Cal Poly Student Team Wins Convention Management Competition

Interdisciplinary team creates an annual convention for home share and vacation rental owners to improve their homestay business

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A proposal to create an annual convention for home share and vacation rental owners to enhance their knowledge, network and property-management skills led to a first-place win for a team of Cal Poly students from the Experience Industry Management Department.

The five-person team won first place at the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) annual student competition for the proposal, called the “Home Sharing Proposal Experience (HSX).” The theme of the competition was to create a convention or meeting that encourages the idea of face-to-face interactions in a digital era. 

The Cal Poly team included senior recreation, parks and tourism majors Morgan Cutter, Luke Haley and Olivia Larsen; Courtney Frickman, a senior business administration major with an event planning and experience management minor; and Chrissy Baur, an exchange student from Germany. They were advised by Assistant Professor Kevin Lin, whose research interests include facilitating better design, delivery and evaluation of engaging experiences through the use of data and technology.

“After doing much research, we found that within the home sharing industry, property owners often never interact with their customers or with other rental property owners,” Haley said. “HSX is a convention with the intent of providing everything that rental property owners could need to create the perfect homestay, by engaging in face-to-face conversations with other rental property owners, as well as with exhibitors who are there to help improve their rental properties.”

The digital home sharing economy includes platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, an exponentially growing market. The team proposed a variety of exhibitors for the trade show, including experience designers from Houzz to help design the most functional and trendy spaces, professional photographers and transportation companies and local attractions looking to partner with rental property owners to create the best experiences for their guests.

“When creating this idea and business plan, we all quickly realized how inventive of an idea we had created and got more and more invested as time went on,” Haley said. “This idea was the perfect culmination of what each of us is studying, combining hospitality and tourism, event planning and management, as well as elements of experience design.”

PCMA’s North American Student Competition is an annual event to engage students pursuing careers in the business events industry. Collegiate teams from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were invited to submit proposals to address industry trends and issues. Three finalist teams were selected to present their proposals via video to a panel of judges from the business events industry.

“Our students really shined throughout the process and represented Cal Poly well,” said Lin, the team’s advisor. “They went the extra mile and contacted several vendors to get the most accurate quote and worked through several drafts and rehearsals to make sure the finished product is top-notch. It is truly an interdisciplinary team, and the team chemistry is amazing.”

The Cal Poly team will be hosted by the PCMA Foundation to present their proposal during Convening Leaders from Jan. 5-8 in San Francisco. Convening Leaders, PCMA’s signature event, attracts thousands of business events professionals from around the world for industry insights, innovations and networking opportunities. The Cal Poly team will be joined by Team Voyage from the Singapore Institute of Technology, winners of the 2019 Singapore MICE Challenge.

Runners up to PCMA’s North American Student Challenge competition included the University of Florida, and a combined team from University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Kansas State University.

“Every team that entered impressed us with their knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm for the business events industry and their passion for pursuing professional growth,” said Stacey Shafer, PCMA senior director of community engagement and one of the competition’s judges. “It was challenging for the panel of judges to select a winning proposal, but we felt the Home Sharing Experience Convention proposal best demonstrated how business events deliver economic and social transformation.”

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including ranch land, orchards, vineyards and forests, all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country, with 4,000 undergraduate students. Visit for more information.

About PCMA

PCMA believes that business events can economically and socially transform communities, enterprises and individuals. As the world’s largest platform for business events strategists and their business partners, PCMA’s success is driven by a commitment to providing provocative executive level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence to its global audience of 7,000 professionals and students. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has 17 chapters throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico with members in more than 40 countries and regional offices in Switzerland and Singapore. Learn more at

Photo information: PMCA Team.jpg — The Cal Poly team included: Assistant Professor Kevin Lin, Olivia Larsen and Luke Haley (back row l to r); and Courtney Frickman, Morgan Cutter and Chrissy Baur (front row l to r).

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