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Hospitality Business Students Compete for Award in Hotel Operational Innovation and Excellence

Students in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University participated in a case study competition held on campus on Friday, December 7, 2019. The goal of the competition was to evaluate three properties in the Davidson Hotels & Resorts portfolio and determine which could generate the most revenue by developing underutilized space.

Ted Arps, senior vice president of investment management, and Shah Rushabh, investment management with Davidson Hotels & Resorts, visited campus and administered the competition; overseeing the student teams and final presentations. The following three case studies were provided:

  • Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge (Emeryville): Convert meeting space into rooms or a food and beverage outlet.
  • Chicago Marriott Suites O’Hare: Convert a swimming pool into meeting space or a food and beverage outlet.
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey: Convert a spa (area) into rooms, meeting space, or a food and beverage outlet.

Given the three scenarios and financial data for each property, teams conducted the research necessary to determine which property would generate the most revenue. Four teams represented MSU and the top two teams were awarded The Pat Lupsha Award for Hotel Operational Innovation and Excellence.

MSU alumnus John Belden (BA ’85), president and CEO of Davidson Hotels & Resorts, created the competition in honor of retiring Davidson executive vice president and chief operating officer, Patrick Lupsha, who had an exemplary career in hospitality that spanned 50 years.

Patrick worked alongside notable entrepreneurs and companies, including Roy Winegardner, Howard Johnson’s, Marriott International, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Davidson Hotels & Resorts. He held operational leadership roles in each organization and helped create significant enterprise value within. Patrick is remembered for his desire to foster and further the aspirations of young professionals.

First place award of $3,000 went to hospitality business juniors, Brandon Abbo (BA ’20) and Kennedy White (BA ’20). They evaluated the Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge property and chose to convert the underutilized space entirely into rooms.

“The case study was interesting and fun in that we were able to choose the property. Most case studies do not allow you to choose from multiple properties,” Brandon mentioned. “It was rewarding doing the research and prepare the final presentation to Davidson Hotels & Resorts.”

“I thought the competition was overall a very valuable experience,” Kennedy added. “I was able to work on a real project, and present my findings and ideas to industry professionals. I enjoyed the experience and learned so much.”

Hospitality business senior Kirby Homer (BA ’19) and finance student Ankur Patel (BA ’20) represented the second place team, who also evaluated the Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge property. They chose to convert a top floor meeting space that overlooked the bay and mountains into suites with the same sweeping views.

“Thank you to the Davidson team for creating this competition for MSU students,” Kirby said. “Being able to put to use what we learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-life scenario was very rewarding. I hope to see this competition grow and have more students participate in the hands-on competition.”

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