Hospitality students experience event planning during a pandemic

Students in the department of hospitality management planned COVID-19-friendly events this semester. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

A few months back, Brooke Colglazier, senior in hospitality management, and two other students came up with the idea to hold a Beer Mile in downtown Manhattan. Participants would run a mile, stopping every quarter to chug a beer. The city of Manhattan told Colglazier’s group they would need special licensing for their proposed event, so they changed their course.

To make things easier, the group landed on a new idea: Paint and Pint Tuesday.

Instructors from Uncorked Inspiration in Aggieville were scheduled to instruct the paint night while Colglazier’s group handled marketing, budget and capacity for the event.

Colglazier said marketing was the most difficult component of the project because she wasn’t as familiar with it. The trio relied primarily on social media to spread the word about Paint and Pint Tuesday.

Ensuring safety was the most difficult part for Ivy Bogle, senior in hospitality management. She and her team organized a different event called Pumpkins and Pints where participants could paint pumpkins and enjoy a free beer at Manhattan Brewing Company.

Between providing tickets, rationing paint and art supplies and making room for those visiting the brewery on their own time, Bogle said there was a lot to keep track of.

Despite the stress leading up to it, Bogle said Pumpkins and Pints went smoothly and sold out.

Bogle said working with Manhattan Brewing Company gave her valuable experience during a difficult time.

“It’s been cool to have a company in Manhattan that has been able to help us still have … some sense of normalcy,” Bogle said. “Trying to keep people safe was their top priority.”

Both Bogle and Colglazier said working in a traditionally face-to-face industry during the pandemic is a learning curve.

“I think the most challenging thing is trying to find the balance of keeping people safe and giving people an experience outside of their house where they can be with other people,” Colglazier said.

A recent focus for the hospitality management program has been building the skills to navigate events virtually through platforms like Zoom.

“I think the industry is changing, and I think in a way it’s nice to be in college while the industry is changing before we get out into the world,” Colglazier said. “Event planning is now trying to get smaller groups together and making an event more meaningful in different ways.”

Both Bogle and Colglazier said they’ve learned a lot while trying to plan an in-person event in 2020.

“The biggest thing I learned is that things don’t always go as planned, and that’s okay,” Colglazier said. “I think you always have to be ready for anything that comes your way.”

Bogle said she’s excited to see how the hospitality industry will continue to evolve with safety and accessibility at the forefront.