STHM welcomes 21st Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference
Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) hosted the 21st Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference Jan. 7-9 at the Doubletree Hotel in Philadelphia.
More than 325 faculty and graduate students in the fields of tourism and hospitality management attended the conference This annual conference provides a platform for networking and the exchange and fostering of cutting-edge research within the tourism and hospitality fields.
One of the conference’s top highlights came from a keynote address delivered by Christopher Thompson, President and CEO of BrandUSA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States. Mid-sentence, Thompson paused his keynote and allowed a smile to inch across his face. He couldn’t help himself, as he enjoys talking about what he loves.
“I did not create this brand, but it’s one of the most-compelling brands in the world,” Thompson said, referring to the United States. “Those three letters – USA – are intimidating. But I’m lucky. In my job, I get to wrap my arms around those three letters and leverage their power and brand. And to me, we’re only getting started.”
Thompson emphasized the significant role that destination marketing plays in the tourism and hospitality industries. “It’s all about taking (visitors) to, through, and beyond the gateways,” he said, “and that’s our goal.”
A welcome session by STHM and Sponsors’ Reception capped the first day of the three-day conference. “Our school will soon celebrate its 18th anniversary, and I know this elite conference will serve as one of the highlights in our history,” said STHM Associate Dean Dr. Elizabeth H. Barber, the conference’s chair, who lauded the tireless efforts of conference program chair Dr. Michael (Chihyung) Ok.
“The publicly recognizable brand of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management is well documented,” said STHM Dean Dr. M. Moshe Porat. “It brings me great joy that STHM is contributing to Temple’s historic ascension.”
Thompson, of Brand USA, joined two others as the conference’s keynote speakers. Jack Ferguson, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, spoke to attendees Jan. 7, sharing all that the City of Brotherly Love has to offer. The next evening, following Thompson’s lunchtime address Jan. 8, Duane Vinson gave attendees a glimpse into his work as Vice President and Assistant Director of STR SHARE Center, which serves as the barometer for all hotel statistics research and works with hospitality and tourism schools around the world.
Additionally, the conference afforded academics plenty of time for networking with friends, old and new.
“The conference provided a chance for a reunion – a reunion for Temple alumni, researchers in a related field, and, of course, graduate students,” said Dr. Dan Wang, a professor from the School of Hotel & Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who earned her PhD at the Fox School of Business and STHM. “In such a reunion, ideas are developed, and friendships are built and sustained. Through the conference, Temple, as the host university, gained more awareness and understanding from the fellows and students in the field.”
Two individual awards were presented at the conference’s conclusion. Dr. Richard Perdue of Virginia Tech University received the Founder’s Award, in recognition of his world-class scholarship and research contributions in tourism and hospitality. The Founder’s Award is handed out annually in honor of conference founder Dr. Kaye Chon, of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Additionally, Dr. Fevzi Okumus of the University of Central Florida received the University of Delaware Michael D. Olsen Research Achievement Award, recognizing scholars who have concentrated on hospitality at a higher level and have entered the scientific realm of new knowledge contribution.
Lastly, four best-paper honors were awarded:
- The International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management recognized Oklahoma State’s Haemi Kim and Hailin Qu for their paper, “The Consequences of Experienced Customer Incivility in the Hospitality Industry.”
- The Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research honored Washington State’s Lu Lu and Dogan Gursoy, and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics’ Li Pan for their paper, “Developing a Destination Brand Personality Scale of China.”
- The Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing awarded Purdue University’s Saerom Wang and Xinran Lehto, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Ksenia Kirillova for their paper, “Reconciling Unsatisfying Tourism Experiences: Message Type Effectiveness and the Role of Counterfactual Thinking.”
- The Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology recognized Kansas State University’s Xiaoye Li, Bongsug (Kevin) Chae, Chen-Wei Tao, and Junehee Kwon, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Han Wen for their paper, “Investigating Dining Experiences at Chinese Restaurants Using User-Generated Content and Topic Modeling.”
The nation’s fifth-largest city, Philadelphia provided an ideal backdrop for the conference. The city, a premier destination for global visitors, hosted Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September 2015, and is gearing up for the Democratic National Convention. The New York Times ranked Philadelphia No. 3 on its top places to visit in 2015, and Travel + Leisure Magazine labeled the city “America’s Next Great Food City.” In November 2015, Philadelphia became the first U.S. municipality to be named a World Heritage City, validating its global tourism stature.
“Philadelphia is an extraordinary place, as is Temple University,” Barber said. “And we’re glad you had an opportunity to experience a little of both.”