Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


"You learn something every day if you pay attention." -Ray LeBlond

Today we covered a lot about the financial management aspect of the hotel industry. The topics included operating leverage and restriction/segmentation. Operating leverage is the measurement of how revenue growth turns into earnings growth. For example, the sales from room nights contribute 2/3rds of a full-service hotel (one with food and beverage). The departmental profit of the sale, the money that goes to the bottom line after deducting expenses, is roughly 75% of the original sales revenue. This shows that the word "revenue" can be easily misinterpreted.

The gross revenue is how much money the company makes. The actual profit is calculated after deducting money from the gross revenue that is spent on expenses, taxes, staffing, etc. By understanding this, the hotelies were able to better assess our performance in our second CHESS trial. I will describe two extremas.

- X hotel company has 100% occupancy rate, meaning they have their rooms completely sold out. However, their profit only came out to be around $8,000.

- Y hotel company has 50% occupancy rate, meaning they have their rooms half sold out. However, their profit came out to be a stunning $10,000.

So what does this all mean? X hotel company definitely attracts more customers than Y hotel but Y hotel is more profitable. There are several explanations to why it is like this. 1). X hotel stresses quality more than Y hotel and therefore invests much more money on acquiring the best supplies, employees, services, etc. As a result, much of X hotel's gross revenue goes to paying off the huge expenses spent. 2). X hotel is a economy and caters to customers who are only willing to pay the lowest rates while Y hotel targets more of the upper-end customers.

Even though Y hotel is more profitable right now, it does not mean that Y hotel necessarily has the best business strategy. X hotel's occupancy rate definitely hints customer satisfaction and possibly customer loyalty to the brand. What I enjoy most about the hotel industry and business in general is that there is no right way to be successful.
What I am aiming for in my CHESS game is a healthy of the X and Y companies I made up. Market segmentation data from my first trial showed that my virtual hotel catered mostly to business customers. After making some changes in terms of cutting down unnecessary expenses (such as paying 3% or 4% commissions rather than an outrageous 10% as the game preset), I realized that a significant growth in terms of revenue contributed by leisure customers. By cutting down on the quality of the hotel, I lost some of my business customers but I was able to gain a few more leisure customers. I am still trying to work on a better balance that will help my CHESS hotel operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.

I love how everything we learn from the Hotel program ties together in the end, and how the applications do not only apply to the hotel industry, but gives us basic knowledge regarding how business in general is managed and operated. I also love the fact that learning in this program comes from various sources, whether it be published papers by Cornell Hotelies or current news articles from

I became even more aware of this as Louisa, Stacy, and I had our pleasant conversation with Ms. Kronenburg and Mr. Crossley. Ms. Kronenburg mentioned a BBC television program called "The Hotel Inspector" that taught viewers the same financial basics we had learned in class. It shows that learning comes from all portals.

As Ray LeBlond said, you really can learn something everyday if you allow yourself to pay attention to them. I also know that whatever I take away with me this summer, I will be able to apply what I learned in the future. And these application will continue to teach me more and more. Learning is truly timeless.

-Yueming W.

P.S. Speaking of our conversation this afternoon, I was very impressed by a lady who approached us with two copies of the Ithaca Times and insisted that we read an article about saving the deer in Cayuga Heights. Her determination to spread the word about something she felt would benefit the residents in Ithaca showed what this city is about -- a close knit community where everyone becomes involved to improve the quality of life. I am just happy to be a part of this community, even if it is only for 3 weeks!


  1. Keep on learning. You will learn something new everyday. As a rising junior you have another year with the program. I want to learn what about the Ivy League Connection has been useful and how will you take what you learned at Cornell and bring it back to the district.

    Your OPINION on multiple topics like our readiness at having students understand the rigor that will await them when they attend college. Do we have a student population that is serious about education? Do our teachers prepare us well?

    I welcome your reply to this post.

    Enjoy your day.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

  2. Hi Mr. Ramsey,

    I believe that the school district does do a fine job preparing the Ivy Leaguers. As much as it was nerve-racking, the whole application process -- writing a resume, submitting an application letter, scheduling an interview -- was something I had never experience before. Although I must admit that it is a lot more competitive here at the Cornell summer program, the application definitely did raise an awareness of competition in every applicant.

    Also I would like to thank Alvin Yee for the information he has given the Hotelies like subscribing to online newspaper articles related to the hotel industry. A good portion of our course booklet is composed of news articles that Professors Reneta and Mark have collected over the years so getting to know some of the current events definitely helped.

    In addition to that, just having the blogs helped a lot. To understand how one person felt about the program and to read about their daily thoughts gave a great preview of what we should all expect. If I only had enough time to either research about major hotel companies or read the student blogs, I would not hesitate in making the decision -- read the blogs!

    A great thing about being a part of this program is that mostly everyone here is motivated to learn. I would say that this is the biggest difference between going to high school and going to an Ivy League summer program. I believe the argument that teachers can better prepare us for our futures is always legitimate and I definitely believe in it. However, I do also think the students are in control of what they do. It would be great having a teacher prepare the students before they came to Summer College, but it also takes away the opportunity of having to learn independently -- which resembles college more. In other words, I would have loved to have a teacher who taught me some basics about the hotel and hospitality industry, but I wouldn't trade it for the experience of learning to be more self-dependent.

    That is definitely one of the most important lessons that I will take back home. I also learned the importance of team work (especially when paired up with people one does not know or does not get along with), time management, dedication, and many other life skills that I will need for the rest of my life.

    I have also kept all of my work as well as well as my notes so I would be more than happy to give future Summer Hotelie students some insights. I would not mind helping anyone who needs to learn how to use the basics of Microsoft 2007 Word, Powerpoint, and Excel because I know I will be well versed in the basics of all three programs by the time this course ends.

    Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future regarding sharing information about the Hotel Operations Management program and the Ivy League experience in general.

    ~Yueming W.