Hotel guests told to shoot whatever displeases them

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on April 6, 2006

Hotel guests told to shoot whatever displeases them

Hotel guests who fill out comment cards and satisfaction surveys could provide far more useful information by shooting their own pictures of anything that displeases them during their stay, according to researchers at the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research.

Although hoteliers regularly ask guests to fill out comment cards that indicate whether or not they were satisfied with their hotel stay, the motivations and dissatisfaction drivers behind their comments are still not always clear. But a technique called "photo-elicitation" could make it possible for guests to show hotel managers exactly what they see in the hotel, both in terms of likes and dislikes.

Test run A research report published by the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research demonstrates how photo-elicitation can work effectively. Authors Madeleine Pullman, Ph.D. and Stephani Robson used photo-elicitation for a pilot study at the Statler Hotel (the teaching hotel operated by the School of Hotel Administration), where both authors are faculty members.

They gave single-use cameras to guests who agreed to participate in the study, asking them to shoot pictures of whatever they saw that influenced their opinion of the hotel.

Examination When the photographs were printed, the researchers and guests reviewed them together, revealing many touches that the guests appreciated (such as a flower arrangement in the lobby, homelike furnishings in the guest rooms, and the scenic view of the Cornell campus).

But the pictures also revealed items in the guests' rooms that hotel management might not have otherwise noticed (such as a tangle of electrical cords and a malfunctioning armoire door).

Results According to Robson, "We found that the 40 guests who participated in this study were enthusiastic about recording their likes and dislikes. Although we used film cameras, a hotel manager could arrange for guests to use digital cameras and then compare the results via the internet."

Robson also pointed out that managers would also have to make sure that guests knew how to operate whatever camera they use, given the many blurred prints that the researchers received.

The full report, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Using Photo-Elicitation to Solicit Hotel Guest Feedback, has been made available for free download from the centre's web site - click here (free registration required).

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