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Winter 2020 Newsletter

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The Report, a newsletter for Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration, alumni, students and friends

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By Dr. Bill Hendricks, Department Head

Welcome to the winter 2020 edition of the Experience Industry Management Department newsletter. Our students and faculty are flourishing as we continue to reach new heights and strive for lofty goals.

Once again, we have reached an all-time enrollment high, with 384 enrolled students in the major this fall. Due to our growth, efficient operations, and high student demand, Interim Provost Mary Pedersen and Andy Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, recently approved an additional tenure-track faculty member for the department. We are in the midst of the recruitment process, with plans to have a new team member on board for fall 2020.

Our faculty continue to be extremely active with international, national and state presentations and research and scholarly publications that go hand in hand with

Cal Poly’s teacher-scholar model. Whether participating in professional development opportunities, such as the College of Extraordinary Experiences in Poland or an educators conference right up the road at Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch, every faculty member in the department remains student-centered and committed to offering a program that is second to none.

The dedication of a faculty member is recognized at the pinnacle of his or her career with a promotion to the rank of professor. This process typically takes approximately 11 years at Cal Poly, and I am pleased to inform you that Brian Greenwood has received the ultimate recognition for his work as a teacher and scholar with his promotion to full professor this fall.

I have additional exciting news to share. George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, a longtime partner of the program and the company that hires more of our graduates than another any other organization, has pledged a $500,000 donation for our forthcoming Experience Innovation Lab. The lab is targeted for completion in November 2021 and is expected to be a true game changer for our students and faculty.

In addition, a team of students led by Assistant Professor Kevin Lin recently won the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) North American Student Competition. We are all beaming around here as the students present their winning pitch at the PCMA Convening Leaders 2020 Conference, considered the “world’s largest network of business event strategists” with attendees from nearly 50 countries.

In closing, I hope your holiday season was full of memorable moments and meaningful experiences with family and friends, and don’t forget to save the date for the EIM 2020 Auction and Dinner coming up on Feb. 22.

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"SLO Enchanted" a Magical Space for the Annual Auction and Dinner

By Camille Manese ('20) auction committee member

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, was an enchanted evening for guests at the department’s annual Experience Industry Management (EIM) Auction and Dinner at the new Hotel SLO that opened in August 2019.   

Hotel SLO was transformed into a magical space to illustrate the event’s theme, "SLO Enchanted," chosen to showcase San Luis Obispo as a hidden gem of California and to highlight the area’s lush greenery and breathtaking views.

 Before deciding to host the annual auction and dinner at Hotel SLO, the student team that plans the event went on a “hard hat” tour of Hotel SLO and viewed the Seven Sisters Ballroom, pre-function meeting space, and the Bishop Peak Boardroom.

 The EIM Auction and Dinner team has been working diligently since April 2019 to make this event the most memorable one to date. Since then, the team has grown to 23 students, including both majors and minors, who split into five committees. The newly named committees are: Auction; Event Branding and Marketing; Event Design and Operations; Event Registration and Technology; and Finance and Administration. For the third consecutive year, part-time faculty lecturer and full- time special event planner Amber Karson (Recreation, Parks and Tourism  Administration, ’01) is advising the team. Karson, who has 17 years’ professional experience, and her twin sister own Karson Butler events located in both San Luis Obispo and Washington D.C.    

Throughout fall quarter 2019, the team made much progress in preparation for the upcoming event. The Event Registration and Technology Committee has been developing this year's event website and launched ticket sales. The Event Branding and Marketing Committee worked with the Event Design and Operations team to develop this year's logo, color palette, and vision to truly make the theme "SLO Enchanted" come to life.

In keeping with Cal Poly's Learn by Doing motto, the EIM Auction and Dinner team met with Theatre and Dance Department Chair Josh Machamer to discuss ideas that theatre students could use in building a set design for the event.

The Auction Committee and the Finance and Administration Committee teamed up to create and gain approval for the sponsorship and solicitation form.

