Laurie Stroll '83 and the Craft of Destination Management
June 16, 2014
"We've moved mountains for people," remarked Hospitality (HTM) graduate Laurie Stroll '83 on a recent visit to Isenberg. In April, the department honored Stroll with its highest alumni accolade, The Stephen E. Elmont Award, at a banquet in Boston befitting Stroll's own high professional standards.
As president and owner of Newport Hospitality in Newport, Rhode Island, Stroll is an eloquent, energetic advocate for her profession, Destination Management. Drawing on a fount of local knowledge, relationships, and resources, Stroll and her management team craft and execute resonant, high-touch experiences-events, tours, special activities, and their accompanying logistics, for her mostly high-end corporate clients.
In recognition of her professional accomplishments and involvement with the HTM program and its students, Stroll and her company offer the opposite of commoditization. "Everything is customized; everything is priced differently," she observed. Still, her firm's program managers draw on considerable business savvy and long-standing business relationships to secure value for their customers in pricing as well as service.
The company's footprint covers Rhode Island-especially Newport and Providence-and to a lesser extent southern Connecticut. Its website is expansive in highlighting its highly nuanced services. Coordinating transportation and program logistics around Newport for 500 celebrants at a company's 75th anniversary gathering; creating an original "out of the box" event at Newport's iconic Marble House Mansion and its nearby Chinese Tea House-those and other projects combine great managerial savvy with artisanal discipline and attention to detail.
Next year, Stroll and her team will coordinate events for thousands of visitors who will visit Newport when it hosts the Volvo Ocean Race, a round-the-world sailing competition. "Newport is the only U.S. stopover among ten around the globe," she noted. "A year out, we are working overtime on hotel and event accommodations for an international influx of visitors."
Career Path and Connection with Isenberg
The entrepreneurial Isenberg graduate joined Newport Hospitality in 1992, where she focused on event and meeting planning and support. In 2004, she bought the business, which she has grown while underscoring its destination management identity. In 2006, Newport Hospitality became a member of the DMC Network, an exclusive worldwide alliance of independently owned Destination Management companies. A year later, it became the first and only destination management company in Rhode Island with certification from the industry's chief accreditation body, the Association of Destination Management Executives International.
Stroll remains committed to Isenberg's HTM program through her mentorship of its students and her annual Laurie Ziino Stroll Scholarship reserved for a single mother enrolled at Isenberg, preferably an HTM major. Stroll's annual scholarship recalls her own challenges three decades ago as a student and single mother in HTM's predecessor, the Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration. Then as now, the program attracted high-energy students characterized by Stroll as self-starters and leaders. Also like today, it emphasized experiential, hands-on learning. For Stroll, that included a challenging internship with Hampshire College's Food Services. "I loved the hospitality program and campus back then," she reminisced. "It was fantastic when the program became part of Isenberg [in 2002]. Employers, including me, greatly value hospitality students with business school skills."