December 2021 Editors’ Letter

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By Sean Jung, Ph.D., and Mark Legg, Ph.D., Boston University School of Hospitality

In the past few decades, our industry has evolved to provide more diverse service offerings and intrinsic experiences. As a result, guests now expect more personalized services than ever before while having more places to choose where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Along the way, the service landscape in which most hospitality organizations operate has become ever more challenging. This has given way to organizations adapting, by starting to look at all the information (i.e. data) they have collected over the years to help guide and improve their service offerings. Recent events of Covid, supply chain issues, fluctuating exchange rates, and low unemployment rates have made navigating this challenging environmental more difficult, while enticing firms to mine for more golden nuggets from their data. As we move forward, and our industry continues to respond to each challenge, the value of data-driven insights will only grow as analytics will become embedded into the fabric of our organizations. 

The authors of this edition’s articles are analytical experts who suggest ideas on how we can utilize data-driven insights to make better decisions in each of our industry sectors (e.g. hotels, restaurants, and casinos). The articles range from recommended approaches from organizational roadmaps to highlighting how to mine and leverage unique insights to build out competitive advantages to take advantage of this newfound environment. The following are summaries of the articles presented in this issue of Boston Hospitality Review.

  • The Value of Analytics in a Post-Covid World, by Mark Legg, Ph.D., provides a framework and details a gradual approach to increasing the utilization of analytics to navigate challenges faced by hospitality organizations as the pandemic subsides. 
  • From Performance Media to Media Performance, by Chris Novak, outlines a holistic approach to one of the unsolved challenges facing most hospitality organizations: where to allocate media spend? While deterministic connections are easily tracked (e.g. cookies) and recorded, the current approach of relying on only these connections to allocate media spend is leading hospitality organizations to potentially miss out on reaching large swaths of potential guests. This article provides a roadmap to solve this longstanding issue while adhering to traditional measurement approaches to optimizing media spend.
  • Using Analytics to Identify How Restaurant CEO Overconfidence Affects Performance, by Hong Soon Kim, Ph.D., discusses whether overconfident CEOs affect restaurant performance. The author carefully explains how we can identify whether a CEO is overconfident using financial data and explains the relationship between CEO overconfidence and financial performance indicators. 
  • Is There an Optimal Price for Group Rates, by Yunmei (Mabel) Bai and Hugo Tang, Ph.D., presents an innovative approach on how to optimize hotel group prices using theoretical models. The authors explain the set of assumptions that are related to hotel group prices and suggest an optimization model which identifies insightful factors that affect decisions on group prices.
  • Identifying When a Customer is Lost, by Timothy Webb, Ph.D., Mark Legg, Ph.D., and Michael Mancini, Ph.D., delve into the difficult and often misunderstood topic of customer churn. While customer churn can easily be identified in contractual settings (e.g. telecommunications), identifying when a longstanding guest to a hotel or restaurant has churned is far more difficult in hospitality. The article outlines an approach to identifying customer churn dynamically that organizations can use as a foundation for retention campaigns.
  • How Consumer Perceptions Affect Ethnic Restaurant Location Patterns, by Sean Jung, Ph.D., examines how non-ethnic consumer groups affect location patterns for ethnic restaurants. The article explains how acceptance can be analyzed using Twitter tweets and how we can identify restaurant location clustering patterns that represent competition intensity. The results explained in the article attempt to solve the question, “Do ethnic restaurants try to stay away from each other when they have higher acceptance from non-ethnic consumers?”

We hope you enjoy these articles. They showcase novel ways that analytics can be used to help improve our decision-making in our field. 


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  3. Firstly, major props on keeping it real. Your candid reflections on the year gone by resonated deeply. It’s like you gave words to the collective sigh we all breathed as 2021 unfolded – the highs, the lows, and the chaotic beauty of it all. Your ability to capture the essence of our shared experiences is what makes your editorial letters a must-read.

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