October 20, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Tisch Center of Hospitality Clinical Assistant Professor Vanja Bogicevic

Vanja Bogicevic, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor at the NYU SPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. In her research, she explores the role of design, service technologies, and virtual reality on consumer behavior in the hospitality, tourism, and travel industries. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals and in publications such as Hotel News Now, Forbes, Skift, and Travel+Leisure. She serves on the editorial board of Psychology & Marketing. At NYU SPS, Bogecevic leads the Experiential Learning Lab at the Hospitality Innovation Hub (HI Hub), where she manages partnerships with technology developers of hospitality management software, including Stayntouch, a global leader in guest-centric cloud hotel property management systems (PMS).

Tell us about your collaboration with Stayntouch.
Students in the Lodging Industries and Structures course use Stayntouch’s property management system (PMS) to simulate hotel front desk operations. Aside from supporting classroom instruction with experiential, skills-based learning, we collaborate with Stayntouch on applied research projects, including the “2022 Hotelier Technology Sentiment Report,” authored by alumni Chloe Carver and Cara Kun, and our latest project, “US Traveler Sentiments on Attribute-Based Shopping,” which I coauthored with alumnus Owen Wexman.

What does your research with them entail?
The project came out of my conversation with Stayntouch about the challenges of the current hotel booking process and whether the industry can adapt the model of price unbundling for hotel rooms. This idea, attribute-based shopping (ABS), is based on unbundling hotel guestroom pricing into a base room, plus additional attributes that guests can combine to achieve a highly personalized offering, allowing them to control their purchase and the total guestroom rate.

Since such a method is still in its early infancy, we believe it was essential to examine the readiness of US travelers to adopt such a model, their challenges with the traditional hotel shopping method of selecting room types, and what benefits travelers anticipate from ABS.

Stayntouch sponsored data collection with a nationally representative sample of 1,002 adult US travelers and helped with the graphic design of the report. The findings were presented at the 2022 HITEC Orlando conference.

What are the practical applications of the research for our students?
It bridges professional hospitality practice and education. Practitioners discuss the industry's challenges and commission projects to faculty experts who invite students to address these real-world problems while being mentored by faculty researchers. Many of our students are interested in analytics and consulting careers. A project such as this empowers students to develop their critical thinking and analytic skills.

How does ABS technology impact hotels and consumers?
One way for hotels to maximize revenue is to motivate direct booking through websites and loyalty programs and avoid paying commissions. The traditional booking process is problematic because of vague guestroom descriptions and difficulty in customizing rooms. To illustrate with an anecdote from my family vacation this year. The beach resort we booked offered “superior” standard rooms and junior and deluxe suites, some with beach views, city views, or side beach views. Needless to say, we struggled to differentiate among these room types and understand what benefits we got from paying more. Current research showed that ABS could bring more transparency, clarity, and customization to the booking process.

What is on the horizon with the Stayntouch collaboration?
The HI Hub Lab plans to expose more students to Stayntouch’s property management system and self-check-in kiosks placed in front of the HI Hub Lab classroom. I aim to integrate the Stayntouch PMS with technologies other companies provide, such as relationship management software, workforce, and scheduling software, guestroom entertainment, communications, and revenue management, to simulate a hotel’s digital tech stack.

Tell us about other projects and collaborations.
In my discussion with hospitality professionals on the feasibility of ABS implementation, we agreed that the back-of-house hotel processes need to be streamlined and digitalized (e.g., customer data profiles, reservation systems, revenue management, channel management, housekeeping management, etc.). Together with other Tisch faculty, we are collaborating with PwC on the digital transformation of the guest experience, specifically focusing on business intelligence and back-of-house-facing technologies that support front-of-house experiences. A different project with BCG will explore the impact of inflation on hotels. Also, I am working on a project that is supported by the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association and explores the career development of LGBTQ+ travel and hospitality employees.

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