Competition Yields Innovation for the Hospitality Industry

Over the winter semester of 2020, a project was initiated by two Nichols College professors looking to refine their methods for researching the impact of COVID on the hospitality industry. The project proposal was delivered to Bryant Richards, who decided it would be best handled by recently trained undergraduate students who had just completed the development of their first consulting projects. To further increase participation and dedication the project was set up as a competition with 3 independent teams all developing a proof of concept for the professor’s research needs and competing for a cash prize.  

The team structure in the competition existed as follows:  

  1. Matt Libuda & Cody Roberts  
  1. Nicholas Wilson & Jacob Ortega  
  1. James Wolverson  

In the existing research method, a professor would receive an industry data report from a reporting service. This report would contain various inputs of data about the hospitality industry including hotel location, a timeline, number of rooms available, price per room, and other industry ratios that assess the health of a hotel. The professors would be required to manually transfer, structure, and articulate insights out of this report to satisfy their research needs. This process would be executed weekly and was time-intensive for full-time professors, thus an inquiry was made about developing an automated solution to reduce manual input and time needed to analyze this data.  

By the end of the competition period, all three teams had developed a proof of concept for an automated solution. While all three solutions met the functional requirements for the research team. The professors decided that Nicholas Wilson and Jacob Ortega’s solution was the most user friendly and simplified solution, it was awarded the winning prize, followed closely by Matt Libuda & Cody Robert’s solution. In the following weeks, the winning team was invited by the research team to further test their solution and implement it for the remainder of the research project.  

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