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April 17, 2013

Cornell Center for Hospitality Research Focuses on Hotel Technology and Brand Market Research

(Ithaca, New York – 17 April 2013) Research studies demonstrating a model for strategically integrating information technology (IT) and an analysis of consumer hotel preferences are now available from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration. Hoteliers are invited to compare their IT systems to a strategic framework developed by top industry stakeholders. Additionally, a new Cornell Industry Perspectives shows how to use consumer research to evaluate the potential return on hotel amenity and feature upgrades. These publications are available at no charge from the CHR.

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The hospitality industry is moving forward rapidly in implementing technology at all levels and in all areas, but a new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research finds that the implementation is uneven at best. In the new report, “Network Exploitation Capability: Model Validation,” authors Gabe Piccoli, Bill Carroll, and Paolo Torchio urge hotel firms to focus on integrating their many technology solutions. Piccoli is a professor at the University of Pavia, Carroll is a senior lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, and Torchio is vice president of e-marketing services for Sabre Hospitality Solutions. The report, which includes a self-test and benchmarks from a pilot study of hotel firms, is available at no charge from the Cornell CHR.

“Our concern starts with the industry’s speed in developing its IT applications. We see how quickly hotels have adopted technology in many areas,” said Carroll. “But the big question is how well the industry is integrating that technology across three critical areas: demand generation, multi-channel digital distribution, and profit optimization. For this reason we developed NEC Maturity Model, which describes how hospitality firms can become more sophisticated and strategic in their use of IT.”

The validation and demonstration of the NEC model includes a 48-item self-test, the empirical results from a pilot sample of hotel firms, and detailed suggestions for how properties, management companies, owners, and chains can assess their own current level of IT sophistication.

New Cornell Publication Details Best Western’s Brand Research
A new publication from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) explains the process that Best Western International used to determine customer expectations for mid-market hotels and to implement consistent brand standards. The study, “Using Research to Determine the ROI of Product Enhancements: A Best Western Case Study,” by Rick Garlick and Joyce Schlentner, is available at no charge from the CHR. The founder and principal consultant for Populus Primo Consulting, Garlick is chair of the Research Committee for the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association (HSMAI) and conducted the brand research with Schlentner, who is Best Western’s director of strategic services.

Given the hotel industry’s “amenity wars” of the past few years, Best Western International used a data-driven process to determine exactly what its customers want in a hotel, instead of randomly matching competitors’ amenity upgrades. “As a membership association, Best Western needed to develop a firm business case for formalizing its brand standards and for any proposed upgrades,” said Garlick. “Thus, our research estimated a nominal value and calculated the payback for each possible improvement, including rooms and public spaces, right down to the trash can by the front door.”

Schlentner added: “We now had data indicating the items of high value to our guests, such as a hot breakfast that includes eggs and upgraded bedding. Based on our research, the Best Western membership endorsed adding these features to the brand standards.” In addition to items endorsed as standards, hoteliers could assess other items as part of their hotel offerings, depending on their local market. Best Western subsequently extended the research to its international members to understand the difference in consumer expectations globally in order to update the global brand standards.

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