[BU Today] SHA Students Help Real-World Clients with Hospitality Marketing

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The SHA student team gets a tour of the kitchens at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center: Tim Elderkin (from left), executive sous chef, Milt Herbert, executive director of the Boston Convention Marketing Center, Julie MacKay (SHA’18), Wei-Chi Victor Su (SHA’18), Sabrina Avila (SHA’18), and Yun-Ting Emily Lai (SHA’18). Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

“Hand your business marketing over to a bunch of college students? That’d be crazy, right? Maybe not.

Since 2015, hospitality businesses large and small have been turning to students in Leora Lanz’s classes at the School of Hospitality Administration for help with their marketing challenges. They have not quite handed over the reins, but they have been asking the students in the Hospitality Strategic Marketing class to suggest new messaging, advertising, outreach, and online approaches.

Why? “Fresh ideas,” says Lanz (COM’87), an SHA lecturer. Smart businesses value new perspectives from young, digital-generation minds.

Back in January, a team of executives from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), including Caryn Izhar (Questrom’03), vice president of convention center marketing, came to Lanz’s class to outline what they wanted to communicate, especially to meeting planners: the restaurant-quality food on offer to convention-goers at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) amid a hot foodie scene in Boston, and especially in the Seaport District. With hotels offering fewer dining options, says MCCA executive director David Gibbons, the best meal you get might just be at the convention center.

“Starting the project was daunting because our scope seemed so broad,” says team member Julie MacKay (Questrom’18, SHA’18). The five-student team started with on-site research, touring the two-million-square-foot venue with Milt Herbert, executive director of the MCCA’s Boston Convention Marketing Center, and following the center’s executive sous chef, Tim Elderkin of Levy Restaurants, on a tour of the small culinary city.

Then they were off on their own research and development, looking at competitor sites, analyzing data, and synthesizing recommendations.”

Read the full story on BU Today.