About Us

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Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research

The Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research was established to connect with industry and enhance our reputation beyond education and skill focused training.  Our focus has been to work with industry partners to conduct applied research projects that provide our students with opportunities to learn and grow.  This website will give you an indication of our varied research activities.

“Our mission is to facilitate and conduct research of both scholarly value and significance to the tourism and hospitality field. We will mobilize knowledge to enhance the research reputation and impact of Ryerson University, particularly in the tourism and hospitality field.”

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about the research institute, please feel free to drop us a note or call.


Faculty Contacts

Our Student Researchers

The Ted Rogers Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Research actively recruits and employs students while they are completing their Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Above and beyond our responsibility to be a high quality employer, it is our goal to mentor and develop future thought leaders for our industry. Our mentorship does not end after they graduate and we continue to be in touch with them throughout their careers.

Katherine Lo

Katherine completed her 3rd-year of study in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program and now works in the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research as a Research Assistant for Dr. Chris Gibbs. Her main focus is a study on the learning experience of Airbnb hosts using qualitative analysis. In addition to this study, she is also working on studies focused around destination marketing. These studies analyze technology within this field, looking at the potential benefit of video games within tourism and the effectiveness of YouTube videos as a marketing tool. Katherine is passionate about pursuing a career within travel and tourism, and is excited to further her understanding of and experience within the industry through her research this summer.

Karina Shnaiderman

Karina is a fourth-year Environment and Urban Sustainability student at Ryerson University, pursuing a minor in tourism. Working alongside Dr. Rachel Dodds, she is assisting with two research papers focusing on sustainable practices and waste management at festivals. Through this experience, she will also volunteered at the Mariposa Folk Music Festival in July 2017 with Dr. Dodds in order to educate festival attendees about Mariposa’s environmental initiatives. After graduation, Karina hopes to pursue an academic career focused on mitigating environmental impacts of cruise ships, and to work alongside tourism dependent communities which are facing increasing challenges due to climate change..


Juleigh Giberson

Juleigh works as a Research Assistant with Dr. Tom Griffin on a series of studies on virtual reality. One study examines VR and its impact on destination marketing. The study compares the effectiveness of advertisements viewed through virtual reality head mounted displays versus traditional advertising mediums.

Juleigh recently received 2nd Runner Up for Best Undergraduate Paper at the Global Tourism & Hospitality Conference in Hong Kong for her own study on Gen Y, VR and Tourism. She also had the opportunity to present a paper she co-authored with Dr. Griffin at the 2017 TTRA conference in Quebec City. The paper came in second for Best Paper in its category. Juleigh is going into her final year and is excited to make a contribution to travel and tourism research.

Kelly-Ann Wright

Kelly-Ann just completed her third-year in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University. Through her studies at Ryerson and her personal travels, she has been exposed to the impacts  of the travel and tourism industry, which led to her keen interest in learning about and researching sustainability issues and practices in Tourism.

Kelly-Ann works at HTMResearch in two capacities, as a Communications and Marketing Supervisor, where she promotes the institute to industry, students and other research institutes. She also works as a Research Assistant, where she conducts background research for a sustainable tourism book being written by Dr. Rachel Dodds. Kelly-Ann is also pursuing her own research study examining the impacts tour companies have on the tourism industries in two islands in Peruvian Lake Titicaca

Kelly-Ann assisted Dr. Rachel Dodds at the 2016 Mariposa Folk Music Festival. Her role included informing festival-goers about Mariposa’s greening initiatives, as well as conducting surveys for an experiment examining people’s willingness to pay for sustainable festival merchandise. In July 2017, she reprised her role at the Mariposa Folk Music Festival.

Bobo Kyogonza

Bo just complete her third-year in the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program at Ryerson University. Growing up in East Africa, she has always been exposed to the travel and tourism industry, focusing on the sustainable efforts among the various lodges she has visited. She recently assisted Dr. Rachel Dodds at the 2017 Mariposa Folk Music Festival as the team coordinator. In this role, Bo planned, organized and coordinated the activities of HTMResearch team, as well educating festival attendees about Mariposa’s green initiatives.


