This innovative project was the idea and brain-child of RIT Hospitality and Tourism Management student Scott Serron. Serron attended a presentation at RIT's Student Innovation Center with his Facilities Management class. Students were encouraged to find a friend in another major and see if they could come up with a unique and innovative product that might make the world a better place. Serron engaged the interest of a friend studying packaging science. Together they developed Disolvubbles.
Disolvubbles is dissolvable packaging for hotel soaps, shampoos, and body lotions. The packaging is intended for cruise lines, hotels, campers, and any other places using guestrooms. Its strongest appeal is that it is very "green."
The reduction of waste in the universe is a major issue in today's modern world. The students' idea, and a sample demonstration of their product, was featured at the 2010 Imagine Festival at RIT. They won the "Most Likely to be Commercialized" ribbon at the Imagine festival and their work was also featured in local and regional media. The students embodied not only the essence of innovation imbedded RIT, but perfectly demonstrated the cross-disciplinary, collaborative spirit that fuses the College of Applied Science and Technology together.
RIT students create a 'missing link' for the world's hospitality industry
Three RIT students from the class of 2008 transformed a key portion of how Rochester-area hotels do business—and looked to expand their impact across the country.
Breana Sniezek, Chris Geiss and Marc Baumbach created a Web site, HotelProxy.com, which revolutionizes the way hotels communicate with one another.
Hotels have traditionally relied on phone calls as a primary method of communication, meaning each hotel spends hours on the phone to ascertain rate and availability information from other hotels within their market.
Sniezek, who graduated with a degree in hotel and resort management, has worked at various Rochester-area hotels while at RIT.
"One night we were all talking, and Chris and Marc asked me what part of my job I disliked the most," Sniezek says. "I thought about it for a minute, and then I immediately said the 'call-around' system. I hated having to walk away from customers to answer the phone."
Geiss and Baumbach thought the problem sounded easy to solve. They spent two straight weeks, working 60 hours a week, developing HotelProxy.com. Meanwhile, Sniezek conducted a feasibility study as part of her senior project, which is a requirement for all graduates in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department. The trio presented its beta Web version of Hotel Proxy to the Rochester Hotel Association. Soon after, more than 30 hotels signed up for the service. An article on the effort made the New York Times in January, 2009!
Hospitality and Tourism Management professor David Crumb, who has served as an advisor to the group, thinks Hotel Proxy will fill a void in the hospitality industry.
"It's a perfect case of high-tech and high touch coming together and coming up with something useful," Crumb says. "It's simple, it's needed and it's working. They've really done their craft well."
Jeff Schutt, an alumnus of the Hospitality and Tourism Department and general manager of the Greece Courtyard by Marriott, has been one of Hotel Proxy's biggest advocates.
"We've got one person at our front desk, checking people in, checking people out, and completing various other tasks. Before, we'd be getting more than 20 calls a day from other hotels inquiring about our rates and availability. We'd have to stop what we were doing to answer that call," Schutt says. "Hotel Proxy has really eliminated those disruptive phone calls."
Geiss says the group received similar feedback from other users.
"We completed a survey of all our users and the results were very positive," he says. "One woman said we need to get all hotels to use Hotel Proxy."