Cornell and SAS Webcast Focuses on Customer Data Collection and Analysis as a Team Effort

Oct 19, 2009

Contact:  Jennifer Macera, 607.255.3101, 

Cornell and SAS Webcast Focuses on Customer Data Collection and Analysis as a Team Effort

Hotel and casino marketing initiatives require accurate customer information
Ithaca, NY, October 19, 2009 – Although hotels and casinos collect an immense volume of guest data, using that information for business and marketing initiatives depends on the data's quality. To explain ways to gather and use guest data, the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research and SAS developed "Where's My Data," the first in a planned series of CHR and SAS webcasts. The webcast series is a joint project of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research and SAS, which is a CHR partner.

The webcast presented three data experts: Professor Rohit Verma, executive director of Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research; Scott Chastain, lead architect for SAS Business Analytics; and Tracey Jarosz, director of customer and marketing insight at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Panelists agreed that the best way to make sure guest data are accurate is at the source. They agreed that the best way to do this is with a cross-functional partnership of numerous departments, including IT and operations.
Chastain, who has developed data architecture in numerous industries, suggested a three-step approach to maintaining data quality. "The problem of inaccurate or repetitive data occurs in part because hotels and casinos have numerous points of customer contact," he pointed out. "First you need to analyze the data and to find the source of errors. Next you need to improve the data by standardizing it and eliminating duplication. Finally, you need to control how data are collected going forward."

"A key reason that the Fairmont Hotels data initiative has been successful is that we have spread the word on data quality throughout our organization," Jarosz pointed out. "The place to control data quality is at the source, based on a clear knowledge of what you want to measure."

Based on his research in product and service design, Verma explained that correcting errors in consumer data is a time-consuming process. "As researchers we make sure our data are as clean as possible, but for businesses the explosion of data makes it difficult to maintain data quality," he said. "Thus, it's best to make sure to establish rules to capture data correctly."

Both Chastain and Jarosz emphasized the need to work across departmental lines in collecting and maintaining guest data. "No department owns the data, but all departments are accountable for the data," said Jarosz. Added Chastain: "One way to get started is to choose an objective and then test how data quality affects your ability to achieve that goal. The data analysis may not be centralized, but the data should be."

The next scheduled CHR and SAS Webcast will be "Right People, Right Jobs, Right Time: The Art and Science of Labor Planning," on Friday, November 6, 2009 from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET. Cornell Professor Michael Sturman and Kelly McGuire of SAS will address human resource strategies that allow for top efficiency while maintaining service levels. Those strategies include hiring workers with the right skill set and deploying labor efficiently.

Scheduled Future Webcasts:

December 4, 2009: Loyalty, rewards and value: What do we want from our customers? Cornell Visiting Scholar and CHR fellow Michael McCall will present the results of his research on best practices in customer loyalty programs. Webcast participants will be among the first to learn the results of this new study.

February 12, 2010: Planning for the recovery: Pricing and investment strategies. Cornell faculty Bill Carroll and Jan deRoos will join with Ravi Mehotra, of IDeaS, to examine the key strategies for coming out of the recession better and stronger than before. The webcast will cover investment strategies, pricing strategies, and up-to-the-moment economic trends.

March 12, 2010: Sustainability. Participants will learn the real effects of sustainability for hospitality operations. This session, presented by Cornell Professor Alex Susskind, will address the key question of how "green" design affects the bottom line.

April 9, 2010: Social media. With a focus on social media, this webcast will again give participants the chance to be the first to hear the results of a new research study. Cornell Professor Lisa Klein Pearo will explain the key elements of using social media as part of a hotel and casino marketing strategy.

May 14, 2010: Key issues. The webcast series will conclude with an examination of the most critical issues in the casino and hotel industry. This webcast will address the most critical topics of the moment, so that the topics will be chosen in May just before the session.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 45,000 global sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.

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 76 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

Center Senior Partners: American Airlines Admirals Club,, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: AIG Global Real Estate Investment, Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., FX Real Estate and Entertainment, Inc., HVS, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer Rose LLP, SAS, Smith Travel Research, SynXis (a Sabre Holdings Corporation), Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, WATG, and WhiteSand Consulting

Center friends: • American Tescor, LLC • Argyle Executive Forum • Cody Kramer Imports • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • • EyeforTravel • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • • • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • • Hotel Interactive • Hotel Resource • HotelWorld Network • International CHRIE • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Parasol • PhoCusWright Inc. • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • RealShare Hotel Investment & Finance Summit • Resort+Recreation Magazine • • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • TravelCLICK • UniFocus • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM