Cornell PhD -1

Statement of Purpose

Technology of today as well as the advent of the Big-Data era has brought about complete change to humanity. In particular, businesses are sporadically responding to these global changes in search of new opportunities as well as better cater to the needs and demands of their clients. This global phenomenon is also true in the field of hospitality. Based on my professional experiences at both Conrad and Hyatt Hotel, serving in the marketing and management division, I have seen how these global hotel entrepreneurs struggled to adapt to the new environment as the dynamics of the industry and the service provided changed. Furthermore, execution of multiple case studies and independent researches during my Masters programs, coupled with the necessary theoretical tools and foundations, I have witnessed the need for new marketing and management strategies in the hospitality industry. In fact, the traditional division of hospitals based on pure size of the enterprise or the functionality is currently undergoing tremendous change due to the emergence of hybrid hotels serving multiple roles previously reserved in different categories. Therefore, through the Ph.D. program at Cornell, focusing on marketing and management, I am thrilled to explore and suggest new theoretical guidance and practical solutions faced by the hospitality industry in best responding to the everchanging global and market dynamics of the industry.

My initial interest in hospitality industry stems from a very personal background. I loved to travel, and as a French Literature major, I spent many summers and winters in Europe, especially in France, enjoying the wonders of the cultural richness foreign destinations offered. And at the center of these experiences was my hotel experiences – The stays in Shangri-La, Hyatt, and Intercontinental in France were similar but different from the experience I had back in Asia. While they showed similarities, it emitted a different ambiance: the culture of the local state was reflected and the hotels, depending on the purpose, all showed similarities but differences. Therefore, wanting to learn more about these hotel franchises as well as seeing a potential future in the industry, I enrolled to the Post Graduate Diploma program in Hospitality Management at Glion Institute of Higher Education where I saw that hotels served more than a catering purpose – it was a business where I saw potentials. In fact, as global society is continuously entering an aging society with higher income, more and more people will be relying on the hospitality industry to not only benefit from the travels people more frequently engage but more importantly enjoy the benefits hotel institutions provide to the local communities. Therefore, upon witnessing the growing potentials, I decided to explore further into the subject matter by working at Grand Hyatt Seoul.

Working at the Sales and Marketing Division at Grant Hyatt Seoul, coordinating VIP summits and conferences like the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit as well as coordinating with multinational pharmaceutical and financial firms, my understanding of the hospitality industry expanded. It served multiple social and economic functions beyond my limited understanding. Furthermore, when Conrad Seoul launched its first hotel establishment in Korea, I was recruited as the Coordinator of the Business Development Team. Here I founded the Events Sales Team, establishing new businesses for the company. In fact, building various customized marketing and sales strategies as well as recommending new business plans for the company, I found great satisfaction as I was able to create new business relationships with global companies like JP Morgan, UBS, and even the United States Embassy in Korea. However, as I became more involved in both the external marketing as well as internal management affairs ranging from SCM systems management to outside-vendor management, marketing and purchasing, I began to facing certain limitations in my professional abilities – While I enjoyed and showed tremendous potentials for professional developments, I often faced limitations as my theoretical foundations lacked in both business and the hospitality industry. Therefore, after four years of experience in the field, I decided to continue my role in the hospitality industry through the M.A. program at Kyung Hee University.

As a Hospitality Management major, I erected the necessary pillars of knowledge and theory through various case studies and research endeavors. However, one thing I found which I had failed to realize before was the widespread prevalence of technology based developments. In fact, since early 2010s, there has been continued debate on the significance of Technology based self-serive (TBSS) in the hospitality industry as compared to the traditional human touch service (THTS). Therefore, wanting to know how technology has transformed the industry, I wrote several papers entitled “Research on the Influence of Technology Based Self-Service (TBSS) in the F&B Industry,” “Research on the Implications of 3D Printing in the Hospitality Industry” and “Research on the Influence of Wearable Technology in the Hospitality Industry.” These endeavors helped me to find an intimate relationship between technological developments and the hospitality industry. In fact, many hotels around the world have recently introduced individualized cell-phones, tablets, and even robotic services for guests in each of their rooms, enabling the guests to utilize the benefits of technology through the palm of their hand.

This is only one of the many influences technology has had in the hospitality industry, and through the Ph.D. program, I would first like to explore this relationship between technology and hospitality industry, especially how enterprises have adopted and utilized these technological developments in its innovative marketing practices. In fact, I am aware that the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell has provided several forums in exploring the role of technology in changing the dynamics of the hospitality industry. In particular, the innovation management related works by Professor Cathy A. Enz, especially her recent publications like ‘Why Hotels must make room for innovation” is directly reflective of my research interest. Furthermore, article by Professor Mona Anita K. Olsen entitled Hotels make high-tech part of high-class clearly demonstrates the need to rethink the hospitality industry through the lens of technology. Therefore, utilizing the research and roundtable opportunities at Cornell, coupled with expert advice from Professors like Professor Enz, I want to explore many innovative management and strategic schemes hotels must take to not only maximize business profitability but more importantly elevate customer satisfaction, responding to the ever-changing needs of ‘high-tech’ and ‘connected’ group of individuals.

Furthermore, I believe debate on innovative management strategies with active utility of technology and the changing global environment cannot be discussed without a discourse on ‘Big-Data.’ In fact, recently, publications like “Global Study Reveals How Big Data will Transform the Hotel Industry” and “Hospitality Analytics: How Data Can Make Hotels Smarter,” academics and professionals alike have looked into ways to fully utilize the benefits of big-data in building a more successful business in the hospitality industry. These data range from customer information to company data-analytics, covering the entirety of the industry. These endeavors have shed new directions to corporations as well as finding new markets like aligning conventional enterprises with the health industry and many more in creating a hybrid form of business crossing the traditional division of businesses. In fact, in 2015, Cornell has explored this topic in depth through the “Hospitality HR and Big Data Roundtable discussions,” and I look forward to continuing this debate through my proposed studies with the many experts at Cornell from multiple disciplines ranging from Information Systems, Management, and Marketing.

I currently see the hospitality industry in a phase of transition. The conventional functions have eroded partly due to the changing global environment but most importantly, society demands the hospitality industry to actively utilize developments in technology and utilization of big data for its very survival. Therefore, through the study of marketing and management, I would like to explore and provide critical insight into the current changing dynamics of the industry as well as how to best respond to this ‘information’ and ‘connected’ environment of today and tomorrow at Cornell.