Revenue Optimization in Your Restaurants

By Juli Jones, CAE, Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Revenue optimization in hotel restaurants is specialized enough that it deserves its own case study. Thankfully, there is one — produced by Dr. Sheryl E. Kimes, professor of operations management at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and Jeannette Ho, vice president of Raffles global brand strategy and strategic relationships for AccorHotels. On a recent call with HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Advisory Board (ROAB), Kimes presented an overview of the case study, “Implementing Revenue Management in Your Restaurants: A Case Study With Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.”

For the study, Kimes and Ho looked at POS data for restaurants at several Fairmont hotels around the world, including meal duration, menu items sold, and average check per person, and identified strategies to increase and optimize restaurant revenue.

Here are three takeaways from Kimes’ ROAB discussion:

1. Make “hot” and “cold” plans, but also deploy some strategies at all times. When a restaurant is hot, or busy, and when it’s cold, or not very busy, it needs to do different things in order to maximize profit. But there are also strategies that they always need to implement. “We had this toolbox with three different ‘shelves’,” Kimes said. “So, you open it up and you have all-purpose tools, things like menu engineering and venue design and server upselling. Those work no matter what, and are great tools to deploy. Beyond that, it is important to select tools carefully depending on whether you are hot or cold. Are you busy and turning people away? Or are you not as busy as you should be? It’s important to know what tools to leverage in those unique situations.”

Each restaurant that Kimes and Ho worked with had a customized toolkit designed to improve revenue optimization. For example, when the director at a buffet in Canada saw how popular his restaurant was on Sundays, he realized that he could raise his prices and not see a reduction in covers. On the other hand, a restaurant in Japan decreased the price of its lunch deal, which in turn increased its counter-seat occupancy by 25 percent.

2. Make sure servers are well-trained. Kimes cited the example of a server who didn’t know much about wine and therefore his wine sales were lower than other servers’. Once he was trained to know more about the wines the restaurant sold, his sales went up accordingly. Another example Kimes gave was a server encouraging customers to only buy an appetizer instead of an entrée to save money, which cut into the restaurant’s bottom line. Some of it is product knowledge,” Kimes said, “but lot of it is coaching and providing managers with very easy things that they can tell the servers that are going to be successful.”

3. The biggest challenges were resistance and unclean data. “Anytime you have an employee enter data, you run into that problem,” said Kimes, who noted that one issue she and Ho encountered was that when restaurants were very busy, employees didn’t have time to enter orders and payments in real time. They also dealt with a fair amount of resistance when it came to getting information from the restaurant operators, which they overcame by giving the operators credit for their ideas and working with them to come up more ideas, instead of bombarding them with new ones. “You’re celebrating success,” Kimes said.

4 Questions for HSMAI Sales Professional of the Year Kristi Griffith

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Kristi Griffith, CGMP, CHSP, Corporate Director of Sales Performance Support for Prism Hotels & Resorts, is the recipient of HSMAI’s Off-Property Sales Professional of the Year Award, which was presented at the first-ever Sales Leader Forum in Frisco, Texas, on Nov. 5–6. Joining Prism in 2011 as Task Force Director, she brought her expertise to the company’s Miami, Tampa, and Phoenix properties before being promoted to her current position. HSMAI recently sat down with Griffith to discuss her career, why she loves hotels, and what she thinks about the industry as a whole.

What was your first job in the hotel industry?

It was 1982. I worked at the Wyndham Greenpoint hotel, at the front desk. I worked there for six months before moving to Austin, Texas. Upon arriving in Austin, I joined the Wyndham Southpark Hotel and worked at the front desk. From 1983 to 1986, I moved from front desk agent to supervisor to front office manager. I can remember while working the desk, seeing the sales & catering team moving around, and thinking to myself, “Wow that looks like an easy job. I could do that.” I was approached in 1988 by the GM Jack Highsmith and Director of Sales Susan Penny. They asked if I was interested in sales, and it all started then. I had a short venture in the beginning with the corporate market then was moved to the government market. There I worked the government market and assisted in SMERF for seven years before moving into the association market. I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with so many directors of sales, general managers and coworkers who have helped me in learning and loving what I do.

