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Sean Saunders

Hospitality and Tourism Management Major

Sean Saunders’ summer internship at Marriott International allowed him and two other interns to improve and enhance the sales template for one of the organization’s three categories of hotels.

“Our task was to create a new format to sell the select brands,” said Saunders, of Beckley, West Virginia.

The select brands include properties such as Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn and Suites. The changes Saunders helped implement will make it easier for corporate sales representatives to market and sell stays at those hotels.

Saunders, a rising senior majoring in hospitality and tourism management, lived in the Innovate Living Learning Community for his first three years of college. Although he will live off campus his senior year, Saunders will remain involved with the experiential learning program to which he credits much of his preparation for as an intern.

“I think Innovate – where it was a startup – forced its leaders to continually adapt. That made me not only confident with change but also able to adapt with it.”

Saunders joined Innovate in the program’s second year. By his second year, he was events co-vice president. He later became vice president of the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

“After that, I built up a team, trained them, and eventually trained a new director,” Saunders said. “Holding that position gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the EIRs better, and in turn build a vast network.”

Saunders will serve as president of TechNotes Acapella, a campus singing group, during his senior year.

“I keep finding myself in leadership opportunities whether I want to or not,” Saunders joked. “I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse.”

Saunders’s passion for entrepreneurship is not to start his own company but rather to make changes in a company’s existing structure to improve it. And that is exactly what he did during his internship with Marriott.

“Sean was a real asset to the team this summer,” said Mary Lynn Portzer, director of group sales with Marriott. “He was the driving force to complete a project that would allow our sales managers to have more information at their fingertips to sell our 79 select brand hotels more effectively.”

Saunders’s summer position was in the Mid Atlantic Group Sales office in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He spent several weeks learning about the brands operated by the organization.

“The select brand hotels make up the largest portion of hotels in Marriott’s portfolio,” he explained.

Saunders’ internship was in one of eight Marriott offices that handle corporate sales, and each office uses a different sales platform.

“Our project was to restructure the design of the select brand hotels to help the sales managers achieve faster speed to market sales,” Saunders said. “That included redesigning the platform and updating the information of about 80 hotels.”

Portzer said Saunders was one of the best interns with whom she has ever worked. “I can’t wait to see his career soar once he completes his degree,” she said.

Written by Courtney Cutright

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