Danielle Irey, senior in hospitality, is undeniably driven by passion.
Her upbringing in a passionate NASCAR family allowed her to pursue every opportunity in the world of motorsports, including internships at race tracks, professional experience at NASCAR events, and serving as president of the Rebel Racing team. UNLV.
More recently, Irey has been able to combine his passion for motorsport with his academic activities.
“I knew when I transferred to UNLV that I wanted to do something in sports and events operations,” Irey said. “Being able to have a course that integrates both sport and hospitality is really exciting. »
The New Jersey native’s dream came true when her TCA 410 class partnered with Las Vegas Grand Prix, Inc. (LVGP), venturing into the fast-paced world of event management. Their project moved away from the more typical aspects of events, such as logistics or guest management, to focus on a crucial, but lesser known, aspect of the hospitality industry: food waste.
LVGP asked the class to develop a food recovery plan for one of the organization’s high-end hospitality spaces. During an intense five-week summer course, Irey and her classmates researched ways to redirect surplus food to a local food bank and repurpose leftover food into livestock feed, while respecting the high standards of the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The underlying goal of the collaboration was to address the problem of food insecurity in Southern Nevada.
“Through this partnership, we are directing our resources to address some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities for local families and communities, with a particular focus on reducing hunger in local communities,” said Pilar Harris, Director head of corporate social responsibility and government relations. for LVGP.
During the development of the plan, students toured the convention services department of a major Las Vegas Strip property, gleaning invaluable insights into implementing food recovery practices. They also visited Republic Services and the Las Vegas Livestock Farm to better understand the logistics involved in transporting and reusing food scraps. Finally, they learned about the food recovery process and the requirements of Three squares Food Bank.
The experience reflects a profound shift underway in the Las Vegas sports and entertainment industry, which is faced with the need to balance customer experience while keeping an eye on sustainability and social responsibility.
“As an events professional, I have noticed an emerging trend in organizations that are focusing on event sustainability,” said the TCA 410 instructor. Heather Willden. “More and more organizations are working to reduce their environmental footprint while cultivating a positive impact on the communities they serve. »
Throughout the project, students faced a unique set of challenges. Since the Las Vegas race is a first-time event, students lacked historical data as a reference point for their planning efforts. Additionally, the inclusion of a food and beverage package with each ticket required the organization to prepare larger quantities of catering than usual.
Additionally, students had to navigate the logistical maze of transporting food in and around the Las Vegas Strip Circuit™, the expenses associated with trucks, and the requirements for preserving food until transport. Balancing the demands of event operations while maintaining a high customer experience presented another difficult tightrope to walk.
“We had to keep an eye on the big picture while paying attention to every detail,” Irey said. “We had to be mindful that our efforts didn’t compromise the experience, especially when customers are paying full price.”
As an increasing number of sports teams call Vegas home, more businesses will ask hospitality professionals to help develop their food sustainability plans. And with collaborations like the LVGP Food Recovery Project under their belt, Irey and her classmates will be ready to carry them to the finish line.