Vanja Bogicevic, a Hospitality Management master’s student at USF Sarasota Manatee, won the Best Paper Award sponsored by the Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research at the 19th Annual Graduate Education & Graduate research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism in Houston earlier in January. Her co-authors were Milos Bujisic, Andrew Hale Feinstein and Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu, dean of the College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership at USFSM. Bogicevic’s research explored the impact of hotel room designs on customer satisfaction. Using her background in architecture, Bogicevic explored the physical environment of a hotel room and how slight changes in color scheme can make a significant difference to hotel guests.
Five USF Sarasota-Manatee students attended the well-established conference, an opportunity for master’s and PhD students in the field of hospitality and tourism to present their academic papers and network for job opportunities.
“Winning such an award among more than 280 submitted papers presents a great honor for me,” said Bogicevic. “Particularly because this is the first award at the Graduate Conference both for me and USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership. I believe this award demonstrates the strong research potential our hospitality program offers to its students especially at the master’s level. On a personal note, I hope that this award would help me continue to further my academic career.”
Bogicevic became interested in designing hospitality and tourism venues such as hotels, hostels, cafes and tourist information centers while attaining both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Novi Sad, Serbia. The most important part of the design process, in her opinion, is determining what customers really want and figuring out how to match those desires in the building context.
In her research process, Bogicevic took photos of one specific guest room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sarasota. She then created a 3D computer model that altered the room’s color and design choices with simulated furnishings. Male and female respondents were surveyed for their reaction to one type of design: a traditional or a contemporary furnished room with either a masculine or feminine color pattern. Each participant was able to see only one room and after reviewing its photos, answer a set of questions regarding the desirability of the room environment and their purchase intent.
One of the unexpected discoveries of the study indicated female respondents were equally satisfied with both choices of color scheme patterns in the experimental room models. These results suggest male hotel guests should be expected to be more demanding regarding colors used in a room interior.
“It’s an interesting discovery, considering women are known to pay more attention to design,” said Bogicevic.
The study results are applicable for hotel developers and design teams. Guest rooms may offer the same amenities and spatial organization but different color schemes and design styles will have notably gender based appeal. Bogicevic recommends that hotels offer variations of design within a single property in order to satisfy the preferences of both sexes.
“When it comes to real life, the study results together with market segment analysis may help hotels to target their design towards the desired customer groups,” said Bogicevic. “As a result, they might find that guests are willing to pay more for the room with their preferred design style and color scheme.”
Bogicevic plans to pursue a PhD in hospitality, marketing or a related field in the near future and continue on with similar research. She would like to spend a few years working with either a hospitality design and development company or with hospitality and healthcare consultants, applying her knowledge to the two fields that intrigue her.
Next year USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership is hosting the 20th Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference on the USF Tampa campus from January 7-9, 2015.
Bogicevic said, “Winning means we’re on the right track with the information USFSM is teaching.”
To learn more about the USFSM Hospitality Management master’s degree program, please visit the program page here.