At the Tisch Center, undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to design and conduct research studies in the fields of hospitality, travel and tourism, and event management. In this post, four students in the Spring 2022 capstone cohort, Sam Arpino, Megan Grote, Stacy Zuniga, and Shae Zhao, provide details on their research endeavors and highlight key takeaways from their projects.
Sam Arpino, MS in Event Management
Thesis Research Topic: DEI in the Events Industry - While diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been a topic of interest & priority in traditional businesses, innovative companies, & politics for over a decade, the events industry seems to be lagging behind in its participation in this discourse.
Objectives: This original research identified strategies for event professionals, informed by event professionals and peer-reviewed academic research, to incorporate DEI practices into their work. This research is intended to begin closing the gap in DEI standards, knowledge, and strategies within the events industry.
Key Findings: After conducting 30 in-depth interviews with event professionals, a thematic analysis was used to transform the data into actionable takeaways. This resulted in the development of seven strategies for event professionals to incorporate DEI into their work:Be overt in the articulation of not making assumptions about the clients.
- Be overt in the articulation of not making assumptions about the clients.
Do the internal work to better understand your own identities, which will then lend to understanding your unique value to clients as well as your potential limitations.
Reinvest money into the communities from which you’re seeking clients.
Seek to understand the lived experience of people with marginalized identities, and compensate them accordingly.
After making strides on a personal and professional level, indicate explicitly on external materials that you have a commitment to DEI to signal to potential clients that you are a “safe” person to work with.
Advocate for DEI to be prioritized across the industry, not just within your own work.
Get comfortable with being clumsy.
Megan Grote, MS in Event Management
Thesis Research Topic: Due to mega-sport events’ inherent global influence and cultural role, for my thesis, I decided to center my research around sustainability and ethical responsibilities in mega-sport events (i.e. large-scale sport events at an international level).
Objectives: The aim of my study was to explore sustainability and the ethical responsibilities in mega-sport events and define the key duties and responsible parties when hosting a mega-sport event. With the intent of providing a holistic perspective and recommendations for the mega-sport events industry sector, my research included interview subjects ranging from experts on sustainability in sporting events to mega-sport event spectators.
Sustainability is misperceived as being only about the environment - it can also include sustainability relating to socio-cultural, human, or economic factors.
Mega-sport events do not take enough advantage of their global platforms and have become passive to their role in long-term sustainability and negative impacts such as the gentrification of select communities.
There is an immense need for systemic change and accountability structures in mega-sport events in order to minimize the negative impacts they have on the environment and various stakeholders in the mega-sport event industry.
Stacy Zuniga, MS in Event Management
Thesis Research Topic: How can event planners create more memorable experiences for event attendees, specifically in Networking Events.
Objectives: My objective for this study was to understand the "attendee perception"; what elements of the networking event do the attendees most remember. What is their experience pre-event, during the event, and post-event? All these different timelines influence the attendee experience and ultimately construct the event's success.
Know your target audience. Attendees are more inclined to attend events that mirror their likes and interests, make sure your promotional material resembles your audience.
Let your attendees network, don't restrict your attendees to a table, or a group. Let them roam around and network!
Shae Zhao, BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management - Concentration in Marketing and Revenue Management
Thesis Research Topic: My study aimed to determine best practices in planning effective social media programs for independent hotels.
Objectives: My objective was to find out the best platform, strategy, and content for independent hotels to conduct social media marketing practices to increase awareness and maintain customer relationships.
Key Findings: My key findings are that customers are highly visually-driven when using social media to check independent hotels, therefore, independent hotels are expected to post high quality and appealing pictures on their social media. My results also show that although only 24% of the respondents prefer to use independent hotels' websites to book rooms, 64.7% of the respondents think they are likely to book through the hotels' website if accessible through the hotels' social media if the account is well-managed.