Innovative Companies that Exploit Technology and Market Opportunities Profiled.
Cornell Center for Hospitality Research
Wednesday, 3rd March 2010
A new set of profiles of ten innovative service companies demonstrates the use of technology to create benefits for both customers and companies.

The companies profiled are Brewerkz, ComfortDelgro Taxi, Dinnerbroker.com, Iggy's, Jumbo Seafood, OpenTable.com, PriceYourMeal.com, Sakae Sushi, Shangri-La Singapore, and Stevens Pass Ski Resort. All but ComfortDelgro and Stevens Pass involve restaurant-related innovations. Six of the companies are based in Singapore, while three are in the United States and one in the United Kingdom.

"Although technology provides the mechanism for these innovative companies, the real innovation involves new concepts and applications," said principal author Sheryl Kimes, the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor in Asian Hospitality Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "For example, DinnerBroker, OpenTable, and PriceYourMeal all use the web to expand dining opportunities for customers and increase restaurant volume at the margin by shifting demand. But each uses an entirely different approach. Likewise, Iggy's, Jumbo Seafood, and Sakae Sushi are all groundbreaking restaurant concepts that have many factors in common, including high quality. Yet each has a distinct concept and a separate approach to the market."

Kimes added that the Shangri-La Singapore's food-service concept, Lunch by the Minute, was particularly unusual, because it allowed guests to determine their lunch price by how long they stayed at the table. "It's also worth noting that ComfortDelgro and Stevens Pass make heavy use of technology to streamline their operations and improve the customer's experience, in part by reducing uncertainty and time spent waiting in lines," she said.

This set of ten cases is part of a CHR series that will eventually present 50 innovative companies, written by Kimes, Cathy A. Enz, Judy A. Siguaw, Rohit Verma, and Kate Walsh. Like Kimes, Enz, Verma, and Walsh are on the faculty of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, while Siguaw was founding dean of the Cornell-Nanyang Institute in Singapore. They were assisted by writers Nigel Goodman and Devin Kimble.

This report profiles the following companies:

  • Brewerkz; Singapore's first brewpub, which stirred the nation's interest in premium beer;
  • ComfortDelgro Taxi; Singapore's largest taxi firm, which uses GPS, SMS, and automated dispatching to speedily pick up fares;
  • DinnerBroker.com; a web-based restaurant reservation service in the U.S. that developed a demand-shifting program based on offering discounts for off-peak dining;
  • Iggy's; Singapore's acknowledged best restaurant, which used a prix fixe menu and lean manufacturing to streamline operations while at the same time maintaining a fine-dining concept and a world-class wine cellar;
  • Jumbo Seafood; Singapore's largest seafood restaurant, which uses such technology as walkie talkies and handheld order devices to serve well over 1,000 covers per day;
  • OpenTable.com; a web-based restaurant reservation service, also in the U.S., that approached restaurants' need to shift demand by offering incentives (rather than discounts) to encourage off-peak bookings;
  • PriceYourMeal.com; a Scotland-based web operator that took yet another approach to improving marginal restaurant sales by developing an eBay-style auction service, in addition to offering restaurant reservations;
  • Sakae Sushi; a Singapore restaurant that revolutionized sushi service, by offering high quality sushi at modest prices;
  • Shangri-La Singapore; which took a risk by offering Lunch by the Minute in its popular, high end restaurant, The Line, demonstrating yet another approach to attracting customers who would otherwise not dine at the restaurant; and
  • Stevens Pass Ski Resort; a Washington-state ski resort that uses a universal POS system to allow guests to make purchases throughout the resort and RFID technology that facilitates ticket purchases and lift access.
The report, "Cases in Innovative Practices in Hospitality and Related Services (Part 2)," is available at no charge from the CHR at www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2010.html

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 78 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. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

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