This year marked the second annual student program at the VA-1 Tourism Summit, specifically created to give hospitality and tourism students in Virginia a chance to network and learn from leaders in the industry. The conference was held at the Hotel Roanoke on November 14-15th. Eric Terry, President of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association (VRLTA) and Virginia Tech Alumni championed the student participation of the event, including a reduced rate for student registration. Students from Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and George Mason University attended. The student sessions were organized by Dr. Nancy McGehee, Department Head at Virginia Tech; Dr. Gilpatrick Hornsby, James Madison University, and Dr. Sue Slocum, George Mason University.
Students were given an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the historic Hotel Roanoke the first night, followed by networking with fellow hospitality and tourism students from other schools. The next day began with the student sessions.
The first session was a panel entitled “Breaking into the DMO and Association Field.” The panelists included industry leaders and students who have worked in destination marketing. This session focused on the ins and outs of the unique industry and how to get an internship or job at a DMO or CVB. Panelists were: Barry Bigger, President and CEO of Visit Fairfax; Diana Burke, Executive Director of Virginia Beach Hospitality Association; Ann Marie Maher, President and CEO Discover Prince William and Manassas; Jenna Wines, HTM student, Virginia Tech; Charlie Tuohy, HTM student, Virginia Tech.
The next session’s panel focused on the management of attractions within Roanoke. The focus was on the importance of doing something you’re passionate about and learning to take a leap of faith to get where you need to be. Panelists were: Larry Landolt, Roanoke Food Tours; JD Sutphin, Big Lick Entertainment; Mickey Gray, Roanoke Railyard Dawgs.
Students spent the rest of the day attending the general sessions, a luncheon, and meeting industry professionals working in Virginia tourism. We look forward to attending the conference in 2017 in Norfolk!
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