NASHVILLE? In the first attempt of its kind, American Express and the American Hotel Foundation partnered with Cornell University to learn about the hotel industry?s success stories and the practices they use. The idea, according to Emelie Smith, vp/travel trade relations for American Express, was to study all market segments and operational areas to determine which of the industry?s many initiatives best exemplify successful innovation. Of more than 3,500 individual ideas, policies and procedures analyzed, 144 ?best practices champions? were selected. In addition, a soon to be released book was compiled with profiles of each winner and highlights of the practices they use. Titled American Lodging Excellence – The Key To Best Practices in the U.S. Lodging Industry, the book is co-published by American Express and the AHF. The book will enable hoteliers to compare their methods with the lodging industry?s most successful operations. Areas such as improving performance while reducing training costs, enhancing customer satisfaction, managing health care costs, promoting diversity and appealing to new workers are all addressed in the publication. ?The best practice champions profiled in the book are the ones that exemplify innovation,? said Leo Reneghan, professor of services marketing at Cornell. ?They?ve experimented with new ideas, creatively applied existing strategies, and ultimately developed highly effective and profitable practices that make the hotel a compelling place to stay for the guest, a compelling place to work for the staff and a compelling place to invest for the owners.? Cornell Professors Laurette Dube, Cathy Enz and Judy Siguaw, along with Reneghan, authored the study which concludes with a section on application of the practices. ?The point was to produce a usable volume, something individual hoteliers would read and refer to, not an academic study,? Smith said. ?We wanted to get people from within the industry to convey how they are making it work.? American Express has a long history of working with the hospitality industry. The Best Practices study is the latest in a series of projects it has undertaken in conjunction with lodging organizations. The firm has also worked with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International, the Academy of Travel and Tourism and the American Hotel & Motel Association. In addition, American Express has entered into a partnership with the AH&MA?s Educational Institute to develop a diversity seminar for lodging industry managers. Dubbed ?Building Success Through Diversity: An American Express Hospitality Seminar,? the half-day program will be offered through the AH&MA?s member state associations this spring.