Cornell student builds a new measurement tool for company

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By Sherrie Negrea


The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. (LHW) describes itself as a company that “offers all kinds of one-of-a-kind luxury hotels, resorts and spas.” The 430 independent hotels that are part of the consortium, however, all use the same marketing, sales network, and reservation system as part of their membership in the New York-based company.

The benefit of the membership can be optimized if the hotels take advantage of the services provided by LHW, which includes support in 25 cities around the globe. To gauge how the hotels were using its offerings, LHW decided that creating a hotel engagement scorecard would be one of its four goals for 2014.

1Ted Teng ’79, president and chief executive officer of LHW, suggested the company work with the Leland C. and Mary M Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at SHA to research how a measurement tool could be created to evaluate the member hotels’ engagement. Teng, who has led the company since 2008, is a member of the advisory board of the Pillsbury Institute.

Top-notch students bring a fresh perspective

“We knew the quality of the students,” said Deniz Omurgonulsen ’00, the company’s vice president for membership. “We knew they would bring a fresh perspective and an opportunity to test the measurement of engagement to results.”

Last January, Mona Anita Olsen ’04, assistant academic director of the Pillsbury Institute, started to work with MBA student, Saniya Gandhi’15, to conduct the research for the engagement tool in an independent study project. Before starting her MBA program, Gandhi had spent three years working with her family in Thailand to develop a hotel in the heart of Bangkok.

During the spring semester, Gandhi worked with the executive team in New York to build a computer-based scorecard to measure the level of engagement among the member hotels with the company’s services. Gandhi interviewed managers at selected hotels across the world, from South Africa to the Caribbean, which the company considered “highly engaged,” said Hakan Ozakbas, the company’s director of analytics.”We wanted to talk to them to find out about their best practices and how other hotels could learn and leverage that same behavior,” Ozakbas said.

In May, Gandhi and Olsen presented her engagement scorecard — a tool that measures a hotel’s engagement in membership, distribution, sales, and marketing — to the company’s executive team in New York. A score of 100 would be awarded to hotels that were highly engaged in using the services provided by LHW.

SHA3“We never had an engagement scorecard before,” Omurgonulsen said. “We only had quality inspections taking place once a year and financial reporting that was separate. The whole idea of the scorecard was that it would take into account other components such as finance, operations, and engagement to give us a holistic view of performance.”

LHW believes in many cases that increasing the engagement will boost a hotel’s performance. LHW recommends that the hotels increase their engagement in as many different services suitable for their business needs in order to optimize their revenue.

“It’s a two-way street,” Ozakbas said. “The hotels need help generating that revenue. How are they going to get that help? They need to be engaged in each of those four attributes.” Now that the scorecard has been completed, LHW plans to run the tool on, a platform it already uses. As the tool is implemented by the company in 2015, it is expected to have a significant impact on the way the company works with its member hotels.

“It will change the conversations once we look at the results for each of our properties,” Ozakbas said. “It will provide us with a more systematic tool to better evaluate how each point of engagement contributed to the revenue growth for each property.”

You can make a global hospitality impact too. Sign up with the Connect Entrepreneurial Hotelies Mentor Network.

5 Insights from Hospitality’s Best and Brightest

Inspiration and advice from alumni throughout the industry.


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Keith Barr“Every day, do the right thing. It’s been the core value that I’ve tried to live by. The right thing is often not the easiest thing to do, but I assure you it is the thing that will build your reputation amongst your peers. People will always hear what you say, but they will see what you do. And if you do the right thing, day in and day out, people will want to follow you and you will do great things in your career.”

Keith Barr ’92
Chief Commercial Officer, InterContinental Hotels Group, London


Ryan Pernice“There is honor and nobility in work, and I think we forget that at times. Find a job that makes you feel fulfilled and proud of what you do.”



Ryan Pernice ’07, Restaurateur
Table & Main, Osteria Mattone, Roswell, Georgia


Talley Wettlaufer“No matter what industry you are in, people skills are invaluable. Now matter who I work with or who works for me, it’s important to put yourself into their shoes and understand what they encounter and some of their challenges—and then figure out how to support them appropriately.”

Talley Wettlaufer ’99
Vice President of International Expansion, J. Crew, New York


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Steve Haggarty“Success is about being who you are, being your whole self and having an openness to not only approach each interaction, but be who you are in each of these circumstances. Be unafraid—if you don’t know something, or if a direct question is asked of you and you don’t have the content, ask questions. It’s imminently more valuable than having the right answer.”

Steve Haggerty ’90
Global Head of Capital Strategy, Hyatt Hotels, Chicago


Kevin Jacobs“You have to equip people to make good decisions and then you have to hold them accountable for their decisions. Communicate what the right thing to do is, incentivize people to do the right thing, and then reward them when they do the right thing… Those same tenets of leadership can be applied at any level that someone would be leading at.”

