School of Business hospitality and tourism management majors are turning Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course into a classroom during the 2012 PGA Championship. Nearly 30 students in associate professor Wayne Smith’s Managing Corporate Events course are working hand-in-hand with corporate event planners to supervise dozens of hospitality suites.
“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students,” Smith says. “There are very few universities who can provide students with access to major events such as the PGA Championship. We’ve been building this relationship for more than five years (since the Senior PGA Championship in 2007) and these students are poised to reap the benefits through experience and relationships.”
Smith, who is serving as the co-chairperson of the tournament’s hospitality committee, and the students will be on-site from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the 10 days surrounding the tournament (August 2 through 12). During that time, they will be working with corporate event planners for companies like Mercedes-Benz, RBC, Proctor & Gamble and Pepsi. They will be serving the clients in a concierge-like position, which may include checking in guests, driving clients around the course, and delivering special request items.
Each day while students are at the Ocean Course (about 45 minutes from campus), they have about 30 minutes of classroom discussion and guest speakers. Guest speakers have included the executive director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the director of the 2012 PGA Championship.
This intense class/internship is providing students with valuable skills in relationship marketing, service quality, high-end corporate event planning, and sports and sponsorship marketing.
“The majority of these students are hospitality and tourism management majors who would like a career in corporate events, catering or sales management,” Smith explains. “The contacts they are making and the relationships they are building with both the corporate event planners and the clients could be invaluable in the future.”
Wayne Smith, Ph.D. is a professor in the College of Charleston School of Business. He has published in dozens of professional journals on topics related to events management and consumer psychology of tourism. He teaches courses at the College of Charleston ranging from principles and practices of hospitality and tourism to practicums in event management and planning.