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Niagara University students earn top honors at inaugural Smith Travel Research competition


Thu, Nov 12th 2015 01:45 pm
Fr. Maher, second from left, with the winning team.
Fr. Maher, second from left, with the winning team.

Four students from Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management captured first place at Smith Travel Research's inaugural Market Study Competition.

The competition was held Nov. 8 at the HX: The Hotel Experience conference (formerly the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show) in New York City.

Niagara seniors Jenna Roberts, Carl Bailey, Adam Zarczynski and International University of Applied Sciences exchange student Fabian Lehmann spent two months preparing a comprehensive analysis of market research data of the Greater Buffalo hotel market.

During the hotel show, the students delivered a near flawless and carefully crafted 30-minute presentation. The expert panel of three independent judges unanimously selected Niagara over the other six finalists.

Finalists were selected from 27 teams that represented the leading hospitality schools from throughout the U.S. Each team selected a major metropolitan market to research, analyze and present their findings and recommendations. The finalists included teams from DePaul University, San Diego State University, the University of New Orleans, the University of San Francisco, Texas Tech University and San Francisco State University.   

Drs. William D. Frye and Chang Huh, faculty members from the university's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, supervised team Niagara's research and presentation. Frye teaches an advanced hotel operations course and certification in hotel industry analytics while Huh serves as an instructor for courses on analytical methods of planning and control as well as the hospitality luxury marketing and sales.

Dr. Kurt Stahura, dean of NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, noted winning the inaugural STR Market Study Competition validates both the relevance and importance of the college's focus in incorporating analytics and market research into its applied focus curriculum.

"Our students are prepared by our highly educated and experienced world-class faculty to succeed and excel immediately after graduation in today's competitive business environments," Stahura said. "Niagara's hospitality students are sought out by the leading hotel companies, foodservice employers and private clubs, because of their excellent academic preparation, experiential training and exhibited professionalism." 

After winning the inaugural STR Market Study Competition, the students presented the award to the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, during a reception held at the New York Palace hotel in New York City.

Current students, alumni, donors and friends of Niagara University learned that Maher, unbeknownst to the team, had placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the competition with the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., a 1985 Niagara alumnus who serves as president of DePaul University. Maher offered to send Buffalo chicken wings to Chicago if DePaul won while Holtschneider promised Chicago-style deep dish pizza would be sent to Monteagle Ridge, should the NU team triumph. A deep-dish pizza - with Buffalo chicken baked in - will be headed north soon. 

To learn more about Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, visit www.niagara.edu/hospitality or call 716-286-8279.

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