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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.

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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.

Saving the Bed from the Fed

July 29, 2012 Comments off

Saving the Bed from the Fed
Source: Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell school of Hotel Administration

We estimate the reaction of the United States hotel and restaurant industries to the monetary policy actions of the U.S. Federal Reserve. We find that a portfolio of hotel industry stocks react strongly to unexpected changes in the federal funds target rate. Specifically, for a hypothetical surprise 25-basis-point rate cut, the value-weighted hotel industry stock portfolio registers a one-day gain of 245 basis points (or 2.45 percent). This response is 78-percent stronger than that of the overall equity market in the U.S. In addition, the price impact is stronger at times of policy reversals. On the other hand, the restaurant industry is not as responsive to unexpected changes in the monetary policy. To “save the bed from the Fed,” investors should first recognize the sensitivity of hotel stocks to changes in Fed policy and then engage in appropriate risk management activities, including hedging portfolio risk in the futures market.

Branding Hospitality: Challenges, Opportunities and Best Practices

June 28, 2012 Comments off

Branding Hospitality: Challenges, Opportunities and Best Practices
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Participants in the second annual Cornell Brand Management Roundtable examined both the elements of a strong brand and the place of social media in helping hospitality brands survive and thrive. While brand management fundamentals remain unchanged in the digital age, the widespread expansion of social media and smart phones, along with ever vigilant (and vigilante) guests creates a round-the-clock environment for all brands.

Excellent brands will continue to shine in this environment, but weak or defective brands may be swept away by the tsunami of digital information. One participant’s definition of a brand is “business strategy brought to life.” Under that rubric, everyone in the company should understand and be able to articulate their brand’s key differentiating points. Whether one is developing a new brand or upgrading an existing brand, innovating a brand involves a disciplined process that begins with recognizing a need and then taking the steps to determine how to fill that need in a way that resonates with customers. As an example, InterContinental Hotels Group has developed the new Even Hotels brand to fulfill an identified market gap for frequent travelers who wish to maintain their healthful balance and routines on the road.

The rise of social media has altered the relationship of brand and customer from a theoretical partnership to a continuous interaction. In particular, social media strongly influence consumers’ purchase processes. For example, brands in the original decision set may all be dropped by the time a purchase occurs and an entirely different brand—perhaps one suggested by strangers via social media—may be the final choice. Moreover, flash deals spur purchases that may be based on price rather than brand. To remain a strong brand in the presence of social media, a hospitality firm needs horizontal integration so that guests receive a consistent experience at all levels of brand contact.

Free registration required to download report.

Benefits from Agglomeration Within and Between Hotel Segments

April 1, 2012 Comments off

Benefits from Agglomeration Within and Between Hotel Segments
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Research Question: How does product heterogeneity interact with geographic agglomeration?, or How do the net benefits of agglomeration vary across differentiated firms?

Findings: Agglomeration patterns among U.S. hotels are characterized by a high degree of product heterogeneity. The benefits from agglomeration do not merely accrue to lower scale hotels locating near upper-scale hotels, but also vice versa.

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Emerging Marketing Channels in Hospitality: A Global Study of Internet-Enabled Flash Sales and Private Sales

February 24, 2012 Comments off

Emerging Marketing Channels in Hospitality: A Global Study of Internet-Enabled Flash Sales and Private Sales
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

