DCTC Hospitality Student & Alumni Reunions

circa 2007? Life has happened to the alumni pictured here. Many reside throughout the U.S. and other countries. (Hello to Fah in Thailand!)

Many of you have asked for a chance to get together and network with other DCTC Hospitality program students and graduates.  I’ve also had many inquiries about cruise meetings – how they work, what the experience is like, etc.  So . . .

We’re celebrating the first decade of our programs twice:

January 7 in the Minneapolis/St Paul Metro area, AND

June 24-27 in Miami, Nassau, Bahamas, and Great Stirrup Cay.

Here’s the scoop . . .

Giggles and Catch-Up Potluck

January 7, 2016, Thursday, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.potluck

At Rosealee’s condo party room, 3600 Wooddale Ave So, St Louis Park, MN

Bring a snack or dessert to share, and your beverage of choice.  Guests are welcome.

RSVP to rosealee.lee@gmail.com with subject “Reunion” – please be sure to indicate # of individuals attending.  (I’d love to get an approximate count of how many will be attending to ensure I make enough of the famous meatballs.)  There is NO CHARGE for this event.

Inaugural DCTC Hospitality Alumni Cruise

Thank you, Sharyn Bennett, owner of Calico Jack’s Travel and program alumni, for organizing this opportunity. Registration will open soon.  Visit the DCTC page at calicojackstravel.com for more information.  Contact Sharyn by phone (651-247-4185) or email (info@calicojackstravel.com).

Board the fabulous Norwegian Sky on June 24, 2016 in Miami, FL for a three-night cruise.


We’ll visit Nassau for an exclusive shore excursion, the Bahamas and your own private island, Great Stirrup Cay.

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We’ll enjoy

Group enjoying drinks at the Bier Garten

  • Training Sessions – discover the ease of planning a cruise event for your clients ☺
  • Networking
  • Ship Tour ☺
  • Meet the Ship’s Officers ☺

☺ Exclusive for DCTC students and alumni

Norwegian Sky departs Miami, Florida           Return to Miami on June 27, 2016.

Cabins are available from $419 to $669, double-occupancy.  What’s included in the price?

  • Round trip cruise from Port of Miami to Nassau, Bahamas
  • Meals in the complimentary dining venues
  • All beverages (INCLUDING alcoholic beverages)
  • Onboard Entertainment
  • Use of the beautiful pools and hot tubs
  • Norwegian’s Youth Program facilities and activities if you’re bringing children
  • Gratuities
  • Taxes and port charges
  • Travel Insurance

* Calico Jack’s Travel representatives are available to assist you with additional arrangements including airfare, pre-cruise or post-cruise hotels and more.

Can we bring non-DCTC alumni family and friends?  Sure, the more the merrier!


At DCTC, the Hospitality Classroom is Everywhere!

Students in Dakota County Technical College’s hospitality programs get to share inspiration from a variety of hospitality professionals.  Insider tips and insights provide great learning for meeting-event, hospitality lodging, and spa-resort management students almost every Saturday as the online course students visit real companies and hear from real professionals.  But wait . . . are they online courses or are they classroom courses?  The answer is YES – they are both.  Local students (including some who drive as far away as from Duluth MN or Madison WI or sometimes fly in from other Midwest locations, can opt to participate in Saturday morning classroom visits.

This spring we have visited venues, suppliers, and planners. Here’s our list to date . . .


At Midway Party Rental, Rhonda DuCharme and Theresa Sullivan shared event and production rental insights.


At Apres Party & Tent Rental, Sheree's design skills shined

At Apres Party & Tent Rental, Sheree’s theatrical and design background are integral to client satisfaction

cara tuenge

Cara Tuenge is Event Coordinator at Care Providers

Heather Proskey is Director of Marketing, Events & Business Partnerships at Care Providers

Heather Proskey is Director of Marketing, Events & Business Partnerships at Care Providers

This Minneapolis Hope Lodge serves as a haven of hope and caring for adult cancer patients and their caregivers.

This Minneapolis Hope Lodge serves as a haven of hope and caring for adult cancer patients and their caregivers.

2015-04-11 10.59.02

Dusty Perryman, Human Resource Director of the Hyatt Regency Mpls and Liz West, Meeting Concierge, shared info for job seekers and meeting professionals.

2015-04-11 10.59.05

From career planning to operations detailing, students gleaned great info at the Hyatt.

Making Learning Real at The Grand Hotel Minneapolis

Students who attended the Saturday (Feb 21, 2015) optional Saturday morning classroom gained insider information from program alumna, Kathryn Billig, Sales Coordinator at The Grand Hotel Minneapolis.  Kathryn began her hospitality career as a Guest Service Agent at The Grand Hotel (a Kimpton property) in 2011. Following her graduation from the DCTC Meeting and Event Management program in 2012, she continued to distinguish herself as a leader that exemplified the “spirit of hospitality” which makes every guest’s visit memorable.  In 2013 she was promoted to her current position as Sales Coordinator of The Grand Hotel.  She lights up when she shares her experiences at the “hidden” gem of downtown Minneapolis that used to be the Minneapolis Athletic Club and her love of the “team” that works to create guest magic at this amazing Kimpton property.  The Kimpton flag is well-known for creating one-of-a-kind properties from historic buildings and The Grand is a great example.

group stiarcase pic 2-21-15 1160Students (pictured here with Kathryn on the grand staircase- l to r Shannon Terry, Kathryn Billig, Jennifer Rials, Kristopher Lohman, and Todd Hurst).

