Graduate students from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida are helping a major player in the timeshare industry solve a huge problem – increasing inventory in the vacation ownership secondary market. RCI, the world’s largest and most experienced vacation exchange company, served as the inaugural sponsor of the Masters Level Immersive Learning Project at Rosen College, donating graduate student scholarships to help solve this real life business challenge.

It all started with Bob Kobek, president of Mobius VP LLC (Customer Count), a company that services the timeshare industry. Kobek initiated the idea of the Masters Level Immersive Learning Project and chose to bring it to Rosen College based on its momentum in the area of timeshare education. Through his vision and partnership with Assistant Professor Dr. Amy Gregory, RRP, the venture became a reality when RCI agreed to sponsor the inaugural project.

“RCI is proud to sponsor and join Rosen College and Customer Count in this inaugural and hopefully annual research competition,” said Kris Jamtaas, project lead and vice president of RCI. “We hope that through their real world challenge, these grad students learned why the timeshare industry is such an interesting, exciting and rewarding business model and profession.”

Six students divided into teams of two spent the fall 2013 semester working on business proposals to help remedy the long-term effects of increasing inventory in the vacation ownership secondary market, which were then submitted to industry executives for review.

“I really enjoyed working on a practical real life problem,” said Nikki Cole, a graduate student at Rosen College. “Receiving feedback from RCI executives was a rare and wonderful opportunity for myself and fellow classmates. I look forward to seeing the benefits from this project in years to come.”

Not only was this a valuable opportunity to apply the knowledge learned in class to a real-world business problem, it helped students better understand the complex timeshare industry.

“As students, we were able to use both our professional experience and academic knowledge to potentially solve this multidimensional issue,” said Aris Marton, a graduate student at Rosen College who won the competition and received a $1,000 scholarship.  “I am very thankful that in my last semester I had one of the most intensive learning programs of my graduate degree.”

The winners were announced at an awards dinner held on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 at Capital Grille in Orlando, FL. Each student received a cash scholarship in varying amounts according to their performance and contributions to the project:

First Place:
Aris Marton & Brittany Johnson

Proposal: Valuation of the inventory based on the CarMax business model

Second Place:
Alex Feoli & Michael Mays

Proposal: Solution to address negative images via a brokerage opportunity

Third Place:
Nikki Cole & Dior George

Proposal: Co-op business solution uniting HOAs, owners and industry service providers

For more information about the Masters Level Immersive Learning Project at Rosen College, please contact Assistant Director of Public Relations Kathy Dorf at or 407-903-8151.