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The obvious answers would be "They asked us to", or "It was an assignment".  Although that is part of it, the real reason we decided to put our time and energy into this project was simple.  The Hotel Ezra Conference provided us with the opportunity to learn how the ergonomic principles and guidelines we learn in the classroom can be applied in the real world.  It was also a great chance to see how those outside of DEA viewed ergonomics, and its place in the hotel industry.

The first part of the project was a general literature search of some important issues in the hotel industry that related to ergonomics.  After some brainstorming, we developed priorities and came up with the issues that were eventually selected for display at the conference.

The next step was to find specific information about each selected topic.  This was very interesting because we found a mix of general ergonomic design principles, research studies, and those specific to the hotel industry. 

After compiling all the information, the next step was to find some real world illustrations of our recommendations.  Using the internet and our advisor's contacts in various industries, we got in touch with many companies and asked them to lend or donate products that could be displayed at the conference.  Most organizations were happy to help, and the products we received ranged from entire workstations, to carpet samples, to beds.

Then, the information, recommendations, and products were compiled to form the final display that was presented at the conference.  With the students standing by to explain their presentations and answer questions, some of the biggest names in the hotel industry viewed the various displays.  All types of hotel executives were trying out beds, ergonomic chairs, backpack vacuums, computer workstations and all the other products on display.  Everyone was interested in how ergonomics could be applied to their field and the attendees and students exchanged information about their perspectives on ergonomics. The displays helped executives understand the value of good ergonomic design and how this can save money, protect employee safety and health, and improve the customer experience.

Those attending the conference, the Hotel School students, and ourselves, viewed the display as a success, and an educational experience for all those involved.  Below are some quotes from the DEA graduate students who worked on the project.


Haruhito Matsunami

"It was difficult to find detailed materials on accidents in hotels, but I enjoyed creating my presentation. I was pleased that I could present a clear story with information based on survey data and relevant research literature. I could also tell my story using examples of real products, such as showing slippery and non-slip tiles. It was an exciting event for me."

"All through the preparation and presentation, I found that studying accidents in hotels is an important issue from an ergonomic and cost viewpoint. Many of the accidents that occur are preventable through good ergonomic design. Unfortunately, this topic is often overlooked. "

 Chia-Chen Chao
"I feel that the information presented in my project helped hotel managers understand the importance of indoor air quality in hotels and the role played by the selection of suitable surface materials, such as low emissions carpet. I provided useful information for that will allow them to incorporate ergonomic principles into the  such as low emission carpet, design of their hotels, and to become pioneers in the service industry."

Kelley Dallas


I was really interested in hotel ergonomics from the guest's perspective. The more research I did, the more I discovered that the quality of the hotel mattress really mattered to guest comfort. I also discussed my interests with   Dr. James Maas, a Cornell psychology professor and author of the recent book "Powersleep". Dr. Maas has done  considerable research on sleep issues. It was so great to be able to go to an expert in the field in "my own backyard". I was able to display two mattresses and accompanying bedding to illustrate good ergonomic design in my hotel ergonomic exhibit. The "beds" were a big hit at the exhibit, and a large number of HEC attendees came by my area to hear more about ergonomic mattresses.


Garrick Goh

"It was a most interesting journey discovering how people perceive signs.  My portion of the project illustrated ergonomic design issues such as appropriate font size, shape, and color.  Criteria for what kind of signs, sign content, and where signs should be placed were also included.  These issues of good ergonomic design seem to be very obvious once listed in my presentation, yet only few hotels seem to pay any attention to them when designing their signs."

Tom Lorusso


"Working on this project allowed me to talk to professional people outside of the academic world at the hotel conference.  Most ergonomics projects require research, but this one also allowed us to present and discuss our results with people who were interested in the practical applications of our findings.  It was great to compare notes with people in the hotel industry, and find out what they thought of our suggestions.  I found that there are many myths and misnomers about ergonomics in the hotel industry, but I think most of the visitors left the conference with a better understanding about how ergonomics can be effectively used in their field."

Shinobu Utamura

"I was very excited to be involved with this project. Although it took a lot of time to prepare everything, it was worth it and the process made me realize how diverse ergonomics is and how significant the issues that concern special populations are. This area of study is not only for the hotel industry but also for other places that cater to special user populations. The universal value of the results I presented is what I liked most about this project.  I was glad to see that many people were interested in my research and my presentation, and I hope that hotel executives will continue to make improvements in their accommodations for special guests."
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