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Broad hospitality business students win first place at global competition

By Haley Tran, student writer
Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Last month, a team of Broad hospitality business students won first place at the 2022 Smith Travel Research Global Student Market Study Competition. STR is a leading provider of premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for 75,000 hotel properties across the globe and the organizer of this annual higher education competition.

Rising above 28 global teams, the winning Broad Spartans were hospitality business juniors Live Cannella and Paige Japlit, hospitality business seniors Jaylyn Rowley and Miquela Ochoa, marketing and hospitality business senior Haley Tran and finance senior David Burt. They were guided by faculty advisers and associate professors in the School of Hospitality Business JaeMin Cha and Seung Hyun Kim.

“During the pandemic, the hospitality industry was inarguably hit the hardest, so data analytics and market analyses are more important than ever to industry professionals,” said Kim, who has been co-coaching students for this competition over the last six years. “Understanding this pain point, the team decided to look into Los Angeles, a unique hospitality and real estate market with ample potential for investment and a millennial- and Gen Z–dominated customer demographic.”

The competition grants students a unique learning experience to conduct deep analysis of hospitality markets, interpret data and provide data-driven recommendations, all presented to a panel of industry judges in 30 minutes. The legwork took six months of surveying industry experts and alumni, along with many hours of data visualization, market research and collaboration to craft a winning presentation.

“The number of hours that our team put in over the past months finally feels like it paid off,” Cannella said. “I was extremely grateful that our evaluators saw that and appreciated our choice to build a meaningful story around the City of Angels. Behind the tale of Los Angeles we told, there was also team effort, hard work and countless hours spent outside of the classroom.”

It has been a deeply gratifying experience to work alongside my peers and represent Michigan State at such a big competition.
Haley Tran

Perhaps what makes this victory so remarkable is the fact that it marks the third time Michigan State University has won the STR competition — an honor that no other school has earned.

“No words can describe how much this victory means to us. It was so exhilarating and rewarding when our team was announced as the first-place winner,” Cha said. “Seung Hyun and I have coached many different student competitions during our time as faculty members, but the STR Competition is one of the most challenging and competitive. This year’s team has worked tirelessly to showcase their best level of work and bring their data analysis to life in a virtual environment. The panel of industry judges was impressed by the Broad team’s multifaceted market analysis, natural presentation style and strong overall branding.”

Additionally, Spartans have competed in the STR competition since 2017 and have landed in the top three a total of five times. One of the key highlights of the Broad College’s hospitality business program is the number of competitions, trade shows and conferences its students participate in. Broad students’ excellence in this competition continuously raises the standards for other universities.

“JaeMin and I are extremely honored to participate in this prestigious competition and see our students win first place,” Kim said. “I was truly impressed with our students’ work ethic, dedication and commitment.”

Tran, who also competed in the event in 2021, added, “It has been a deeply gratifying experience to work alongside my peers and represent Michigan State at such a big competition. We couldn’t have won first place without the unwavering support of all faculty and staff members in our school.”

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