Why do you like working in sales?

I love to talk to people. I can honestly say that I don’t work a day in my life, because I truly love what I do. I love being able to train people and make them successful, because once I do that, I’ve done my job. I work for a phenomenal company, and my co-workers, hotels and boss are so good to me and to all of us within the organization. I’ve been very lucky to be a part of their family and wouldn’t trade it.  My job is making people successful, owners satisfied, and customers happy. A happy customer is a customer that’s going to come back as well as tell others.

How has hospitality sales — or the industry in general — changed during the time you’ve been a part of it?

I’m very old school. I am so old that when I started in sales, all the people had a file; on one side was contract, on the other was a tracking form with notes and we had a diary where your meeting space was printed in the book and you would mark the space you needed (in pencil). I remember getting excited when the fax machine first came out. People that come in now in our industry work with Delphi or SalesPro. The technology has made a huge impact and difference on how we all sell.

I personally think it’s still about one-on-one interaction. Wherever the customer is, I’m going to hand-deliver that contract instead of emailing it. I believe in face-to-face contact, getting to know the customer, and taking notes to build a relationship. Even though technology is great, people buy from people they know and like, so you must be thorough and a good listener. It gives you credibility when they see you taking notes and being engaged.

What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in sales?

I’ve got a lot to tell people. What’s important is that you’ve got to have the passion, whether you have a degree or not. I don’t have a college degree, but if I had that, I’m sure I would have been in this position a little bit sooner.

However, you can’t teach someone to sell, you’ve either got it or you don’t. Get out and meet the customer, write it down, don’t think that you can remember it all. Get involved with associations, clubs, chambers, whatever it is you chose. Don’t sit at a tradeshow and be like everyone else; instead, be out in front of the booth and talk to the customer. Be yourself, be genuine. Don’t be on your cellphone, and don’t take it in to the customers. Don’t judge a person or an organization by the cover. You’ve got to get to know them. Be different, get out of the box, don’t be normal.

I’m no expert, I learn something new every day from peers, bosses, coworkers. I never stop learning. That’s why I’m so honored to get this award. To me, this is like the Oscars for an actress. Everyone I’m around keeps teaching me things, and I hope to keep on learning from them and teaching others.

Thoughts on 2020 From Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Leaders

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Hospitality marketing and sales leaders came together at HSMAI’s Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Executive Roundtable — held in conjunction with the Sales Leader Forum in Frisco, Texas, on Nov. 5–6 — to discuss the state of the industry and predictions for next year. Here are four of the developments they’re tracking for 2020:

1. Next year looks steady, but slow in terms of growth. Several Executive Roundtable participants mentioned that this year has been steady, and while they aren’t expecting a lot of growth in the coming months, they don’t think next year will see a huge recession. “The prediction is pleasantly optimistic about 2020,” one participant said. “Not fireworks, but people will still need to travel.” Another participant added: “The data is not showing a downturn yet.

2. Disruptors are an issue throughout the industry. Airbnb is now recruiting salespeople — and has gotten a lot more organized about it, according to one participant. Others also expressed concern that the homestay company is a threat to traditional hotels, and stressed that companies need to reevaluate how to best stay competitive in the marketplace. Participants also said that disruption in general is going to be an issue, not just with Airbnb but with other potential emerging companies as well.

3. Hotel companies need to find new ways to draw in business. Traditional ways of reaching customers are not cutting it anymore. Several participants mentioned that innovation and finding new ways to bring people in are going to be priorities for next year. One participant sees a lot of new concepts being explored, particularly in the food-and-beverage space.

4. 2020 will see more hotel trading, which could lead to more problems with brands. A few participants think next year will see more acquisitions and trading of hotels. One participant predicted that this will lead to more startups and new management companies. Another participant mentioned that after a recent merger there is less support from brands, a trend that could continue into the future. Networking with brands is a priority for one participant, who is worried about the relationship between HMCs and brands.

