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Environmental Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Best Practices, Guest Participation, and Customer Satisfaction

May 18, 2015 Comments off

Environmental Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Best Practices, Guest Participation, and Customer Satisfaction
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Certain sustainability practices could be considered nearly universal in the lodging industry, based on a study of 100 resorts in the United States. Among the common green practices are water conserving fixtures and linen-reuse programs. A separate survey of 120,000 hotel customers finds that guests are generally willing to participate in sustainability programs, but the presence of green operations still do not override considerations of price and convenience in selecting a hotel. Additionally, the study finds an increased willingness to participate when hotels offer incentives, such as loyalty program points, for participating in environmental programs. Although the link between environmentally sustainable programs and improved customer satisfaction is weak compared to standard drivers like facilities, room, and food and beverage quality, hotels are increasingly expected to maintain sustainability programs as a regular feature of their business. At the same time, the study did find that environmental sustainability programs do not diminish guest satisfaction. Consequently, the decision regarding which programs to implement should rest on cost-benefit analysis and other operating considerations.

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It’s More than Just a Game: The Effect of Core and Supplementary Services on Customer Loyalty

March 24, 2015 Comments off

It’s More than Just a Game: The Effect of Core and Supplementary Services on Customer Loyalty
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

All service providers seek to provide a comprehensive experience for their customers, with the goal of cementing customer loyalty and encouraging future purchases. In most services, we can identify core aspects (e.g., a good night’s sleep at a hotel) and supplementary aspects (e.g., concierge and valet services). For professional sports, the core service is the sporting contest itself, but many other supplementary services may also be included. We use a comprehensive dataset of over 7,000 patrons of a major professional sport in the United States to determine how customers’ satisfaction with core and supplementary services influence their intent to repeat a ticket purchase. We find that satisfaction with both core and supplementary services are important for loyal customers, but first-time customers tend to focus only on core service satisfaction when considering whether to purchase another ticket. One implication of this study is that firms should focus on their customers’ full experience. Firms must first focus on their core services and then augment them appropriately with supplementary services.

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Cyborg Service: The Unexpected Effect of Technology in the Employee-Guest Exchange

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Cyborg Service: The Unexpected Effect of Technology in the Employee-Guest Exchange
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality industry operations are experimenting with self-service kiosks, tablet devices, and other technologies intended to augment or replace interactions between guests and front-line employees. While the combination of technology and people is designed to improve service, research suggests that service technologies can impede development of employee-guest rapport and lead to lower service evaluations. The studies presented in this report apply social equity theory to determine when (and why) technology can improve guests’ satisfaction with the service process and when it diminishes the guest experience. Equity theory suggests that when the use of technology prevents guests from responding to an employee’s friendly advances, guests experience psychological tension and decrease their evaluations of the service experience. The reverse situation also applies, so that when employees are less than friendly the barrier created by technology increases service evaluations by reducing guest anger. However, it is not always the case that friendly frontline staff and technology don’t mix. In a follow up field experiment, guests who used a Monscierge touchscreen system located not far from a bell stand preferred interacting with the technology when a hotel employee was nearby though not directly engaging guests. Thus, frontline employees should still develop a rapport with guests, but when technology acts as an “equity barrier,” the employees should provide guests with “social space,” without abandoning them entirely.

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.)

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