A Theory of Lodging: Exploring Hotel Guest Behavior

Traveling is generally looked forward to by most, and when planning where to stay, we rely on reviews from past hotel guests. Does the hotel have consistently clean rooms? A lobby bar to meet up with my coworkers? A pool, spa, or gym? Regardless of our questions, they are approached through a mentality of short-term requirements; that is, we don’t have to reference our list of “deal breakers” like when purchasing a home.

Editor Chris Roberts of DePaul University recently published a study in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research presenting the habits and perspectives of traveler decisions entitled “A Theory of Lodging: Exploring Hotel Guest Behavior,” co-authored by Dr. Linda Shea. Below, Roberts explains the inspiration for this study:

What inspired you to be int4643862699_f8d70fef26_zerested in this topic? The field of hospitality is often classified as an applied field as it appears to lack theory of its own.  Instead, theories from other related fields are used in hospitality research.  However, the authors are asking the hospitality research academy to engage in a discussion about lodging.  Is there a theory that explains human behavior when staying in a hotel?  It appears that many humans behave differently when they are at home versus when staying overnight in a hotel.  The purpose of this paper is to stimulate thought among hospitality researchers to explore this idea.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? We are not declaring there is a distinctive theory of lodging; however, the difference in behavior is observable, suggesting there may be something to explore.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice? Interested researchers are encouraged to attend the ICHRIE Conference to be held July 23-25, 2017 in Baltimore, MD, USA.  An opportunity to explore this will be available.  Please join us as we wrestle with this idea of a theory of lodging.

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Hotel lobby photo attributed to fhotels (CC).

When, and How, Should Firms Educate Their Customers?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Simon Bell of the University of Melbourne, Australia. Bell recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Unraveling the Customer Education Paradox: When, and How, Should Firms Educate Their Customers?,” co-authored by Seigyoung Auh and Andreas B. Eisingerich. From Bell:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

We have long been fascinated by service firms’ reluctance to let customers “into the kitchen”. Service firms have traditionally kept customers in the dark. The thinking is that giving cuJSR_16.2_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgstomers too much insight or access to how a firm operates places that firm’s ‘black box’ or proprietary methodologies at risk. Educating customers apparently provides them with the skills to shop around and potentially switch to a competitor. Yet we noticed in our consulting work that some service firms (and even some service employees) were challenging this thinking. They were proactively educating their customers and seeme
d to be the better for it. We were keen to discover what was going on.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

The results of our field study showed that firms were partly right. Increasing customer expertise through proactive efforts to educate their customers actually had an overall negative impact on loyalty. This was because customers build what we call “market-related” expertise – a general knowledge about how markets work – which provides customers with the confidence to shop around. But we also found that educating customers builds “firm-specific” expertise which ties a customer more closely to the firm. It’s just that this positive effect on loyalty did not outweigh the negative. Yet, when we conducted an experimental study we found that the customer loyalty effects of customer education were positive overall. We believe this has a lot to do with the context (i.e., firm and industry) in which customer education programs might be used. Our goal in this paper was to discover whether education did indeed have both positive and negative effects on loyalty, but clearly our next focus should be revealing the different contexts in which the positive effects outweigh the negative (and vice versa).

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

We think our results have some very important implications for managers. We think that, in this “Google age”, customers are already taking responsibility for their own understanding of how services, firms, and markets work. Easily digestible information and knowledge is at everyone’s fingertips so we think it’s risky for firms to keep customers in the dark. Our findings suggest that firms should be proactive in educating customers and pay particular attention to educating them about how their firm operates. Firms need to let customers into the kitchen and provide a greater level of transparency. We showed that it’s impossible to disentangle the market-related education from the firm-specific, but it is perfectly reasonable for firms to craft educational programs around more firm-specific elements. Ultimately, customers that are more competent at consuming your services are better for your business.

