The University of Central Florida recently held its ninth annual Showcase of Diverse Student Research, where nearly 200 graduate students from various disciplines presented their research through creative poster displays to faculty judges. This year, judges crowned 18 winners for their work, including Jeannie Hahm, a Ph.D. candidate at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

Hahm won the Business Administration & Hospitality Management category for her presentation entitled “Building a Sense of Community through Annual Meetings and the Influence on Future Intentions.”

Based on her ongoing dissertation, Hahm’s presentation focused on the sense of community (SOC) among association members. Hahm’s research examines whether an annual meeting enhances SOC; if SOC influences satisfaction with the meeting experience; and if SOC will lead to future intentions, such as renewing membership, returning next year, and recommending membership to others.

“The major contribution of my study is adopting the SOC model from psychology to gain a better understanding of attendee behavior,” said Hahm. “By doing so, this study will add a theoretical foundation to the existing research in the meeting industry. Also, this study will contribute to the SOC research in psychology by applying the concept to a different setting.”

Hahm is collecting data by distributing a survey online to national/international associations. The questionnaire consists of four sections: sense of community, satisfaction with conference, future intentions, and member profile. Confirmatory factor analysis will be conducted to test the factor structure and regression analysis will be used to examine the relationships.

In addition to its contribution to academia, the findings have practical implications. Associations and meeting organizers should be able to see how important SOC is and what aspects of the meeting to focus on for a better experience.

Dr. Deborah Breiter, a professor at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, is serving as Hahm’s mentor and co-author.