The potential uses of flash deals or daily deals have caught the attention of many restaurant and hotel firms, as well as third-party distributors, such as Expedia. A survey of nearly 200 international hospitality practitioners found that a remarkable 42 percent had tested a flash deal promotion, and some of those firms had offered numerous flash deals. At the same time, 46 percent of the responding hospitality firms had no intention of offering a flash deal, with some citing concerns about the potential damage of group discounts to brand integrity. Individual hotels that had offered flash deals tended to be on the large side, averaging more than 150 rooms. Discounts offered in the deals ranged widely, from 15 to over 75 percent off rack rates. Likewise, commissions paid to deal vendors saw a wide range, as the most typical commission was 15 to 20 percent, but some hotels paid as much as a 40-percent commission. Most of the deals reported in this survey had been offered through Groupon or LivingSocial, but Jetsetter unexpectedly appeared as the number-three flash-deal channel for these respondents. Deal structures also varied widely, although many deals were offered for mid-week. Although most offers involve a non-refundable purchase, deal vendors are increasingly offering their customers opportunities to obtain refunds in certain circumstances. Respondents’ general assessment of the deals’ success was moderate. They agreed that their deals brought in new customers, but repeat business was more tenuous. One favorable outcome was that the respondents saw little evidence of cannibalization of existing business, particularly when they packaged their deal carefully. On balance, hoteliers who were most pleased with the outcome of their deals were also the ones who managed the cost of the deal most assertively.

Free registration required to download full report.

Cornell Studies Examine Hotel Operating Results in Spain and the U.K.

December 21, 2011 Comments off
Source:  Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Two reports from the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, provide new perspectives on hotel operating results. One report analyzes the first two years of operating results for hotels in the United Kingdom. The other examines the effects of ISO 14001 certification for hotels in Spain. Although the reports are unrelated and deal with two different studies in two countries, both seek to help hotel operators determine the most effective way to improve their revenue picture.

Restaurant Daily Deals: Customers’ Responses to Social Couponing

November 19, 2011 Comments off

Restaurant Daily Deals: Customers’ Responses to Social Couponing
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

A survey of 931 U.S. consumers finds that those who have purchased daily deals from a casual dining, fast-casual, or quick-service restaurant are not noticeably different in behavior or attitudes from those who have not done so. One difference in attitudes provides insight into those who purchase social coupons: they like to be “market mavens,” who stay on the cusp of market trend and price information. Those who purchased daily deals were significantly more likely to be younger, be married, and have a higher income than non-purchasers. On balance, the study indicated that the benefits of offering a social coupon seem to outweigh the disadvantages. Many of the potential concerns about offering a social coupon, including poor tipping, overwhelming the staff, and customer disloyalty, are not substantiated. There was some evidence of cannibalization, as 44 percent of those using a social coupon reported being frequent customers, but the coupons also brought back infrequent customers and attracted a substantial percentage of new customers. Most critically, many of the new and infrequent customers said they would return to the restaurant and pay regular prices, as well as recommend the restaurant to friends. New customers in particular would not have tried the restaurant without the daily deal offer. All customer groups said they considered the restaurant to be a good value, even without the discount offer.

Free registration required to download full report.

See also: To Groupon or Not To Groupon: A Tour Operator’s Dilemma

The Current State of Online Food Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry

September 29, 2011 Comments off

The Current State of Online Food Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry
Source: Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

A study of 372 U.S. restaurant operators (of all sizes) that accept takeout orders found that about one-quarter of those surveyed have adopted online ordering. Just over one-fourth of those surveyed use some form of online ordering. These restaurateurs have been pleased with the technology, and all of them indicated that online ordering has met or exceeded their expectations on ROI. Although convenience and control are both drivers of the move toward online ordering, this study found that consumers and operators differed on the ranking of those two factors. Operators thought that consumers like online ordering for its convenience, but an earlier study of consumers found that what they like is control over the ordering process. Contrary to some reports, the restaurants in this study did not find substantial increases in average check, but they did report considerable increase in order frequency. For this sample, the top benefit of online ordering was a savings in labor, since employees are not tied up on the phone or at the counter. Order accuracy was another benefit cited by these restaurant operators.

Free registration required to access full report.

