studies, you’ll discover that the sample essentially self-selects. The researchers won’texplain how their conclusions in this environment are valid because they aren’t—andthey can’t.There are many parts of a study that has sufficient statistical validity to become the basisfor real-world conclusions and predictions, but one is usually that a valid sample must bedefined and identified in advance of the research and then the study must continue until itreaches the sample as defined. More work than most researchers want.
Any question-based research should disclose the questions used and how these arepresented. Forming valid questions is a significant undertaking—which is frequentlybotched.During 2010 I was treated to a trade conference where the expert presented study resultsto show the importance of the field where he was the market leader and that was thesubject of his presentation. The self-selected sample were asked a variety of simplisticquestions with many obvious answers:
“Is cost-control important in your business?”
Have you ever met anyone who would answer “no?”When the presenter reached some study questions that were clearly silly, he remarked,
“Well, my staff assembled these questions and I should have reviewed thembetter.”
In other words, the presentation is a waste of everyone’s time—which also sayssomething about the extent to which some conference organizers vet their presentations.
4.Seek Wide Input
Limiting control over a study to its sponsors or other “insiders” cannot but color theresult as self-serving. Enlightened researchers learned along ago that the “best andbrightest” often don’t work for them and they seek such talent out wherever they can findit.
5.Dump Hyperbole; Focus On Quality
The industry doesn’t need another round or praise describing how great the opportunityof the day may be. What’s needed is thorough research and careful answers that relate tobusiness concerns and allow the reader to reliably take action.This simple definition disqualifies most of the fluff-laden e-commerce and social mediastudies of the past few years. There are people who know how to do real research—it’s amystery when their input is so clearly lacking in the major reports of today.
As there are competent researchers there are also competent interpreters who can makeconnections between abstract numbers and real business situations. Their work ought to
Improving Travel ResearchApril 23, 2011Page 2
© 2011 by David J. Wardell. All Rights Reserved.