Fall 2020 Hospitality Innovation Speaker Series

December 23, 2020

With the fall semester fully remote, the 2020 Hospitality Innovation Speaker Series was held on Zoom. Collins College students, faculty, staff, alumni and Board of Advisors from around the world were welcomed to attend.

Our speakers showed the importance of identifying the need for change and how innovative solutions propel the industry forward by giving real-world examples of how their company has benefited from innovation and its positive impact.

Lera Van Straatum, The Beach Club & Sean Van Straatum, Oakmont Country Club - Innovation in Club Management


On Sep. 14, Collins College alumni Lera (’09) and Sean (’10) Van Straatum led a discussion on innovation in the club management industry. Lera is the Assistant General Manager for The Beach Club and Sean is the Director of Food and Beverage for Oakmont Country Club.

Both elaborated on six aspects that have transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future will look like for the industry. The six main points mentioned include technology, COVID-19 programming, human resources and staffing, needs and situations as it’s shifted, fun and motivational plans and county guidelines.


Bryan Churchill, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board - Destination Marketing and Sales: Fact-based Optimism and Trend-based Agility


On Oct. 5, Collins College alumnus an Board of Advisors member Bryan Churchill (’88) presented invaluable information about destination marketing and sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently the Vice President of Hotel Sales for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.

From his experience in the tourism and travel industry, Churchill focused on fact-based optimism and trend-based agility through the innovation of the hospitality industries.


Salvador Falcon, ECOLAB - A Clean You Can Count On

On Oct. 26, Board of Advisors member Salvador Falcon elaborated on the innovation and expertise needed to help keep staff and guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently the Vice President of Corporate Accounts, Southwest US ECOLAB, Inc.

In his presentation, Falcon discussed training on heightened procedures, innovative programs and disinfecting solutions, support for overall food safety, and public health.


Mariah Machnikowski, Lazy Dog Restaurants - Innovating Through a Crisis

On Nov. 16, Board of Advisors member Mariah Machnikowski discussed ways to innovate during the COVID-19 crisis in the last installment of the 2020 Hospitality Innovation Speaker Series. She is currently the Chief People Officer for Lazy Dog Restaurants.

Machnikowski shares how her company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. She lists several aspects that innovated Lazy Dog Restaurants which included enhancing the off-premise experience, the creation of Lazy Dog Pantry, re-launching family meals and taking care of team members during a crisis.

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