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Using Eye Tracking to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of What Drives Online Hotel Choice

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Using Eye Tracking to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of What Drives Online Hotel Choice
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Booking a hotel online involves two major stages, namely, browsing and deliberation (followed by booking a hotel). A study that tracked 32 individuals’ eye movements as they worked on selecting a hotel to book found that during browsing, consumers quickly glance at many hotels (sometimes scrolling but often just taking the first screen) as they check the names and prices of available hotels. During this process, consumers apply personal heuristics to identify hotels that warrant further scrutiny. During the deliberation phase, consumers review more detailed information for the consideration set—usually no more than about seven properties—from which a purchase decision is made. During the browsing stage, consumers fixate primarily on firm-supplied information, including hotel name, images, price, and location, in addition to user ratings. Within the consideration set, consumers fixate most on images, closely followed by firm-provided descriptions. They also fixate on price and room offers, as well as user-generated ratings and reviews.

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Cornell Report Focuses on Travel Planners’ Decision-Making

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Cornell Report Focuses on Travel Planners’ Decision-Making
Source: Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration documents the series of thought processes that consumers use to make their travel plans. The CHR report examines how the hospitality industry can connect with those processes to assist consumers’ decision making and trip planning. The report, “Consumer Thinking in Decision-Making: Applying a Cognitive Framework to Trip Planning,” by Kimberly M. Williams, applies an eight-point cognitive framework to travel planning and outlines the implications of this framework. The report is available at no charge from the CHR.

The cognitive framework, which is currently used in education, improves the industry’s understanding of consumers’ thought processes. “I conducted two pilot studies and I offer my own personal experience to demonstrate how this framework of eight thinking types operates in trip planning,” said Williams, who is a teaching support specialist with the Graduate Research in Teaching Fellows program in the Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, and is also on the graduate faculty at Plymouth State University. “We’re still learning what part of consumer decision making is beyond the person’s awareness, but this study encourages respondents to become aware of the thinking they apply to their trip planning. That way we can learn more about their thought processes. What is clear, though, is that familiarity and social connections have a strong influence on thinking processes generally, and on trip planning in particular.”

The report explains the framework’s use for consumer decision-making and suggests ways that may help the industry better understand and address the cognition that happens as consumers make complex travel decisions. The eight forms of thinking are: (1) Defining in context, (2) Describing attributes, (3) Sequencing, (4) Causal reasoning, (5) Using analogies, (6) Comparing and contrasting, (7) Categorical reasoning, and (8) Spatial reasoning.

Free registration required to download report.

Female Executives in Hospitality: Reflections on Career Journeys and Reaching the Top

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Female Executives in Hospitality: Reflections on Career Journeys and Reaching the Top
Source: Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell School of Hotel Administration

Structured interviews with twenty women who are top corporate executives or entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry revealed the talent, resourcefulness, and support required to achieve such a position. During the interviews, these successful women cited these three keys to career advancement: (1) the importance of taking thoughtful risks, including non-linear assignments; (2) the criticality of networking; and (3) the significance of finding a sponsor. Two notable challenges for these executives were the possibility that they would be regarded as a token and the need to integrate their work and family life. They noted that keys to meeting work and family responsibilities were having flexibility and autonomy in their schedules and engaging a strong support network, which usually included a life partner. Eight of the twenty had stepped away from corporate roles to run their own businesses. These entrepreneurs acknowledged the considerable work responsibilities resulting from their choice; however, gaining control of their careers made the effort worthwhile and the experience meaningful.

Free registration required to access full report.

Lost in Translation: Cross-Country Differences in Hotel Guest Satisfaction

October 7, 2013 Comments off

Lost in Translation: Cross-Country Differences in Hotel Guest Satisfaction
Source: Center for Hospitality Research (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

The reality of contemporary hotel operation is that hoteliers need to make comparisons across diverse countries regarding differences and similarities in guest satisfaction. Noting the absence of studies that explain how to compare survey responses from hotel guests in different countries, we sought to address this gap by examining four issues critical to hoteliers. Based on two years of data for nearly 200,000 guests from eight nations, our study found: (1) While price and location remain uppermost as decision factors, residents of some countries give considerable weight to specific services; (2) People in different countries do consider different factors in their determination of satisfaction; (3) The effect of certain procedures on guests’ satisfaction differs by country; and (4) Residents of some countries generally express lower levels of satisfaction than those in other countries. To ensure the reliability and consistency of our results, we evaluated results for two years individually (2010 and 2011) and then compared the findings between the two years. Even after controlling for brand and key predictors of satisfaction, we found that guests from the United States provided the highest ratings; guests from Japan provided the lowest ratings; and ratings by guests from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. typically fell between these extremes. The implications of our findings are that country differences must be accounted for when multinational brands are benchmarking or comparing satisfaction results across different market segments. We provide recommendations on how to account for differences in international satisfaction scores so that hoteliers can more effectively use their benchmarking results and can train staff members to respond appropriately to international travelers’ expressions of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Hoteliers should also be aware of these cultural differences when they host international travelers, who may have diverse satisfaction standards or who may be more (or less) likely to express pleasure than are guests from other countries.

(Free registration required to access report.)

Tips Predict Restaurant Sales

October 2, 2013 Comments off

Tips Predict Restaurant Sales
Source: Center for Hospitality Research (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

An analysis of seven years of monthly charge-card sales and tip data from a multi-regional restaurant chain in the United States found that tip percentages predicted food sales in the following month. Thus, restaurant executives, managers, and owners are encouraged to add tip percentages to their sales forecasting models.

(Free registration required to access report.)

Does Your Website Meet Potential Customers’ Needs? How to Conduct Usability Tests to Discover the Answer

September 26, 2013 Comments off

Does Your Website Meet Potential Customers’ Needs? How to Conduct Usability Tests to Discover the Answer
Source: Center for Hospitality Research (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

This CHR tool explains how hospitality managers can evaluate the extent to which their hotel or restaurant website meets potential customers’ needs by means of usability tests. As hospitality businesses seek to drive more business to their own websites rather than third-party sites, websites must not only look appealing but also be easy to use so that potential customers can find information quickly and easily. Functionality is equally important for internal websites, such as those used to communicate with employees about policies and benefits. In addition to explaining how to conduct usability tests, the report provides sample test results and summarizes recent research on website structure and functioning.

Free registration required to access report.

Cornell Hospitality Roundtables Identify Brand and Restaurant Strategies

July 26, 2013 Comments off

Cornell Hospitality Roundtables Identify Brand and Restaurant Strategies
Source: Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

Future strategies for restaurant system operation and ownership and new approaches for brand management were highlighted in two recent Cornell hospitality roundtables, as detailed in recently released proceedings. Key topics in the Branding Roundtable included maintaining a brand’s points of difference, while the roundtable on Emerging Trends in Restaurant Ownership and Management addressed new ownership structures. Both roundtables dug into the implications of social media for brand management. The proceedings are available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration, which organizes the roundtables.

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