SPOTLIGHT: Hospitality SLUnited: Networking that Works

Article By Julia M. Johnson

Each spring for the past three years, St. Louis-area meeting professionals have counted on Saint Louis University’s Hospitality SLUnited gathering to put them in front of key industry contacts.  And each year, the event delivers enlightening content, prime networking opportunities, and enjoyment for all.

This year’s SLUnited gathering was the largest to date, and took place on April 28 at Saint Louis University’s Il Monastero event center. Hosted by SLU’s School for Professional Studies, the gathering combined a panel discussion, excellent food from local vendors, speakers key to the industry, and plenty of time for attendees to network.

On the schedule

The first item of business was an informative panel about St. Louis as a destination, featuring Missy Kelley, president and chief executive of Downtown St. Louis Inc.; Joe Walsh, security director for the St. Louis Cardinals; Jake Hollander, founder of the community collaboration nonprofit St. Louis Strong; and Jay Goff, SLU’s vice president for enrollment and retention management.  The discussion was moderated by Brian Hall of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Next, attendees adjourned to the venue’s main hall, where they heard from additional speakers and enjoyed dishes and desserts from local culinary landmarks.

Hospitality SLUnited offers both informal and formal networking sessions to help attendees become partners.  This year’s guests got to know each other through interactive roundtable discussions about ideas for St. Louis’ present and future. The results of those conversations were tabulated and supplied to attendees, as well as city leaders.

“Hospitality SLUnited is more than a networking event,” says Katie Devany, assistant program chair for organizational studies at SLU’s School for Professional Studies. “We strive to make a difference in not only the hospitality industry but the St. Louis community, by providing resources, education, and the opportunity to meet professionals who share a passion for serving others.” The event also raises scholarship funds for hospitality management students.

A post-event survey yielded a number of positive comments from SLUnited attendees.  Guests said they interacted with a “great variety of industry professionals,” and “attendees from various organizations that we normally would not have met.”  Others referred to the “ease and efficiency of the event,” and were happy to see the organization “bringing groups together in one community.”  Devany says many guests also commented on their enjoyment of the discussion panel.

Unique opportunities

SLUnited is always an excellent chance for industry associations, vendors and suppliers to showcase their offerings, too.  (See the end of this story for a guide to this year’s association partners for the event.)

“In my current role, my job is effectively ‘beer tourism’ and telling the incredible story of our city’s brewing industry,” says Troika Brodsky, executive director of the St. Louis Brewers’ Guild and a School for Professional Studies Hospitality Advisory Board member.  “So having the opportunity to work with, and connect with, the hospitality industry through an event like SLUnited is invaluable.

“As executive director of the Brewers Guild, it was my pleasure to bring an array of locally brewed beers for our attendees to sample at SLUnited,” Brodsky says.  “And as one of the owners of Ices Plain & Fancy, it also was my pleasure to treat attendees to ice cream on site.”

The next Hospitality SLUnited event is scheduled for April 20, 2017, at the Wool Ballroom in SLU’s Busch Student Center, 20 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis.  See you there!

For more information, visit the School for Professional Studies page at

 Many thanks to all the corporate and food/beverage sponsors who contributed to the 2016 event.




Hospitality SLUnited 2016 association partners:


EPA-Logo1_1Event Planners Association
The Event Planners Association is designed to empower independent business owners in the event industries; and to help professionals build successful and profitable businesses through the utilization of EPA’s professional business support, education and connection opportunities.
4390 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland  CA  94611
(510) 761-7372


HSMAIHospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
HSMAI’s mission is to grow the business at hotels and their partners through fueling sales, inspiring marketing and optimizing revenue.
7918 Jones Branch Dr., Suite 300
McLean  VA  22102
(703) 506-3280


ILEA_St.Louis_ChapterInternational Live Events Association
We are the principal association representing the world’s largest community of creative event professionals, globally.
330 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 2000
Chicago  IL  60611
(800) 688-4737


stl-mpi-logoMeeting Professionals International – St. Louis Area Chapter
MPI, the world’s largest and most vibrant global association for the meeting and event industry, believes that meeting and event planners serve a critical role in the success of business.  As the global authority and resource for the meeting and event industry, MPI empowers meeting professionals to increase their strategic organizational value through education and networking opportunities. MPI St. Louis Area believes in building connections through knowledge, ideas, relationships and marketplaces.
1693 S. Hanley Road
St. Louis  MO  63144
(314) 416-2234


mo-restaurant-assn-logoMissouri Restaurant Association
Dedicated to serving the needs of the food service and hospitality industry; enhancing and improving its growth and development; assisting and educating its members in operating more effectively; and improving the political and social environment in which the industry conducts business, for the benefit of its members, patrons, employees, and the well being of the community.
1810 Craig Road, Suite 225
St. Louis  MO  63146
(314) 576-2777


SLAHA_2CSt. Louis Area Hotel Association
SLAHA’s mission is to develop an effective working relationship between the general managers of member hotel properties (full service and limited); ensure that members adhere to the highest ethical standards of the lodging industry; provide legislative and regulatory representation on matters pertaining to the lodging and tourism industry; and create a favorable climate that promotes tourism and convention business opportunities.
6590-B Scanlan Ave.
St. Louis  MO  63139
(314) 781-5112


stl-attr-assn-logoSaint Louis Attractions Association
The Saint Louis Attractions Association is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1987 to exchange ideas, methods, and information pertaining to all aspects of the operation and administration of an attraction and its impact on the tourism industry.
1693 S. Hanley Road
St. Louis  MO  63144
(314) 416-2233


slcvc-logo St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission / Explore St. Louis
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is the official destination marketing organization for St. Louis city and St. Louis County for visitors of all types. The CVC also operates the America’s Center® complex and the Dome at America’s Center.
701 Convention Plaza, Ste. 300
St. Louis  MO  63101
(800) 325-7962


hhra-logoSt. Louis Hospitality Human Resources Association
SLHHRA connects human resource professionals in the lodging and hospitality industry.
[email protected]





stial-logoSt. Louis Institute for Association Leadership
The St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership connects association leadership through ideas, collaboration and education that makes them, and their association, stronger.
1693 S. Hanley Road
St. Louis  MO  63144
(314) 416-2250







About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.