Schwebel Lecture Series speaker to discuss hospitality industry

Megan Ayscue

Karim Khalifa, senior vice president of Marriott Global Design Strategies, will be the 20th Anniversary Schwebel Lecture Series speaker.

The Schwebel Lecture will take place Today at 4 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva. The event is free.

“I really want to talk about innovation and the possibilities of thinking about how to create experiences and how it can be exciting to find new paths for creating experiences,” Khalifa said. “That is part of the hospitality school’s future when all of these great minds come out of university.”

Khalida also wants to speak about the “very positive nature” in the growth of the hospitality industry.

“The second part I want to talk about is … the appetite to travel continues to be a driving force in the world (despite current political and social conditions),” Khalifa said. “The fact that people know each other from different places and experience each other’s worlds is one of the fundamental ways to stabilize the way we think about one another.”

Khalifa has been senior vice president for 18 years. He said research is vital to his job in understanding guests to make their experience the best it can be.

“It’s important to understand what guests want from an experience,” he said. “I think design thinking today is the same basic question we asked as when we were small children, and that is ‘Why are we doing something, why does the guest want this?’ That’s the part I love about my job — is asking why.”

Creating an experience is more important than the individual parts, Khalifa said. It’s a concept he hopes to impart on students that attend the lecture.

“I’m still in awe of people that go into this field,” Khalifa said. “So many of them come with that disposition of wanting to create experiences for other human beings and I think it’s an amazing skill set to have.”

Khalifa said he is looking forward to the Q&A session with the students because he is excited to see students engage in the conversation.

“I’m honesty honored (to be asked to speak),” Khalifa said. “I met (the offer) with flattery and anxiety.”

Megan Ayscue is an administration reporter, contact her at [email protected]