The session was sponsored by Cendyn, Tambourine, and TravelClick, an Amadeus Company. Hotel companies represented at the Roundtable included Concord Hospitality, CoralTree Hospitality, First Hospitality, Hospitality Ventures Management Group, Hotel Investment Services, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Kessler Collection, OTO Development LLC, Pineapple Hospitality Company, PM Hotel Group, Prism Hotels & Resorts, Pyramid Hotel Group, and Remington Hotel Corporation. HSMAI brings together Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Digital Marketing Officers, Chief Sales Officers, Chief Revenue Officers, and Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Executives through the year.

5 Questions for HSMAI Sales Professional of the Year Valerie Gold Rios

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Valerie Gold Rios, director of sales at IHG–Staybridge Suites Lake Buena Vista, is the recipient of HSMAI’s On-Property Sales Professional of the Year Award, which will be presented at the first-ever Sales Leader Forum in Frisco, Texas, on Nov. 5–6.

A graduate of Arizona State University, Rios began her journey in hospitality sales in Orlando. During her career, she has opened new hotels, held regional positions, mentored numerous associates, and guided sales teams through hotel renovations. HSMAI recently sat down with Rios to discuss her accomplishments, how she got here, and what she thinks about the industry as a whole.


What was your fist job in the hotel industry?

I started as a Sales Coordinator at The Residence Inn in Orlando. But I knew I wanted to go into the industry long before then. When I was 16, my father asked me to plan my mother’s 50th birthday party, and I was taken aback by the excitement of planning an event.  From the smallest details of menu preparation to the incredible staff customer service at the party, it was intriguing to me how every aspect of our planning came together in the end. It was then that I knew this was a career path that I wanted to explore further.

Why do you like working in sales?

I enjoy providing exemplary customer service to all our guests. Especially in Orlando, it’s our goal to create vacation memories and I treat my guests exactly how I want to be treated when I’m travelling for leisure or business. I’m very conscious about the level of service I provide and try to make it a personal experience. We are very fortunate at this property to be able to engage with our guests and develop connections even prior to them arriving at the property. Everyone that stays with us leaves feeling special and like one of our family, which is very gratifying.

How has hospitality sales — or the industry in general — changed during the time you’ve been a part of it?

It’s been a 180-degree turn. When I first started, there was very little technology and certainly no internet, so the relationships we created were mostly face-to-face through trade shows, or through advertising. Now it’s definitely more computer-to-computer. Although I miss some of the past conventional selling techniques, the internet has opened up so many more opportunities to attract a wider range of new customers.

What excites you about the future of hotel sales?

I am excited to see how the hotel brands and independent owners are recreating themselves to meet the needs of the ever-evolving consumer. New concepts are continuing to surface as these developers look for market niches. You never know what is coming down the pipeline next.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in sales?

I would say it’s an excellent career choice.  The hotel industry is expanding. Each day is always different and challenging and you never encounter the same situation twice.  It’s a unique mix of customer service, sales, and operations all wrapped in one. It is rewarding knowing that your guest had a wonderful experience when you receive positive feedback through social media.  It is always exciting, and it is a pleasure knowing that you have exceeded your guest’s expectations.  I’m looking forward to continuing my career in hospitality in hopes of further training, teaching, and mentoring those up-and-coming individuals who have the same passion for this industry as I do.

Curate Book Club: Bubble or Revolution?

Do you know what blockchain is? Not heard of it, or read an article about it, or have a vague sense that it will disrupt traditional business systems, but actually understand it enough to explain it to someone else? How about cryptocurrency? Maybe you know that it’s a kind of digital money, that Bitcoin is one, and that it may or may not be completely above board — possibly even connected to the underground economy — but do you know who uses it and how it works?

Yeah, neither do a lot of people.

