For the second year in a row, a team of students from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University earned top honors in a competition at the North America Hotel Investment Conference (NATHIC) in Chicago, November 19-21.
The School serves as the academic partner to NATHIC, a conference designed for senior-level hospitality investment professionals and presented by Hotel Management and the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF). NATHIC each year delves into the issues most relevant to hospitality investors, operators, developers, management companies, lenders, hotel owners, hotel buyers, and lawyers, among other industry players.
The competition, based in part on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” is called “The Firing Squad: Where great ideas are executed.” Teams from New York University, DePaul University, and MSU stepped in front of aFiring Squadof industry veterans to present a ten-minute presentation (three-minute video, six-minute power point, one-minute closing) proposing a new brand concept.
Each team adhered to strict guidelines that included a food and beverage concept, initial development plan/site, new build and/or conversion ideas, marketing concepts, and more. Following each presentation, the teams were on the clock to answer rapid fire questions from the panel.
Working together since early September, team members Megan Maas (BA ’15), president of The School’s Real Estate Investment Club, Chase Reinis (BA ’14), Jake Beachum (BA ’16), Megan Stephanic (BA ’15), andJoaquin de la Cerda Harlow (BA ’15), wowed the audience with the concept “NOMAD,” which proposed to redefine economy lodging for millennials.
Megan explains that NOMAD is a modern economy hotel with small, functionally designed guestrooms and more common space so that people can be “alone together.” It also features “Unwind,” an automated wine bar; “Revive,” a self-check-out mini market; mobile check-in; and modular construction. She says, “Our target guests are tech savvy, they desire authenticity, and they are looking for a hotel that provides both a modern image, as well as value. The name NOMAD’ refers to a modern nomad: a person who is constantly on the go, traveling from place to place, and connected to their network by technology.”
Three industry mentors who helped bring NOMAD to the finish line included School alumni Jim Anhut (MBA ’85), senior vice president of Design and Quality for InterContinental Hotels Group; Richard Farrar (BA ’73), president, The Farrar Consulting Group; and Michael Kitchen (BA ’09), vice president of Acquisition and Development for Aparium Hotel Group. They agreed that the students took a bold step in creating NOMAD, a semi-prefab modular lodging product competing in the economy sector with a trendy twist geared for 25-45 year olds. Richard says, “They nailed every part of the presentation from concept to Q & A, with a truly outstanding video promoting their new NOMAD brand. It came to life for the five Firing Squad judges and the entire audience of 250 people. Spartans Will’¦and Spartans Did!”
Indeed, several conference attendees were so impressed they gave team members on-the-spot job offers, and there was genuine interest from investors, with additional opportunities for the winning team to make their presentation at industry conferences in the future.
And that’s not all. Hotel industry legend and MSU Alumnus Jack DeBoer (MSU BA ’52), who delivered the NATHIC keynote address, was so proud of the students, he flew them home in his private jet with an offer to mentor the students so they could “bring NOMAD home!” In every way, the students were soaring.
In addition to Dr. Singh, the team had guidance from Acting Director and Professor Dr. Bonnie Knutson and from Dr. Ray Schmidgall. Dr. Jeff Beck, Dr. Lu Zhang, and Dr. Jeff Elsworth gave valuable feedback before the presentation.
Energized by the students’ success, Dr. Knutson said, “General Douglas MacArthur said, A true leader’¦becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.’ This quote applies perfectly to our team because the actions of all five of our students contributed equally each in his or her own way to the success of their NOMAD concept. And at the same time, their integrity shone brightly through their passion, their hard work, and their professionalism. They represented themselves, our School, and our University with honor. They are truly tomorrow’s leaders.”
Pictured from left to right: A.J. Singh, Chase Reinis, Joaquin de la Cerda Harlow, Jack DeBoer, Jake Beachum, Megan Stephanic, Megan Maas, and Richard Farrar.
WE ARE THE SCHOOLâ„¢
“WE” represents the tens of thousands of relationships among students, faculty, alumni, and industry partners. “THE” reflects our 87-year foundation of preparing the hospitality industry’s managers and operators. Today The School also emphasizes real estate and thinking like the owner throughout the curriculum, for all our students.
About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
Michigan State University: Creating Knowledge and Transforming Lives
Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school, The School has a unique, industry-specific position within Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business. Celebrating its 88th anniversary year in 2014, The School has almost 10,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Founded in 1927, The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers. The mission of The School is:
-to INSPIRE continuous learning by empowering present and future managers to ACQUIRE knowledge, skills, and global Hospitality Business leadership positions
-to CREATE knowledge by engaging in collaborative theoretical and applied research for the benefit of undergraduate and graduate students, Hospitality Businesses, and the community of hospitality management scholars
-to ENGAGE our Hospitality Business partners through outreach and service, and to ENHANCE global Hospitality Business economic, community, and academic development and
-to CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE The School’s global leadership position in Hospitality Business operations, management, real estate development, and ownership.