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Winner announced in senior hospitality design competition

  • Thursday, December 12, 2013

    HRM project 2013PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Dec. 12, 2013) The verdict is in - "The Visionistas," took first place in a hospitality department facilities design competition that awarded them a $2,500 cash prize from the Town of Princess Anne, Somerset County and Baxter Enterprises Inc.

    Students competing in three teams had 20 minutes each to pitch their marketing plans on branding Princess Anne as a historical and cultural tourism destination to a panel of judges.

    One student, Julio Caceres, was so nervous he backed into a light pole while parking his car prior to the start of the competition.

    "Don't let stress get to you, or you'll run into a pole," he said with a roll of his eyes.

    For the winning team, it was all high-fives when they exited their presentation.

    Nyshea Holloday of Washington, D.C. said she was nervous at first, but teammate Samantha Lord of Cambridge, Md. was confident, "We rocked it."

    "I had to build excitement within me, so that (the judges) could see we were excited and they would be too," Shannon Wilson of Waldorf, Md. said.  "The biggest challenge was satisfying all clients' needs, because they all have the same end goal, but different perceptions."

    Danny Thompson, Somerset County's economic development director, saw the event as a "way to have fresh ideas (for county tourism) and to be a mentor to these up-and-coming entrepreneurs."  He said it was an excellent opportunity for the university, town and county to work collaboratively.

    Thomas Baxter, owner and operator of Delmarva McDonald franchises, described the competition as a chance "to work with the community and give back."

     "We've had a long-term relationship with UMES and each and every project we work on with the various schools, we learn something that we can use in our business," he said.    

    HRM check 2013The project was tied to the Town of Princess Anne being awarded a $502,000 Community Development Block Grant this past spring to renovate the historic Washington Hotel on Somerset Avenue as an anchor business for downtown.  Students were challenged to come up with business, financial and marketing plans to include the Main Street business district and other attractions in the county as part of the appeal of the area as a tourist destination.

    "There is a lot of potential here," said Ian Fleming, innkeeper of the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, Md.  "It is a town that has a long-range plan that incorporates some attractive elements." 

    Fleming is slated to operate the Washington Hotel following renovations and a re-opening sometime in 2014.  Ownership will eventually be turned over to him.

    "I love it.  Working with young people energizes you-it's infectious," sai