Neel Mehta, Adi Agashe, and Parth Detroja — product managers at Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, respectively — want to change that. “Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, collectively known as crypto, are among the most consequential and yet least understood new technologies of our time,” said Agashe, who with Mehta and Detroja has written Bubble or Revolution? The Present and Future of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. “Most public conversations about crypto are dominated by enthusiasts saying crypto will tear down banks and governments and pundits saying crypto is nothing but a scam. Not many people pause to break down how exactly these technologies work and what real potential they have.”

Who is your intended audience for this book?

I think that it’s essential that technologists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and even casual observers understand these technologies — so we decided to write a book about them. In Bubble or Revolution?, we break down the building blocks of blockchains and cryptocurrencies; explore their strengths and weaknesses using case studies; dive deep into their social, political, economic, and technical implications; and gain insight into their futures from our exclusive interviews with dozens of tech industry leaders.

What is your simple, go-to definition of a blockchain? How about a cryptocurrency?

The big technological innovation behind Bitcoin, and the thing that makes it so unique, is the blockchain — a public, shared list of every Bitcoin transaction that’s ever happened. In Bitcoin, instead of a single entity like a bank verifying that a transaction happened, everyone collectively agrees that a transaction happened. At a high level, whenever you send someone bitcoin, your payment gets added to a giant shared list of all past transactions — known as a shared ledger, or blockchain. It’s as if all payments were stored on a giant public Excel spreadsheet and anybody could add a “row” for a payment, but nobody could erase or change a row once it was added.

This ledger is the official record of all past payments. Everyone can see every past transaction and thus prove to themselves that the payment happened. Because the ledger is shared, no one person owns it, and nobody can censor it. And, if at least one person has a copy of the ledger, it’ll never die.

How do you define the relationship between blockchains and cryptocurrencies? Is it basically that the former is a technology that powers the latter?

Yes, exactly — we just talked about Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency or digital currency, which uses blockchain technology. But Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency in town. There are well over 2,000 competing cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins, each with its own features and its own blockchain for recording payments. Some are specialized for certain kinds of payments, others aim to build a platform for apps, and others just seek to improve on Bitcoin’s flaws. Altcoins have gotten bigger and bigger over time — Bitcoin controlled 90 percent of the cryptocurrency market back in 2017, but is now just over 65 percent.

We don’t seem to hear about cryptocurrencies — specifically Bitcoin — as much as we did up to a year ago. Has it gone away?

So, let me give some context. In 1929, the American stock market plunged 40 percent in one month, sparking the Great Depression. But that’s nothing compared to early 2018, when the value of Bitcoin plunged 70 percent in one month! And if you thought that Facebook’s loss of 20 percent of its market cap in a single day in July 2018 was bad, Bitcoin shed 25 percent of its value in one day in December 2017!

This era, which we for lack of an official term call “the big crash,” was marked by an upsurge in media attention and novice investors getting into Bitcoin, with some even plowing their entire life savings into the currency. With this sudden influx of money, attention, and investors, some of Bitcoin’s cracks started to show. Since the hype has died down, there has been more innovation happening in the background.

Do you have any thoughts about what blockchain in particular might mean for hotel companies? How might they make use of this technology?

I have seen a lot of projects in this space that are using blockchain for loyalty programs or recreating existing two-sided markets like Airbnb or Expedia using blockchain. Let’s dive into the decentralized Airbnb example. The way it currently exists, Airbnb is a central company that runs servers which host the app data on listings and bookings. So, every homeowner who wants to list their place pays a fee to Airbnb, losing out on profits. Similarly, consumers looking to stay a few nights at a listing pay a service fee for using Airbnb to find their temporary stay.

Now, imagine a decentralized version of this where the platform is built using Ethereum and smart contracts. The platform could allow renters and homeowners to directly communicate, since the smart contracts “automate” this process. The platform could still take a small fee, but it would be considerably cheaper for both sides.

