Hilton Head & Beaufort, SC- When people think of the Hilton Head Island region, beach going and vacations typically come to mind. But Hospitality Management students at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) know there is a lot more than sunbathing taking place.
Lead by Hospitality Management Professor John Salazar, USCB student researchers have become an integral part of all major tourism events in the area. Salazar and his research team can be found polling hundreds of out-of-town visitors and event participants, entering substantive data into their tablet computers, amongst the festivities. Student Ellen Jones says, “Conducting these surveys at local festivals has given me the real life experience of how information/data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted to provide solutions to the problems that event organizers encounter. To combine the classroom sessions with the real world training is the ultimate learning experience.”
The community impact is further felt after the event concludes when students present their findings to event organizers. According to the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’ Elegance President, Carolyn Vanagel, “ Dr. Salazar and his student team have been critical to the success of our event. We use their results to market our event to sponsors. And without fail, these prospective sponsors note that no one else representing similar events has the same level of data demonstrating performance. We are so fortunate to have this instrumental data, which drives the financial success of our event, because of Dr. Salazar.”
Certainly, USCB students gain market research and event management experience by working with Salazar. However, their findings hold even greater significance throughout the region. Based on their findings, community leaders can actually see which events have the biggest return on investment (ROI) of the use of Hilton Head Island accommodations taxes. The work has been cited by the Hilton Head Island Accommodations Tax Committee as extremely valuable whereas the committee has recommended to the elected officials to fund an ongoing festival and event ROI analysis program through collaborating with Salazar and the USCB Hospitality Management students.
As a result, this collaborative research between Salazar’s students and county-wide events has been spreading quickly, with event managers from Houston, Greenville, and North Carolina contacting Salazar about replicating his efforts in their regions. “It’s exciting to see student research be applied to real world concerns and that various hospitality and tourism organizations recognize the value of the work. That is something I have always wanted to achieve for the students as university professor.”
Various events USCB Hospitality Management students provide research for:· The RBC Heritage Golf Tournament
· Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’ Elegance
· Hilton Head Island Wine Festival
· Taste of Beaufort Shrimp Festival
· Hilton Head Island Recreation Center Festivals
· Hilton Head Island Italian Festival
· MCAS Air Show
· Hilton Head Island Public Art Exposition
MEDIA CONTACT:Candace Brasseur
USCB Public Information Director