Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Class of 2018 Downtown Raleigh Field Trip Re-Cap (September 18)

Hanging out on the lawn at Red Hat Amphitheater
The freshmen students in Broughton's Academy of Hospitality, Tourism, & Sports Marketing were lucky to spend a day in downtown Raleigh last week, where they met with some outstanding industry leaders, toured a variety of venues, and enjoyed lunch on Fayetteville Street. Once again, Raleigh Convention Center associate director Doug Grissom hosted our trip downtown and helped put together a fantastic experience for our class of 2018 cohort.

Doug Grissom explains the history of Memorial Auditorium
After arriving on the R-Line, we first had a discussion with Tori Collins, associate director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, who shared examples of how the GRSA encourages tourism by working with other local organizations to host professional, NCAA, youth, and recreational sports events in the Triangle area. She explained some of the advantages that Raleigh has over other host cities and how hosting these events benefits both the area's quality-of-life and economy. Ms. Collins also answered some questions about the likelihood of an NCAA Final Four or MLB team coming to the Triangle.

Taking a peek at the Convention Center's commercial kitchen

Going down via one of the Convention Center's huge "hidden" elevators

We were then able to tour parts of the various venues housed in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and hear about the operations involved in each, as well as a bit about the renovations currently being done in Memorial Auditorium prior to next week's IBMA awards show. Mr. Grissom also gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the convention center floor and ballroom, the huge commercial kitchen (where the catering staff prepares as many as several thousand meals at a time), the underground parking and loading area, and other hidden spots. We finished up at Red Hat Amphitheater, where the event crew was setting up for Lorde's concert later that evening.

Jalen and Kobe at Zinda
Sydnie, Sasha, and Erin at Zinda
Students at Zinda listening to G Patel's advice
We then met up with Gaurav "G" Patel, the owner and president of Eschelon Experiences. After a discussion at Zinda where Mr. Patel shared his background and talked about the concepts behind each of Eschelon's restaurants, students were able to do a walk through of the impressive New Asian space. Finally, we sat down for a lunchtime Q&A session with Mr. Patel at The Oxford. Students were hungry for lunch, but also had a number of terrific questions for Mr. Patel, who gave out his contact information and invited them to always ask more questions.

G Patel speaking with students about the hospitality industry

G Patel answering one of the many questions students had about his career
Time to eat!
Ryan enjoying downtown