The first problem is that this setup doesn’t require blockchain technology — Airbnb could do this as is by automating the payments and booking process in the same way a smart contract does and charge more, because users trust Airbnb and their vetting process for homeowners. The second, larger problem is that this platform suffers from a chicken-and-egg problem. You’d only join the decentralized Airbnb if other people were already using it, but if everyone thinks like that, nobody will join the platform.

Lastly, from a user-experience perspective, Airbnb’s ease of use is part of its value. So, is it likely that people will build a decentralized version that runs as smoothly and intuitively for renters and homeowners, for free? Who would maintain this, and how would they be compensated? Will it be yet another ERC-20 token? This is moving away from smooth and intuitive.

These problems exist for most decentralized two-sided marketplaces, not just Airbnb. But a good rule of thumb to remember is that people are like electricity — we will choose the path of least resistance.

In general, are most companies paying enough attention to these technologies?

When you’re thinking about the future of blockchains, it’s helpful to look at public and private blockchains separately, since they are used for very different purposes and encounter very different challenges. Private blockchains, at a high level, help organizations optimize the flow of information and goods through processes they control. When Walmart built a private blockchain for its leafy-greens supply chain, it wanted to better understand how vegetables moved throughout its supply chain. When Xbox created a private blockchain for royalty payments, it wanted to automate the movement of money between customers, publishers, and contractors. And when the UN started tracking refugees’ digital “credits” on a blockchain, it wanted to better track how many supplies each refugee could still buy. In all these cases, the organizations owned the whole process — Walmart’s supply chain, Xbox’s royalty payment scheme, the UN’s aid program.

Public blockchains, at a high level, aim to track the ownership and movement of assets held by the general public. Cryptocurrencies track the movement of people’s money, BandNameVault tried to track trademark ownership, Filecoin tracks the “rental” of people’s computer storage, and Namecoin tried to track the ownership and sale of website names. In all these cases, the blockchains’ creators tried to go around centralized power brokers: Cryptocurrencies want to cut out banks and governments, BandNameVault wanted to go around national trademark offices, Filecoin and IPFS want to avoid giant websites like GeoCities or MySpace, and Namecoin wanted to go around traditional domain registrars.

In short, private blockchains are process optimizations imposed from the top down, while public blockchains are radical new ways to track valuable things, grown from the bottom up. They’re very different ways of using the same technology.

What are the main implications of these technologies for businesses? Are they disruptors?

Blockchains are just tools, and as such, they shine when they have to solve technical problems like automating a supply chain. They’re great for improving highly inefficient, complex systems that are currently based on old technology or paper. But by themselves, blockchains can’t reshape society in the way that many public blockchain apps hope to do — blockchains are just tools. To drive social change, the people behind public blockchains need to do the difficult “people” work of building communities, gaining media attention, and working with governments to create policies. So far, at least, startups working on public blockchains have been very excited about building the technology but less excited about doing the people work.

For this reason, I am more bullish on private blockchains. Private blockchains have it easier because they have such a limited scope. Instead of trying to reinvent how society tracks the ownership of land or art or intellectual property, they are content with upgrading the technology behind a financial clearinghouse. In short, they don’t have to deal with people problems — they just need to solve technical problems, and they do so admirably.

The Next Big Things in Hospitality Advertising, Digital Marketing, and Public Relations

The great thing about HSMAI’s Adrian Awards competition is that it operates on two different levels — both equally valuable. On one level, it honors individual hospitality companies, brands, creative agencies, and marketing and communications professionals for their work in designing and implementing innovative advertising, digital marketing, and public relations campaigns.

But on another level, the Adrian Awards offer something for the entire industry: inspiration. Every year, the program spotlights new trends in advertising, digital marketing, and PR that should be on the radar of every hospitality professional — along with best practices for leveraging those trends.

