Hotel Ezra Cornell Case

Original HEC Case:


HEC Case

By: AJ Arena, Imani Majied, Becky Hemstead, Brett Levine, Robbie Klein, and Gabriela Vega

1) Using the Idea Model, evaluate George’s ideas in terms of people, customer, value proposition, offering, and distinctive competencies. Which tools are available for assessing the validity of his ideas? Specifically, use the Critique Pad and Feasibility Model to assess George’s ideas.

George’s plans and ideas for HEC can be evaluated using the critique pad and feasibility model. Both evaluation models emphasize the importance of the people and customers involved, the value proposition, what they're offering, and distinctive competencies related to George’s plans. Identifying the appropriate people to surround himself in his endeavor would be best to complete the task on time. George’s plan was to hire a non-student. This doesn’t seem feasible due to the fact that previously they could only afford to hire a student. A legitimate web engineer would be far too expensive for George to hire. This is one flaw within his plan. His customer base will be the attendees of the event. The value proposition will be the app’s effectiveness in streamlining communication to the event attendees, and the competencies required would be engineering and communication capabilities. If the engineering of the app effectively communicates event details within the budget, George’s idea will be feasible. To assess the validity of George’s ideas, one should make sure that his plan to hire an outside engineer is feasible and available in the budget. Finally monitoring the traffic of the app will confirm or deny George’s assumptions.

2) Brainstorm recruitment strategies George could use to identify students with IT skills. What would be an appropriate place to start in terms of brainstorming? Use Gallup’s BP10 top talents to describe Trina and George. What talents and skills typify their respective roles?

In order for George to identify students with IT skills, he could go to Cornell’s IT office in the bookstore and they may have some connections for him. He could also approach Information Science students or contact clubs such as the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals who have expertise in this area. Trina possesses confidence, risk, and relationship which could be seen in the way she approached the creation of her app through connections and taking the first steps. George possesses determination, independence, and risk. These traits were seen in the way he went about his research and strived towards his end goal of anticipating the guests’ every need.

3) Describe Trina’s approach to incorporating the technology goals. How do you think they aligned with the mission of HEC? Are there areas of focus that seemed misaligned? What contributed to her success moving the project forward?

Trina discovered the idea of incorporating technology into HEC at the International Hotel Motel and Restaurant Show. This inspired her to pitch her idea to the board members but she quickly noticed that she lacked knowledge in technology and had a limited budget. Not all the board members seemed to be supportive of the idea, but Trina decided to move forward and connect with individuals who may be able to help her on this venture. These connections opened doors for her such as receiving iPads from Apple, funds through the Managing Director, and other students who could use their expertise to help develop the app. HEC’s mission is to network and connect with students and professionals while introducing the latest developments in hospitality. Trina’s approach aligned with HEC in the way she utilized her connections and brought forth the development of technology in the conference. HEC is a very team focused event and it was therefore surprising that Trina decided to go forward with the project without the full support of the board members. If Trina did not take the leap of faith to utilize her connections, contribute her time, and channel her ambition, the project would have not been addressed and the app would not have existed.

4) What value did Trina bring to HEC? How can this be carried forward to the next year’s HEC? Would you consider what Trina accomplished to be innovative?

Trina brought a technological perspective to HEC through the creation of an app. Although the app was successful, it was not exactly how she wanted the completed project to be. Next year, through the utilization of the new IT director, George, HEC will have more time and expertise to create and develop a more comprehensive app that will address all the aspects they originally wanted to incorporate. What Tina accomplished was innovative because she came up with a new idea and tried her best to solve a problem that HEC was facing which laid the groundwork for upcoming years.

5) How could Trina deal with the IT assistant director’s struggle to execute based on what he originally agreed to perform? What do you think of the approach of reaching out to Paul to help the project move forward? What role do the iPads play from a leadership perspective?

Once Trina knew that the IT assistant director did not have the skills to execute the task she needed (coding and launching a full mobile site in three months), she should have looked elsewhere for someone qualified to do the job. Trina was essentially setting the IT Assistant Director up for failure from the start, whereas she could have just asked the IT assistant director for their input on how to recruit someone with the skills needed. It was definitely a good decision to ask Paul for assistance because he actually had the skillset and expertise to complete the website and app. He also would be a great resource for identifying students with qualifying experience since he evaluates students on this basis regularly. From a leadership perspective, the early emphasis on securing iPads was an example of misalignment of goals/priorities from the rest of the conference goals. Trina was eager to demonstrate the value of the value of the technology she was integrating into the conference without actually verifying the need for that technology. If Trina had taken feedback from her other board members, or even evaluated the priorities of her role as a communications director, she may have realized sooner that securing the iPads was an unnecessary use of her time. She could have spent that time and energy creating a marketing strategy to make sure conference attendees were aware of the technology.