Senior Coco Lovely learned the value of starting and solidifying ideas as early as possible. "I've learned that pretty much anything we do has to go through an approval process, which can take longer than anticipated," she said. Once the sponsorship and solicitation form had been approved, each member of the EIM Auction and Dinner team reached out to businesses and companies across the U.S. to encourage them to donate to the auction, sponsor the event, or purchase tickets.  

Both EIM students and the department as a whole benefit from the proceeds from the EIM Auction and Dinner. Funds raised in the past have contributed to student success by:

  • Providing students with Learn by Doing opportunities, such as volunteering for the PGA Championships, a behind the scenes view of Dreamforce, volunteering for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and competing in the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) student conference planning competition.
  • Offering scholarships for the major’s international study courses. 
  • Supporting faculty applied research projects. 
  • Supporting student and faculty attendance at conferences, industry meetings, and study abroad opportunities. 
  • Purchasing computer software and analytics programs to enhance student learning. 
  • Hosting renowned executives, who can alert students and faculty to the latest industry trends. 
  • Partnering with San Luis Obispo Blues Baseball and Junior Giants youth programs. 
  • Providing academic scholarships.
  • Developing partnerships with international universities in our discipline.

The EIM Auction and Dinner is an opportunity for students, faculty, alumni, parents, and industry friends to commemorate and celebrate past accomplishments and future opportunities for the EIM Department.

The “SLO Enchanted” EIM Auction and Dinner event was beautiful! For more information, go to the event's website. 

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Congratulations Dr. Brian Greenwood

By Dr. Keri Schwab, EIM Faculty

Longtime Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department faculty member Brian Greenwood earned promotion to full professor, effective September 2019. He was cited for his longstanding commitment to students, the EIM department, Cal Poly, and the field of recreation, parks, tourism, and sport management.  

The promotion is granted to faculty members who show continued dedication to excellence in research, teaching and service at the local, state, national and international levels -- and Greenwood is more than deserving, said Bill, Hendricks, the EIM department head.  

During his over 13 years with Cal Poly, Greenwood has authored 10 academic journal articles, three book chapters, and 15 research/technical reports. He's also delivered nearly 100 professional or academic presentations at local, state, national and international conferences, workshops and meetings.

Greenwood took the lead on writing and producing a book, “More than a Motto: The Meaning Behind Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing Signature,” that explains and illustrates Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing educational mantra. The book was published in 2017. Along with the book, Greenwood organized and facilitated two Learn by Doing conferences on campus.

His colleagues and students recognize, appreciate and admire his dedication to the department and field. “Dr. Greenwood has dedicated himself to Cal Poly and Learn by Doing, EIM Professor Marni Goldenberg said. “He has led a major applied research project for the San Francisco Giants Community Fund for the past nine years, which has provided numerous opportunities for student growth and development for Cal Poly students and college students from around the world. He is an excellent mentor and a very hard worker who cares about his students and their education.”

The entire EIM Department congratulates Greenwood on his promotion.   

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Cal Poly EIM Faculty Attend the College of Extraordinary Experiences, in Czocha Poland

By Mia Carvotta ('21) and Dr. Andrew Lacanienta, EIM Faculty

In September 2019, Experience Industry Management Department Assistant Professor Andrew Lacanienta and Associate Professor Keri Schwab, along with junior Mia Carvotta, traveled to a mystical 13th century castle in Czocha, Poland, to attend the College of Extraordinary Experiences (COEE) conference.

COEE, an immersive conference focusing on designing memorable experiences, brings together an international group of scholars and practitioners of education, film, interaction design, event design, sustainability, tourism, culinary arts, liberal arts, law and more. The intimate conference is limited to about 100 people and touts a transformational experience through hands-on learning and a network that is second to none.

“The COEE completely changes the way you think about designing experiences,” Lacanienta said. “Whether you’re designing an event, a winery, a patient waiting room, or a crosswalk in a major city, the College of Extraordinary Experiences invites participants to rethink how they might design that experience, provides tools for accomplishing the task, and offers a network of peers to help you succeed.”

This marked the fourth year of the conference. This year’s “Call of the Wild” theme focused participants’ efforts on sustainable and environmentally responsible experience design. Learn by Doing workshops were presented on an array of topics, including storytelling, the use of imagination, the power of greetings, and empathy building. A workshop about storytelling provided a powerful example of how guided imagery and the senses help tell provocative and engaging stories.

“It’s not about changing yourself, it’s about changing your perspective on life,” Carvotta said. “Framing is essential. There is real power in being able to design experiences that invite individuals to be right where their feet are.”

The culminating design challenge at the conference charged participants with designing micro experiences for each of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, which ranged from poverty and hunger to gender quality and clean water. Each group designed a mini experience that sought to teach one of the 17 goals in an impactful and transformative way. This iterative process of prototyping and testing allowed participants to Learn by Doing, receive real-time feedback, and adjust their experiences accordingly.

The event closed with a graduation ceremony at which each participant was recognized and congratulated on their accomplishment and were awarded a diploma and a signature lapel pin.   

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Highlight on Student Intern Noa Yakir

By Noa Yakir ('20)

Senior Noa Yakir is “swimming with the sharks” – the San Jose Sharks, that is. The recreation, parks and tourism administration major and student-athlete landed an exciting and challenging internship working in tickets sales and events for the professional ice hockey team.

“I work every single home game until the first intermission, and then I can stay in the SAP Center and enjoy the game as a fan,” Yakir said.

When not working home games, Yakir works with the ticket sales branch and spends time learning from her direct mentor, who is in charge of events. Under her mentor’s supervision, Yakir helps brainstorm, coordinate and implement all events that the Sharks host for season ticket holders. She has also perfected her networking skills while participating in a golf event for premium season ticket holders, Shark players, and the general manager.

Yakir says she is qualified for both her internship and a future position with the Sharks, thanks to Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach to education. “My education allowed me to get thrown onto the Sharks’ playing field already understanding what is required for an event,” she said. “Studying recreation, parks and tourism administration also taught me the customer service skills required for this job.”

In fact, when the Sharks staff to the Ritz Carlton for training, Yakir felt she already had extensive knowledge about that type of customer service “because of the EIM classes I have taken.”

After her internship, she hopes to secure a job with the Sharks’ inside sales and continue living her passion for sports. “This is a very good way to start in the professional sports field,” she said. “Although it’s hard work and a lot of hours, it is extremely rewarding if full effort is given.”  

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Cal Poly Experience Innovation Lab Receives $500,000 Pledge from George P. Johnson

The future of experience marketing and design is poised to take a giant leap forward, thanks to a $500,000 pledge from George P. Johnson (GPJ), a leading experiential marketing agency and part of the Project Worldwide agency network. The donation to Cal Poly’s Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department will go toward the development of an experiential learning lab.

The lab will be a research and creative space to design immersive personal, technological and digital experiences in collaboration with industry partners and GPJ clients. It will engage students in invaluable, real-world experience design and marketing — all part of Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.

“Cal Poly’s hands-on educational model provides the perfect environment for students, faculty and industry partners to come together in the new Experience Innovation Lab to dream and create,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “We are grateful for George P. Johnson’s support of Learn by Doing at Cal Poly.”

The Experience Innovation Lab, a place for burgeoning experiential marketing leaders and experience designers to grow and innovate, will be part of the Boswell Ag Tech Center, which is included in the $125 million William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation, now under construction on campus.

Led by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences’ (CAFES) pioneering EIM Department, the Experience Innovation Lab will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach that includes faculty and students in EIM, architecture, computer science, engineering, food science, wine, marketing, graphic design, and theatre, among other disciplines.

Faculty and student teams will work with industry partners, including GPJ executives, to solve the experience industry’s complex needs and to anticipate disruptors within the event, travel, hospitality, sport, recreation and experience marketing and design industries.

“George P. Johnson’s partnership with Cal Poly provides students with national and international opportunities and experiences,” said CAFES Dean Andrew Thulin. “This donation will ensure that students have access to the latest in experience marketing and design, including some of the brightest talents in the industry. It will also prepare them to meet the demands of the growing industry immediately upon graduation.”

