The second activity with the Student Tourism Exploration Program (S.T.E.P.), assigned the students the role of a meeting planner. As representatives for an imaginary meeting for the Zoological Association of America, the students were charged with deciding which hotel would best suit their meeting to be held in Mesa later in the year. The “meeting planners” were to consider budget and attendee satisfaction as major factors as they made their decision.
Three Mesa area hotels were involved in the process, graciously hosting and touring the students through their properties. The sales staff from each hotel showed the students the meeting spaces, guest room accommodations, and amenities. Throughout the tour, students asked questions and engaged dialogue with the sales staff. The sales managers gave the students total pricing, which included food and beverage, guest rooms and audio/visual fees.
After all the tours were completed, the students worked in groups to reflect upon their experience and decide which hotel would win their business. They presented to the rest of the group, which included participating foundation representatives, the hotel they selected and the reasons why that decision was made.
One valuable lesson that the students learned was the importance of building relationships. As the hotels all came in around the same cost and were able to accommodate their meeting, the selection of their hotel came down to how they were treated by the sales team. The students realized how important it is to make a great impression, be prepared, and go the “extra mile.”
The Mesa Regional Foundation for Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion will continue to expand upon S.T.E.P. this coming fall, adding two more high schools. The goal is to demonstrate to students the many rewarding careers in tourism and hospitality, and ultimately build the pipeline of talent for these industries in Mesa.