As the lodging industry faces the competitive challenges of the new millennium, the American Hotel Foundation (AHF), a subsidiary of the American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA), Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, and American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. (TRS), will undertake a landmark study, "Best Practices in the United States Lodging Industry."
If one were interested in making their hotel chain or property the most profitable and the best at driving repeat business, they would be smart to look at the practices of those leading the industry in customer loyalty, service, profitability, employee training and retention, and a host of other operational areas. Yet, with an industry as large and as segmented as the lodging industry, gathering and analyzing that much information would be an overwhelming task for one business to undertake.
Designed as a way for the industry to learn from itself, the "Best Practices" study will be the first-ever compilation of the strategies and tactics used by the lodging industry's "best of the best" in such areas as operations, marketing, information technology, and food and beverage. In all, 15,000 executives from U.S. hotel every size, operation and hotel segment from luxury to budget will be surveyed. Those interested in nominating an industry peer who has achieved excellence in a particular area of operation, can receive a survey and/or information by contacting the AH&MA's fax-on-demand number, at 800-701-7725 and requesting document #800 prior to August 1. A four page fax will be sent immediately to the fax number you designate. In addition, one can respond to the survey, request information or receive the latest news on the study's progress by accessing the web page http://hotelschool.cornell.edu/best-practices.
The "Best Practices" study was funded by AHF utilizing funding provided by American Express as part of the AHF Hospitality 2000 Campaign. American Express donated $750,000, the largest single donation to the campaign, $250,000 of which was earmarked for a significant research project. Since then, the AHF and American Express, a partner to the AH&MA for 40 years, have worked together to define the purpose and scope of the study. In addition, the two teamed up to review the capabilities and recommendations from a variety of organizations before selecting Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration to conduct the study.
During phase I of the study, industry executives will be asked to identify a company, hotel or individual whom they consider to be a "best practice champion" within various segments of the industry. Surveying will begin in June and is expected to be completed by mid-August.
"Best practice champions are those brands, chains, companies or individuals who have developed highly affective and profitable practices that represent the best in the industry," said Cathy A. Enz, one of the study's four principal investigators and the Lewis G. Schaeneman Professor of Innovation and Dynamic Management at Cornell University. "Once we finish surveying the 15,000 executives we will have identified a diverse group of best practice champions in various hotel segments and areas of operation."
Companies/brands, hotels or individuals most frequently mentioned as a best practice champion within a category will be interviewed in phase II of the study. Researchers will interview individuals on the different aspects of their 'best practice,' from its evolution to implementation, to its perceived impact on customers and their purchasing behavior. This part of the study is scheduled for the Fall of 1998.
Final results of the study are expected to be published in March 1999.
In addition to Enz, the study's other principal investigators are Leo M.
Renaghan, associate professor of services marketing, and Judy A. Siguaw,
associate professor of marketing, from the Hotel School, and Laurette Dubé,
associate professor of marketing at McGill University.