When the new Section H arrived at the Eagle Mountain House, a resort in Jackson, New Hampshire, they thought they were just in for a fun weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the Harvard Business School and Boston, but instead the community invited them as a group of distinguished guests.
So how did a ragtag group of HBS students become distinguished guests just for visiting an out of the way New Hampshire town?
The secret goes back to the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Rohan Gopaldas, a member of Section H, just happened to go to the Cornell Hotel School, the same school that the general manager of the Eagle Mountain House. Jerry Jacobson, Cornell Hotel School Class of 1976, had met Rohan in 2001. Jerry had hosted a group of students, including Rohan, for a retreat at the Emerson Inn in upstate New York, another hotel that Jerry managed.
So when the planning of the retreat began, Rohan knew to call Jerry to get the best deal. Jerry helped to set up a package including rooms, food, beverage, and even conference space. He also asked what countries Section H represented. Discovering that the section represented 25 countries, (Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uganda, UK, Ukraine, and the USA) Jerry then went ahead and obtained flags to be propped up in front of the hotel before the arrival of Section H. He hung them in alphabetical order, in following United Nation’s etiquette as they took up almost every single column in front of the hotel house. This was in fact the first time anyone from Uganda has visited the hotel, so Jerry had to special order the flag not already in his collection.
This news was then communicated to the local community and before you knew it, an article appeared in The Mountain Ear-The Weekly News and Lifestyle Journal of Mount Washington Valley on page two.
The paper wrote that this was a “milestone for the Eagle Mountain House and probably any hotel in the Mt. Washington Valley.” The “sheer number of countries visiting this one location at the same time” made the fall foliage-viewing season even more special. This was in fact “one of the largest assemblages of international guests in [Jackson, New Hampshire] history with visitors from.nearly every continent on the planet, except Antarctica.”
After that, the New Hampshire Sunday News picked up the story and printed another article on the front page of their Travel and Leisure section. They called this event an “international summit” with the guests including “a mix of tour groups, retreat of internationals from Harvard University, and those traveling on their own.”
“‘We’re calling it the G-25,’ [Jerry Jacobson] said” comparing the group of visitors to the “international G-20 summit of world leaders” who recently were in Pittsburgh, PA.
Perhaps this international delegation is just a couple of years away from being real world leaders and on the path to becoming true members of the G-20.
Yong-yi Zhu is from Shanghai, China and is in his first year at the Harvard Business School. Before HBS, he wrote for MIT’s The Tech as a sports columnist and a movie reviewer.