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How to Recover Customer Trust After Unsatisfactory Service

6279924331_f857af05f4_z[We’re pleased to welcome Kenny Basso of IMED Business School. Kenny recently published an article in Journal of Service Research, entitled “Trust Recovery Following a Double Deviation,” with co-author Cristiane Pizzutti. ]

The number of complaints on sites such as ripoffreport.com and consumersaffairs.com and complaint boards around the world illustrate that service failures are frequent and even inherent to service encounters. To avoid this public exposition, company can perform a service recovery. However, some times, the results of the service recovery are also negative to the client, or else, company is unable to appropriately restore service after a failure. In this situation, there is a double deviation of the client initial expectations about the service. The double deviation situation imposes a severe violation of the trust that the client has on the company. This paper focus on elucidates how a company can recover JSR coverclient trust after a double deviation.

Our results demonstrate that, contrary to what some may think, money (i.e., financial compensation) does not buy trust after double deviation; instead, companies can restore the client’s trust (at least in part) and maintain the relationship with him/her by making an apology or a promise of non-recurrence of the failure. However, it is worth noting that whereas making an apology does not require many resources, making a promise requires that the internal problems that generated the initial failure be resolved; otherwise, the promise will be a deception. Furthermore, it is important for firms to match the type of double deviation to the recovery strategy. Hence, promises have more efficacy in restoring trust when the trust violation is based on a company’s competence, as, for example, slow service in an understaffed store or by unprepared employees in on-the-job training programs, a room that is not clean, a meal that is cold, or baggage that arrives damaged. On the other hand, apology has more efficacy when the client perceives the failure as resulting from a lack of integrity or improper company principles and values, such as treating the customer badly because he bought a ticket from a daily deal web site, having rules that benefit the company written in fine print to make it more difficult for consumers to read them or giving a table reserved by one client to another who arrives earlier at the restaurant to ensure its occupancy.

The abstract for the paper:

Although double deviation (i.e., unsatisfactory service recovery) is an acknowledged phenomenon in the field of marketing, little attention has been devoted to determining what actions firms can take to restore consumer trust in the wake of such an event. Across four experimental studies of different populations and service sectors, we show that double deviation intensifies the trust violation generated by the initial service failure and that recovery from double deviations requires fundamentally different strategies than recovery from single deviations. Our results suggest that financial compensation is not an especially effective strategy for double deviations compared to the effectiveness of apologies and promises that the problem will not occur in the future. However, it is important for firms to match the type of double deviation to the recovery strategy, with apologies being more effective for integrity violations and promises being more effective for competence violations.

You can read “Trust Recovery Following a Double Deviation” from Journal of Service Research free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Service ResearchClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Customer service image attributed to Didriks (CC)

Kenny Basso Professor of Marketing at the IMED Business School, Faculdade Meridional – IMED, Brazil. His research interests include services marketing, trust and consumer behavior. He has papers published in the Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, International Journal of Bank Marketing and Journal of Product & Brand Management.

Cristiane Pizzutti Professor of Marketing at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Brazil. Her research interests include consumer behavior and services marketing. She has papers published in the Journal of Product & Brand Management, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, and International Journal of Electronic Commerce.

Diversify and Conquer: An Argument for Reinvigorating Marketing Science with Behavioral Science and Humanities

[We’re pleased to welcome Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School and Olson Zaltman Associates. Dr. Zaltman recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly with co-authors Jerry Olson and James Forr of Olson Zaltman Associates, entitled “Toward a New Marketing Science for Hospitality Managers.”]

In “Toward a New Marketing Science for Hospitality Managers,” published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Jerry Olson, James Forr, and I point out that much of CQ_57_1_Cover.inddmarketing research and a great deal of marketing thought and action is influenced by the ideas and methods of an old marketing science.  We argue that a New Marketing Science is needed in which scientifically sound ideas and methods from the behavioral sciences and humanities are integrated around a coherent scientific perspective.  We feel this is especially important since life in the marketplace is experienced holistically and not in the silo like ways that companies, universities, and specific professions are organized.

