hospitality

Cornell University Hotel School Competition Recognizes Two Student Companies

Judges for the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition have declared the contest’s first-ever tie between two winning teams — Last Second Beach and Maidbot. The two teams will each receive $25,000 for their business plans and entrepreneurial ideas in travel and hotel operations, according to the University. Although the competition’s funding only provided a $25,000 prize for one team, Dean of the School of Hotel Administration, Prof. Michael Johnson, hotel administration, matched the prize for the other team, according to Maidbot founder Alex Levy ’18. “I was a little surprised it ended in a tie, as nothing like that had ever happened before,” Levy said. “I was very happy for [Last Second Beach founder Khalid Ladha grad] and his team, though and absolutely thrilled Dean Johnson matched the rest of the money.”
Last Second Beach — co-founded last year by Ladha and Zach Demuth grad — is a software platform that simplifies consumer navigation for travel purchases, according to Ladha.

A guest arrives at the Statler Hotel, where professors often teach students of the School of Hotel Administration.

Hotel Professors Find Restaurants Not Harmed by Minimum Wage Increases

A study recently released in December by the School of Hotel Administration combats the commonly held view that increasing minimum wage would lower a restaurant’s profitability. The controversial new study — conducted by Prof. Michael Lynn, hotel administration, and Prof. Christopher Boone, hotel administration — shows that modest increases in the minimum wage over the last 20 years have not affected the number of restaurants or employment levels. Boone said the study — titled “Have Minimum Wage Increases Hurt the Restaurant Industry? The Evidence Says No!” — was prompted by the United States’ new focus on wages that resulted from the recent recession. “There have been a large number of proposals to raise the minimum wage at the national, state, and local levels,” Boone said.

KOUTSOMITIS '09

Apprentice Contestant Koutsomitis ’09 Commends Hotel School

Vana Koutsomitis ’09 appeared in BBC’s reality television show The Apprentice Wednesday. Koutsomitis, currently the CEO of financial services network The City Street and a hotel school graduate, praised her alma mater in an interview with The Sun, saying that it provided her a global perspective and valuable learning experiences. Koutsomitis, who viewers will be able to see compete in a variety of tasks during the current season of the show, could potentially earn a business partnership with billionaire Alan Sugar if she is declared the ultimate winner. A social media entrepreneur who currently lives in Barcelona, Spain, Koutsomitis said she aims to create connections among financial professionals. Her company, The City Street, provides a platform that standardizes the profiles of different business people.