Unscrambling the Puzzling Matter of Online Consumer Ratings: An Exploratory Analysis

August 26, 2011 Comments off

Unscrambling the Puzzling Matter of Online Consumer Ratings: An Exploratory Analysis
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

This study explores the patterns of online reviews of vacation homes from a community-based travel advisory website with a goal of understanding the biases inherent in online word of mouth (WOM) related to tourism and hospitality services. An analysis of nearly 3,200 reviews from “Reviewsite.com,” (a pseudonym) which posts reviews of vacation rental properties across the USA, finds an overwhelming preponderance of favorable reviews. More to the point, relatively few “moderate” reviews are posted, and the second-highest category is extremely negative comments. Using semantic processing techniques on the aggregate review text, the study identifies the nuanced opinions and concerns of the travelers who write reviews. Negative reviews tend to be lengthy and argumentative, often detailing disappointment over expectations not met. Positive reviews, on the other hand, tend to be relatively brief and confirm the overall rating. Consumers who wrote “high” reviews placed greater importance on value for money, cleanliness, and comfort than did those who wrote negative reviews. Those who wrote “low” reviews placed their emphasis on the service provided by the property staff and management. Negative reviews were more likely to involve a higher price accommodation. This analysis indicates that the overall numerical ratings typically used in review systems may not be the ideal indicator of perceived service quality. The results suggest that review sites should develop better methods to aggregate, synthesize, and publish the review contents, particularly the numerical ratings. This and other review sites show the average of all the point-scale ratings, but such simple means do not take into account the biases that are inherent in the rating systems. Instead, the sites should provide more information and heuristics to help the consumers navigate through the clutter and get the information they desire.

Free registration required to download full paper.

What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions

July 16, 2011 Comments off

What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions
Source: Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

This study examined the emphasis hiring managers placed on general mental ability (GMA) and personality—agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion—when evaluating applicant profiles for servers for a national restaurant chain. GMA was framed as either “intelligence” or the “ability to learn and solve problems.” Under both conditions, GMA was valued, but less than agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, even though GMA has been demonstrated to be the strongest predictor of employee performance. Framed as the “ability to learn and solve problems,” GMA was more highly valued, but still less than personality.

Free registration required to access full paper.

Creating Value for Women Business Travelers: Focusing on Emotional Outcomes

July 15, 2011 Comments off

Creating Value for Women Business Travelers: Focusing on Emotional Outcomes
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Given the dramatic increase in women business travelers, addressing the needs of this market segment has become increasingly critical for hotel companies. While previous research has attempted to identify the specific items or features which women travelers want from their hotel stay, this report suggests a more holistic approach to capturing this market segment. Rather than emphasize the importance of specific items that fluctuate from one survey to the next, this study instead suggests that managers focus on how combinations of services, amenities, and facilities contribute to the desired affective responses sought by women business travelers. Based on a review of the literature on gender and emotion, a model is presented that emphasizes the flexibility managers have to accommodate women travelers within the context of a particular property. A convenience survey of hotel managers’ perceptions of women’s preferences shows that women are developing a clear and consistent message about the need to feel safe, comfortable, empowered, and pampered. Guided by these themes, hotel managers are in an excellent position to go beyond a focus on individual attributes and amenities to provide an experience that exceeds the expectations of this dynamic and growing market segment.

+ Full Report
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Customer Perceptions of Electronic Food Ordering

May 12, 2011 Comments off

Customer Perceptions of Electronic Food Ordering
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

A survey of 470 internet users found that slightly under half of them have ordered food online by mobile app, or with a text message. The chief reason for electronic ordering given by those have ordered (users) is that they gain convenience and control. The major factor that inhibits those who have not ordered via an electronic channel (non-users) is a desire for interaction (although technology anxiety is also a factor). Users are on balance younger than non-users, and users generally patronize restaurants more often than non-users. Italian food, particularly pizza, is far and away the most commonly ordered category. The single most important attribute of electronic ordering is order accuracy. That is followed by convenience and ease of ordering. Despite the availability of the internet and phone apps, the most common ordering channel is still the telephone call (53.7 percent). Electronic ordering is growing, though, as the users said they place a little over 38 percent of their orders on the restaurant’s website or app. A chief implication is that restaurateurs must ensure that their ordering systems must give users perceptions of control and also be convenient. One other consideration is that customers who order food online prefer restaurants that offer delivery.

