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RIT Hosts First Hospitality Innovation Conference

Dec 4, 2023

Bob Provost (left) with Hospitality Innovation Conference host Dr. Edwin Torres (RIT) (right) with Tomkins Cortland Community College (TC3) students Krissie cross and Caleb Neuner andTC3 Professor Susan Stafford (center).

Saunders College of Business' Department of Hospitality and Tourism Innovation at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) hosted its first Hospitality Innovation Conference on Friday, December 1, organized by Dr. Edwin Torres, Chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Innovation at RIT. The conference brought together students and faculty from various colleges across the state to discuss current trends, technologies, and new insights in the fields of hospitality and tourism.

Bob Provost, President of NYSTIA, was the keynote speaker on Friday morning. Throughout his presentation, he highlighted the role of leadership in fostering a culture of innovation and successfully implementing key initiatives. Drawing upon key historical figures as well as recent trends in the industry, Bob introduced students to the changing nature of the industry and the new horizons it will explore in the coming years. Anastasia Callahan, Vice President for Franchise Account Management for Marriott International (and a Saunders/RIT alum), also was featured on Friday morning and discussed career paths in hospitality and the specifics of the franchise sector. Additional speakers and a student panel were also featured in the afternoon.

"RIT is partnering with NYSTIA in multiple capacities," states Dr. Edwin Torres, Chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Innovation at RIT. "Our students and faculty have participated in programming at their events, and we have partnered with NYSTIA to increase awareness and appreciation about hospitality as a career track among high school guidance counselors. Last month we attended the NYSSCA conference in Albany with NYSTIA, and were able to speak with many counselors and spread awareness of the various career tracks within tourism, hospitality, events, and related fields." 

Professor Susan Stafford, Professor, Chair and Coordinator for Business, Hospitality and Wine Programming at Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) wrote "Our students from TC3's Farm to Bistro hospitality programs were excited to attend and learn from tourism industry leaders. It was the first conference for Krissie Cross, a first year culinary arts major (who reports she was “very inspired by attending the conference”), and Caleb Neuner, a Wine Marketing major at TC3. It was tremendous for our faculty and students to network and learn about the significance of tourism on our economy and careers. It was so nice to connect with everyone! Bob Provost's inspirational presentation regarding the vision for tourism stewardship made me proud to be a part of the tourism industry."

"We look forward to continuing our joint efforts with NYSTIA to expose our current students to the most recent developments in tourism marketing and management as well as to inspire the next generation of students by raising awareness of the profession." concluded Dr. Torres.