Examining the Use of Quantitative Decision-Making Techniques in Jamaica’s Hotel Industry

Grantley C. Harrow
Lawrence A. Nicholson
Tourism allows small island developing states like Jamaica and other countries of the Caribbean to compete with the rest of the world. In order to do so effectively, managers in the hotel industry will need to make strategic and functional decisions daily. It is the contention of this paper that the type of tools used to make these decisions is important to the daily operations of hotels affecting the competitiveness and efficiency of these entities. Quantitative techniques taught in business schools are among the most commonly used tools in the hotel industry. However, there are many who question the continued inclusion of these techniques in the curriculum of management programmes; claiming that they have little value in helping to solve “real-world” problems. On the other hand, there are others who insist that the application of many of these quantitative techniques is critical in helping to solve “real-world” problems.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that in the case of Jamaica’s hotel industry, the extent to which these techniques are used is still relatively unknown and there is the pervasive use of “gut feeling” in decision making process in the industry. In seeking to close this gap of uncertainty, we explored the extent to which the quantitative decision making techniques taught in business schools are utilised in Jamaica’s hotel industry. The paper therefore explores the link between the use of quantitative techniques and the type of decisions made by hotel managers. In doing so, the paper sought to answer two related questions (i) do hotel managers in Jamaica use the quantitative decision making techniques taught at the university level? (ii) is there a place for “gut feeling” and “experience-oriented” decision making approaches/techniques in the hotel industry? We employed the Sequential Explanatory design used for mixed method studies, drawing on data from two categories of hotels: business (n = 10) and resort (n = 20).

Among the findings are that managers used different methods in combination or separately when making decisions; with forecasting, MIS and yield management being the commonly used quantitative techniques among managers in Jamaica’s hotels. The findings did not support the widely held view of a pervasive use of “gut feeling” in the decision making process among hotel managers; with no significant differences between business and resort hotels. Though there is a high utility of quantitative techniques in Jamaica’s hotel industry, the findings also point to a need to re-examine the way these techniques are taught in business schools.

The findings of the study have implications for both academicians and practitioners; especially those in the hotel industry.

Key words: quantitative techniques; decision making; forecasting; gut feeling, Jamaica’s hotels.