Free registration required to access full report.

2011 Travel Industry Benchmarking: Marketing ROI, Opportunities, and Challenges in Online and Social Media Channels for Destination and Marketing Firms

April 29, 2011 Comments off

2011 Travel Industry Benchmarking: Marketing ROI, Opportunities, and Challenges in Online and Social Media Channels for Destination and Marketing Firms
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Research

Senior lodging and destination marketing executives often make vendor and marketing channel decisions without sufficient time to investigate the ROI of alternative strategies or emerging media choices. An internet-based survey of 426 marketing executives, drawn from the TravelCom 2011 conference and Cornell Center for Hospitality Research database, with support from Vantage Strategy and iPerceptions, found a wide range of expenditures on online marketing, as well as considerable diversity in organizational structures. Two-thirds of the sample comprised accommodation marketers, with the remainder being destination marketers or those responsible for other types of marketing. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported spending less than $10,000 on mobile media in 2010, about two thirds spent less than $10,000 on all social media marketing. About 80 percent of the marketers said that they produced Twitter campaigns and social promotions in-house, but such functions as search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are largely outsourced. Accommodation firms are more likely to outsource all social media functions, including pay-per-call, Twitter campaigns, and pay-per-click management. Destination marketers, on the other hand, generally handle more functions in-house. Two-thirds of the entire sample said the 2010 e-commerce budgets had increased with respect to 2009. Sixty percent of accommodation marketers anticipated a further increase in 2011, and 71 percent of the destination marketers said their 2011 budgets would increase.

Free registration required to access full report.

Cornell Study Finds Quick-Service and Fast-Casual Chains Gradually Making Use of Electronic Ordering

April 25, 2011 Comments off

Cornell Study Finds Quick-Service and Fast-Casual Chains Gradually Making Use of Electronic Ordering
Source: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

An analysis of the electronic ordering practices of the top 326 U.S.-based restaurant chains finds that fast-casual and quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains have moved forward with online ordering, although not on Facebook. The study, “Online, Mobile, and Text Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry,” by Sheryl E. Kimes and Philpp F. Laqué, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at
http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2011.html. Based on their review of restaurants’ ordering functionality, just under half of the fast-casual restaurants accepted online ordering—notably, pizza and sandwich chains—and just over one-fifth of QSR chains take online orders. Kimes is the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor of Asian Hospitality Management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, where Laqué is a degree candidate in the Master of Management in Hospitality program. The study was sponsored by CHR and Nation’s Restaurant News.

Free registration required to access full report.

Search, OTAs, and Online Booking: An Expanded Analysis of the Billboard Effect

April 15, 2011 Comments off

Search, OTAs, and Online Booking: An Expanded Analysis of the Billboard Effect
Source: Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Center for Hospitality Reserch

Replicating and expanding an earlier study, this report confirms and quantifies the so-called billboard effect that occurs when online travel agents (OTAs) include a particular hotel in their listings. An earlier study, based on four JHM-owned hotels, found that a hotel’s listing on Expedia increased total reservation volume by 7.5 to 26 percent depending on the hotel. This number excluded reservations processed through the OTA itself. This larger and more exhaustive study analyzes the billboard effect based on booking behavior related to 1,720 reservations for InterContinental Hotel brands for the months of June, July, and August of three years (2008, 2009, and 2010). The analysis determined that for each reservation an IHG hotel receives at Expedia, the individual brand website receives between three and nine additional reservations. Although these reservations are made through “Brand.com” (the individual brand’s site), they are directly created or influenced by the listing at the online travel agent. The study also gained an indication of the amount of surfing time spent by would-be guests who are investigating and studying potential hotels to book. Some travelers recorded as many as 150 searches, but that was exceptional. The more typical activity was still considerable: the average consumer made twelve visits to an OTA’s website, requested 7.5 pages per visit, and spent almost five minutes on each page.

Free registration required to access full report.

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