A new tool from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration gives hotel operators specific strategies for explaining their sustainability efforts to customers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders. The CHR has also published two studies that analyze corporate strategies. One report applies McKinsey's 7-S framework to a craft brewing company, and the other focuses on the LEGO Group's customer engagement strategy.

Cornell Tool Shows How Hotels Can Communicate Their Green Story
The hospitality industry has taken great strides toward sustainability, but in many cases those initiatives go unnoticed, or (worse) unheeded. A new tool from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) offers a framework for creating a communications strategy to publicize and promote a hotel's green operations. The tool, "Telling Your Hotel's 'Green' Story: Developing an Effective Communication Strategy to Convey Environmental Values," co-written by Daphne Jameson and Judi Brownell, contains a step-by-step approach designed to help practitioners at all levels advocate for their sustainability programs.

"We developed this communication strategy based on a study of communication efforts by 90 hospitality organizations," said Jameson, a professor of management communication at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "These firms had solid sustainability programs, but could not get the word out as effectively as they wished. In our analysis, we found that developing a coherent 'story line' would be an effective approach."

The story lines explain the purpose and importance of a particular green initiative. Three possibilities that Jameson and Brownell outline are an environmental story, a financial story, or a service story.

"Once you've chosen the narrative or story line, the next step is to create a focus for the communication relationship," added Brownell, a professor of management and organizational behavior at the School of Hotel Administration. "You can create a relationship with your audience by framing your story in what we call 'focus patterns.' They are teacher-student, coach-player, friend-friend, salesperson-customer, cheerleader-fan, host-guest, and statesman-citizen. Each one is particularly suited to a given communication effort."

Finally, the tool discusses four principles to help managers choose the best media, channels, and timing for their communication strategies: to combine multiple media, minimize audience effort, encourage audience participation, and retell the story.

"By using this tool, hospitality managers and executives will be able to develop the best strategy for communicating their green programs," concluded Jameson. "In particular, we are interested in helping hotels gain support and cooperation for their initiatives from guests, employees, and other stakeholders."

Cornell Study Shows Value of McKinsey 7-S Analysis for Small Companies
A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) demonstrates how the long-established McKinsey 7-S analysis can be applied to relatively small company. The study, "The Ithaca Beer Company: A Case Study of the Application of the McKinsey 7-S Framework," by J. Bruce Tracey and Brendan Blood, finds that some of the elements of the McKinsey model apply more strongly than others. The report is available from CHR at no charge.

The 7-S model is used to assess a company's competitive and strategic position on the basis of alignment of seven key factors. They are: strategy, structure, systems, staff, skills, style, and shared values, which is central to the other six elements. Although all seven elements of the analysis are important to a small craft brewer like the Ithaca Beer Company (IBC), Tracey and Blood concluded that four of the seven factors are particularly aligned and essential for this company's success.

"We're not saying that the full model doesn't apply, but we see more of a contingency approach where some factors are more critical than others at this point," said Tracey, an associate professor of management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "So, strategy, staff, skills, and shared values are the most important factors right now, but that could change as IBC expands."

Added Blood: "We found IBC's strategy as focusing on community engagement, with careful attention to distributors, retailers, and customers. Other aspects of their operation flow from that." Blood is a systems integration consulting analyst for Accenture.

Cornell Report Explains How the LEGO Group Develops Seamless Consumer Experiences
Consumer engagement has numerous benefits for the LEGO® brand and its consumers, as explained in a new Cornell Industry Perspective Report from the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR). As an experience brand, the LEGO Group has a clear goal of building affinity by encouraging increased engagement with the brand, its products, and services. The benefits of this strategy are explained in a white paper by LEGO Group's Global Leader of Consumer Experiences, Conny Kalcher. The report, "Engaging Consumers: Building the LEGO Brand and Culture One Brick at a Time," is available at no charge from the CHR.

Kalcher explained that engagement drives revenue growth, but also encourages consumers to become involved with the brand and the company, leading to loyalty and advocacy and fans who are deeply knowledgeable about the product, sometimes knowing more about the product than the company itself.

"We encourage people to move ever closer to the company, by gaining greater levels of engagement and product knowledge," Kalcher explained. "We strive to offer personally relevant and seamless experience across numerous touch points to enhance the consumer experience. We continuously seek to grow our community of users, improve consumer service, and promote a consumer-focused culture."

She added that the LEGO Group continually measures its consumer service by asking customers to rate their experience in real time, and by carefully listening to customers who call the customer contact center, ensuring that the company takes action to improve the consumer experience. The result is a strong group of fans, who share information, promote the product, and participate in LEGO user groups.

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 77 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.

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