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Study: Apply service scripts judiciously
December 2 2008

Not all hospitality employees should be required to stick to their service script, according to a new study from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research. Scripts, which are frequently used to ensure service standards in hospitality settings, are best applied to routine transactions.

ITHACA, New York – Not all hospitality employees should be required to stick to their service script, according to a new study from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research. Scripts, which are frequently used to ensure service standards in hospitality settings, are best applied to routine transactions, according to the new hotel management research study, “Service Scripting: A Customer's Perspective of Quality and Performance.” On the other hand, scripts are best used primarily as guidelines for service interactions that require customized service. The new hospitality management research on service scripts – written by Liana Victorino, Rohit Verma, and Don Wardell – is available at no charge from the Center for Hospitality Research,

“Make no mistake—your customers can immediately tell when your employees are using a script,” said Verma, an associate professor at Cornell University. “Our study found that customers thought that scripts did not influence the quality of a standardized service, such as checking into a hotel, but scripts did influence the quality of a customized service, such as a concierge.”

Customized Design Is Key to Value of Service Scripts, According to Hotel Management Research

Respondents from across the United States in the video-based hospitality management research study viewed one of several customer service scenarios, which depicted either the front-desk check-in or the concierge interaction. Some videos had relaxed scripting, some were moderately scripted, and some were heavily scripted. The video showing a heavily scripted concierge interaction drew an evaluation of poor service from the respondents, while respondents were indifferent to whether the check-in was heavily scripted.

“Since the respondents' view of service quality was not diminished when they saw scripts in use at the front desk, we suggest that managers can use such scripts to ensure service standards, as needed,” said Victorino, an assistant professor at the University of Victoria. “However, our results also suggest that scripts must be designed and managed flexibly for customized interactions such as concierge services. Most important, our findings underscore the importance of considering the customer's view of the service interaction in all scripting decisions.”

Liana Victorino is an assistant professor for the Faculty of Business at the University of Victoria; Rohit Verma is an associate professor at Cornell School of Hotel Administration; and Don Wardell is a professor at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

Meet and interact with Dr. Verma, an active member of the executive education faculty at the School of Hotel Administration, when he presents sessions in the Professional Development Program:

Thanks to the support of the Center for Hospitality Research partners listed below, all publications posted on the center's website are available free of charge, at
About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 75 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (formerly the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly). To learn more about center and its projects, visit

Center partners and sponsors: AIG Global Real Estate Investment, American Airlines Admirals Club, Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, Expedia, Inc., Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, FX Real Estate and Entertainment, Inc., General Growth Properties, Inc., HVS, InterContinental Hotels Group,, JohnsonDiversey, Inc., Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, Mobil Travel Guide, Inc., Nestlé, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer Rose LLP, Smith Travel Research, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., SynXis (a Sabre Holdings Corporation), Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Thayer Lodging Group, TIG Global, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, WATG, and WhiteSand Consulting

Center friends: • American Tescor, LLC • Argyle Executive Forum • Caribbean Hotel and Restaurant Buyers Guide • Cody Kramer Imports • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • • EyeforTravel • Fireman's Fund Insurance Company • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • • • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • • Hotel Interactive • Hotel Resource • International CHRIE • International Hotel and Restaurant Association • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Parasol • PhoCusWright, Inc. • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • RealShare Hotel Investment & Finance Summit • Resort+Recreation Magazine • • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • TravelCLICK • UniFocus • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025,

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