NORMAN SHAW, Ph.D.
Where are you from and where/what did you study?
I was born and educated in the UK. My first degree was Physics followed by an MBA. I did my doctorate after starting at Ryerson in 2007 – I completed my Doctor of Business Administration at Henley Business School in the UK, where they offered a part time, distance education program
Why did you choose tourism and hospitality and why TRSM?
Prior to Ryerson, I was CIO for a major Canadian retailer and then, for a few years, I was CIO of a US retailer whose head office was just south of Los Angeles. Subsequently I joined a hotel development company also located in California. In 2001, I moved back to Toronto as my family was here. In 2007, there was an opening in TRSM where they wanted an experienced professional to teach technology to HTM students. I seemed to fit the bill!
How did you become a researcher?
When I started at Ryerson, I also commenced my doctorate. I learned the difference between consulting and research and my doctoral studies helped me become a researcher.
Why is research in hospitality and tourism important?
It is a dynamic industry engulfed in constant change. Hotels are being challenged by Airbnb. Destinations have to capture the attention of travelers who are surfing the net reviewing a multitude of channels. And thousands of people earn their living in this sector. Research can explore the many ways that guests’ experiences can be enhanced for the benefits of destinations, businesses and the guests themselves.
What does the Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Research mean to you?
Industry can benefit from objective research, which addresses pressing problems of today. The Institute is the bridge between academia and those organizations delivering products and services directly.
What do you think is the most controversial topic in hospitality and tourism right now?
A few topics comes to mind:
- Is the sharing economy a level playing field? Airbnb accommodations do not need to satisfy the same legal requirements as hotels. Are hotels at a disadvantage? How should they respond?
- What is the role of online reviews? Where should they be posted? How should hotels and destinations encourage guests and visitors to spread the word? There are so many options, that the message can be easily lost. •
- How private is private? We are ready to share personal information with websites in spite of the risks. Our data could be shared with others without our permission. Are the benefits so great? Or do we not take privacy seriously enough?It’s like my second home! It’s a place to collaborate, share knowledge and generate ideas that can make a contribution to the industry that I’m passionate about.
What are you researching right now?
With my background in technology, my focus is on the use of smartphones. We now use them for booking trips, gathering local information, checking-in and paying for our stay. Why are some apps adopted whilst others are not? What makes guests trust some websites and not others? My research will guide organizations, who are developing apps, helping them understand what ingredients are key for consumers.
How can you get students engaged in hospitality and tourism research?
When students are introduced to real-life issues of the marketplace, they gain a deeper appreciation of the challenges within the industry. By partnering with organizations, they become personally engaged in seeking to solve problems.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in research, what would it be?
Make sure you understand the difference between day-to-day business operations and research. It is also important to put thought into where your research will be taking you five years from now.
What are your major interests outside of HTMResearch?
Family, travel, reading and I am just starting to dabble in robotics.
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