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Friday, December 2, 2022

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From left to right: Viviana Wilkins, Meaghan Carfrey, Nikki Gonzalez From left to right: Viviana Wilkins, Meaghan Carfrey, Nikki Gonzalez

SDSU Team Named Finalists in National Hotel Investment Pitch Competition

Three students from the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management examined the finances and feasibility of a project for the “She Has a Deal” competition.
By Cristian Alvarez

An all-female finance team consisting of students in San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) recently was named a finalist in the annual “She Has a Deal” competition. The nationwide hotel investment education and pitch event serves to help women entering the field of hospitality and tourism in creating a pathway to make hotel development and ownership more obtainable.

The SDSU team — students Nikki Gonzalez, Viviana Wilkins and Meaghan Carfrey — was among three finalists of the competition along with groups representing New York University and Cornell University.

Each year, participants are asked to pitch their ideas for a future hotel development project site. The teams are managed by a panel of judges who are current professionals in the field. Every group is judged based on the financial feasibility, rigor analysis and persuasive ability to invest towards the project. SDSU’s team pitched their project towards a potential Hyatt Place Hotel in San Jose.

The winning team earns $50,000  to be utilized as an equity investment for a hotel project. Members of the winning group also receive asset benefits of full ownership, which includes annual cash flows and capital gains, and have the option to participate in the investment process, obtain a role or shadow and be mentored by the founder of TLTsolutions throughout the project’s life cycle. In addition, winners receive complimentary registration to attend the Americas Lodging Investment Summit and Asian American Hotel Owners Association Convention.

Tracy Prigmore created the competition in 2019, inspired to help women overcome the barriers within a traditionally male dominated industry. 

Gonzalez, who spent all four years a part of the HTM program, said this competition allowed her to get a glimpse into the development and ownership side of hospitality.

“The ‘She Has a Deal’ competition allowed me to realize that I am more capable of pursuing a career within this area and experience the incredible support of key industry leaders who also believe in this cause,” Gonzalez said. 

Wilkins mentioned how working alongside Gonzalez and Carfrey has been a meaningful experience while attending SDSU. “We are all hard-working individuals, passionate about the industry and eager to learn new things. Each of us have a unique background and different skills that contribute towards our pitch deck for the competition,” she said.

“We never took this competition lightly. We’d spend long days together making sure we understood and got everything for the pitch deck perfect. We didn’t have a clue what we were getting ourselves into, but we learned so much and supported each other throughout,” Wilkins said. “I was so happy the creators spent time teaching webinars to prepare us. It was such a unique learning experience and inspiring to see how many strong, intelligent women participated.”

The competition took place at the Hilton McLean in McLean, Virginia in late March. The finals were scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. this spring, but have been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.