What are some of the trends illuminated by this year’s Adrians program? We asked the group of industry thought leaders who gathered at the New York Marriott Marquis earlier this month for Platinum Judging to share some of the big ideas and bold innovations that jumped out at them. Here’s what they had to say:


  1. Emotionally resonant imagery: “One of the common themes in many of the entries that were most striking for us was the emotional connection with the imagery itself — compelling pictures that brought the viewer to that destination in a meaningful and emotional way. In a category where we saw a whole host of entries, from paper brochures to 90-second TV spots, those that rose to the top were those that had the most compelling imagery that really created that connection.”
  2. Active engagement: “Another common thread that bound a lot of these campaigns together is the engagement aspect of them. They invited you to do something, to somehow interact with them, whereas for decades advertising was passively consumed. It was information bombardment. But today, all of these campaigns are stitched together through this common understanding that we want you to smile, we want you to raise your hand, we want you to write a story, we want you to bid some of your loyalty points. We want you to be involved and interacting and engaging with us.”
  3. Niche exclusivity: “The idea of, we’re not for everyone. I think that is also probably tied to the overtourism stuff that’s happening around the world. We see a lot of filters being put on work — like, ‘Sign this pledge if you want to come to our destination that says you will not do anything that will harm the environment.’ These types of things where the destinations and some of the properties are saying, ‘Here’s how we see the world. If you’re good with that, come. If not, I’m sure there’s something else for you.’”


  1. Social purpose: “We saw a number of instances of sustainability, diversity and inclusion, references to overcrowding, and a willingness to address issues head-on rather than sweep them under the rug. There are a number of things that are impacting travel today — whether it’s sustainability, political issues, environmental issues — and the ones that really stood out were the ones that actually addressed those, that actually spoke to the fact that, ‘Yes, we recognize that this is a reality and we’re prepared to talk about it, we’re prepared to have a point of view on it, we’re prepared to comment on it. We’re not running away from it. We are acknowledging that these things exist, and also, how do we make sure you have a great experience when you’re traveling given those realities?’”
  2. Expansive storytelling: “Placing travel within the context of the wider world. You can do that long-form or short-form. High-quality communications, high-quality storytelling, was really a theme here.”
  3. Greater expectations: “I don’t think we’ve seen as much innovation in the last year or two as we had seen in the prior years. Digital is maturing. Four, five years ago you could stand out with a cool execution or a cool technique that people had not seen before, even if your story was kind of flat. Now, all of the channels are getting more mature, all of the tools are getting more mature, and it’s harder to stand out that way, so you better have a good story to tell or else you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.”


  1. Resilience and recovery: “We had quite a few entries that focused on recovery and rebuilding a destination, because there have been so many impactful natural disasters that have taken place over the past year or so. A lot of those stood out to us because of how the agency or the client handled it in a really smart way.”
  2. Variety of formats: “We’re seeing a lot of innovation in terms of how the message is being disseminated, whether it be through influencers, through digital, through audio — things that we hadn’t really looked at before. Not so many print features — it was much more dynamic.”
  3. Comprehensive ROI: “What we did not see as much are the estimated advertising values, which shows that public relations is looking at measurement in a much more comprehensive way and is understanding that ad values and PR are two different animals. There’s more and more education of the industry that that’s not really a valid analytic anymore.”

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards will be presented at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on Jan. 21. For additional information, visit here.


Curate Update: How Are Our Attendees Feeling About the Economy?

By Christopher Durso, Vice President of Content Development, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

A recession is coming, but senior-level hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization professionals are concerned that their organizations aren’t doing enough to prepare for it.  Its impact will be closer to the post-9/11 economic aftershock than the Great Recession. And one response will be to more actively pursue group business.

Those are some of the findings from live polling conducted at HSMAI’s Fall Curate 2019 event in Palm Beach, Florida, on Oct. 15. Leading a session called “Yesterday and Tomorrow,” which combined an economic outlook with a panel discussion on how to respond to and recover from a downturn, MMGY Global President Katie Briscoe posed a series of questions to Curate attendees, who are thought leaders in hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization.

