SUU Hospitality at CHRIE Conference

Published: March 05, 2024 | Author: Mary Amateis | Read Time: 3 minutes

Research group presenting at CHRIE conferenceThe hospitality program at the Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business was honored to attend the West Federation CHRIE Research Conference in Denver, Colorado. Porter Killpack, a student from the hospitality program had the opportunity to present with his professor, Dr. Sijun Liu, on Understanding National Park Visitors Experience. Dr. Howard Hu, another hospitality professor, also presented to the conference on making low-fat and dairy-free lasagna with an innovative culinary approach. The project was funded by the Utah Tourism Office.

“All in all, it was such an amazing experience. I was able to learn so much while being there and broaden my horizons with so many new connections,” said Killpack. “Dr. Liu has been an amazing mentor to me for the past nearly 2 years, and with an abundance of help from her, this experience has been nothing but wonderful. Being able to represent SUU was such a great opportunity; I wouldn’t have imagined I would get to present research as an undergraduate, so I’m grateful for the opportunity. Being able to attend the conference was an amazing way for me to expand my network. Shoutout to Dr. Liu for all she had done, I wouldn’t have been successful in this experience without her.”

Liu and Killpack’s presentation was a collaborative effort between the hospitality management program and the outdoor recreation department, with Dr. Kelly Goonan assisting in their research. The team worked throughout the summer in preparation for the conference; their study looked into the relationship between the satisfaction of visitors and their actual experience in the national parks. The study aimed to understand how visitation experiences through perceived importance and satisfaction, expectation and responsibility behaviors influence overall contentment.

The two-day conference consisted of several general sessions of seminars and workshops from successful individuals in the hospitality industry, including leadership researcher and coach, Will Matthews, and associate professors at San Diego University, Alana Dillette and Lori Sipe. Some of the topics discussed were cultivating inclusion, and eliminating burnout. The research presentations were then held in several consecutive sessions, with catered breaks for refreshment and networking opportunities.

The West Federation CHRIE is the Western regional chapter of the National Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education. The conference is designed to showcase individual academic research in the hospitality and tourism field. Each year, presenters submit their research to be evaluated and reviewed by the CHRIE judges. All accepted papers are then assigned a time slot to present. An award ceremony follows the presentations, with awards such as best paper, best speed presentation, etc. CHRIE is dedicated to the advancement and pursuit of sharing knowledge and experiences that are relevant to the hospitality and tourism industry. The council is committed to the hospitality industry's future leaders and providing the best opportunities for success.

The study presented by Killpack and Liu will continue into the data collection phase in May 2024. The hospitality program will be recruiting student workers to attend specific national park sites to collect data for the research. Because it is funded by the Utah Tourism Office Research Grant, lodging and travel will be paid for students who are participating, as well as an hourly rate. Students who are interested in participating can reach out to Dr. Sijun Liu by emailing Those looking to get involved with the hospitality program can visit their webpage.

Tags: CurStu Business Hospitality

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Nikki Koontz