Kevin Jacobs ’94
Chief Financial Officer, Hilton Worldwide, McLean, Virginia


SHA Students Take First in Berlin Strategy Competition

Tom Jaeger ’15, David Weinstein ’15, and Tyler Shine ’14 won the 2014 International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) Student Challenge in Berlin, Germany. Students were provided a case study about an investment opportunity and were challenged underwrite the investment and make strategic recommendations on acquisition pricing, positioning, branding, leverage and exit strategy. The Cornell School of Hotel of Administration Team, coached by Professor Dan Quan, competed against Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences.

BerlinTom Jaeger ‘15 was proud to represent the School of Hotel Administration in this challenging endeavor, “Together with my teammates and friends David Weinstein and Tyler Shine, we developed an analysis on an investment and redevelopment project for an under-performing, fictional hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland. Acting as consultants for a fictional investment firm, each team in the competition developed a strategy to reposition the hotel, calculated costs, and outlined prospective financial statements. Each team had eight minutes to present their analysis and ten minutes to answer questions from the panel of seven judges, all senior-level industry executives.”

Professor Dan Quan, had high praise for their achievement: “I’m incredibly proud of the students who competed in the IHIF Student Challenge this year. Working together, they drew on all the skills they’ve learned in and out of the classroom.” Quan is the academic director of The Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF), the epicenter of hospitality real estate, finance and asset management at Cornell and an active conduit that exposes students to relevant industry opportunities.

Raj Chandnani ‘95, one of the esteemed judges, commented on the competition, “The entry point for qualification was the underwriting and investment analysis. Cornell’s team was by far the most thorough, with alternate scenario analyses supported by market demand, including currency risk and interest rates. The Cornell team impressed the judges with the creativity in their investment strategy and recommendations.”

David Weinstein ‘15 found the opportunity to network and learn from other industry professionals to be invaluable, “I got to meet such a diverse group of those in the industry, from brand representatives to owners to those in operations. With over 2,000 investors, owners, and global hotel CEOs from more than 73 countries, we got to listen to the individuals featured at the various panels and events. The competition allowed us to meet students from other schools, some of whom I’m still in-touch with today.”

Extracurricular Spotlight: Cornell Bhangra

Cornell Bhangra

Learning is a way of life. And life at Cornell is meant to pique your curiosity and stimulate your intellect at every turn. Indeed, the Cornell community is enriched by dynamic students with diverse backgrounds that pursue their passions outside of the classroom. There is no shortage of clubs, organizations, activities and traditions to enrich any student’s life.

Founded in 1997, Cornell Bhangra promotes awareness of Punjabi dance and culture in the community. Bhangra, a folk dance from the state of Punjab in northern India and Pakistan, celebrates the arrival of spring and everyday cultural life in Punjab. The group’s annual Pao Bhangra show in April is the largest student-run show on campus as well as the largest Bhangra exhibition in North America.

Arman Kapoor ’15, President and Co-Captain of Cornell Bhangra, shared his experiences, insights and perspectives on the team and the balance of student life at Cornell.

The Team: Bhangra itself is an art form that was developed in a region called Punjab in Northern India. It is a very high-energy folk dance, and bhangra itself means to be “intoxicated with joy.” Here at Cornell, we strive to keep these traditional elements of bhangra while mixing more modern music like hip-hop and classic songs into our routines to appeal to a wider audience.

The Accolades: In my time at Cornell, Cornell Bhangra has placed at seven competitions. More specifically, though, we are the two-time consecutive champions of the World’s Best Bhangra Crew competition. We hope to keep our title when we compete at this competition in March of 2015. Most importantly, Cornell Bhangra competed on the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent this past summer! It was amazing not just representing Cornell, but representing South-Asian culture on mainstream American television.

The Balance: Extra-curricular activities allow students to explore their passions outside of the classroom. Without extra-curricular activities, students would just be focused on school and grades, and that’s simply not what college should be about. College should be about exploring new things, following different passions, and seeing the world in a different light, and that’s what extra-curricular activities help college students do.

In addition to his involvement with Cornell Bhangra, Mr. Kapoor also served as the President of the collegiate chapter of Cornell Hotel Society and as the Vice President of the Cornell Hospitality Consulting club. He will be joining LaSalle Hotel Properties as an analyst in Washington DC upon graduation.


Stay up-to-date on the activities and events of the Cornell Bhangra team by following them here.

Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting Creates Influential Connections

Building a powerful network is a vital part of any Hotelie’s success in the hospitality and travel industry. The connections created during a student’s time at Cornell University offer a wealth of resources they can use to foster career development, help others, and enrich their personal growth.  Cornell Hotel Society coordinates many events throughout the year to allow student opportunities to develop their personal network while enhancing their education. This year, select students were invited to take the opportunity to attend the 20th Annual Asia Pacific Regional Meeting held in Okinawa, Japan. Attendees Emily Jo Yeterian ’15 and Tara Lobo ’15 share their experience and insights from their recent trip:

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Emily Jo Yeterian: I knew that I would be engaging with spectacular Hotelies, but what I didn’t know was that they would become great new friends and mentors. Throughout the weekend, I was able to meet and socialize with Hotelies whom I never would have had the chance to interact with had I not been in attendance.

