Tim Crowley, Dr. Michael Terry, Caitlyn Hillyard

Rosen College of Hospitality Management students Tim Crowley and Caitlyn Hillyard, along with Dr. Michael Terry, attended the 14th annual International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in March.  The Rosen College delegation joined over 1600 people from 62 countries in Berlin, Germany, at the world’s largest gathering for the global hotel investment community.

Crowley and Hillyard won the 4th IHIF Strategy Challenge by proposing a business model and concept for the Shared Ownership industry of the near future (2011 to 2020).  The winning concept, a fractional ownership property called ‘The Retreat’, was presented to a panel of industry experts.  The presentation focused on a lifestyle timeshare dedicated to upscale, health conscious Baby Boomers living near the Medical City Complex in Lake Nona, FL.

Other competing institutions included the University of Surrey, England and Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne, Switzerland — the reigning champions for the past three years.

Crowley shares, “I was inspired by the opportunity to gain world-wide recognition for Rosen College, a benefit for all current and future students.”  He and Hillyard conducted research on the timeshare industry and development of strategic business plans. “Tim and I made sure we had a solid balance between marketing and financial information regarding our fractional development proposal,” shares Hillyard.

Judges for the Strategy Challenge included experts: Jan Hazelton, Managing Director, Taylor Global Advisors; Michael O’Hare, Managing Director of Horwath HTL Moscow/Budapest; and Raj Chandnani, VP Strategy for WATG.

The students caught the eyes other industry professionals attending the forum.

“The UCF team was poised and confident in all aspects of the project that a potential investor would need to know.  The organizers of the IHIF were thrilled that UCF’s showing was so strong in their very first year as participants,” shared Woody Wade, Publisher of The Hotel Yearbook.

Dr. Demian Hodari, Professor of Strategic Management with Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne, recognized, “Tim and Caitlin demonstrated great professionalism both during the competition and throughout the conference and it was a great pleasure to meet them.  You can be very proud of them and of your school.”

Crowley and Hillyard learned of the opportunity internally because of the coordination by Dr. Fevzi Okumus.  He organized the call for proposals and an ad-hoc committee. Crowley and Hillyard’s proposal (along with another student submission), was evaluated by Dean Pizam, Drs. Breiter, Hara, Wang, Huthinson, Iskat, Kauffman, Terry, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Gregory.  After internal selection, Rosen College funded the students’ and Dr. Terry’s trip to Berlin. After the Rosen College team victory, the three were awarded free tickets to the entire conference.

The theme of the 2011 IHIF annual conference, “Stand out from the crowd”, showcased a series of country-specific forums which delivered strategic information about investment opportunities for the hotel industry. Delegates were able to meet with Tourism Ministers to discuss opportunities and understand the importance of hotel development within their home countries.

Terry, Hillyard and Crowley enjoyed networking with international industry executives, attending conference seminars, and exploring the sites of Berlin, to include the Berlin Wall Museum, Checkpoint Charlie.

“I absolutely recommend this challenge to Rosen students in the future. As long as you can handle the work load (and it is a BIG work load!) it is all very well worth it in the end,” Hillyard shares.