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Meet the editor of... Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

An interview with: Cihan Cobanoglu
Interview by: Margaret Adolphus

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Photo: Dr Cihan Cobanoglu.Dr Cihan Cobanoglu is an associate professor of hospitality information technology in the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware (UD). From August 2010, he will be director of graduate programmes at the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of South Florida's Sarasota-Manatee campus on the scenic west coast of Florida.

Dr Cobanoglu's research interests lie in the area of the use and impact of technology in the hospitality industry. In addition to being editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology (JHTT) he is also on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education, and Information Technology in Hospitality (formerly known as International Journal of Hospitality Information Technology). He is co-author of four textbooks and two conference proceedings, as well as numerous journal articles, which in turn have been cited in more than 300 articles, and have received ten best paper awards.

He is director of information technology at UD Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Newark, Delaware and manages eXperimental Guestroom (X-Room), where he tests technological systems and uses them for teaching. These technologies include a Nintendo Wii, a Guestroom digital assistant, systems for controlling lighting and energy use, and a mobile phone charger (see for more information). He has extensive connections with industry and professional associations, for example as chair of American Hotel and Lodging Association's (AH&LA) technology and e-business committee, and as an active member of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals and the International Hospitality Information Technology Association. He is a regular columnist for Hospitality Technology Magazine and serves on its editorial advisory board.

Dr Cobanoglu was the recipient of UD's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 and the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education's (ICHERIE) John Wiley & Sons Innovation in Teaching Award in 2009.

About the journal

JHTT was newly launched in 2010 and forms part of Emerald's growing tourism and hospitality portfolio. Information and communications technologies (ICT) and systems now form a critical part of all businesses within the sector. This in turn has given rise to a multitude of research in the area, for which the journal seeks to provide a home. In this sense, JHTT is uniquely placed in that it is the only journal developed solely for research in technology and e-business in tourism and hospitality to reside.

Journal mission and editorial objectives

Why did you decide to start a journal on this topic?

Advances in ICT have changed the way of doing business in many industries, including tourism and hospitality. ICT applications employed in hospitality and tourism organizations and businesses are credited with providing a basis for competitive advantage, productivity improvement, enhanced financial performance, and guest service expansion. ICT forms an integral part of every business in the sector, with all functional areas using some form of ICT.

In fact, ICT applications are no longer viewed as a cost centre, but rather a strategic tool. New business models and developments in hospitality (such as online travel agencies, the merchant model and online electronic storefronts where people can view and purchase services, and distribution models) created a huge demand for research in the field of ICT in tourism and hospitality. This journal was consequently born to house the resultant surge of ICT and e-business-related research articles in tourism and hospitality.

What are your editorial objectives?

My editorial objective is to create an environment that welcomes applied research in the field of tourism and hospitality technology. Technology is a fast-paced field and I am dedicated to a fast, quality review process that will encourage the submission of articles on even the most time-sensitive topics. One of the decisions we made as the editorial team was to include JHTT in Emerald's online, pre-publication service, EarlyCite. This will ensure that papers will be made available at least three months before they appear in the hard copy and final online journal issue.

You have said that "the journal will be strong in academic rigour and rich when it comes to industry experience". Can you describe the qualities you will be looking for in articles?

We encourage applied research articles that industry professionals will be able to use in their daily practice. At the same time, we welcome research papers that create, validate or reject theory. We see theory as a necessary basis for quality, applied research papers.

What are the key issues and topics you will be most keen to cover?

Any research that addresses ICT applications are exciting and we welcome papers on these topics. There are many things happening in the self-service technology area. Likewise, mobile technologies are increasingly becoming common in tourism and hospitality. Cloud computing provides new ways of doing business. Compliance issues regarding ICT applications are becoming more complex, and additional research is needed. Similarly, we welcome new business models that integrate online social networks in tourism and hospitality.

How does JHTT differ from other hospitality journals?

The main differences between JHTT and other titles in the field of hospitality and tourism are the speed of its review process and its precise journal focus. JHTT promises quick and rigorous peer review and publication of articles, which is essential in a field that is always in a state of flux and change.


From what disciplines will your authors be drawn?

The main contributors for JHTT will come from the tourism and hospitality fields. Our author and readership will be broad and include academics, industry practitioners and technology vendors.

In the editorial for your inaugural issue, you say that JHTT "will be a platform where industry meets academia". How will you do this?

Starting with our second issue, we will include an industry insights paper where an industry professional will share his or her views about the tourism and hospitality industry. The first such author is Mr Joe McInerney, president and CEO of AH&LA.

In future issues, we will send accepted refereed papers to industry executives to get their feedback. This will ensure a dialogue between the practitioners and academia, and may result in ideas for research studies.

Some authors may wish to approach you directly with a proposal before investing the time in writing the article. Would you encourage this and what sort of information would you want to see in the proposal?

I would welcome this. I suggest that they submit a structured abstract, which should be 250 words maximum and include the article's purpose, the methodology used, the findings and the value and originality of the research as a minimum, as well as implications for research, practice and society if appropriate.

Tourism technology – like all technology – is moving very fast. How will you ensure timeliness to market, given that the review process can take a long time?

As I explained above, two things will ensure that articles accepted to JHTT will be "fresh" by the time they are published: first, a fast review process (about four to six weeks); and second, Emerald's EarlyCite system.

And finally ...

You have won an international award for education, the John Wiley & Sons Award for Innovation in Teaching at the ICHERIE conference held in San Francisco in August 2009. Your innovative teaching approaches were commended, among them the eXperimental guestroom (X-Room) in the on-campus Marriott hotel. Can you tell us a bit more about this initiative and how you teach with it?

I created X-Room in the summer of 2007. X-Room is a testing room for new technologies and systems. All of the technologies tested in X-Room have been donated by hospitality technology vendors. This room is integrated into my teaching. In this room, students learn about hospitality technology hands-on. In addition, a group of students, X-Room Scholars, work with me to improve the technologies tested in X-Room and collect data from guests who stay in X-Room. These data are used for research purposes. X-Room also integrates faculty and students in other majors.

For example, students in graphical design were involved in designing the logo of X-Room. In addition as a teaching and research tool, X-Room generated publicity worth more than five million dollars in major leading TV channels, newspapers, and magazines including BBC, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Futurist Magazine. I have been invited around the world as a speaker to share my experience in developing X-Room as a teaching tool.

Editor's note

Margaret Adolphus interviewed Dr Cihan Cobanoglu in April 2010.

Visit the information page for: Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology