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Masters Students Make it to the Finals of the Ras Al Khaimah Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge

By: Jamie Cann
First Published: October 1, 2018
Topics: STHM School

STHM master’s degree students Dyshaun Hines and Jasmine Carceres will travel to Ras Al Khaimah to present their pitch for the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Adventure Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge.


It is a well-known fact that the Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) provides students with as much hands-on, real-world experience as possible. But for two students in particular, this would come in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Back in early 2018, Dr. Benjamin Altschuler—STHM Master of Science in Travel and Tourism Academic Director and Assistant Professor of Instruction—invited his students to take part in the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge—an annual competition where students from across the world pitch a special multi-day event highlighting their adventure sport scene. Out of hundreds of thousands of global entries, 3 finalist groups were selected with one of those groups being STHM master’s degree students Dyshaun Hines and Jasmine Carceres.


A Chance Team With the Odds Stacked

In the beginning, Hines and Carceres were no more than acquaintances in the same STHM online course taught by Dr. Altschuler. They shared no previous history of collaboration, but decided to work together because they were the first two students to respond. In the early days, Hines and Carceres were not alone. Two fellow Master of Travel and Tourism students worked with them to kick off the project— including Patrick Robbins. As one can imagine, planning a ground-up, international, multi-day event in a few months is a pretty tall order. Due to outside obligations, work schedules, academic demands, Hines and Carcerest team dwindled to a team of two. With the two of them having the odds stacked against them, it seemed like the project was over before it began. But they knew they didn’t want to go down without a fight and decided to move forward.

Working only virtually with Google Docs, Google Drive and a ticking clock, Hines and Carceres quickly divided up what needed to be done based on their strengths and previous experiences. STHM also played a key role in the planning stages with Dr. Altschuler offering advice and information on cultural relations and event planning from their Tourism and Events course taught by Ira Rosen, Assistant Professor at STHM, guiding the way. After many phone calls, video conferences, emails, shared files and a few, what the two referred to as “undergrad all-nighters” The RAK Relay began to take shape.


The RAK Relay

Hines and Carceres vision for the RAK Relay is one that combines the elements of adventure-sports competitions like The Tough Mudder with those from music and food events like the Made in America Festival. They wanted the event to not only be something participants wanted to return to each year, but also showcase what the country has to offer in order to promote it as a year-round, vacation destination.

When it came to selecting the adventure sports for The RAK Relay, they wanted to choose events that would offer participants a taste of each of the diverse terrains existing within Ras Al Khaimah as well as be inclusive for participants of varying athletic ability.

Their first choice was cycling due to the vast popularity of the sport within the country itself as well as cyclists being the athletes most willing to travel for their sport. Yachting was the next chosen activity since Ras Al Khaimah has access to beautiful waterways and a close proximity to Dubai offering participants easy access to boat rentals and necessary equipment. Hiking was added to the roster in order to highlight the gorgeous mountain ranges and sprawling views of historic sites and stone houses. And finally, to offer participants an exciting adventure in the rolling dunes of the picturesque Ras Al Khaimah desert, Hines and Carceres added quadding or ATV-ing. Quadding is large industry of Ras Al Khaimah opening the door for easy equipment rentals as well as sponsorship opportunities. Each of the sporting events will take place over the course of 24-48 hours with awards given to those who come in first as well as those who scored high and those who participate in multiple events. Prizes include free admission for the following year and swag bags with products from local and international sponsors.

In order to expose visitors and participants to the local culture and history of Ras Al Khaimah, Hines and Carceres added experiential activities to The RAK Relay including the Bites of RAK which highlights food and drinks from local vendors, a RAK scavenger hunt that allows spectators and visitors to experience the nation’s history while taking a ride on the world’s longest zipline and finally, a closing night concert featuring showcasing local, national and global talent offering the perfect end to an adventure-packed event.


To Ras Al Khaimah We Go

After many weeks of sleepless nights and hard work, Hines and Carceres submission for the RAK Relay—which consisted of a 3-minute video and 5,000-word written pitch — was complete and sent with only minutes to spare before the 3:00 a.m. deadline in April of 2018. The two weren’t sure what to expect, but despite it all, they were proud of what they had accomplished.

Weeks came and went without word until one morning in July. Hines began his Saturday as most of us do, waking up and checking our phones. He scrolled through his emails and instantly noticed one from the Ras Al Khaimah Travel Authority. When he opened it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The work paid off and the two were headed to Ras Al Khaimah as finalists with a chance to bring The RAK Relay to fruition. He immediately called Carceres–who was vacationing in Florida at the time— to tell her the news.

Hines and Carceres knew they had a lot of work ahead before the pitch. They needed more tangible data, budget projections, logistics and more. Now, the real work would begin. Carceres took the reigns with marketing and organizing the data while Hines took charge of creating logos, beefing up their video presentation and coordinating the scheduling of events. When it came to their initial submission, the duo’s goal was to see it complete. Now, their mission was to see it polished.

Now that the dust has settled and the last details are put into the project, Hines and Carceres prepare to not only visit Ras Al Khaimah—a first for both—but also to finally meet. Despite all the work that went into The RAK Relay, the day the two fly out of the U.S. will also be the day they actually meet face to face.

When asked about their feelings on winning the contest, both are confident they have a strong chance of going all the way. But win or lose, they both are very grateful for the experience overall. Carceres comments, “it’s one thing to learn about this sort of thing in a classroom, but to experience it first-hand is incredible. STHM definitely gave me the tools that helped this project come to life.” Hines shared a similar sentiment by saying, “STHM and Dr. Altschuler gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we might never would have had otherwise.”

Join us in wishing this fabulous team luck and bringing this victory home to STHM!


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