Cornell Hospitality Research Summit Confers "Hospitality Research in Practice" Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Cornell Hospitality Research Summit Confers "Hospitality Research in Practice" Awards

New award program highlights the use of rigorous research in developing successful corporate practices

Two companies—McDonald's and Best Western—have been honored as winners of the first Hospitality Research in Practice award. Two other firms—Wyndham Worldwide and Vivanta by Taj—Holiday Village, Goa—were given honorable mentions. All awards were presented on October 7, 2010, at the inaugural Cornell Hospitality Research Summit, held at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

"More than ever, hospitality industry innovations and managerial practices must be based on rigorous research," said Professor Rohit Verma, executive director of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, which developed the award program. "We wanted to recognize the best projects, which are set apart by both solid research and excellent implementation. In particular, the results of these programs are remarkably strong."

The selection of the winners and honorable mentions was made based on two rounds of blind peer reviews. After the initial review of numerous nominations, the finalists were selected by a panel of industry executives and academic scholars. The finalists were re-evaluated by another group of senior scholars and industry executives and the two winners and two honorable mentions were identified.

Award Winner: McDonald's
McDonald's has evolved its menu many times over the years, basing their modifications on customers' preferences and tastes. Their strategic plan to enter the beverage market space was no exception. Since the coffee market space was already crowded, McDonald's developed its McCafé Beverage Program by methodically testing all products in three different ways. Every product had to pass customer taste tests, operations testing, and market analysis. The vision for McDonald's Combined Beverage Business is to be the world class leader in the beverage category. The goal is to offer a powerful line-up of traditional beverages (fountain sodas, drip coffee, shakes, juices) and new beverage options (hot or iced espresso coffees and teas, frappes, smoothies) that will make McDonald's the destination for beverages in the eyes of consumers. Its world class deployment of this beverage platform on a tight time frame has made this possible. McDonald's USA is a senior partner of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

Award Winner: Best Western
Best Western International, Inc., commissioned an extensive Consumer Expectations Research initiative with the collaboration of its research partner, Maritz Research. The study was conducted using a two-phase approach, and break-even analyses were conducted to provide evidence to Best Western's membership of the value of making the upgrades. The study began in North America and resulted in membership approvals of bedding upgrades and breakfast standards, as well as several other branding initiatives. The research was later extended internationally and is currently under review. Finally, the research is being used for specific property designations within the larger Best Western brand. This research is part of a long tradition of Best Western using research to drive industry firsts, such as being the first brand to offer free high speed internet access at all North America properties, the first to launch virtual tours for all of its North American properties, and the first to initiate strategic partnerships with Harley Davidson and NASCAR. Maritz is a partner of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

Honorable Mention: Vivanta by Taj-Holiday Village, Goa
A well-known resort on India's west coast, the Vivanta by Taj—Holiday Village conducted a methodical program to upgrade its operations, based on improving the customer service experience. The resort's managers used a seven-step process to identify and test service innovations. Communication was a strong part of this plan. For instance, the resort started making sure that complaints were communicated directly to managers, and high-level managers consulted personally with guests to ensure personal service. Among the specific operating changes, the resort changed its check-in policies, reorganized its breakfast offerings, and instituted a new photograph-based approach to room preparation. As a result, guest satisfaction scores increased by 20 percent, and the resort's revenue per available room substantially exceeded its market "fair share," as compared to competitors. Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces is a senior partner of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. The resort's program is explained in detail by researchers Aveek Sengupta and Chekitan Dev in the upcoming February 2011 issue of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

Honorable Mention: Wyndam Worldwide
Having established a six-point sustainability program called Wyndham Green, Wyndham Worldwide assisted in the development of one of the first eco-friendly uniform programs in the hospitality industry. Working with its existing supplier, Cintas, Wyndham developed uniforms made with recycled polyester, such as from plastic beverage bottles. By selecting a recycled polyester apparel program, Wyndham helped divert nearly 70,000 water bottles from landfills. Not only does this process keep water bottles out of the waste stream, but it reduces energy consumption by as much as 33 percent compared to manufacturing virgin fibers from crude oil. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 47 percent and helps decrease harmful air emissions. After use and wear testing, the company went system wide with a newly designed uniform that can be phased in at participating locations.

About Best Western International, Inc.
Best Western International, Inc. is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated BEST WESTERN, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world's largest family, with our hotels and staff sponsoring children in need around the globe. Our partnerships with AAA/CAA, Michael Waltrip Racing™ and Harley-Davidson® help guests make the most of every trip. For the fastest way to a free night globally, join Best Western Rewards®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

About McDonald's USA, LLC
McDonald's USA, LLC, is the leading food-service provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to millions of customers every day. More than 80 percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local franchisees. For more information on McDonald's visit www.mcdonalds.com or log on at any of the 10,000 Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information about McDonald's USA, Inc., please visit www.mcdonalds.com.

About Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
For more than 100 years, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has acquainted guests with the living heritage of India - and a legendary experience in hospitality. It began on December 16, 1903, when Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata opened Taj Hotels's first hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai. This grand hotel epitomized a philosophy that still holds true today: provide impeccable service and unparalleled facilities so every stay is a memorable one. A part of the Tata Group of companies www.tata.com, India's premier business house, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces comprises 71 hotels in 39 locations across India and includes 13 international hotels in the Maldives, Mauritius, UK, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Africa, the U.S (New York's Pierre Hotel) and the Middle East. Over the years, Taj Hotels has won international acclaim for its quality hotels and its excellence in dining, business facilities, interiors, and world-class, personalized service. In India, Taj Hotels is recognized as the premier hospitality provider, spanning the length and breadth of the country, and gracing important industrial towns and cities, beautiful beaches, historical and pilgrim centres, and wildlife destinations. To learn more about the Taj Hotels, please visit: http://www.tajhotels.com/.

About Wyndham Worldwide Corporation
As one of the world's largest hospitality companies, Wyndham Worldwide offers individual consumers and business-to-business customers a broad suite of hospitality products and services across various accommodation alternatives and price ranges through its premier portfolio of world-renowned brands. Wyndham Hotel Group encompasses approximately 7,110 franchised hotels and approximately 597,700 hotel rooms worldwide. Wyndham Exchange and Rentals offers leisure travelers, including its 3.8 million members, access to over 65,000 vacation properties located in approximately 100 countries. Wyndham Vacation Ownership develops, markets and sells vacation ownership interests and provides consumer financing to owners through its network of over 155 vacation ownership resorts serving over 820,000 owners throughout North America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. Wyndham Worldwide, headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., employs approximately 25,000 employees globally. For more information about Wyndham Worldwide, please visit the Company's web site at www.wyndhamworldwide.com.

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 CHR's 81 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 www.chr.cornell.edu.
 
Center Senior Partners: Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, SAS, STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: 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, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Maritz, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Schneider Electric, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, and WATG

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