Cornell Research on Hotel Websites and Forecasting Restaurant Sales

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Thursday, 15 August 2013

Two new publications from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration, address management issues for the hotel industry and for the restaurant industry.

One new tool provides a way to analyze how well a hotel's website functions, while the new restaurant report finds that managers can use tips to forecast restaurant sales.

How to Make Sure Hotel Websites Meet Customers' Needs

A new hospitality tool from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) demonstrates how hotel companies can ensure that their websites make it easy for customers to find the information they need. The tool, "Does Your Website Meet Potential Customers' Needs? How to Conduct Usability Tests to Discover the Answer", by Daphne Jameson, explains how to conduct usability tests to evaluate the extent to which a hotel or restaurant website meets potential customers' needs.

Jameson, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, said usability testing is neither difficult nor expensive to implement.

"As I explain in this tool, a hospitality firm can employ students or other people to play the role of customers who are seeking information from the website," said Jameson. "These testers can then report on their experience so that the hotel management can remove barriers to booking and adjust the website to be more functional."

The CHR tool provides detailed instructions for usability testing and gives examples from sample usability tests conducted on 30 hotel websites.

"In our pilot test, we asked students to imagine that they were meeting planners who were looking for a meeting venue. We found that certain hotels were eliminated from consideration primarily because their website was unattractive and hard to use," Jameson added.

Usability testing can also be applied for internal purposes, for example, to make sure that human resources information is easily accessible to employees.

The tool is available at no charge from the CHR.

Cornell Study Finds that Tips Forecast Restaurant Sales

A new study from CHR has also found that tip percentages provide an indication of subsequent restaurant sales.

The study "Tips Predict Restaurant Sales" is by Michael Lynn and Andrey D. Ukhov.

Lynn is the Burton M. Sack '61 Professor in Food and Beverage Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, where Ukhov is an assistant professor.

Lynn and Ukhov analyzed seven years of monthly charge-card sales and tip data for a multi-regional restaurant chain in the United States.

"We found that tip percentages in one month accurately predicted food sales levels in the following month," said Lynn. "Our data do not say why this is true, but we think that tips can be an indicator of how well consumers are doing and how optimistic they are regarding their future prospects. Since tips are entirely voluntary, it stands to reason that tips would go up when people are doing well, and that would be reflected in future visits to the restaurant."

Ukhov and Lynn conclude that tip percentages can be used as a management device in restaurants to help managers set sales forecasts.

This study can also be downloaded free of charge from the CHR.


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