In addition to GPJ’s financial investment in the development of the facility, the agency is also tapping members of its senior leadership team to lend their expertise to the design and development of the lab and to act as mentors and contributors to the programming and use of the space.

“GPJ has been the leader in experiential marketing for over a century,” said Chris Meyer, CEO of GPJ. “As this industry develops and its prominence within the general marketing sphere continues to grow, it’s imperative that we invest our resources into future pioneers that will continue to advance the space. Higher learning centers allow for a safe testing ground for students to try out their wildest ideas, building the pipeline of innovators to come. Having been ingrained in this work for decades, GPJ is able to offer unique perspectives and insights to truly make this a state-of-the-art learning experience that will foster the future leadership of our industry.”

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Rho Phi Lambda's Professional Development Trip and Career Fair

By Serena von Hartmann, (’20)

In November 2019, Rho Phi Lambda had the opportunity to attend a professional development trip in conjunction with George P. Johnson (GPJ) Experience Marketing, the San Francisco Giants, and the San Jose Sharks. The trip started with a visit to the beautiful offices of George P. Johnson, where Yen Tsutsumi, vice president of event production, taught the students what an event audit is and how to conduct one while they attended Dreamforce -- a mega conference put on by GPJ.

Following this initial meeting, students were able to sit in on a real meeting in which GPJ officials presented to potential clients about their work with Dreamforce. This opportunity gave students a glimpse into what a day in their career could look like in experiential marketing, as well as demonstrating how group presentations at school translate to the business world. Finally, the students headed over to the Dreamforce campus and experienced the world of conferences and tradeshows while interacting with industry professionals.

Day two of the trip started with a visit to Oracle Park to meet with employees of the San Francisco Giants and others who work in a variety of experience industry positions. This was a tremendous opportunity for students to practice networking skills and gain real knowledge about the different career paths available, especially as they relate to the Giants. Along with this, students were able to have an information session with Giants representatives, including several Cal Poly alumni from the Experience Industry Management Department. According to senior Anelise Wyandt, “We have a really strong alumni network, and seeing it firsthand gave me a lot of confidence about graduating soon.”

To wrap up the experience, students headed to the SAP Center to meet with the San Jose Sharks. Here, the students went on a tour with Mary Grace Miller, executive assistant to the team’s co-presidents, who shared information about the Sharks’ history and maximizing their revenue in regard to available space. She described the different ways in which they have used their creativity to enhance the guest experience, such as hosting concerts or tennis tournaments when there is not a hockey game. The team also added more luxury suites to build more relationships with corporate guests, as well as provided sponsorship opportunities, such as the new BMW Lounge.

These valuable experiences for students involved in Rho Phi Lambda helps prepare them for the lifestyle shift from student to professional and connect them with professionals in the field.

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Highlight on Student Intern Kess Rule

By Dr. Keri Schwab, EIM Faculty

Cal Poly alumna Kess Rule’s (Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration, ’19) internship with PRA, a destination management company in Northern California, has led to unforeseen and unexpected opportunities.

PRA strives to “deliver unique experiences that move hearts, minds and businesses forward.” Rule worked in the San Francisco office, handling events for businesses from Sacramento to Monterey.  

Rule worked with each of PRA’s several event teams, including sales, experience design, and event production, allowing her to discover where her skills fit best within the industry. “I loved the opportunity to be out of the office and get hands-on experience operating unique programs,” she said.

One such opportunity included running an event during a power outage in Northern California. The event, which included dinner, entertainment and activities, was a challenge to pull off, but Rule was up to the task and learned from it.

“I was able to see how important quick thinking and problem-solving is to this industry,” she said. “We had to order last-minute lighting, portable toilets, and generators in order for the event to go on. It taught me to stay calm when things don’t go as planned. If you had asked me at the beginning of my internship if you could successfully stage -- without power -- an event with that many aspects, I would’ve said, ‘No way!’ The event turned out extremely well. The guests and the client were so pleased with how the everything turned out, even without power.”

