The Top 3 Myths About Wedding Planners

Weddings can be one of the most significant events in our lives. High profile planners like Preston Bailey and David Tutera have earned accolades and admiration for their work with celebrities and the rich and famous, but they represent just a small part of the thousands of hard working professionals in all corners of the world. We polled our events faculty to see what they thought were the most common misconceptions about the profession.

1. Being a Wedding Planner is easy—Like any other job you have to put in your 10,000 hours to be an expert (see: Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, an insightful text about what it takes to succeed). You need skills such as organization, creativity, negotiation, budgeting and time management, and most important you have to be a great listener and have a good understanding of people and personalities. Having great people skills is the key to your success – Annette Babich, Adjunct Instructor, teaches The Art of Wedding Planning, which is being offered this fall on Wednesday evenings.

2. All Event Planners are the Same—Wedding Planning is a distinct specialty niche among the Planning community – Corporate, Association, Social, Medical, Pharma, Retail etc. are all individual planning niches that require knowledge of the respective industries and government regulations, etc. What seems ‘easy’ is wisdom of experience – Dianne Devitt, Adjunct Associate Professor, teaches Creating Sensational Venues: Design and Décor which is being offered this fall on Saturday mornings.

3. Wedding planners are not gofers but rather professionals in the business of making a bride’s dream come to life on time, on task, and on budget. They are managers, therapists, producers, and coaches. They bring organization, class, and professionalism to a wedding because of their experience  – Ron Naples, Adjunct Associate Professor, is teaching Budgeting and Financial Management and The Art of Negotiation this fall.

Whether you want to start your career in events or add to your existing portfolio, the Tisch Center offers a variety of noncredit programs to suit your needs, including The Art of Wedding Planning!

Registration is still open for the fall semester. To learn more about the Tisch Center’s noncredit programs, please feel free to contact us by email or phone, 212-998-9100. You may also visit our website.

A Special Message for Graduating Tisch Center Students

Congratulations to the Preston Robert Tisch Center Undergraduate and Graduate Class of 2014! As you venture out into the real world, here are some words of wisdom from Tisch Center Faculty and Staff to take with you.

Stay curious. Never stop learning. The day you think you know it all, is when your adventure ends. Professor Lynn Minnaert

Create an advisory board for your career. A group of trusted, accomplished individuals who provide honest and different perspectives to your career options.Professor Donna Quadri

A wise man once told me “attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”  As you embark on the next steps in your career remember that your attitude and not the circumstance will determine your happiness.Ren Herring, Academic Advisor

Keep an open mind as you explore opportunities. Remember that your first job is the beginning of your journey, not your final destination! – Jennifer Burns, Director of Career Services

To quote Bill Gates, “as you look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”  Best wishes to all of the Tisch Center graduates in their careers and as future leaders in the industry. Professor Sharr Prohsaka

Be kind.  You never know what people are going through and you also never know when you will meet them again.  The industry is smaller than you think and if you build a reputation for being a smart, hard worker and you are a pleasant person to work with, you will go far. Rebecah Reilly, Academic Advisor

Know the larger objective of a task or role. When performing a business task it is important to know why it is needed, how the task relates to other tasks and how the outcome will be used.  This can provide the opportunity to perform the task in a way that will be especially effective and successful, and you will be recognized as a special contributor and high performer. – Divisional Dean Bjorn Hanson

Adjunct Faculty Spotlight: Evan Dabby

Evan DabbyThe following interview with NYU Tisch Center Adjunct Instructor Evan Dabby was conducted by the Tisch Center’s Social Media Assistant Kanupriya Bhargava.


Congratulations on your recent appointment as Executive Director of New Jersey Youth Soccer! How has your career thus far led up to this position?

I feel like every day of my 17 seasons at Major League Soccer prepared me for this role with NJ Youth Soccer.  When I started at MLS in 1998, it was a much smaller organization than it is today.  That allowed me to take on responsibilities in a multitude of disciplines.  I led efforts related to Game Operations, Game Production, Stadium Operations, Special Events Operations, Sports Medicine, Workers’ Compensations, Venue Design, Security and Supporter (fan) Relations.  With that broad experience, I believe I was uniquely prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities tasked of NJ Youth Soccer’s Executive Director.