Tara Lobo: There were so many amazing alumni in attendance at the 2014 CHS Asia Pacific Regional Conference this year that it is rather hard for me to narrow down the list! Across the board, each alumnus displayed a strong sense of hospitality. Passionate, welcoming, and strikingly humble, those alumni that I met during this conference reminded me once again of the reasons why I fell in love with my school and the hospitality industry.

Emily Jo Yeterian: The most inspiring alum I had the extreme good fortune to meet was Yoshinori Isozaki, the CEO and President of Kirin Beer Company—a leading Japanese beer company. He not only inspired me with his incredible generosity, but also with his true passion and love for his work. Yoshinori Isozaki showed me that you can truly love what you do and never have to “work” a day in your life. You CAN follow your dreams and wholeheartedly love your job. Before this experience, I had never believed that could be a reality, but Yoshinori Isonaki showed me this was possible.



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Tara Lobo: This conference gave me the ability to meet alumni on the other side of the world, dealing with Asian markets first-hand. Now that I have had the opportunity to develop connections in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, and Taiwan, I look forward to growing my knowledge through these new contacts during future projects and research.

Emily Jo Yeterian: I have never felt more proud to be a member of the Cornell Hotel Society than after coming back from my trip to Japan. I will never forget all the friends and mentors I had the distinct pleasure to meet or the beautiful memories we made on the beaches of Okinawa.



Beyond Hospitality: The Flexibility of the MMH

Ask any hotelie—student or alumni—and they’ll be quick to tell you that Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration MMH degree is not simply a hospitality-focused graduate program. SHA provides a comprehensive business education that prepares students for a variety of career paths, both in and outside of the industry. No one knows that better than Kathryn Friedrich, who leveraged her degree in a variety of high-level hospitality-related positions before making the shift to the Head of YouTube Global Content Commercialization. She recently shared some insights gleaned from her time at Cornell and her current career.

kathrynfriedrichcropOn Successfully Using Her Degree to Achieve Results: I was a finance and economics concentration within the Hotel School and I leveraged that portion of my education to get a job in consulting out of school. When that job ended, I then went to work for Food & Wine magazine in a sales capacity. While there, I was promoted and I ran many of the more lucrative businesses within Food & Wine. I used my Hotel School education and my contacts to shift to Condé Nast and work through many different magazines leveraging my hospitality background. I then became the travel director for Town & Country Travel magazine and while I was there I helped them launch their website. At the time, the magzine industry was beginning to realize the power of an online presence—which is when I was contacted by Google for a sales position, which was enough to get me in the door so I could grow with Google to where I am today.

The Evolution of Her Career at YouTube: I got started through sales, but I quickly progressed into a product role. Our advertisers wanted us to push the envelope on the product side, so I got actively involved with Google products. Eventually, the product team asked me to come in even deeper on the product side to help them manage roll-out and the product road map and product development for advertisers and their businesses.

On Her Current Position: I run a global team. YouTube doesn’t own any of the content. We are the technology and distribution platform for other people. What I do, is work with our largest creators on YouTube who have the largest number of followers and try to help them develop their business. It involves connecting them with people on the sales side and with some of the biggest advertisers in the business to build relationships and partnerships to figure out the best strategic model. There are countless stories about how we work with our creators to make them superstars, not only on our platform, but elsewhere.

On the Cornell Hotel School: I look at the Hotel School as a business school. It’s built on a business foundation. What they teach is shaped by hospitality and hotels, however, those are businesses. Some of the best classes and best skills revolve around technology and public speaking.

Tools of the Trade: Digital Hospitality Management

Streamline your bottom line

Hospitality may be in the business of serving people, but no one can serve customers without a healthy cash flow. Fortunately, the tech industry is hard at work to help hotels and restaurants maximize time, profit, and productivity so they can focus on what matters — providing exceptional service. Check out two new ways that hospitality is incorporating modern tech to help streamline back-end tasks and equip companies to make strategic choices that maximize time and revenue.




Company Profile

Name: Avero Inc.

Product: Restaurant Management Solutions

Avero restaurant software streamlines back-office management while simultaneously tracking activity on the floor. Managers can observe labor trends, staff productivity, food costs, and other key modalities using intuitive software that compiles reports, allowing them to find opportunities to grow revenue and enhance service.

The bottom line: Your managers spend less hours in the office crunching numbers and more time on the floor serving guests and managing their team.

“We take away the time you have to spend doing the menial work. We provide the tools you need to make your life easier so you can concentrate on the tasks that actually bring money to the bottom line.” —James Broude, Vice President, Product Development at Avero Inc.




Company Profile

Name: Duetto Research

Product: Hotel Revenue Solution

Duetto provides cloud-based revenue solutions that utilize in-depth analysis of customer behavior, consumer trends, and other vital information through three lines of service. These tools equip management with the power to make informed choices that increase revenue, enhance service, and achieve powerful results that give them a competitive advantage in the market.

The bottom line: In the competitive digital market, Duetto puts you in control, giving you the tools and insight to transform your business and optimize your profitability.

“We are revolutionizing how hotels approach the discipline of revenue management with the use of technology.” —Vincent Cusma ‘13, Senior Manager, Customer Success at Duetto Research