Cornell Roundtable Shows Connection of Strong Sales with Employee and Guest Satisfaction

Oct 05, 2009

Contact:  Jennifer Macera, 607.255.3101,

Cornell Roundtable Shows Connection of Strong Sales with Employee and Guest Satisfaction

High Quality Guest Services Depend Heavily on Employee Satisfaction

Ithaca, NY, October 5, 2009 – A critical aspect of hotel and restaurant management is making sure that employees are satisfied and loyal, because you cannot have satisfied guests with unhappy employees. Participants in the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) Guest Service Processes and Outcomes Roundtable examined this critical connection, with an eye to improving sales. They discussed research that showed that working to make sure that guests are highly satisfied is worth the trouble, because highly satisfied guests are more loyal and spend more money than those who are merely satisfied. The CHR roundtable, held in September 2009, was chaired by Alex Susskind, an associate professor at the School of Hotel Administration.

Developing a strong service culture depends on a factor that roundtable presenter Rick Garlick terms employee engagement. Garlick, director of consulting and strategic implementation of Maritz Research, explained that employers need to gain their employees' perspective and insight as part of building a strong service culture. In a related presentation, Joe Cardador, chief information officer of Service Management Group, showed the importance of moving guests from a "zone of indifference," in which they are merely satisfied, to a "zone of affection," in which they are highly satisfied. Cardador explained that highly satisfied guests were twice as likely to return to a restaurant as those who were just satisfied with their experience—and those highly satisfied guests were three times as likely to recommend the restaurant.

Throughout the discussion, roundtable participants agreed that one foundation of employee satisfaction is to establish a clear set of service-driven policies that are consistently executed. Susskind pointed to a study that showed the connection between employees' perceptions, guest satisfaction, and unit-level sales. That connection involves employees' belief that they can count on their supervisor and co-workers for support and assistance in fulfilling their duties. This support reinforces employees' guest orientation which creates guest satisfaction. Together, these factors give a strong boost to unit-level sales.

Two more CHR roundtables are set for October 2009, on senior living and on sustainability. Attendance is by invitation, and CHR partners are guaranteed a seat at every roundtable. Roundtables scheduled for 2010 include the HR Executive Roundtable, in conjunction with the HR in Hospitality Conference, labor and employment law, marketing, and real estate finance.

About CHR Roundtables:

CHR roundtables are a meeting place for invited senior-level hospitality industry executives and Cornell faculty members. Each roundtable lasts one day and is divided into four or five sessions. Sessions begin with a short research presentation (by a Cornell faculty member, faculty from another institution, or an industry leader) that lasts five to ten minutes. Immediately following, one or two industry discussants either support or contest the researcher's hypothesis or conclusion. The conversation is then opened up to the entire roundtable for discussion. For more information on roundtables, please visit: