Wilkes students win award at Las Vegas hospitality conference

Hussain Alrumaym, Adnan Salamah and John DeLaPlaine won second place for best undergraduate paper at the The 7th Korea America Hospitality & Tourism Educators Conference

In April, three Wilkes Students were awarded second place for best undergraduate paper at the Korea America Hospitality & Tourism Educators conference. The award was accompanied by a $100 cash prize.

Hussain Alrumaym, Adnan Salamah and John DeLaPlaine won the award for their paper entitled “Understanding Loyalty Program Effectiveness of Emirates Airline through Generation Y’s Perception of Program Value,” advised by assistant business professor Dr. HyeRyeon Lee.

Hospitality, according to Lee, is an integral aspect of business.

When people start their own business, like a restaurant and hotel.. they only think about the managing aspects. Those are important, but we should understand the customer side,” she explained. She described hospitality as “emotional labor,” since it involves communicating with and understanding people.

Lee also shared that hospitality and leadership will be offered as a major and minor at Wilkes next semester.

The three students were in Lee’s hospitality class last semester, and she noticed that they seemed to enjoy the field.

“I introduced the hospitality conference, they kind of knew they were interested. So we started the study in January. I helped them to set up their idea,” she explained, adding that the students had ideas but needed help, since they had little experience conducting research and writing papers to present.

After a few months of preparation, the students’ paper was approved and they were invited to present at the conference. The contest was judged 80% on the paper, and 20% on the presentation, Lee said.

I believe that the students learned a lot from this conference and sharing their ideas with hospitality educators, other students, and industry professionals,” Lee said, adding that she felt the professional connections made by the students were also valuable.

Salamah described the experience of presenting his research to a panel of professors as amazing. “I learned a lot while I made new friends on the conference, and I think keeping attending conference will help you improve your networking,” he added.

This was Alrumaym’s first presentation at a conference, and he was not disappointed.

“It was a great opportunity to attend the conference as undergraduate students and get to build up my network and increase my awareness in the field of the hospitality,” Alrumaym said. He added that he enjoyed visiting Las Vegas and having the opportunity to learn more about hospitality.

“I also was happy that our group won the 2nd place,” he said.

The sentiment was shared by DeLaPlaine.

“Not only was I able to gain real world experience with presenting a research paper, but I was also able to learn about the hospitality industry as a whole,” he said. “Thanks to the mentoring program I hope to be able to participate in events like this next year. It was also great that we were actually able to win second place at the conference as well,” he added.

The Korea America Hospitality & Tourism Educators Association, according to their website, “fosters academic and professional collaboration and networking between hospitality educators and industry professionals in both Korea and America.”

The students pose with the president of the Korea America Hospitality and Tourism Educators Association.
Left to right: Dr. Chang Huh, associate professor at Niagara University the association’s president; John DeLaPlaine; Adnan Salamah; Hussain Alrumaym; and Dr. HyeRyeon Lee.