The Hospitality Management Association (HMA) has a tradition of taking educational and networking trips twice a year. These trips have been to places like Chicago, New York, and Nashville. However, this year the students decided to plan an exciting new opportunity by taking a cruise.
“When I was trying to decide on places to go for the Spring Semester trip I wanted to think outside of the box and try to give our members some type of new experience we have never been exposed to. While most of our trips consist of visiting these amazing hotels, convention centers, restaurants, or entertainment venues I felt there was still more that we haven’t seen. After thinking about it, I decided a cruise would be a great idea since some of our members are interested in working in this industry,” said Emily Maier, HMA’s Director of Tourism who planned the trip.
Virginia Tech’s HTM Department has strong connections with the cruising industry, including advisory board member and VT alum John Padgett, Carnival Cruises SVP of Global Experience and Innovation and HTM alumni Miles Clark who works in Cruise Innovation.
“I found that Carnival has a port out of Charleston and offers a 4 day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. [There] was actually a lot of planning involved because there was a lot more information needed from members that we don’t usually require for our trips,” Maier commented. Mr. Padgett was very helpful in connecting Maier with the right people, easing the process.
During the cruise, the members were given an extensive behind the scenes tour of the ship, followed by a Q&A session with each department director, including entertainment, food and beverage, and guest services.
“We learned about the daily life of employees. They are a literal city on water with security, doctors, jail, and morgue” said Courtney Davis, HMA President.
Over the course of four days, the members experienced almost every aspect of how the ship is run and the unique challenges and opportunities of cruising.
“Overall, I thought it was a great way to branch out from the traditional trips that we take, and I really think it helped open our eyes to a different niche within the industry” said Maier.