Cornell study: brands need customer contact and recognition11 May, 2011
The vast quantity of consumer information available on the internet can be used to help hospitality firms to manage their brands more effectively, according to presentations in the inaugural Cornell Hospitality Research Summit. However, the challenge for brand and marketing managers is how to sort out the relevant information from all the internet noise. Complicating matters, social media do not represent all travelers or households, so brand managers must also use conventional research methods, although research questions must be updated for twenty-first-century consumers. These and other key issues in consumer research and brand management are covered in the newest CHRS proceedings, "Building Brands in the Internet Age: Analytics, Loyalty, and Communication," available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.
As explained in the proceedings, a brand represents a promise of benefits and experiences that are based on well designed research about consumers' wants and needs. For today's consumers, a hospitality brand should provide experiences or create the framework that allows guests to have the experience they seek. Beyond that, a brand must connect with customers' emotions to generate true loyalty. In terms of customer loyalty, hospitality firms might do well to re-evaluate their loyalty programs and to segment program members according to their actual patronage, since so many loyalty program members are participating only for product discounts. Instead, the focus of loyalty programs and brand management in general should be customer contact and recognition.
Industry presenters included Laurence Bernstein, managing partner of Protean Strategies; Stephen Brandman, co-owner of Thompson Hotels; Jim Coyle, founder and president of Coyle Hospitality; Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting and strategic implementation for Maritz Hospitality Research Group; Chris Klauda, vice president of quality services at D.K. Shifflet Associates; Kelly McGuire, executive director, global hospitality and travel practice, SAS; Rob Rush, president and CEO, LRA Worldwide, Inc.; Sean Taggart, vice president of marketing at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International; Paolo Torchio, vice president of e-marketing services at Sabre Hospitality Solutions; and Cindy Whiteway, senior vice president of client services, TRG iSKY. Academic presenters included Professors Chekitan Dev and Robert Kwortnik, Cornell University, Professors Kathryn LaTour and Michael LaTour, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Professor Michael McCall, Ithaca College; and Professor Clay Voorhees, Michigan State University.