Highlights from the NENA Conference
The NENA Federation was hosted by Boston University for our 2016 regional conference over the first weekend of April. The inclement weather could not put a damper on what was a very successful event. Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, along with her conference planning committee, did an exceptional job. Please read the following recap, provided by Suzanne, of the weekend’s activities.
Last month, the NENA Federation held its 4th Annual Regional Conference at Boston University, with the purpose to “Educate, Engage, and Empower.” The weekend long event kicked off with a mini-tour, lunch and a presentation at the TripAdvisor World Headquarters in Needham, MA. Attendees were able to try the various food island stations that is a part of TripAdvisor’s daily life. Our partner, Brian Payea, Head of Industry Relations put on an excellent program. Then the group went into downtown Boston, to the historic Omni Parker House Hotel, where the General Manager, John Murtha, gave the group a tour of the hotel. The group was able to see the Presidential Suite, along with the “Press Room,” where John F. Kennedy announced his run for President, and the restaurant, where JFK is reported to have proposed to Jacqueline. This hotel is considered to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States, since 1855. This is the home to the delicious Boston Crème Pie, which is now the official state dessert of Massachusetts, the well-known Parker House Roll, and the inventor of the coined phrase, ‘Schrod’ for a style of fish. The tour concluded with a visit to the Museum Gallery with historical artifacts and a book, “Heaven, By Hotel Standards: The History of the Omni Parker House,” by Susan Wilson.
As the afternoon continued approximately 20 attendees joined the AHLEI in a focus group to address learning resources for faculty and students. The night kicked off with a welcome reception at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge sponsored by Johnson & Wales University, James Madison University, University of Delaware, and the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. Welcome addresses were delivered by local host and Dean, Arun Upneja, ICHRIE CEO Kathy McCarty, and NENA Federation President, Annette Graham, Associate Dean of Business Management at The Culinary Institute of America.
On Saturday, April 2nd, the group of approximately 53 attendees, gathered at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration. After a quick breakfast, sponsored by Aramark, and tour of the building, the day started off with welcome address by the conference chair, Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, from Boston University, along with Dr. Peter Szende, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Boston University, and NENA federation Vice-President and event co-chair, David Schweiger, Director at Northampton Community College.
The first session of the day was a panel discussion, “Recruiting Hospitality Students” which was moderated by Sheryl Kline, Chair at the University of Delaware. Panelists included Heather McCall of Greater Lawrence Technical School, also representing SkillsUSA; Donna McFadden of Bunker Hill Community College, also representing DECA; Stacy Sawyer of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, also representing the NRA’s ProStart program; Al Seitz of Johnson and Wales University’s Admission team; and Justin Cipriano, of Boston University and a SkillsUSA finalist. The panel discussed the various high school based programs and how faculty, chairs, and deans could become involved in the various programs and competitions in order to serve as a channel to funnel students into our hospitality programs.
The first workshop of the day, “Insomnia or Insight: Teaching Students to Read and Enjoy Scholarships” was led by the very distinguished, Fred Mayo, of New York University. Fred offered an array of tips and tools for helping undergraduate and graduate students read and process scholarly journal articles.
The poster session included fourteen reviewed posters on display in the four topic areas of Education, Training and Development; Hotels, IT, and Marketing; Restaurant, and Food & Beverage; and Tourism, Sustainability, and Green Technologies. This year marked significant enhancements lead by Director of Research, AJ Aluri, West Virginia University, whereby a record 20 posters were submitted for review. Each poster included a double blind review process. The elevation of process and quality for this year’s research session was quite impressive.
The University of New Hampshire sponsored the award winning gift cards to the various winners. The best paper award went to, Makarand Mody and Courtney Suess-Raeisinafchi, “Determining Inpatient Preferences for Hotel-Like Hospitality Room Attributes: A Conjoint Choice Modeling Approach.” The second best research abstract was awarded to Sungwoo Choi, YooHee Hwang, Donna Quadri-Felitti, and Margaret Ady for “Cross-cultural differences of hotel ratings: Online reviews via sentiment analysis.” These two wining abstracts have the opportunity to submit their work to the Boston Hospitality Review and the ICHRIE Penn State Research Report for a fast-track review of their work and possible submission in the respective publications.
The best presenter award went to Yvette NJ Green, Kim Williams and David Njite for “Examining the Influence of Students’ Major on the Perceived Influence of Service Learning.” The best power award went to Kirsten Tripodi and Miguel Bendrao for “On-Campus Hotels used in the Curriculum in the U.S.: Full Inventory.” This year the NENA federation became the test pilot process of video recording the poster presentations. After the recordings are edited, they will be made available on the Boston University and ICHRIE’s websites, and a Best Video Presentation award will be gifted.
The second industry panel, “Digital Marketing: What Hospitality Needs to Know!” was moderated by Boston University faculty, Leora Halpern Lanz and Makarand Mody. Panelists for this dynamic and energy charged session included, Seth Cargioulo, Director of Communication Strategy for d50 Media; Scott Savitt, Senior Partner and Director of Digital for Connelly Partners; Shawn Weger, Senior Manager of Franchise Field Marketing with Starwood; and Wendy Zapach, Director of Sales for TravelClick Boston. This session dove head first into the trends of digital as it relates to marketing and what our students need to know to be successful in the industry and suggestions on how we, as faculty, can begin to prepare them correctly.
The final industry session, “The Hotel Franchise Model: Is it Working?” was moderated by Suzanne Markham-Bagnera. This power house of a session included panelists, John Hamilton, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Pyramid Hotel Group; David Shamoian, Partner of Distinctive Hospitality Groups and Past Chair of IHG Owners Association; and Wayne West, Chief Operating Officer of Newport Hospitality Group. With topics ranging from mergers and acquisitions of brands, successes of soft brands, challenges posed by AirBNB and OTAs, and brand value for the franchisees, the discussion was informative and engaging for the hospitality faculty in attendance.
After a Lasell College sponsored refreshment break, the day wrapped up with a workshop, “Integrating emerging technologies and media in a strategic manner to enhance student-centered learning” by our federation’s own, AJ Aluri, West Virginia University; Donna Albano, Stockton University; Jeff Lolli, Widener University; and Amit Mehrotra, skyped in from New York City College of Technology.
Sunday was the final day of the conference weekend, breakfast was sponsored by Penn State University and Southern New Hampshire University, and the AHLEI hosted a small focus group. A new series for the conference started this year, the Legacy Lecture Series; it was kicked off by Nick Hadgis, former Dean of Widener University. Fred Mayo had the pleasure of interviewing Nick. The morning concluded with a federation meeting and boxed lunches to go, sponsored by Endicott College. The committee was able to obtain over $8,000 in sponsorship funds to help off-set the costs of the individual registration fees. The conference committee, led by Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, David Schweiger, AJ Aluri, Theresa Lind and Jennifer Forney, did a fabulous job at coordinating all of the details to this year’s event.
We hope this recap will encourage you to attend NENA’s 5th Annual Regional Conference in Philadelphia, hosted by Temple University, on March 31st to April 2nd, 2017.