Undoubtedly, hotel companies, like all business units, aim to satisfy their customers, gain a loyal customer base, maximize their profits, and increase their market share. In order to achieve the above objectives, it is necessary to formulate a strategy that will aim at customer satisfaction through the quality of services provided. According to Meyer and Westerbarkey, “customer satisfaction in hotels is directly proportional to the quality of the hotel offered” (Meyer and Westerbakey, 1996, p. 186).
With the growing supply of accommodation services from hundreds of thousands of hotels worldwide, customers are realizing that they can meet their basic sleep and food needs very economically. However, the days when customers were content with just buying accommodation and a simple meal are long gone. The current customer of a hotel seeks and rightly demands – in addition to the satisfaction of his basic needs (sleep and food) – the taking of additional measures and the provision of additional services that will upgrade his simple stay in a pleasant process. Examples to understand these additional services could be the references to the largest quantity but also quality in the food, in the recreational services, in the comfort and friendliness of the hotel environment, in the security that is provided to it. Although it is very difficult to determine the customer satisfaction of a hotel due mainly to the variety of quality features, the predominance of quality in hotel services is now considered as the point of differentiation in the market.
As the tourism market grows rapidly, hotels that provide diversified services and products will be more competitive than those that argue low prices alone. For this reason, the management of each hotel should always have as its goal not only the satisfaction of the expectations of its customers but also their exceeding, without this of course meaning that this exceeding knows no limits. At this point, Meyer and Westerbarkey observe that “over-satisfying the requirements and expectations of a hotel business’s customers requires increased costs, but is not always profitable” (Meyer and Westerbakey, 1996, p. 186). The issue of customer expectations is also discussed on page 69 of the SETE presentation and specifically in paragraph 2.2.2. entitled “Gap of expectations and Value for Money”. I, therefore, considered it appropriate to refer in detail to the theory of “gaps” in customer satisfaction, based on the figure “expectations minus perceptions”.
According to Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry, during the provision and receipt of a service, there are five gaps between the provider and the recipient of the service, which affect the customer of a company when he evaluates the quality of the services provided. According to this theory, the five gaps are the following (Parasuraman et. Al., 1990, p.23):
- The difference between customers’ expectations for the services provided and the (different) perceptions of the management about what the customers expect.
- The difference between management’s perceptions of customer expectations and established quality standards.
- The difference between the quality standards established by the company and the services provided.
- The difference between the service that the company promised to offer and the service that it eventually offered.
- The difference between the expectations and the perceptions of the customers regarding the provided services.
In order to respond to the above discrepancies we can propose a model that illustrates the interdependence that must be developed between the above, in order for the hotel unit to develop the necessary conditions and the appropriate climate for the provision of quality services:
Customer strategy: The hotel business strategy should be customer-oriented. If the company’s strategy does not provide techniques for identifying, analyzing the customer’s needs, and measuring his satisfaction, it can lead to the creation of inefficient and -perhaps- unsuitable conditions for the provision of quality services.
Strategy – human resources: The strategy of the hotel unit should pay special attention to attracting and empowering its staff by implementing training programs and incentive methods so that the staff has active participation in the quality service processes, which are undoubtedly now considered the strong competitive advantage, as demonstrated by research.
Customer – production processes: All the physical means and activities of the business, such as the waiting and customer service areas in terms of comfort, cleanliness or the ability to serve quickly, should determine the capacity and policy of the company in order to deal with each customer with understanding, courtesy and a sense of responsibility.
Human resources – production processes: The hotel unit should have the appropriate means and procedures for the staff, in order to be able to meet the needs of both customers and staff. In order for the hotel staff to behave professionally to external customers, the management through the strategy should treat the employees accordingly, ie the perception should be developed that the staff is also an (internal) customer, as we have written about again.
Personnel – customer: It is known that the customer of a hotel business forms his perception of the services provided and consequently of the hotel unit itself from its contacts with various staff members. The level of quality that the hotel unit finally manages to deliver to its customer is determined by all those cases where the service mechanism is called to operate in the way in which it is committed to the customer. When the work of the staff produces services that make the customers feel satisfied, it is proven that when the customer decides to travel again, he will choose the hotel unit that he knows that some people are interested in him. Consequently, a good customer-staff relationship plays an important role in maintaining superiority over competitors.
1) SETE / https://www.greektourism2020.gr/fileadmin/GreekTourism2020/gt2020_documents/SETEbrochure%28low%292.pdf
2) Meyer, A. and Westerbakey, P. (1996). Measuring and Managing Hotel Guest Satisfaction, in Olsen, M., Gummesson, E., and Teare, R. (1996). Service Quality in Hospitality Organizations, Cassell, p. 185-196.
3) Zeithaml Valarie A., Parasuraman A., Berry Leonard L., Delivering Quality Service-Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations, The Free Press, New York, 1990.
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