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HRSM Ph.D. students excel at national conference

Posted on: January 17, 2017

The University of South Carolina College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management put on quite a show at the 22nd Annual Graduate Student Conference for Hospitality and Tourism this month.

HRSM had the conference’s largest contingent, with ten Ph.D. students and eight faculty members attending the conference in Houston Jan. 5-7. The biggest prize from the event came home to Columbia with them, as Rui Qi and her advisor, David Cardenas, won the Best Paper Award sponsored by Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management for the paper “Longitudinal Value Relevance of Advertising Expenditures in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry: Investments or Expenses.”

“We should all be impressed with the hard work that every one of these students put into their papers and research,” said Robin DiPietro, interim director and professor in the School of Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management. “We were the most represented university at the entire conference, having 95 percent of our Ph.D. students there and all active in their research.”

"It was pretty cool to see our students present,” Cardenas said. “There were some really good presentations up there, but I think overall our students did the best… We got a lot of great compliments from people there about our students and about our faculty."

Qi earned the Best Paper award for research which Cardenas said is groundbreaking for the accounting side of the hospitality and tourism industry. Her goal is to show that marketing expenses should be thought of not as an annual expense, but as a long-term investment. She studied the advertising expenditures over 10 years for 176 companies including Marriott, Hilton, McDonald’s, and all the major airlines, and examined the effect of advertising on profits over that time.

"Companies try to invest too much money in marketing without knowing if their marketing is effective or not,” Qi said. "This research is about assessing marketing efforts from an accounting perspective."

"She came with this idea to me three years ago when she first got here [to USC],” Cardenas said. “It's been a long-term process. I think we’re almost there and we're going to submit the final paper [for publication] hopefully soon."

It was the first time at the conference for many of those who attended, and Qi said the large group of familiar faces was a key to success. "We support each other, help each other among the students," she said.

Along with Qi, students Thomas Pratt, Pei Zhang, Jing Li, Somang Min, Chuhan Wang, Jamie Levitt, Jeff Kreeger, Neil Li and Scott Taylor attended the conference.

DiPietro thanked all the Ph.D. advisors and graduate faculty in HRTM for their work preparing the students, and said she hopes to see every Ph.D. student attend the 2018 conference in Dallas-Ft. Worth. “Our reputation grows each time we do something like this,” she said.