6) What is needed to accomplish George’s objectives? How can the task list Trina created (Tables 1 and 2) be updated to align with those objectives?

George wanted to prioritize the development and design of the mobile app in order to improve the guest experience overall. George could use some of the elements from Trina’s task list, but would need to make sure he made time to identify the right talent to execute the tasks and scheduled time to actually test the solutions created. For example, Trina’s task list was very goal-oriented, and didn’t acknowledge the processes it takes to actually accomplish her goals. In the future, George could include tasks for getting feedback from key stakeholders and expertise-related professionals to inform his processes. I would advise George to make time to find a team of Cornell developers and designers to work on the app, at least 10 months in advance to leave time for testing. Additionally, neither George nor Trina conducted sufficient research on what technology industry leaders are actually using for conferences. If they did, they would have found many platforms available like Attendify that meet the very needs and goals George and Trina have for the HEC conference. Also, the task list could be improved by integrating more roles from the HEC board into the conversations on what technology is needed. If the Food and Beverage Director, for example, had input on ways technology could be used to better meet the dietary needs of the attendees, then they might be more on board as stakeholders into investing in the app.

7) Explain George’s goals. What is success for George? What factors will contribute to George’s success?

George wanted to take on the year’s theme of “Showcasing Hospitality Education through Student Leadership” by focusing on technology leadership, specifically with a mobile app. His goal was to make the app a two-way communication channel between students and HEC attendees. The main outcomes of the app were as follows:

· To help everyone stay organized

· To send updates on HEC throughout the year

· To provide a calendar of events

· To receive guest feedback

Success for George is measured by improving the overall guest experience at HEC while incorporating this new technology. This is dependent on building a strong team, especially someone who could build the app, and making smart investments in existing technology.

8) What is the difference between the mobile website and mobile application? Why did George decide to create a mobile application instead of updating Trina’s mobile website?

The difference is accessibility. With a mobile app, attendees can use it everywhere throughout the weekend, whether it’s checking the guest speaker schedule or finding the venue for Closing Cocktail. A website is good mostly for pre- and post-event information, but not during. I think this was a smart move, especially with our culture of using smartphones for everything. An app is also more innovative than a website, and the point of HEC is to show leadership through technology and innovation, so this project incorporates that idea well.

9) What were the differences in the leadership styles of Trina and George, and which of these would you rather work with at HEC? If Trina had been IT director instead of communications director, what would have been different?

One leadership quality that stands out with Trina is her ability to clearly communicate. She supports those who she is working with and has a contagious positive attitude. Trina seems to have all of the characteristics employers would look for in the customer-facing business that is hospitality. For that reason, I believe I would rather work with Trina at HEC, since she would be so good at handling any guest concerns if I couldn’t handle it myself. George would not be as pleasant to work with. I do appreciate his admiration for making the customer experience as good as possible, wanting guests “to come away feeling that the hosts anticipated their every need and did everything they could to make registration, finding venues, and networking with other conference attendees a breeze.” However, George is less of a team player than Trina. At one point he complains about inheriting someone else's problem. If Trina had been IT director instead of communications director, she would have been more aware of the costs associated with involving more technology in the HEC. If she were IT director, I believe HEC would be more immersed in some of the tremendous changes that had taken place in communication technology.

10) What suggestions do you have to incorporate into HEC moving forward? Make a recommendation for what the next year’s director should add to HEC to continue the incorporation of technology.

It is clear that technology in the hospitality space is rapidly changing. I know that HEC values showcasing the newest technologies during HEC and ultimately wants to use technology to enhance their guest experience. One thing that could be useful to the HEC would be to implement a survey of guests to gauge their expectations for tech when visiting a hotel. I think gaining feedback from leaders in the hospitality space would provide great insight into how to better incorporate technology during the weekend. The point of HEC is for students to showcase their skills and have an opportunity to interact and network with hospitality business leaders from around the world. There must be some technology that can be better utilized to better connect the two parties more efficiently during the weekend. Perhaps a platform could be implemented to link students and guests up before the weekend so they can get a chance to interact and build relationships beforehand.


Revised HEC Case After Feedback:

HEC Case

By: AJ Arena, Imani Majied, Becky Hemstead, Brett Levine, Robbie Klein, and Gabriela Vega

1) Using the Idea Model, evaluate George’s ideas in terms of people, customer, value proposition, offering, and distinctive competencies. Which tools are available for assessing the validity of his ideas? Specifically, use the Critique Pad and Feasibility Model to assess George’s ideas.

