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PR students take on Cancún in special Marriott assignment


Three BYU public relations students and Professor Joseph Ogden recently made the journey to Cancún, Mexico, to present their research on Marriott’s TripAdvisor strategy. The presentation was part of Marriott’s recent marketing efforts towards millennials.

The class is the genesis of a new section addition in COMMS 382 (Communication in a Global Setting) that involves direct work with Marriott. Originally offered as a traditional cluster class, this section of COMMS 382 is exercising a different approach to global communications.

Chosen out of an application pool of 53 students, the class is composed of 13 students who put in on average 20 hours a week during the semester to research and create professional deliverables for the general managers to use at their hotels.

“It was an arduous but totally worthwhile effort,” said Shelbi Anderson, a public relations student of the conference. “I am very grateful for the chance to go since I learned a lot about PR’s role in the hospitality industry. It gave me an idea of what I want to do with public relations in the future.”

The student presentation was given to nearly 100 managers of Marriott’s Latin American and Caribbean region. They covered the importance of TripAdvisor, research findings on individual hotels and social media strategies to solicit positive reviews. Afterwards, the managers divided into smaller breakout sessions each led by a student to practice the best ways to respond to guest reviews.

Dylan Ellsworth, a PR student from Idaho Falls, Idaho, expressed that his time in Cancún was time well spent.

“By far the greatest thing about the trip interacting with the incredible executives at Marriott. We have spent months working with dozens of people and had only met two in person prior to the trip,” Ellsworth said. “It was great … to get to know everyone and the amazing work they are doing. Everyone treated us so well and was so excited about the things we had to share.”

Ellsworth also said that he took away a number of new skills that he foresees being immensely beneficial in his professional future.

“We used writing, design, research, and presentation skills to share our message. It was a culmination of a semester’s worth of work that we had to boil down to 90 minutes, and the things we’ve learned in the program helped us do that,” he said.

The communications program hopes to offer similar experiences in the future, however no set plans are set as of right now.