Although current marketing does explore new ideas and methods, including neuro/biometric methods and big data approaches, these ideas are often treated piecemeal — used in isolation or as independent add-ons to more traditional work.  In contrast, we advocate integrating the best ideas and approaches from diverse fields to develop a new marketing science.  In “Toward a New Marketing Science” we focus on how key ideas from the mind sciences can produce a deeper and richer understanding of the minds of customers and also the minds of managers.  Other fields containing equally exciting marketing related advances include, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, ethnomusicology, and art therapy, to name a few.

We provide four examples of applying a New Marketing Science approach to create emotionally resonant hospitality experiences.  However, the principles of a NMS can be applied to any marketing problem in any industry.  Practicing the NMS requires bold, imaginative thinking that goes beyond simple borrowing of ideas and imitation of best practices.

The abstract:

A New Marketing Science (NMS) is proposed that can dramatically improve a firm’s marketplace performance. The NMS challenges managers to dare to think and act differently. It generates deep insights into the thoughts and actions of both customers and managers and how the two mind-sets interact. As several examples illustrate, it departs from the “old” marketing science by its emphasis on imagination, knowing how and why a practice works, understanding the total customer experience, and focus on effectiveness over efficiency. The NMS is grounded in principles from the behavioral sciences and humanities such as the importance of the unconscious mind, the way mental frames serve as interpretative lenses, the centrality of emotions, the reconstructive nature of memory, and the importance of metaphor for learning about and influencing choices.

You can read “Toward a New Marketing Science for Hospitality Managers” from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


 
Gerald ZaltmanGerald Zaltman is Founding partner in Olson Zaltman Associates and the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at Harvard Business School, where he also was co-director of The Mind of the Market Laboratory. He has authored over 20 books including: How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market and Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers.

Jerry OlsonJerry Olson is Founding Partner in Olson Zaltman Associates and Professor Emeritus at Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business where he was Earl P. Strong Professor of Marketing and Department Chair. He has published more than 60 papers on these topics in conference proceedings and academic journals , including Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Marketing.

James ForrJames Forr is a director at Olson Zaltman Associates. He has led projects for Fortune 100 clients including IBM, Bank of America, PepsiCo, and P&G along with non-profit and public sector clients such as the AFL-CIO and the Funeral Service Foundation.  He also has led two projects that have helped clients win prestigious Ogilvy Awards from the Advertising Research Foundation.

 

Is Value Creation from Human Connection an Area of Opportunity for Companies to Stand Out?

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Company executives believe they know the value of their product or service they provide, but the true judge of value comes from the customer’s perspective, which is constantly changing and shaped by every interaction, directly or indirectly, with a company. Customer perspective plays a large part in determining a company’s brand and the values the company stands for. It can impact how the employees of a company work collectively toward specific company values.

The number one reason customers leave a business feeling dissatisfied with their experience is poor customer service and indifferent customer representatives. As a result, customer service is an area that holds great potential for companies to really stand out from their competition.

In a marketplace with fewer competing companies, consumers have little choice as to JCVwhere they buy their goods. Companies can tell the customers that they provide a great service without actually following through with the promise—how easy for the companies! But now that companies face more competitors, companies no longer rule the marketplace. The consumer does. It does not matter how much value the company executives and employees think they are providing the customer. If the customer perceives that the value provided is lacking, then they can easily take their business to a competitor instead.

With the introduction of the Internet and web, information is readily available. Technology has changed the behavior of consumers overnight. That once-trusting ‘believer’ evolved into a very sophisticated ‘researcher,’ and the buying patterns of consumers are no longer as predictable, controllable or reliable as they have been.

When a company transforms into a customer-centric organization, a collective mindset emerges that prompts employees to strive for a positive customer experience and perception.  In every transaction between the customer and a company representative, value is always being created or destroyed! Positive value leaves the customer feeling better than before they interacted with a company and employee. Negative value leaves the customer feeling worse than before the interaction. Understanding customer perceptions is fundamental to facilitating positive customer value creation, and it is something every executives and employees alike should be aware of.

Click here to read the full article!

