For those of you who do not know, I have participated in DECA for the last two years, which is a business club where members compete in roleplays and create presentations that mirror real life business situations. I went to the state competition for Colorado DECA both my junior and senior years of high school, but this year at State was particularly memorable. I wanted to share my experience with you guys!
Colorado DECA is always hosted at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, and if you have never been there, I encourage you to visit! There are so many fun things to do in Colorado Springs, and venturing to The Broadmoor hotel is no exception. While I have never stayed at the hotel itself, I have wandered around the entire property, which is an amazing experience in itself! The property is gorgeous, and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to stay up there in the summer (as I have only been there during the winter months). Even if you cannot afford to spend the night at this five-star hotel, you should go up and look around the buildings at all of the classic artwork and historic decorations that line all of the hallways. The Broadmoor main building also backs to a fantastic lake that in the summer offers patio dining and paddle boats, and provides an incredible view of the mountains, the golf course on property, and the imposing Broadmoor West building all year long. This year, one of my DECA partners and I wandered around every single floor of the main building in hopes of catching a peek of an open room (which, unfortunately, we were not able to do). However, we did find a window overlooking the entrance to the property, which features a giant fountain and a wide-ranging view of the city. We also discovered a secret chess room with about five different chess tables for people to play on. Too bad I have no idea how to play chess!
The DECA competitions and ceremonies take place in the main ballrooms of the Broadmoor, which are the perfect size for housing over 3,000 kids, DECA advisors, and other supporters. I hope that all high school Colorado DECA students get to experience The Broadmoor in the future, because it really does add to the DECA experience overall!
As for my DECA chapter, we stayed at a Doubletree hotel that is approximately fifteen minutes away from The Broadmoor. While the Doubletree is certainly not The Broadmoor, it served its purpose. The rooms are a decent size, there’s a pool and a gym that we had access to, and they offer all DECA kids a complimentary breakfast each morning that they stay at the hotel that features a full breakfast bar.. It also didn’t matter to me too much where we stayed as long as we were comfortable, because we spent the majority of our time competing and running around The Broadmoor anyways. The Doubletree also provided a bus for the DECA students to get to The Broadmoor that came and picked kids up every fifteen minutes, which was so helpful in getting us to and from our roleplays and presentations! If anyone is planning a trip or a quick visit to Colorado Springs, I encourage you to check out The Broadmoor and the Doubletree (depending on your needs and your price range, of course). Both are in prime locations for accessing the activities in town, and The Broadmoor is right next to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (just in case you want to feed some giraffes during your visit). As always, I will include the links to both hotels down below so that you can explore each, view some of the rooms, and search the amenities that each one offers!
This year, I participated in two separate team events: the Travel and Tourism team decision making roleplay and the International Business Plan presentation. I am going to start with my Travel and Tourism experience at the 2017 Colorado DECA State Competition.
The Travel and Tourism team decision making roleplays create business scenarios for you and your partner to solve in the most effective and most creative way possible. Our category focuses a lot on advertising campaigns for companies such as airlines, cruises, theme parks, and shopping centers. I genuinely enjoy competing in this category because not only do I love to travel, but there are so many wonderful ideas that you can come up with to solve the company’s problems. It allows me to exercise my creativity! This go-around at the state competition, me and my partner had to participate in two separate Travel and Tourism roleplays in order to make it to finals. Once we did make it to finals, we had to compete in a third and final roleplay in order to qualify for the DECA Nationals competition. Not only are these roleplay scores factored into which teams qualify for Nationals, but each roleplay participant also has to take a multiple choice test before the competition, and this score is also factored into the final decision.
My partner and I took second place overall in the state for our Travel and Tourism roleplay! After three separate scenarios in which we had to solve the problem of an out of date storybook theme park and two different airlines aiming to expand their reliability and membership, we were able to qualify for Nationals! This is the same category that we competed in last year, and while we did make it to finals last year as well, we only took tenth place overall. It’s crazy to see how much we have improved over a year!
In addition, my partner and I and one other DECA student wrote an International Business Plan for this year’s DECA competition. We ended up writing a thirty page business paper revolving around bringing compact and efficient wind turbines to an underdeveloped community in India in need of access to electricity. Overall, we went for an angle that was humanitarian and profitable, and I believe that gave us a competitive edge throughout our road to Nationals!
With the International Business Plan, participants must not only write a complete business paper, which contributes to sixty percent of a team’s total score, but the team must also formulate a brief ten minute presentation for the judges at the State competition, which makes up the other forty percent of the entire score.
This category required a ton of work! With the Travel and Tourism roleplay, you just show up the day of the competition, you get thirty minutes to read and solve your business scenario, and you get ten minutes to present your ideas to a judge. With the International Business Plan, you not only had to have a business paper completed early in January (a month before tue DECA State competition), but you also had to come up with a presentation that required an entirely different outline than the paper itself.
The Wednesday before we were supposed to head to State (which took place on a Sunday), me and my team performed a practice presentation for the marketing teachers and other DECA advisors at our school. By the end of the presentation, it was clear that none of the advisors understood our business plan, and none of them would ever want to invest in the company that we had built. It didn’t help that the posters that we had ordered as visual aids did not fit within the size requirements, meaning that we had to redo all of these visuals. We also scrapped our entire script that night and rewrote the entire thing after listening to the constructive criticism that the teachers and advisors had to offer.
This was by far the most stressful part of my 2017 DECA State experience. We had less than five days to recreate our presentation. While this criticism allowed us to rethink our presentation and forced us to create an even better version of our original speech and posters, it was frustrating to hear that the work we had put in for a month and a half was not worthy of qualifying for Nationals, which was our team’s sole goal.
All of the categories at DECA State that require a paper and a presentation host two separate presentations for participants. The first round of presentations is in front of a single judge, and it determines who will be headed to finals (which consisted of 12 total teams out of all those who competed in their respective categories). The second round, which me and my team were lucky enough to be able to make the cut for, required each team to give their presentation in front of four different judges. Each of these presentations can only last ten minutes, allowing five extra minutes for the judges to ask questions about anything they were unable to understand. In both round, our judges only had one question, and each time our judges stated that they understood what we were trying to accomplish with our business venture, which was the most important critique we could receive after we spent so much time reworking the format of our presentation! After our presentation during the finals round, we were feeling confident about our chances of making it to Nationals.
And we did! Once again, we took second place overall in the state of Colorado for the International Business Plan category. We will be headed to the DECA Nationals competition in Anaheim, California this year, and it is the first time in a very long time that Legacy High School students have qualified for the National DECA competition! My team and I will also be joined by three other Legacy DECA students who performed exceptionally well at State.
I’ll leave the overall explanation of the Colorado DECA State competition here, and I will describe each individual day that I spent at the conference in future posts.
I hope you’ll join me for more DECA fun, and while I am working on my next post…
Don’t Forget to Make It Meghan!