By Elinor Garely
Have you ever wondered where hospitality, travel and tourism professors go during the summer? Some faculty are sailing in the Caribbean, and others are mountain climbing in Iceland, but, believe it or not, a large number college professors recently spent a hot and steamy August week Philadelphia, presenting new and insightful research at the annual I-CHRIE (International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and International Education) academic conference. This non-profit professional association focuses on quality improvement of global education, scholarship, and business operations in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Held at the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, the I-CHRIE convention brought together hundreds of the world’s best and brightest hospitality and tourism educators who shared the results of their research on the challenges facing the industry. Getting to present your research at an I-CHRIE conference is not an easy matter. Not only do you have do come up with the idea, do the research, and write the paper, you have to submit your original work to a program committee who reviews the submission, and determines if it meets CHRIE standards of excellence. For the hospitality industry educators and professionals, having your paper selected for a CHRIE presentation is a prestigious and career building occasion. Remember the cliché of “publish or perish” – well colleges and universities around the planet are still following this notion, so getting to present your work at I-CHIRE may be personally rewarding, but it is also a critically important professional merit badge.
What is on the minds of the hospitality, travel and tourism faculty?
Hospitality: Service and/or Adventure
Dr. Nigel Hemmington (Bournemouth University, UK) explored the concept of hospitality and the historical industry focus on “food, drink and accommodation and the provision of these through service” to, most recently, a business with a concentration on “customer service, service delivery and service quality.” However, Dr. Hemmington believes that customers “do not buy service delivery, they buy experiences,” and recommends the industry build in a sense of theatre and generosity, providing guests with an “experience” that is “personal” and “memorable” and adds value to their lives.
ADA: Relevant or Bogus Lawsuits
Dr. Robert Palmer (California State Polytechnic University) discussed the serious issue of aggressive plaintiff’s lawyers representing disabled clients who are filing class action lawsuits against large numbers of hospitality operations, alleging violation of the Americas with Disabilities Act (ADA). Critics of the litigation claim that their objectives are less than honorable, and the litigation is principally to extract financial settlements from business owners. Hospitality operators are being sued, and Dr. Palmer believes that the “phenomenon may be spreading.”
Branding Helps Hoteliers Succeed
Professor Sonja Holverson, (Ecole Hotelere de Lausanne) conducted her study in Europe, where she and her students explored branding and questioned whether it is necessary for small and medium-sized European based independent hoteliers to embrace a brand in order to survive and succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Holverson’s research determined that the majority of hoteliers who made the decision to brand through franchising and hotel membership organizations had “significantly improved their situation” without a loss of independence and management control.
What Do Those Seniors Want Anyway?
A market that is gaining importance to the travel and tourism industry is the senior market. Dr. SooCheong Jang (Kansas State University), Dr. Sunny Ham (University of Kentucky) and Dr. Gong-soog Hong (Ohio State University) studied that traveling motivations of Taiwanese seniors and discovered that the most important motivators are the search for knowledge, as well as “cleanliness and safety.”
NYC Restaurateurs Survive 9/11
Dr. Claudia Green (Pace University), Dr. Pat Bartholomew (City University of New York) and Dr. Sue Murrman (Virginia Tech), looked at the affect of 9-11 on the New York City restaurant industry and found that restaurants in Lower Manhattan witnessed a dramatic decline in business due to their location. They went on to explore the restaurateurs’ response to this unanticipated loss. The authors found that the restaurateurs first provided a safe space for people, along with access to telephones and the Internet. The focus then switched to keeping the business viable, and these steps included 1)informing customers that Lower Manhattan was open for business, 2) lowering price points on menus through specials, prix fixe meals and discounted gift certificates, 3) lowering price points for beverage service, 4) accessing government grants and bank loans, 4) participating in New York City – based promotions including opportunities organized by the Downtown Alliance, Delta Airlines, American Express, and NYC & Co.
Adventure Tourists, the Law and the Innkeeper
Of particular interest to all hoteliers providing accommodations to adventure tourists is a study by Dr. Rosemarie Krebs (University of Central Florida) who looked at “Innkeeper Liability for Injuries due to Ocean Conditions.” Clearly there is a legally determined relationship between the innkeeper and the guest, with the innkeeper responsible for guest protection. The question explored by Dr. Krebs is that of innkeeper liability when a guest is injured while participating in an activity at a location that is not owned, managed or controlled by the innkeeper. She found that some courts are holding the innkeeper liable.
Airline Personnel Training Not Relevant
A study relevant to all airline travel consumers is the research conducted by Drs. Steven Rhoden, Rita Ralston and Elizabeth Ineson (Manchester Metropolitan University). They explored the issue of cabin crew training and its relationship to the management of disruptive airline passenger behavior. The study showed that most training courses were too short, lacked realism and paid insufficient attention to learning styles. The research also found that there was “no substitute for experiential learning” to increase the confidence of the crew, resulting in enhanced flight safety and security.
There are scores of additional research studies available from the International CHRIE conference proceedings. To purchase a copy of the Conference proceedings, please contact the I-CHRIE office at (01) 804 346 4800 and visit the I-CHRIE website – http://www.chrie.org