Where does your passion for the sport of soccer come from and how has it contributed to where you are today?

I am lucky in that my vocation is also my avocation.  Soccer has been a constant in my life since I was 5 years old.  I earned All-State Honors at Tenafly High School soccer team and played four years of varsity soccer at Tufts University where I earned All-New England honors.  This soccer experience has been critical to every step of my professional career development with MLS and now NJ Youth Soccer.  

How has your experience shaped the way you teach at the NYU Tisch Center?

I understand that memorizing every term in the textbook won’t thoroughly prepare students for their first job.  Excelling in sports management requires exceptional verbal and written skills.  Therefore, my teaching strategy has been to combine academics with practical experience.  I remind my students that they are developing their personal brand, positively or negatively, every time they communicate, and we work on that throughout the semester.

As an alumnus of the graduate sports management program at NYU, how have you seen it develop and grow over the years?

I entered the graduate sports management program in just its second year of existence.  Returning years later, I was impressed to see how the number and caliber of students had ballooned.  I credit the NYU administration and faculty that managed through this growth period.

As the Senior Director of Supporter Relations and Safety, you led several programs and initiatives. What has been the most meaningful initiative you have worked on during your role?

I was in charge of Operations during MLS’ biggest period of stadium development.  To manage the influx of questions about standards and best practices, I created and directed the working group that ultimately produced the MLS Venue Design Guide.  This became the basis for MLS stadium design and construction, and it is still utilized today.

What advice would you give to students pursuing a career in sports management?

Network.  Volunteer.  Be proactive.  The sports industry is extremely competitive.  Experience and the right contacts can set you apart from the masses who are also competing for your dream job.  This advice may land you the interview, but your ability to sell yourself will be essential to receiving an offer.

2014 IACC Annual Conference

Chloe HsiaThe following post was written by Chloe Hsia. She is graduating next month with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Tourism Management.


During the week of spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, California to receive the IACC-NYU Doris Sklar Scholarship. The award was presented at the International Association of Conference Centers 2014 “Catch The Wave” Annual Conference, which was held at the Pacific Palms Resort. It was an honor to represent NYU at the IACC Conference, and to network with conference and meeting professionals in the industry.

Chloe IACC Pic3The week was filled with informative, engaging workshops and entertaining keynote speakers. Sandra Dove-Lowther, the Tisch Center’s Director of Academic Services, accompanied me to the conference and introduced the scholarship to the attendees during the opening ceremony. The scholarship allowed me to demonstrate my interest in the future of the meetings industry and indicate how it may be effected by the desire of conference centers to cater more towards guest needs. In 2013, I was a part of the Shark Tank team at the 2013 North American Hotel Investment Conference (NATHIC) in Chicago. I used our findings about the rising demands of the Millennial generation and interpreted a selection of meetings and events trends to determine how this information may also effect the conference and meetings event industry. I personally focused on the technological changes and demands of the rising generation, gearing towards a more flexible conference center, different channels, and shorter booking windows. Ultimately, when conference centers further incorporate desired amenities and services, organizers will be able to provide a more unique experience for their attendees, a goal that hotels, restaurants and other service entities are trying to tap into.

Chloe IACC Pic1As the conference progressed, I had the opportunity to sit down with IACC Global President, Peter Stewart and IACC President, T.J. Fimmano. Mr. Stewart and Mr. Fimmano were both extremely helpful in offering recommendations and advice for students and also very open to sharing their unique stories about how they entered the industry. With my graduation date in May fast approaching, it was a wonderful time to explore what aspect of the hospitality industry that I am interested in. I also had the opportunity to sit in on a few great workshops, including PKF Trends in 2014 led by CEO Mark Woodworth, Global Culinary Trends and Beverage Pairing Strategies led by Brian Freedman, and a HSIA (High Speed Internet Access) workshop. The Copper Skillet Conference Chefs Cooking Competition Finals were also held at the resort, and featured five international chefs and three judges Chloe IACC Pic2from Le Cordon Bleu, the British Culinary Federation, as well as the Pacific Palms’ very own executive chef. It was very exciting to see the competition up close and to smell the mouthwatering scents of artistic dishes being prepared.

