closure to a quarter of immense work and attention to detail – all of which goes into making a meeting “flawless.”