Zahra Noorani

Zahra began working at the Ted Rogers Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research at the end of her 3rd year. She worked as a Research Assistant with Dr. Chris Gibbs on various projects, including the adoption of responsive and web mobile technologies by destination marketing organizations and hotels. Zahra has also worked on developing online reputation management strategies for local business owners at Tourism Barrie. Research that Zahra worked on was presented at the Travel and Tourism Research Association conference in Niagra, Ontario in 2015 as well as in ENTER 2016 in Bilbao, Spain. Zahra has been published alongside Dr. Chris Gibbs and Ulrike Gretzel in Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2016.

While working with Dr. Gibbs, Zahra worked on a project for the Institute with fellow Hospitality and Tourism students Meagan Barley and Hadas Hait on student awareness and engagement of the institute in the winter of 2016. She also assisted with collecting survey data for Dr. Rachel Dodds’ green festival project at Mariposa Folk Festival during the summer of 2015.

In the fall of 2015 of Zahra received the William M Duron Research award to conduct a research study on over 200 North American luxury hotels, and their adoption of video as a content strategy on their websites and Youtube.

Zahra is currently working at Leonardo World Wide Corporation as an Online Marketing Consultant and obtaining her Google Analytics Qualification along with her Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer certification.

Meagan Barley

Meagan worked for Dr. Sonya Graci in her third year on a study examining sustainability at Toronto farmers markets where she gained experience writing literature reviews and analyzing data using SPSS, NViVO and Excel. Her work was accepted at the Travel and Tourism Research Association and she presented the results of the study alongside Dr. Graci. Meagan also worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Dodds writing a literature review on community based tourism. Meagan is now employed in Vancouver, BC.

Danielle Barbe

For two years during her undergraduate studies, Danielle assisted Dr. Kelly MacKay on a multi-stage, exploratory research study regarding technology adoption/non-adoption in a leisure context. She participated in data collection and analysis at three major Toronto festivals and contributed to research on the factors affecting the use of mobile digital technology at festivals. Danielle was provided the opportunity to present the research at the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) International conference in Bruges, Belgium where they won the Best Research Paper award. Danielle co-authored two conference proceedings a journal publication. The proceedings include:

“Factors affecting the use of mobile digital technology at festivals: Observations from three Canadian festivals” Presented at the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research (CCLR) conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia in May 2013

“Your festival in 140 characters or less*: exploring festivals use of Twitter” Presented at the TTRA International conference in Bruges, Belgium in June 2014.

Following the completion of her undergraduate education in 2015, Danielle continued her studies in the Masters of Science program at the University of Florida.

Mehwish Nomani

Mehwish worked at the Institute in her final year at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management as a Communications Assistant. She assisted the Institute set up the concept of research snapshots and coordinated all video production, communication and branding. She also completed a white paper with Dr. Chris Gibbs and Dr. Norman Shaw on Hotel Mobile Check-In Platforms Research as well as a Campervan Research Project for a start-up rental business with Dr. Tom Griffin. Mehwish developed research, analysis, writing, and project management skills which earned her a substantial competitive advantage when stepping into the working world. Since leaving, Mehwish has taken her research and analysis skills to help the marketing departments with her creative knowledge, and insights on data analytics.

Yu Ying (Kary) Jiang

Kary began working with Professors Tom Griffin and Zhen Lu at Ted Rogers Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Research at the end of her third year. She assisted with research and wrote a literature review on immigrants’ choice of pursuing a career in the hospitality industry. Kary is participating in collecting data from students enrolled in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Ryerson University. She has the opportunity to explore students’ motivations and expectations of choosing Hospitality and Tourism Management as a career path that will provide insights for future research projects.

Laura Klein

Laura worked with faculty member Professor Rachel Dodds during her second year in the Environmental Applied Science and Management master’s program. Laura’s primary role was working on a Greening Festivals and Events Project grant. She assisted in developing an online sustainability toolkit for greening festivals and events and assisted with data collection from festival managers to understand motivations, barriers and impacts of incorporating sustainability into festivals in the Lake Simcoe Watershed. The website has now been adopted by Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) and Laura obtained post graduate work assisting festivals with sustainability improvements and education.

