Sustainability and Strategy Highlight Top Reports from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research

May 08, 2014

Contact:  Carol Zhe, 607.254.4504,

Sustainability and Strategy Highlight Top Reports from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research
Ithaca, NY, May 8, 2014 - An analysis of survival tactics for economic recession and a direct test of hotel guests' responses to sustainability efforts are the winning reports in the 2014 Industry Relevance Award competition for the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR). The winning reports are "Successful Tactics for Surviving an Economic Downturn: Results from an International Study," by Sheryl E. Kimes, and "Hotel Guests' Reactions to Guest Room Sustainability Initiatives," by Alex M. Susskind and Rohit Verma. Kimes, Susskind, and Verma are all professors at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

The Industry Relevance Award recognizes faculty who have researched an important topic and created a CHR Report or CHR Tool that has had significant impact on the hospitality industry. The award winners are determined by the CHR's advisory board research committee members and the users of the CHR's website, based on downloads and nominations from industry practitioners. In the relatively short time they have been available, together these two papers have been downloaded by nearly 3,000 users of the CHR website.

Kimes conducted an international survey of 980 hotel revenue management professionals to determine how they responded to the global recession of 2008–09. Not only did she survey what they did, but also how well the hotel operators' strategies succeeded. Most hotels stepped up their marketing efforts, by prospecting new market segments, for example, and a substantial number used cost-cutting tactics, including curtailing operating hours and closing facilities. Another large group created packages or other promotions that obscured their actual rates. Kimes found that the hoteliers considered marketing tactics to be the most effective response to recession, followed by rate-obscuring approaches. The revenue managers offered six lessons of the recession: (1) Don't panic, but be strategic; (2) Beware broadscale discounting; (3) Maintain marketing efforts; (4) Focus on marketing-based initiatives; (5) Consider rate-obscuring tactics; and (6) Maintain service levels.

Susskind and Verma tested hotel guests' response to manipulations of lighting levels and television-set power in the guest rooms at the Statler Hotel, which is the 150-room, four-diamond teaching hotel operated by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Their goal was to find ways to save electrical power without affecting the guest experience. They found that guests did not notice the subtle changes in the TV power, and some of them actually preferred the more efficient LED lamps installed as a bathroom lighting test (rather than CFLs). Susskind and Verma concluded that this set of guests often appreciated the hotel's sustainability efforts. Susskind presented these results at the 2013 Quality in Service (QUIS) conference in Sweden, and a detailed presentation of this study will appear in the August 2014 Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. The lighting and TV research is one of many sustainability efforts made by the Statler Hotel, which was given the 2014 Good Earthkeeping Award, the greenest award bestowed by the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association.
About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

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