Restaurateurs need to inform customers of their sustainable restaurant practices both to strengthen menu prices and encourage patronage.
Based on a study of 393 residents of Taiwan, research findings published in the August 2010 issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (CQ) indicate that a substantial percentage of respondents would be willing to pay more for menu items that are produced using sustainable restaurant practices.
The researchers found a strong connection between the respondents' own ecological behavior and their intention to patronize a "green" restaurant. Well over 90 percent of the respondents claimed that they were willing to pay more for a "green" restaurant. One-third said they would pay up to 12 percent more, and just 8 percent said they wouldn't pay anything extra.
"I should point out that these findings from Taiwan are similar to those of another study we did in the U.S.," said Parsa, who is a professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida. Hsin-Hui "Sunny" Hu is on the faculty of the Ming Chuan University, Taiwan; and John Self is an associate professor at the Collins College of Hospitality Management, California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
However, the researchers point out that sustainable menus do not automatically equate with higher menu prices. The study concluded that respondents were willing to pay more to dine at a sustainable restaurant when they had specific knowledge of the restaurant's practices. Older respondents (those over age 40) were significantly more likely to patronize sustainable restaurants than were younger respondents, and participants in higher income groups were more likely to patronize a "green" restaurant than those of limited means.
The authors caution that this study involves opinions only and did not record customers' actions. That said, these findings should encourage restaurateurs to publicize their sustainability efforts, not only to increase prices but also to attract upscale guests.
The article, "The Dynamics of Green Restaurant Patronage," by Hsin-Hui "Sunny" Hu, H.G. Parsa, and John Self, is available for free download as the featured article in the August CQ issue, at: www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/quarterly/featured
Published by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research and managed by Sage Publications, the August 2010 Cornell Hospitality Quarterly also features two articles that call into question the common notion that satisfied employees mean satisfied guests.
An analysis by Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting and strategic implementation, Maritz Research Hospitality Group, demonstrates that employees need to have a strong feeling of accomplishment to deliver good service. In the same vein, a study by researchers Sean Way, Michael Sturman, and Carola Raab found that a strong service environment based on good management is the key to satisfied guests.About the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly
The Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (CQ) editorial content is broad CQ and publishes research in all business disciplines that contribute to management practice in the hospitality and tourism industries. The objective of the CQ is to help all those involved or interested in the hospitality industry to keep up-to-date on the latest research findings and theory development in order to improve business practices and stay informed of successful strategies.
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 CHR's 81 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 www.chr.cornell.edu