Here are their responses, from the likelihood of recession and which travel sector would be hardest hit, to the importance of customer data and the impact on luxury, midmarket, and economy brands:










Research in Action: Hotel vs. Peer-to-Peer

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

At HSMAI’s ROC 2019 event in June, six college and university faculty members from hotel schools across the U.S. and Canada presented research in areas related to revenue management in the hospitality industry. During one of the presentations, Katerina Berezina, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management at the University of Mississippi discussed her original research on “Comparing Customer Perceptions of Hotel and Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Advantages and Disadvantages,” which compares customer perceptions of traditional hotel accommodation advantages and disadvantages with peer-to-peer accommodations such as Airbnb, and examines their influences on customer satisfaction and repurchase intentions.

As part of the project, Berezina and her colleagues Hasan Birinci and Cihan Cobanoglu looked at the results of 391 online surveys — 173 from customers who stayed in Airbnb accommodations and 218 from customers who stayed in hotels. The researchers examined how perceived advantages, including authenticity, and disadvantages, such as time/convenience risk, product performance risk, and safety/security risk, contributed to overall customer satisfaction, which in turn lead to repurchasing. Here are three of their findings:

1, Authenticity is important to guests: The research found that perceived authenticity lead to the greatest customer satisfaction and higher repurchase intentions for both accommodation types. Berezina suggested hoteliers and Airbnb hosts should look for new ways to better highlight the authenticity of local experiences to guests and improve engagement within the local community, including showcasing employees’ skills or hobbies. She also suggested showcasing these experiences on hotel websites.

2. Satisfaction leads to greater repurchase intent: There was a strong positive relationship shown between satisfaction and repurchase intention. While perceived authenticity correlated directly toward high satisfaction levels, it was the satisfaction levels themselves that correlated to the repurchase intentions.

3. Other factors were insignificant predictors of satisfaction: In terms of disadvantages, time/convenience and product performance risks were shown to be statistically insignificant predictors for both Airbnb and hotel guests, while safety and security risk was statistically significant only in the Airbnb sample — meaning these factors did not correlate with levels of satisfaction or repurchase intent.

Due to the limitations of the sample — selection bias due to high concentration of young travelers and samples being recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk — the researchers recommended a larger and more diverse sample to further expand on the results of the study, which was published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Data Analytics Is Easier Than You Think

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International

Author and self-described “analytics evangelist” Kelly A. McGuire, Ph.D., typically works with revenue managers, helping them to utilize data to grow their business, but she’ll be exploring a new side of hospitality at HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum in Dallas on Nov. 6 when she presents to a sales audience. HSMAI recently talked with McGuire, principal of McRevenue LLC, to discuss her presentation on “Data and Analytics for Sales Leaders.”

Can you give us a brief overview of your presentation?

Whenever I approach a presentation like this, I like to start by demystifying what’s going on. So, I’ll start by giving some definitions to level the playing field for the audience. For example, I’ll define data science, advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning. Sales leaders need to be experts in selling, and they need just enough information about analytics to ask the right questions and implement the answers. The second component is then understanding how to move your organization toward data-based decision making and what you need to do within your organization and your role to make that happen.

I’ll be using some quotes and examples from my book The Analytic Hospitality Executive, which I wrote to help leaders understand the value of data analytics and how to implement them to move the business forward. This is a topic that is near and dear to me that I spent a lot of years thinking about. I’m looking forward to sharing my perspective. I also put together a fun exercise, with my usual flair, to reinforce key concepts from the talk. I’m looking forward to interacting with the sales leaders in a fun, peer-to-peer way.

What is the number-one thing you want people to take away from your presentation?

I really want people to understand that this whole arena of data analytics is more accessible and easier to get started with than most people think. It’s also not as complicated and fast moving as people think. With all the talk about advances in data and analytics, it’s easy to feel that it’s too complicated or your organization just isn’t ready.  I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of value that can be driven from the data and resources you have today.

Why is this so important to you?

I’m really just a data geek at heart. I’ve built my career on helping organizations understand the value that data analytics can bring. You can really transform your business and become more competitive just by leveraging the data in a smarter way. I’ve seen this transformation many times and seen the opportunities it unlocks both for organizations and the people involved, and so I’m really passionate about these initiatives and what they can bring.

