Students Pitch Business Proposal Ideas in Hospitality Technology Class

MGM Resorts International IT executive director Rick Heil gives feedback to students during a hospitality technology course.
MGM Resorts International IT executive director Rick Heil speaks with students after class regarding a technology presentation project.
Feb. 17, 2017
By Caitlyn Lopez
 
Unlike school, the real world has no answer key.
 
So, Dr. Jungsun (Sunny) Kim encourages students to hone their creative problem-solving skills while taking her Industry Computer Applications for Hospitality and Tourism course.
 
Each semester, Kim’s students are tasked with researching a technology idea and implementing it into a business proposal to pitch to a real industry decision-maker working for a local hospitality property.
 
“Companies are always looking for ways to use technology to streamline or improve the customer experience and reduce costs at their properties,” Kim said. “Having students come up with creative ideas in the classroom for real hospitality companies will help them be a step ahead when they enter the job market.”
 
Feedback from industry experts has a significant impact for students, said Dr. Kim, who welcomed MGM Resorts International IT executive director Rick Heil to a recent presentation.
 
“(This project) is important because it gets the students used to justifying their ideas to a business person,” Heil said. “You can have a really great idea, but no one will purchase or use the product if it doesn’t make financial sense.”
 
The students presented Heil with two product ideas: a sophisticated, customer-service robot that cuts down wait time (pitched by Junghoon Lee and Riley Clark) and a sleek and wearable Smart Band that provides hotel access and cashless-payment options (pitched by Xiaoran Liu, Yumeng Hou, and Ziqiu Zhu).
 
While impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and composure, Heil stressed the importance of being thorough and dissecting the problem before selecting a technological solution.
 
"So many people present an idea in as the answer, and then they go back and look for the problem." It doesn’t work like that,” Heil said. “You can only address the problem if you really and truly understand the problem.”
 
Engaging with industry professionals, like Heil, is not only important for students of Kim’s class, but also for the hotel college as it continues to integrate practical, industry-relevant instruction into the curriculum.