STHM graduate student wins award for industry-trends research
Cassandra Ball has tourism in her blood.
“I grew up inside Yellowstone National Park,” said Ball, a native of Park County, Montana. “Tourism is what we do. It’s all we know.”
Ball, a second-year graduate student at Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), received the John & Joan Markham Tourism Marketing Award for her research into the economic and political effects of trends on the industry.
Ball received the award, from the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA), at the 2015 Marketing Outlook Forum, held Oct. 26-28 at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia.
Encouraged by STHM Associate Professor Dr. Ceridwyn King to enter the TTRA research competition, Ball presented in her winning research paper An analysis of the effects of trends, including those economic and political, on the tourism and hospitality industries. Ball, who aspires to use research methods for improving the experiences of destination travelers, said she was pleased with how her research expressed her professional passion.
“It was surreal for my work to have been recognized by people I idolize,” said Ball, 23. “Being in an industry where people float in and out is wonderful. It’s community-oriented and the connections are great.”
Despite her latent passion and innate knack for tourism, Ball was originally destined for a career in environmental law. She studied political science and economics at Clarion University, in Clarion, Pa. She credited summers spent working for the Yellowstone National Park Visitors Center for shifting her professional focus.
“We were able to see how increasing visitation affected our community,” Ball said. “It grew to be a destination instead of a small town in middle-of-nowhere Montana.”
Upon graduation from Clarion, Ball immediately sought the best university for learning the nuances of the tourism and hospitality fields. Her search led to STHM at Temple University.
“I love helping people. I love that this industry does that. That’s why I wanted to come to Temple and get a graduate degree,” said Ball, who will earn her Master’s of Tourism and Hospitality Management (MTHM) degree in May, 2016.
Ball’s experiences at STHM have uncovered new professional interests. She manages social media and replies to new-student inquiries in her work as a marketing and recruitment graduate extern at STHM. And her MTHM program has introduced her to revenue management, event planning, and electronic marketing.
Ball’s hometown has a population of 25. She spent her undergraduate career in another small town. Moving to Philadelphia, she said, would require an adjustment. Her recognition of Philadelphia as a hub for urban tourism helped ease her decision. Ball said she knew that if she wanted to expand her skills in leisure tourism that she’d need to move outside of her comfort zone.
“Throw me in any position and just let me have it,” Ball said. “If I want to do something, I want to do it in full.”