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Your customers are confronted with multiple options for where they can dine and where they will stay for the night. The choices they make among the many lodging and dining options are based on criteria that are not always clear—certainly not to you, and often not to them. Your guests may have chosen your hotel because of its favorable room rate, its brand name, its quality rating, its features and amenities, reviews posted by past guests on social media sites, or simply because they were ready to stop for the night and there it was. Similarly, in the case of a restaurant, a customer’s choice may be influenced by the cuisine, menu, décor, price, and reputation.

The more you can learn about what factors your guests take into account when they decide whether to book your hotel or a competitor’s property, the better you are able to meet those decision criteria and boost occupancy and rate. In this chapter, I explain two ways to find out those criteria: simply ask, or set up discrete choice experiments. The reason for the experiments is that when you simply ask, you might not get an accurate or complete answer. The problem with the experiments is that the procedure can be complicated, even though the information itself is most useful.


Required Publisher Statement
© Wiley. Final version published as: Verma, R. (2011). Understanding and predicting customer choices. In M. C. Sturman, J. B. Corgel, & R. Verma (Eds.), The Cornell School of Hotel Administration on hospitality: Cutting edge thinking and practice (pp. 83-96). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.