I am incredibly honored to be chosen as the 2014 NYU Doris Sklar-IACC scholarship recipient and I look forward to entering the industry in May of this year. You can always remember me by my last name – HSIA (High Speed Internet Access). Thank you!

Global Sustainable Tourism Development: Challenges, Certification and Best Practices

The following post was written by Tisch Center social media assistant Kanupriya Bhargava.

Grossinger PanelOn Wednesday, March 5, Preston Robert Tisch Center students had the opportunity to hear from various panelists about Global Sustainable Tourism Development at an event held by the Ricelle “Bunny” Grossinger Distinguished Lecture Series in Tourism Management. The panel was moderated by Clinical Associate Professor Sharr Prohaska and Clinical Assistant Professor Lynn Minnaert, Ph.D.

Pegi VailPegi Vail, an anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, and Associate Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History at NYU began the panel by showing a preview of her documentary Gringo Trails. Through before and after footage of backpacker destinations, Vail reveals how the ethnography of backpackers has opened doors to the tourism industry in low-income countries over the years. It was shocking to see the contrast in footage between Haadrin Beach in 1979 and 1989, depicting the aftermath of a Full Moon New Year’s Eve party.

James McGregorJames MacGregor, President of Ecoplannet, shared his message to students, whom he also referred to as the “future of sustainable tourism.” He provided an eye-opening outlook on the diminishing tourism environment and made a call to action to strengthen sustainable tourism education platforms and resources and to ultimately develop a culture of sustainability.

Louise Twining-WardDr. Louise Twining-Ward, President of Sustainable Travel International, explained how sustainability is not only beneficial for the environment, but how it can be a good business practice. I found her acronym ABCD to be useful to follow not only in sustainability practice but also in life:

A: Acknowledge the problem

B: Believe you can change it

C: Create the tools

D: Demonstrate the results

Anna ClarkAnna Clark, Communications Associate and Media Outreach for Rainforest Alliance, grabbed the audience’s attention with a highly entertaining video called “Follow the Frog”, which depicts a young man who discovers rainforests are in danger and decides to abandon his average and comfortable life to take an active part in saving the environment. The purpose of the film was to show that we don’t need to go to the ends of the world to save a rainforest, instead we can use Rainforest Alliance certified products and still make a difference. Additionally, the Alliance has certified over 190 million acres of land in support of the Rainforest Alliance, an impressive step to conserving our environment and social welfare.

Eric RicuarteThe final speaker Eric Ricaurte, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenview, and a Tisch Center alumnus, challenged the audience to think about mass tourism in a new way. He urged us to “stop thinking about mass tourism as a niche, and instead as mainstream.” Ricaurte categorized the three different types of impacts left on a destination by a visitor as:

1) Transportation

2) Energy and Water Consumption, and

3) Waste

Overall, the lecture was a terrific opportunity to discuss the important issues and developments in the global sustainable tourism industry. As a student, I was inspired to play a more active role in not only conserving the environment, but also in integrating these practices into my daily life.

February Guest Speaker Roundup

One of the biggest advantages of attending NYU is the exposure of students to an extraordinary range of industry professionals. These professionals speak and participate in our classes and share how we can apply our academics to the “real world.” Here are a few of the Tisch Center guest speakers during February.

Marketing of Sports and Events – Contributed by Professor Evan Dabby

Mary Beck

Mary Beck, MLB Network

On February 12, Mary Beck, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Promotions for MLB Network, visited Professor Dabby’s Marketing of Sports and Events class.  Beck effectively complemented the course content educating students about strategic marketing and the marketing mix while providing many practical references.  Such examples included the cultural impact of Black Heritage Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, the social media lifecycle (i.e. #FaceOfMLB), and managing relationships with MLB clubs and ownership.

Class concluded with Beck fielding questions from students about professional development and the challenges of succeeding in a competitive marketplace.

Demonstrating that sampling is an effective way to introduce consumers to a product, and perhaps showcasing one reason why she has succeeded improving viewership, Beck provided a complimentary MLB Network hat to each student.