How is this different from other presentations you’ve given in the past?

This is fun for me, because I tend to speak mostly to revenue audiences. What I love about salespeople is that it’s a more outgoing and interactive bunch, so I’m hoping to have an opportunity to learn and engage more.

I also think sales leaders have some unique challenges. I’ve always been fascinated with analytics in the sales process. When talking about revenue management, when you use data analytics to calculate price or response rate target, you use that directly for decision making. Sales is all about relationships and negotiations, so you need to provision data in a different way and add more flexibility. You’re not just looking for one answer.

I’ve always been interested in exploring how to provision data-driven guidance to leaders in order to facilitate the relationship-building and complex deals the salespeople are crafting. You want to do this in a way that supports the optimal outcomes but doesn’t get in the way of process. Whether that’s coming up with a range of room rates to negotiate against, or providing date alternatives in real time, salespeople use data differently than their counterparts in marketing and revenue management.  In the end it’s about infusing analytics into existing processes, supporting better data-driven decision making, not enforcing cumbersome workflows or dictating rigid rules.

What Do Adrians Judges Really Want?

HSMAI’s Adrian Awards honor creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, public relations, and digital marketing. But what does that mean to the judges who actually decide which Adrians entries represent the best of the best?

We had an opportunity to find out last week, when a group of industry veterans gathered at the New York Marriott Marquis for Platinum Judging — sorting through the Gold winners from this year’s Adrians competition, as determined by a previous round of judging, to select the handful of Platinum and Best in Show honorees. While they worked, they offered a variety of insights into what separates, as one judge put it, the “highly competent” from the “truly exceptional.”


  1. Different: “What we’re looking for is work that distinguishes itself. When I come across an entry that is what I expect from the category, I call it ‘category convention’ — it’s perfectly competent, it’s perfectly nice, but it doesn’t rise to a Platinum.”
  2. Genuine: “If it feels like there’s not a façade or a veneer put on top of it, but actually feels like the truth of the brand or the destination — that’s something that I like to look for. You’re trying to be honest about who you are, and when that happens, then the magic can really happen, because creatively you’ve embraced it instead of trying to work your way around certain things.”
  3. Impactful: “We’re looking at metrics that would show that it made a profound difference to the organization that introduced the campaign. That’s not always just down to empirical results and facts and stats. We’re trying to get to, did it really move the needle? Did it change the trajectory for the organization in a positive way, consistent with the communications goals and objectives?”


  1. Surprising: “Do we say wow? Do we wish we had done that?”
  2. Effective: “The first thing we are looking at are the data analytics. Does the campaign and the way it’s explained and executed match what the objectives were, and are we seeing conversions as well as impressions? Then we’re looking at how the data matches the creativity. How imaginative is it? How does it excite or stimulate or motivate based on what the objectives are?”
  3. Strategic: “Was it well planned out? Was it well thought out? Did you look at all of the variables, and then achieve those goals?”
  4. Clear: “Was the message clearly stated in the results? You can have a good idea, but if the actual message of the client doesn’t get out there, then it’s not successful.”
  5. Smart: “The intelligence of the submission should match the intelligence of the execution, and it doesn’t always. What we’ve been grappling with is, which do you respect and follow more — the submission or what we’re actually seeing? That’s a tough thing to address.”


  1. Elevated: “We’re almost in 2020. You’re not getting brownie points for doing what many of us have been preaching for the last 10 years, but really elevating and maybe taking some best practices from outside of the travel industry.”
  2. Well told: “If it’s simply a promotion, we’re not that enticed by that. How did they really bring the story to life and break through in a way that feels different from other brands?”
  3. Well produced: “The value of creative is more important than ever given all the noise in the marketplace and given the fact that the different types of initiatives kind of look similar. Having high-quality creative is usually the differentiator than I’m looking for.

The 2019 Adrian Awards will be presented at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on Jan. 21. For additional information, visit here.