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Hospitality Business Graduate Students Participate in STR Competition

The third annual Smith Travel Research (STR) Hotel Market Analysis Competition in New York City on Sunday, November 12, 2017 was represented by five graduate students from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. The annual competition requires students to perform an in-depth market analysis for a city in the USA.

The MSU team selected the city of Chicago, with a presentation title of “Sweet Home Chicago.” Mentored by several Michigan State alumni and guided by Drs. James Kim and A.J. Singh, the students prepared a detailed analysis of the Chicago hotel market.  This included review of its overall market characteristics, demand drivers, supply-demand analysis, comparable city analysis, and trended data and summarized key takeaways for the audience.

The learning experience the competition provided was an important milestone in their hospitality career journey. According to Dr. James Kim, “The student team represented a group with diverse backgrounds, career aspirations, and was an important team building exercise in hospitality graduate education.” Michael Kitchen (BA ’09), partner with Aparium Hotels in Chicago mentioned the Spartan team was impressive in their analysis of the Chicago market and he was happy to support their endeavors.

Outlined briefly below are short biographical sketches of each team member. Congratulations!

  • Dean Zhu (MS ’18) is a second-year graduate student from Suzhou, China. He received his bachelor degree at Sichuan University and San Diego State University for Tourism and Hotel Management. He also worked at Marriott Hotels and the Country Club at Mirasol in Florida. Dean’s ultimate goal is to own and operate a boutique hotel.
  • Fangjie Chen (MS ’18) is a second-year graduate student studying hospitality business management at Michigan State University. He is looking forward to graduating and is interested in a career in revenue management after graduation.
  • Jihwan Yeon (MS ’18) is a second-year graduate student majoring in hospitality business at Michigan State University. His primary research interest is financial strategy within hotel management.  He is also conducting a study about impact of Airbnb.  Jihwan looks forward to graduating and is planning to begin applying for Ph.D. programs.
  • Kress O’Leary (MS ’18) is a second-year graduate student earning his master’s degree in hospitality business management.  As an undergraduate at MSU he started working at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts where he currently is employed as a House Manager.  After graduation Kress is interested in continuing working as a manager for an arts organization.
  • Cameron A. Thomas (MS ’18) is a second-year graduate student in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in foodservice management. While at MSU, Cameron has been involved in a variety of activities and leadership roles, including; President of the Spartan Enology Society, Heart of House Director for Les Gourmets, member of the Graduate Programming Committee, as well as being currently employed as a Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant.  He plans to begin a career in food and beverage management.

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