Aaron Laurie
Aaron Laurie

The future of the hotel industry is in the hands of today’s students, and U of G commerce student Aaron Laurie’s team won first place and $5,000 for their futuristic vision in the #hotelNEXT competition at the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference in Toronto.

Together with teammate (and brother) Willam, a McMaster University commerce student, they created “Opshinns,” a 200-room airport hotel that gives guests the freedom to choose which amenities they pay for rather than paying for features they don’t use.

They successfully pitched their idea to an audience of 575 hotel owners, developers and investors – “people we truly look up to,” says Laurie. They competed against teams from six universities across Canada.

The inspiration behind Opshinns came from the students’ parents, who were frugal travellers.

“That’s why we created a hotel concept that allows travellers to focus their dollars on the experience outside of the hotel,” says Laurie. “We do this by extracting the value of add-ons and amenities out of our daily room rates and providing guests with the option to purchase those add-ons that every other hotel assumes all guests use.”

Pitch competitions give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge outside the classroom and network with industry representatives.

“To see our student present so professionally and creatively in front of the audience of 575 industry representatives attending this national conference was indeed a proud moment for Guelph,” says Statia Elliot, director, School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management.