Distribution & Channel Management - Contributed by Kanu Bhargava

Ron Castro and Debra Stock, Expedia

Ron Castro and Debra Stock, Expedia

On February 24, Ron Castro and Debra Stock from Expedia spoke to Dr. Quadri’s Distribution and Channel Management class about OTAs. Castro, an alumnus of the Tisch Center’s Graduate Hospitality Industry Studies program (’13), gave an engaging and informative presentation about Expedia’s role in the hospitality industry. He provided the class with statistics revealing the constantly evolving dynamic among OTAs and hotels. Castro and Stock also used their expertise to help brainstorm suggestions for Ace Hotel, the class’ case study property and students were able to see how this data could be used to argue the need for OTAs.

Business Development III - Contributed by Joyce Wong

Courtney Spitzer and Stephanie Abrams, SocialFly

Courtney Spitzer and Stephanie Abrams, SocialFly

SocialFly co-founders Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Abrams were invited to Professor Laitamaki‘s Business Development III class to talk about their entrepreneurial experience. SocialFly is a relatively young company that provides full-service digital marketing and public relations services. They differentiate themselves by working intimately with clients, creating customized strategies to meet objectives. Some clients see an ROI when there is an increase in followers or likes, and other times it may be derived from creating brand awareness or user engagement.

Courtney and Stephanie both worked in corporate America for several years before deciding to fully invest their time and effort in SocialFly. It was inspiring to hear they had the courage to change their lives to work on what they were really passionate about. The main takeaway from the guest speakers was to not be afraid, and to strive for your entrepreneurial dreams.

Emerging Issues in International Tourism - Contributed by Professor Lynn Minnaert

Victor Calise

Victor Calise, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

On February 26, Victor Calise joined Dr. Minnaert’s Emerging Issues in International Tourism class for an in-depth discussion on the needs of travelers with disabilities. Mr. Calise is the Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, which functions as a liaison between the disability community and City government. The office works collaboratively with other agencies to assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all City initiatives by fostering greater cooperation, communication and coordination of functions and services in New York City.

Aging populations in many parts of the world mean that accessibility is becoming an increasingly pressing business concern – and tourism is no exception. Commissioner Calise highlighted the progress made in legislation, inclusive design requirements and information services. He also challenged the students to think of prejudices that may affect the quality of service a person with disabilities may receive, and offered ways in which these can be overcome.

How to Ace Your Interview: Advice from Dean Hanson

Bjorn HansonOn Wednesday, February 12, I facilitated an interviewing workshop for Tisch Center students. The goal was to experience the most difficult and challenging interview questions a graduating Tisch Center student might ever be asked during a placement interview. Almost 30 Tisch students attended this session.

The format was to ask very difficult questions, and then discuss the answers in search of the “perfect” answer – to convert a difficult question into something we want to be asked because our answer will be better than other candidates’ answers. It is the answers to difficult questions that distinguish the strongest candidates.

Beyond the 20 sample questions, there were a few conclusions that emerged:

1. Most candidates have some level of interview practice and preparation, so a “good” answer is not good enough – almost every candidate will have “good” answers. An exceptional answer is more interesting, conveys something special about the candidate and offers more insights for the employer than other good answers.

2. Have answers ready that are precise, brief and that offer something special about you – these are characteristics of a “great” answer.

3. If possible, avoid starting answers with what might sound like disclaimers such as, “I think…”

4. It is your interview, so decide what you want to convey.

5. For many questions, the interviewer is not necessarily interested in the answer (or maybe not interested at all), but how you answer the question.

6. Avoid any answer that might be interpreted as an exaggeration or overstatement because it may lead to an even more difficult follow up question.

7. In general, especially revealing, even personal questions are probably best answered with a business-like response. These questions are usually asked to observe how the candidate responds – not for the answer itself.

8. Use your education and degree to your advantage. As Tisch Center students, you have met more senior executives, been exposed to more venues (hotels, stadia, etc.) and have “mastered” New York; most of you have experienced internships in locations many interviewers would be thrilled just to visit.

I hope the attendees feel confident and are even looking forward to difficult and challenging interview questions.

Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D.
Divisional Dean