Cornell Study Suggests Hotel Managers Struggle with Mgmt of Electronic Communications

Hotel managers must find ways to handle email interruptions, but they also need to be responsive to customer emails. Based on a pilot study of hotel managers, Cornell faculty members Judi Brownell and Amy Newman have written a new report, "Hospitality Managers and Communication Technologies: Challenges and Solutions," that focuses on the potential value and probable challenges of electronic communication methods. The 100 study respondents, most of whom were hotel managers, reported that they use email regularly, but so far they have little experience with instant messaging, intranets, blogs, and wikis. The study findings and resulting recommendations are available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

"Hotel companies need to establish policies and training right now regarding IM, intranets, and other communication mechanisms," suggests Brownell, who is a professor of organizational communication at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "I say that based on our findings relating to email. The managers in our survey struggled with the many anticipated challenges of email, and could increase effectiveness by better understanding both employee and customer expectations. For instance, while customers expected a response within 24 hours, many managers saw no need to respond so promptly."

Together, Brownell and Newman, who is a lecturer of management communication at the School of Hotel Administration, have developed a set of recommendations to assist hotel managers in making the best possible use of email, and to address the issues that arise in highly diverse hospitality organizations. One key recommendation is to make sure that email subject lines clearly indicate the message's content. To manage email interruptions, Brownell and Newman suggest turning off email alerts and establishing a specific time to read and respond to emails.

They also recommend that hospitality firms investigate instant messaging, intranets, and other communication technologies that have the potential to help managers accomplish their communication goals.

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