High school hospitality students from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., took home the international title for the second year in a row at the 11th annual American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) HTMP International Competition held April 9-11 in Orlando. Teams competed for scholarship money and a trip to the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City this November.
“The best news of all, based upon the performance of this team, and others like them, is that the challenges of hospitality tomorrow will be ably met by the students of today,” said Carl Schmidt, the instructor who teaches the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP) at Monta Vista High School.
The event at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort challenged student teams to display their hospitality knowledge and skills through a variety of competitive events including a night audit, room inspection, banquet planning, case studies, and knowledge bowl quiz. Twelve teams participated in this year’s competition, representing schools in the Bahamas (Grand Bahama Island and New Providence), California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Wyoming. Teams could earn a spot in the competition by winning their state-level hospitality competition or by being selected by their partner state association (PSA). In states where there is no PSA or no state competitions, schools could apply directly with EI to attend the event.
Winning teams were awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships provided by leading hospitality management schools, including Johnson & Wales, San Diego State University, Sullivan University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Florida International University, as well as AH&LEF. Each member of the winning team was awarded $43,500 in scholarships to further their post-secondary hospitality education, with the second- and third-place teams also taking home substantial scholarship awards. Other teams were awarded scholarships for winning individual events in the competition.
“My experience as a judge was nothing short of extraordinary. The future of the hospitality industry is secure. These students are all winners. They are a testimony to the effectiveness of the EI system and materials as well as the teachers and administrators who have elected to utilize them in enriching their school curriculum,” said Ernest P. Boger, DMgt., CHA, CHE, chairman of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which awarded a $15,000 scholarship to each member of the first-place team. “All of the teams exhibited focus, intensity, and hospitality professionalism beyond their years. These are truly the future leaders of our industry. I’m proud to have played a small role in paving their pathway to success.”
Event sponsors included AH&LEF, HCareers, Heartland Payment Systems, Best Western International, Lodging magazine, and the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association. Some of the competition’s judges were representatives of these sponsoring organizations and had many positive things to say about the students and their performance.
Kevin McSweeny, sales manager, hotel division, HCareers, stated, “I was impressed with the work ethic and professionalism of all the participants. Their positive and friendly attitude toward all will serve them well as they enter our industry—well done, teachers and parents.”
Michael E. Nalley, MAOM, CHA, CHE, CHT, senior manager, education and training for Best Western International, said that as a judge, he was able to get an up-close look at the future of the hospitality industry. “My experience in being a judge was very rewarding, in that I was able to see the industry from the perspective of students who are just becoming aware of it and excited about the opportunities available to them as a career. The students have a great attitude, are eager to learn and have passion for the industry,” Nalley said. “I think these future hospitality professionals are as dynamic as the industry and have the capability to take it to greater heights and levels of professionalism.”