Cornell Hospitality Research Study Finds that Guests Want to Know Hotels' Rate Rules

Jan 05, 2010

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025,

Cornell Hospitality Research Study Finds that Guests Want to Know Hotels' Rate Rules

Guests Say Familiar Hotel Revenue Management Practices Are Fair Practices
Ithaca, NY, January 5, 2010 – Hotel revenue management techniques cause hotels to adjust their rates in response to demand and occupancy patterns. But if guests don't know what those rate-changing rules are, they tend to think of them as being unfair. A new Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) study found that hotel guests are more likely to think a rate setting practice is fair when they know how the rules work. The study, "How Hotel Guests Perceive the Fairness of Differential Room Pricing," by Wayne Taylor and Sheryl Kimes, is available at no charge from the CHR at

The hotel revenue management study involved showing one of eight distinct scenarios to 815 U.S. respondents, and asking whether the hotel was acting fairly in that particular scenario. Taylor, who is a marketing analyst for the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, conducted this study for his senior thesis at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, where Kimes is the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor in Asian Hospitality Management.

"We know that hotel customers accept the idea that hotel rates will change, but we don't know when guests will think of those rate changes as being fair," said Kimes. "We tested three factors that we thought would influence guests' perceptions of fairness—type of trip, amount of information, and hotel brand class, in this case either five-star or three-star. Of those three factors, only familiarity with the rate rules had a strong effect on perceptions of fairness."

As a result of this strong indication that guests want to know the rules, Taylor and Kimes suggested that hotel revenue managers focus their efforts on increasing guests' familiarity with their pricing practices. While this does not necessarily mean publicizing all of a hotel's rate fences, hotels could post the conditions for a particular rate class on its website, and indicate ways for guests to lock in a particular rate (typically, by booking far in advance). In the current environment, Taylor and Kimes suggest that reservation agents and front-desk clerks can explain differential rates and their associated conditions, thus shifting the guest's focus away from simply asking for a discount.

Meet and interact with Dr. Kimes, an active member of the executive education faculty at the School of Hotel Administration, when she presents sessions in the Professional Development Program:

Thanks to the support of the CHR partners listed below, all publications posted on the center's website are available free of charge, at

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 78 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

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