George’s plans and ideas for HEC can be evaluated using the critique pad and feasibility model. Both evaluation models emphasize the importance of the people and customers involved, the value proposition, what they're offering, and distinctive competencies related to George’s plans. Identifying the appropriate people to surround himself in his endeavor would be best to complete the task on time. George’s plan was to hire a non-student. This doesn’t seem feasible due to the fact that previously they could only afford to hire a student, and a legitimate web engineer would be far too expensive for George to hire. Also, HEC is all about student leadership, and hiring a non-student would misalign with the point of the conference. The value proposition will be the app’s effectiveness in streamlining communication to the event attendees, and the competencies required would be engineering and communication capabilities. If the app effectively communicates event details within the budget, George’s idea will be feasible. To assess the validity of George’s ideas, one should monitor the traffic of the app.

2) Brainstorm recruitment strategies George could use to identify students with IT skills. What would be an appropriate place to start in terms of brainstorming? Use Gallup’s BP10 top talents to describe Trina and George. What talents and skills typify their respective roles?

According to descriptions of George, he seems to be a conductor, with key builder talents in delegator, independence, determination, and risk. George is a conductor because throughout his time, he was coordinating many different activities to ensure that they came together. Specifically, he had been set on “combining home-grown solutions with smart purchases from outside vendors” so that he could “maintain the tradition of student leadership in HEC,” thus balancing the two. His delegation talent was evident as he was searching for people who might be better equipped to handle individual tasks than he could. On top of that, he took on the role without necessarily having a lot of experience or definition for the role. The cases said that he would have to define it, therefore emphasizing how he would have to use his independence to do so.

Trina differed from George in that her role was likely that of rainmaker. She showed this role often, but most specifically when she went to the IHMRs Conference in New York City, so that she could build connections and gather ideas. In addition, she had the talents of disruptor, confidence, risk, and relationship. Her confidence can be seen in how she approached the entire situation; there was much uncertainty with how she would go about doing so, yet she still had the confidence to push forward. Her disrupting quality was also clear in how she was determined to make the most headway in progress and change for communication advances in recent years. Similar to confidence, there was great risk in taking on such a venture so late, yet she exhibited much capacity for navigating all the different risky positions involved in developing this role and this part. Finally, Trina had relationship as a talent because one of her immediate steps was to go to the IHRM Conference to network with people and to be inspired. She also fostered her relationship with Paul Harris.

As a delegator, George could also use an assistant of his to recruit students with IT skills. Specifically, that person or assistant should search in a few key places before doing more: they should contact the Cornell IT support department and the College of Engineering. In contacting the Cornell IT department, they could very easily contact and work with students that have highly proficient IT skills. Additionally, the College of Engineering would likely have current TAs or students that are highly proficient in skills necessary and specific to their IT needs.

3) Describe Trina’s approach to incorporating the technology goals. How do you think they aligned with the mission of HEC? Are there areas of focus that seemed misaligned? What contributed to her success moving the project forward?

Trina brought a technological perspective to HEC through the creation of an app. She got this idea from a hotel show and presented it to the board of HEC who did not seem too convinced with the idea. The misalignment came about when Trina decided to move forward with the app despite their doubts and the lack of support throughout the project. Although the app was successful, it was not exactly how she wanted the completed project to be. It needed much more comprehensive data in order to serve its purpose. Next year, through the utilization of the new IT director, HEC has more time and expertise to create and develop a more comprehensive app that will address all the aspects they originally wanted to incorporate. What Tina accomplished was innovative because she came up with a new idea and tried her best to solve a problem that HEC was facing which laid the groundwork for upcoming years.

4) What value did Trina bring to HEC? How can this be carried forward to the next year’s HEC? Would you consider what Trina accomplished to be innovative?

Trina brought a technological perspective to HEC through the creation of an app. Although the app was successful, it was not exactly how she wanted the completed project to be. Next year, through the utilization of the new IT director, George, HEC will have more time and expertise to create and develop a more comprehensive app that will address all the aspects they originally wanted to incorporate. What Trina accomplished was innovative because she came up with a new idea and tried her best to solve a problem that HEC was facing which laid the groundwork for upcoming years. Trina aimed to provide a more seamless conference navigation experience for attendees and find unique ways for attendees to engage with the relevant technology in the hospitality industry. What would have helped to make her app more innovative would be if she had conducted user research prior to creating the app to ensure that it was creatively solving a problem for the attendees and the conference organizers. Ultimately, the app could be a great solution to incorporate the needs of all conference organizers involved and easily distribute important information to attendees.

5) How could Trina deal with the IT assistant director’s struggle to execute based on what he originally agreed to perform? What do you think of the approach of reaching out to Paul to help the project move forward? What role do the iPads play from a leadership perspective?

Once Trina knew that the IT assistant director did not have the skills to execute the task she needed (coding and launching a full mobile site in three months), she should have looked elsewhere for someone qualified to do the job. Trina was essentially setting the IT Assistant Director up for failure from the start, whereas she could have just asked the IT assistant director for their input on how to recruit someone with the skills needed. It was definitely a good decision to ask Paul for assistance because he actually had the skillset and expertise to complete the website and app. He also would be a great resource for identifying students with qualifying experience since he evaluates students on this basis regularly. From a leadership perspective, the early emphasis on securing iPads was an example of misalignment of goals/priorities from the rest of the conference goals. Trina was eager to demonstrate the value of the value of the technology she was integrating into the conference without actually verifying the need for that technology. If Trina had taken feedback from her other board members, or even evaluated the priorities of her role as a communications director, she may have realized sooner that securing the iPads was an unnecessary use of her time. She could have spent that time and energy creating a marketing strategy to make sure conference attendees were aware of the technology.

6) What is needed to accomplish George’s objectives? How can the task list Trina created (Tables 1 and 2) be updated to align with those objectives?

George wanted to prioritize the development and design of the mobile app in order to improve the guest experience overall. George could use some of the elements from Trina’s task list, but would need to make sure he made time to identify the right talent to execute the tasks and scheduled time to actually test the solutions created. For example, Trina’s task list was very goal-oriented, and didn’t acknowledge the processes it takes to actually accomplish her goals. In the future, George could include tasks for getting feedback from key stakeholders and expertise-related professionals to inform his processes. George should make time to find a team of Cornell developers and designers to work on the app, at least 10 months in advance to leave time for testing. Additionally, neither George nor Trina conducted sufficient research on what technology industry leaders are actually using for conferences. If they did, they would have found many platforms available like Attendify that meet the very needs and goals George and Trina have for the HEC conference. Also, the task list could be improved by integrating more roles from the HEC board into the conversations on what technology is needed. If the Food and Beverage Director, for example, had input on ways technology could be used to better meet the dietary needs of the attendees, then they might be more on board as stakeholders into investing in the app.

7) Explain George’s goals. What is success for George? What factors will contribute to George’s success?

George wanted to take on the year’s theme of “Showcasing Hospitality Education through Student Leadership” by focusing on technology leadership, specifically with a mobile app. His goal was to make the app a two-way communication channel between students and HEC attendees. The main outcomes of the app were as follows:

· To help everyone stay organized

· To send updates on HEC throughout the year

· To provide a calendar of events

· To receive guest feedback

Success for George is improving the overall guest experience at HEC, which can be measured through a survey sent to all guests after the event. In addition, George can monitor guests throughout the weekend to see if the app is adding value to their time at HEC. His success is dependent on building a strong team, especially someone who could build the app, and making smart investments in existing technology.

8) What is the difference between the mobile website and mobile application? Why did George decide to create a mobile application instead of updating Trina’s mobile website?

The difference is accessibility. With a mobile app, attendees can use it everywhere throughout the weekend, whether it’s checking the guest speaker schedule or finding the venue for Closing Cocktail. A website is good mostly for pre- and post-event information, but not during. This was a smart move, especially with our culture of using smartphones for everything. An app is also more innovative than a website, and the point of HEC is to show leadership through technology and innovation, so this project incorporates that idea well.

9) What were the differences in the leadership styles of Trina and George, and which of these would you rather work with at HEC? If Trina had been IT director instead of communications director, what would have been different?

One leadership quality that stands out with Trina is her ability to clearly communicate. She supports those who she is working with and has a contagious positive attitude. Trina seems to have all of the characteristics employers would look for in the customer-facing business that is hospitality. For that reason, Trina would be a great person to work with at HEC, since she would be so good at handling any guest concerns. George would not be as pleasant to work with. While his admiration for making the customer experience as good as possible is commendable, wanting guests “to come away feeling that the hosts anticipated their every need and did everything they could to make registration, finding venues, and networking with other conference attendees a breeze” is a tall task, and George is less of a team player than Trina. At one point he complains about inheriting someone else's problem. If Trina had been IT director instead of communications director, she would have been more aware of the costs associated with involving more technology in the HEC. If she were IT director, HEC would be more immersed in some of the tremendous changes that had taken place in communication technology.

10) What suggestions do you have to incorporate into HEC moving forward? Make a recommendation for what the next year’s director should add to HEC to continue the incorporation of technology.

It is clear that technology in the hospitality space is rapidly changing. HEC values showcasing the newest technologies and ultimately wants to use technology to enhance the guest experience. The point of HEC is for students to showcase their skills and have an opportunity to interact and network with hospitality business leaders from around the world. There must be some technology that can be better utilized to connect the two parties more efficiently during the weekend. Perhaps a platform could be implemented to link students and guests up before the weekend so they can get a chance to interact and build relationships beforehand. For example, the app can aggregate the different fields of the attendees (food & beverage, operations, etc.) and connect them with students who identify with a specific major or minor. Leading up to HEC, the students can research these people and even request a coffee chat if they find themselves in NYC or other cities. Then, when the weekend begins, introductions will already have been made for some.


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