As part of an “Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism Management” course, students visited Mohegan Sun, gaining firsthand insight into the industry through tours, networking, and a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to executives.
December 9, 2021
Jenelle Johnson ’22 recently visited Mohegan Sun for the first time as part of her “Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism Management” class. Her trip included behind-the-scenes tours of the casino, as well as a pitch competition with casino executives.
Johnson and her classmates were tasked with developing a business pitch, which included a PowerPoint slide deck and a professional presentation, that endeavored to help “Company X” – Mohegan Sun – bring in guests in the 21-26 age demographic. They then pitched their ideas to Mohegan Sun executives.
As part of their project, Johnson and her teammates created an extension of “Company X” that featured a variety of experiences that would appeal to the demographic, including a “silent headphone party” that would allow guests to dance and listen to music on wireless headphones, rather than “traditional” speakers.
“This assignment taught me so much more than I had anticipated,” said Johnson, a communication major. “This was my first time presenting a business pitch to professionals, and I was able to gain some insight into their thought process when planning and creating events, as well as how to maintain a business’s profitability. This assignment also reinforced the importance of collaboration and teamwork.”
‘I could not be more proud of how they represented our University’
The course included students of diverse majors, including Gina Giannotta ’22, an interior design major. It was her first time creating a business pitch, and she says it was a great “real-life lesson.” She was able to apply what she has learned in her coursework as an interior design major while developing her pitch.
“This project showed me a new way to look into large-scale projects,” she said. “A facility that includes entertainment, dining, shopping, and much more has a diverse range of wants and needs. When it comes to design, incorporating these into a project with cohesiveness is a challenge, but the team at Mohegan Sun gave us helpful tips and advice that prepared us for future similar projects.
“Overall, the experience of attending this trip to Mohegan Sun was one that further moved me in the right direction in my career,” she continued. “Presenting to executives was a new experience for me, and it gave me the confidence to articulate my ideas to a group of people. This trip made me even more excited for my future in the hospitality design field.”
As part of the assignment, students were encouraged to consider factors such as how different departments at “Company X” work together, its staffing needs, and other environmental factors.
Jan Jones, Ph.D., coordinator for the University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program and the students’ instructor, says it was the first field trip they have taken since the pandemic started, and she’s grateful they had such a meaningful hands-on learning experience.
“It was amazing to finally be able to take students into the field again,” she said. “The Mohegan Sun team went above and beyond to provide our students with an incredibly interactive, educational, and practical experience. Our students worked very hard on their pitch presentations, and all the teams received high praise for their ideas. I could not be more proud of how they represented our University.”
‘It was a great learning experience’
The University was also the first school Mohegan Sun has hosted since the start of the pandemic. The staff praised the students’ work, and they say they enjoyed hosting them.
“It is with great pleasure that we can label this event as a huge success,” said the Mohegan Sun HR Training Team. “The Pompea College of Business students excelled as they were faced with a real-world industry challenge. Their work displayed relevancy, dedication, and a genuine interest in the industry. Events such as these are important to us as an organization as they create an opportunity for our executive leadership team to provide insight and build relationships within our community to assist the learning process of these future leaders.”
The experience also enabled students, such as Johnson, the communication major, to explore the industry, network with executives, and gain experience pitching their ideas. She says it was an “amazing experience".
“I really enjoyed being able to get a sense of the staff’s day to experience,” she continued. “It was great to see how much hard work and planning goes into it. Taking part in the competition was really fun. I enjoy public speaking, so I really felt in my element. It was a great learning experience, and I learned a lot from being able to talk with and receive valuable feedback and advice from the executives.”