Vadess Johan

Vadess started to work at the Institute prior to his second year at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Initially working with Tourism Toronto, he later joined projects with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Here, for the next three years, Vadess developed research, analysis, writing, and project management skills that resulted in a significant competitive advantage when he entered the working world. Assistant Professor Chris Gibbs recalls that he turned data into insights with limited supervision. Since leaving Ryerson, Vadess has pursued more education. He obtained the certificate in hotel real estate investments and asset management at Cornell University and is now employed as a Consultant for Cushman & Wakefield.

Jesse Saltzman

Jesse worked with faculty member Chris Gibbs as an undergraduate student. He assisted with research on traditional and mobile website responsiveness, as well as, mobile applications in the international airline industry. Jesse co-authored two major research papers: . “Adoption and Features of North American Hotel Mobile Applications” and “A Taxonomy for Hotel Mobile Application Features.

Soyoung Ko

Soyoung worked on the Institute’s Toronto Airport Exit Survey as well as co-authored two major research papers with Dr. Dodds where she conducted literature reviews, designed surveys, analyzed data and wrote up findings. The two publications are:

“What Drives Environmental Sustainability in the New Zealand Wine Industry? An Examination of Driving Factors and Practices”

Published in the International Journal of Wine Business Research in 2013

“Assessing Stakeholders’ Views of Tourism Policy in Prince Edward County”

Published in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development in 2012

Soyoung is currently working as a Research Analyst at Longwoods International, a tourism research company, headquartered in Toronto. The experience gained at the Institute helped her obtained the position before graduating and all skills she developed are being used in her current role.

Natalie Thiesen

As a Research Assistant for the Institute, Natalie Thiesen co-authored a journal article in collaboration with Dr. Rachel Dodds. In 2009, their article, “Are Fairly Treated Porters Only an Ideal in Tanzania? The Role of Tanzania’s Tour Operators in Sustaining Mount Kilimanjaro,” was published in The Journal of Hospitality and Tourism. The objective of their study was to assess if Tanzanian tour operators practiced sustainable tourism policies, as well as to determine if social issues, such as fair porter wages, were in place at Mount Kilimanjaro. Natalie has collaborated with Dr. Hersch Jacobs on a Culinary Calendar titled “An Inventory of Culinary Experiences in Ontario, A Framework for Assessing Opportunities for Culinary Tourism in Toronto and Ontario.”  Additionally, Natalie collaborated with Dr. Sonya Graci on the topic of assessing the potential for Aboriginal Ecotourism in Ontario. They presented their paper at the International Ecotourism Conference in Vancouver. Currently, Natalie is a Sales manager for Tourism Winnipeg, the official destination management organization for Winnipeg.


Neslim Hatko

Nesli is a fourth year Hospitality and Tourism Management student at Ryerson University. Nesli’s environmentally conscious behaviour enabled her to participate in sustainable tourism research and study during the final year of her studies. She worked with Dr. Rachel Dodds at the 2016 Mariposa Folk Festival. Nesli’s main role was educating event-goers about Mariposa’s eco-friendly efforts as well as inquiring their opinion on how the festival could be more sustainable. Her secondary role included assisting a Ryerson graduate student in data collection for a research project.


Fraser McDonald

During his undergraduate years, Fraser worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Research. He had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Kelly MacKay and Dr. Chris Gibbs on a research paper, exploring the use of social media by North American hotels for HR practices. Being the first study on hotel social media usage for HR activities, the paper brought originality to the field of hospitality research and provided insights for future research. The research paper assisted Fraser in obtaining his current position, a Research Assistant at Colliers International Hotels.


Contact Information

Sonya Graci

Professor, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Director, Ted Rogers Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research


416-979-5000 ext 1234


Tom Griffin

Assistant Professor, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Assistant Director, Ted Rogers Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research


(416) 979-5000 x7935


Ryerson Tourism Research

Contact Information

575 Bay Street (entrance at 55 Dundas Street West)
Room: TRS 3-175, 9th floor Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C3

Mailing Address:
350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 2K3