Students Gear Up for Recession Focused Conference

Mar 01, 2010

With only one month remaining until the 85th anniversary of Hotel Ezra Cornell, the students at the School of Hotel Administration are busily preparing for their unique conference, which will be held April 8-11 in Ithaca, NY. Each year, Cornell Hotelies prepare menus, coordinate speaker programs, and work with the Statler Hotel to ensure a unique guest experience. From menu creation to housekeeping, budget to program, the entire guest experience is crafted by the future leaders of the hospitality industry.

Embracing this year’s theme, “Managing Through and Thinking Forward: Opportunities for Innovation in the Down Economy,” the students are operating on a tighter budget to deliver a program that will combine academic learning with real industry practice.

"This year, we decided to focus on the issues that are really affecting us. With many of us graduating in May, the students want to know how companies are dealing with the tough issues and using this time to innovate and come out ahead," says Managing Director Cathy Popp '10.

During HEC 85, panelists and speakers will address the following topics:

  • Where's the Bottom? Charting a Recovery. Where have we been, and where are we going? Listen as renowned economist Doug Holtz-Eakin and Mark Lomanno, president of Smith Travel Research, discuss the current economic situation and its effect on the hospitality industry. Dr. Bill Carroll of SHA will moderate.


  • Standing Out in a Down Economy. How can food service companies continue to differentiate themselves in the current economy? Discover how Drew Madsen, president and COO of Darden Restaurants, is strategically positioning his company’s vision and goals in the current market.


  • What Customers Want. SHA’s Dean Michael Johnson will speak about how to best manage changing consumer needs, how to learn from past trends in consumer behavior, and how to provide a service they really want looking forward.


  • The Price is Right. How are heads getting into beds? Learn from Chuck Floyd, COO of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, about how hotels have turned lemons into lemonade, saved money, yielded a profit, and even grown their portfolios in tough times when the economy has severely impacted rack rates and discounting strategies.
  • Investing in a Tight Market. Join Wall Street executives, hotel brand managers, hotel owners, and investment advisers—including Art Adler, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle Americas; Roger Hill '87, CEO of The Gettys Group; and Simon Turner '83, president of global development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts—as they discuss current and future hotel investment activity as we emerge from the economic crisis.

Beyond the exciting speaker program, guests will enjoy a Deductive Wine Tasting with connoisseur Greg Harrington '92, an E. Guittard Chocolate Demonstration, a Tea Tasting by John '56 and Michael '77 Harney, an HEC Open House Tour, a Student Concept Tradeshow, and many culinary delights prepared and organized by the students.

About HEC
Hotel Ezra Cornell is an annual, weekend-long educational conference hosted by the students of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration for leaders of the hospitality industry. Comprised of educational seminars, leisure activities, and food and beverage events, the weekend strikes a thoughtful balance between education and entertainment. The purpose of the weekend is for students to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom and to showcase their talents to industry professionals.