The abstract:

This article introduces an area of value creation seldom considered in the strategic sense in business: value creation from human connections. And given the number one reason for customers leaving a business is a feeling of indifference from a company representative; this is an area that holds a great opportunity for companies to really stand out from their competition. This article examines where business has come from, where we are now and why the critical need to revamp our way of thinking. When a company transforms into a customer-centric organization, a collective mindset to design for the desired outcome of customer emotion emerges.

Click here to read Human Connection: Uncharted Territory for Value Creation for free from the Journal of Creating Value.

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*Market photo credited to the US Department of Agriculture (CC)

A Matter of Formality: How Dress Code Can Impact Customer Behavior

Retro Fashion Image

How an individual dresses can be quite revealing about their personality and how they would like to be perceived, but there is more to be said on the effect of dress style beyond first impressions. Customer experience and behavior, for instance, can be significantly impacted by the dress style of other customers around them. In their article, “The Effects of Other Customers’ Dress Style on Customer’s Approach Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Sense of Power,” published in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Choongbeom Choi of University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Anna S. Mattila of Pennsylvania State University explore how a customer’s sense of power can change depending upon the dress style of others, particularly in formal situations. For some businesses, enforcing a dress code could have the positive effect of encouraging customers with low sense of power to engage in word-of-mouth behaviors.

The abstract:

Most hospitality services are delivered in the same location in which they are produced, and, thus, their delivery involves the presence of other customers. Yet, the role of other customers’ physical appearances in influencing service encounter evaluations has received scant attention. Moreover, previous research shows that consumers with a low sense of power are motivated to seek status by engaging in conspicuous consumption. The current study examines the joint impact of other customers’ dress styles and the observer’s sense of power in influencing customers’ approach CQ Covers.inddbehaviors (e.g., willingness to stay longer in a restaurant, interact with other customers). The results from our experiment show that customers’ approach behaviors among observers with a low sense of power were significantly higher when other customers’ dress styles were formal rather than informal. Conversely, the effect of other customers’ dress styles was minimal among observers with a high sense of power. Results from this study indicate that approach behaviors mediate the impact of other customers’ dress styles on word-of-mouth intentions among customers with a low sense of power. The findings of this study help hospitality operators use dress codes to their advantage.

You can read “The Effects of Other Customers’ Dress Style on Customer’s Approach Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Sense of Power” from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

About Time: How Temporal Construal Changes Customer Satisfaction

Clock FaceTime works wonders–it’s a familiar saying that speaks to the fluid nature of an individual’s experiences, and how, as time passes, perceptions of those experiences often change. And yet, in customer satisfaction research, time has often been neglected, despite the fact it plays a significant part in how customers reflect on their service experience. In their article, “The Temporal Construal of Customer Satisfaction,” published in the November 2015 issue of Journal of Service Research, authors Gabriele Pizzi, Gian Luca Marzocchi, Chiara Orsingher, and Alessandra Zammit of the University of Bologna outline how customer satisfaction changes over time. In particular, the paper highlights how customer feedback shifts from focusing on concrete details to more abstract details as time passes.

The abstract:

Traditional customer satisfaction research considers satisfaction judgments invariant to temporal distance. We conduct two experiments and a field study to show that the amount of time elapsed between a service consumption experience and its evaluation influences satisfaction judgments. We show that consumers rely on concrete attributes to represent near-past (NP) experiences and on JSR Coverabstract attributes to represent distant-past (DP) experiences (i.e., different construal levels). The findings indicate that construal mechanisms generate intertemporal shifts in the importance of the attributes driving satisfaction over time (Study 1), in the weights assigned to abstract and concrete attributes of a past service experience (Study 2), and in overall satisfaction judgments when abstract and concrete attributes perform differently (Study 3). Overall, the results provide support for the idea that satisfaction judgments shift over time as a result of the different psychological mechanisms that are activated as a function of the time elapsing between the service experience and its evaluation. Managers are advised to adopt longitudinal approaches to customer satisfaction measurement: An immediate assessment to capture customers’ evaluations of the performance of the concrete details of the experience and a delayed assessment to measure customer satisfaction with more abstract and goal-related features of the experience.

You can read “The Temporal Construal of Customer Satisfaction” from Journal of Service Research by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Service Research? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!