Kathryn is an inspiration to individuals who want to explore the many facets of hospitality that meeting management touches. In the candid style of this program, no topic of discussion was off-limits on Saturday.  We explored the property (front- and back-of-house), career mapping, the many applications of DCTC’s curriculum to the diverse field, industry myths and realities, and so much more.  Contact Kathryn on LinkedIn and look for more information on this blog about opportunities to assist at The Grand Hotel’s 100th birthday later this year.

Students who participated in the class day shared presentations about generational differences and similarities.  We all learned a great deal about each other, peers, co-workers, staff members, and event attendees.  In keeping with the program’s theme of delivering innovative presentations, we shared Kris’ great discussion, Jennifer’s “quiz” and were treated to the “X” and “Y” t-shirt presentation of Shannon and Todd.  They literally wore their presentation (t-shirts shown here). 1160 feb 21 2015 gen x and y shirt duo Everyone proved my theory that learning can be quite real AND fun!

Thanks to the students who participated in this optional SMGT 1160 course day, to Kathyrn Billig for generously sharing her day off of work, and The Grand Hotel for sharing their facilities (and amazing cookies).

Students of SMGT 1162 are looking forward to participating in their next optional Saturday on February 28th at Midway Party Rental.  Visit the following links for more information about DCTC programs in Meeting-Event, Hospitality Lodging, as well as Spa-Resort Management, please contact me on LinkedIn.

This Phi Theta Kappa Inductee List Rocks!

phi theta logoJust received the official Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Inductee list so I’m sharing my yippee skippee dance.  And, of course, a special hug goes to students of the hospitality programs:

Arleen Gallardo

Laura Hunt

Chase Martin

Sarah Masgai

Nicole Weise

Congratulations, everyone! Join us on October 1st (invitation below).

The Members of Beta Theta Tau Request the Honor of your Presence

Excitement is Building for the 2014 Wheelchair Softball World Series

softball2-mainJoin me in the excitement at the 2014 Wheelchair Softball World Series!  August 14, 15, 16.  The series will be held at three Brooklyn Park, MN parks. This year the World Series is hosted by Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.

I’m all in for this one.  Bring you, your family, your business or civic organization members and neighbors.  Let’s get involved by joining the hundreds of volunteers and many more who will be cheering on teams from the U.S., Canada, and Japan.  The sport originated here, and has grown dramatically in its 37 year span.

Grab a volunteer spot on the online sign up!  A special note to my students, alumni, and hospitality peers:  Courage Kenny is hoping we will fill the registration spots if possible.  That’s probably because they know registration is one area we can knock out of the park.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist that last little bit.)  Students and alumni, let me know when you volunteer so I can arrange for you to receive collateral for your portfolio.

Then follow the tournament on Facebook.

Find out more about the Wheelchair Softball World Series and the National Wheelchair Softball Association.

Your suspicions about social media are true. Now what?

This article and corresponding research is focused on lodging establishments, but the concept is universal to business. The big question is often, can social media be a valid push or is it a pull activity? The answer is yes to both push and pull.push pull one_on_one_challenge_300_clr_8069

Pushing information out is, it seems, the most popular social media activity. We push information out to increase awareness of products and services. Linkages to resulting ADR and RevPAR (aka revenue to non-hotelier readers) are often scant, primarily due to the lack of strategy driving the pushing. This can be likened to talking but not being quiet enough to listen, or, even asking if the listener understood what you were saying. The sweetest sound to anyone is that of their own voice, so why should social media talk be any different?

Listening, and sometimes even asking the right questions via social media channels can help each of us (in ANY business) gain insight into what features and benefits entice potential customers and drive them to purchase. Using social media strategically as part of a comprehensive plan can increase sales to our current market AND help us to explore new markets.

The article, Impact on Social Media on Lodging Performance Research, from Chris Anderson, The Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University provides insight into how to make this happen. Unsure how to create a strategic social media plan? A knowledgeable social media strategist can help.

Very much part of the same strategy is the application of reward programs. Voorhees, McCall, and Carroll, from the Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University, address this issue with great information in their report, Assessing the Benefits of Reward Programs.

Let’s keep this conversation going — use the comment block below to add your voice.
We can also meet on LinkedIn.

Update: DCTC Spring 2014 Hospitality Saturday Dates as of 1/17



Here’s the update on dates/locations (as of 1/17) for Saturday hospitality classes.  Mark your calendar NOW for these important dates and locations. spring-2014-saturday-list-updated 1-17-13.

Want to know more about why we meet in real companies?  Check out the article, Hospitality Employers Make Magic Happen!.  It really is magic when employers give of their time for back-of-house tours and guest lectures.  At DCTC, employers help to make learning REAL!

Questions?  Want to know more about becoming a student? Let’s connect. Meet me on LinkedIn or complete the following form.