Rule is grateful for her time with the Experience Industry Management Department, particularly in her classes with a Learn by Doing component. “Volunteering for different organizations such as CASA and TEDx helped me gain experience operating programs,” she said. Other classes helped her gain practical knowledge “in areas needed during the pre-operation stages of programs.”

Rule is happy with her career path and plans to stay in the events industry. Her internship helped opened many doors. “Throughout my internship, I was able to network with a lot of industry professionals and get more insight into the different sectors of the events industry. The relationships I have built through my internship will work as building blocks for the next steps in my career.”

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Dr. Kevin Lin Advises 1st Place Cal Poly Student Team at the Professional Convention Management Association Student Competition.

By Dr. Keri Schwab, EIM Faculty

A proposal submitted by a team of Cal Poly recreation, parks and tourism administration students, advised by Assistant Professor Kevin Lin, won first place at the recent Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) North American Student Competition.

Their proposal, “Home Sharing Proposal Experience,” was aimed at vacation and home share rental owners. The proposal detailed plans to create an annual convention at which such property owners could convene and share ideas, network, and learn property management skills.

Lin and the five students attended the convention in San Francisco in January.  Team members included Cal Poly seniors Morgan Cutter, Luke Haley, Olivia Larsen and Courtney Frickman, as well as Chrissy Baur, an exchange student from Germany.

The timing of the competition gave students very limited time to write their proposal. “We only had about two weeks to brainstorm and build our plan,” Larsen explained. “Although it was stressful, it was definitely a learning experience and something that is a reality in the industry.”

The team created a proposal that would fill a much-needed niche in the home sharing industry. Their proposal met the contest guidelines of increasing face-to-face interaction in a digital era by creating a convention that would bring together people who rarely interact with others in the same industry or their customers or guests. The tight timeline required them to spend long hours together crafting the proposal.

“Throughout the process, I learned to admire the diversity of a team and appreciate the different perspectives everyone has to offer,” said team member Frickman. “These different lenses helped us come together to really consider what people would find attractive in our proposal.”

Attending PCMA was an eye-opening experience for the students, who heard from speakers from a variety of disciplines.

“The highlight of the conference for me was the keynote by Simon Sinek, who spoke to what quality leadership looks like,” Larsen said.

Frickman added, “The networking receptions each evening were really exciting and gave us an opportunity to talk to professionals in a more casual setting where there was no real pressure to say the perfect thing. It was all about gaining knowledge and seeing what they’ve found through their experiences.”

The Experience Industry Management Department congratulates the winning team and Lin for his leadership and inspiration.   

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Meet the Staff for "The Report" Winter 2020 Newsletter

Staff for "The Report" are nominated by EIM faculty for demonstrating excellent writing skills in RPTA classes. Student writers then coordinate with the editor and faculty advisor Professor Keri Schwab to develop and write articles.​

Cal Poly EIM Staff Writer



Camille Manese (‘20)

Camille is a 4th year EIM student with a concentration in Event Planning and Management. After switching into this major, Camille has been overwhelmed with the incredible professors who genuinely want you to succeed and flourish in the experience industry. As the co-lead of Event Branding and Marketing Committee for the EIM Auction & Dinner 2020, she is very excited to see the event come to life at Hotel SLO in February. Camille also works as the Partner & Events Intern at Visit SLO CAL. 



Cal Poly EIM Staff Writer




Serena von Hartmann ('20) 

Serena is a 3rd year EIM student concentrating in tourism, hospitality, and destination management. She loves that EIM feels like a family and that the department is committed to student success. She hopes to work in the ski industry following graduation, as her passions include snowboarding and being outdoors. During her time at Cal Poly, she has had the opportunity to work at Visit SLO CAL and The Cliffs Hotel & Spa. 






Sophia Tomeo ('21)  

Sophia is a 3rd year EIM student from San Diego, CA. She is concentrating in event planning and is currently serving at the president for Experience Industry Management club for the academic year.  Her favorite thing about being a part of the EIM department is the countless opportunities and room for personal, academic, and professional growth. 




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