Competitor Monitoring and Revenue Performance: Evidence from the Hospitality Industry

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This study examines how firms’ use of competitor-focused accounting information, specifically competitor monitoring information, impacts their pricing, demand, and overall revenue performance. The monitoring activities examined are the scope of monitoring, monitoring above and below one’s own hotel class (i.e., market segment), and the extent of reciprocity of monitoring. Competitor analysis is a central element in strategic management accounting (SMA), yet little empirical research has been done since companies do not disclose competitor monitoring activities. Proving the value of competitive monitoring provides strong support for SMA. Archival, proprietary monitoring information regarding pricing, demand, and revenue were obtained from one of the largest hotel markets in the United States. Using regression, we modeled the relationships between performance measures (pricing, demand, and revenue) and monitoring behaviors, while controlling for quality (hotel characteristics and management skill), competitive intensity, hotel class, geographic location, and ownership type. Our results indicate that two aspects of competitor monitoring impact hotel pricing that, in turn, impacts hotel demand and revenue performance. Specifically, a hotel monitoring more competitors (what we refer to as Scope) achieves higher prices with unchanged demand, resulting in higher revenue performance. Most hotels monitor within their class. However, deviating from one’s class has profound outcomes: looking at lower (higher) quality hotels results in a hotel setting lower (higher) prices, resulting in higher (unchanged) demand and lower (higher) revenue performance. Surprisingly, we did not find support for the reciprocity of monitoring. That is, whether the competitors monitored by a hotel, in turn follow the target, has no impact on hotel revenue performance outcomes. While the SMA literature notes the importance of competitor monitoring, this study fills a gap in an important, under-researched area by documenting the link between competitor monitoring behaviors and organizational revenue performance. This may help promote greater diffusion of SMA practices.

Advances in Management Accounting, 31