Research methods for tourism and hospitality
Table of Contents
The hospitality industry is highly service-oriented with a low degree of tangibility. Almost all of the operations concerning a hotel or restaurant involve human interaction in the form of employee customer communication and interaction (Nadiri and Hussain, 2005). Moreover the customer has to use the services and products provided by the hotel or restaurant at the place and cannot be taken home. Due to the lack of a tangible product which is offered by the hotel or restaurant, the analyses of satisfaction of the customer needs to be based on the service provided by the hotel or restaurant. The quality of service is associated with the feeling developed in the minds of the customer based on the product of the service and whether the expectations of the customer have been met. Moreover the hotels and restaurant highly value repeat customers which can only be developed based on customer satisfaction.
McDonald’s is a fast food restaurant chain which operates a low cost model, with the unique selling proposition of offering quality and cost effective food to the customers who does not care for service from the employees. But even for McDonald’s, customer satisfaction is not only a consequence of the quality of the food provided but also of the minimum level of service expectations. McDonald’s also has to maintain some form of interaction and service to the customers so that they come back. It is necessary to evaluate the customer satisfaction (based on the service provided by the employees) and not the product alone.
To evaluate the aspects service quality provided by McDonalds to the customers and whether there are any significant differences from the expectations. The objectives of the research are as follows
- To critically evaluate the concept of and models of measuring service quality
- To analyse the satisfaction of the customers of McDonald’s based on the service and the product
- To recommend improvements in service quality in order to retain customers
Several researchers have analysed the concept of the quality of service and models for the measurement of analysing the customer satisfaction. One of the most important models developed by Parasuraman et. al., (1990) is the gap model or the SERVQUAL model. Organisation can utilise the gap model in order to analyse the customer satisfaction. The basis of the model is the evaluation of the difference between the expectations of the customers and the actual service levels.
Figure 1 – GAP model
(Source – Parasuraman et. al., (1990, page 59)
The above model indicates that the customer has a certain level of expectation from the service provider and when this is not met by the actual service provided by the organisation, there is a gap which needs be fulfilled. Moreover the researchers evaluated that there are gaps between the manager’s perceptions of customer expectations and when the manager perception is translated into the specifications of the service. The specifications of the service and the actual service could have mismatch which is another gap and need to be rectified. The employees working for an organisation would also have certain perceptions about the expectations of the customer which may not be the actual expectation. All these characteristics needs to be considered in order to evaluate the gap in the service delivery process and which can be met by enhancing the understanding and the expectations of the customer and developing proper quality of service.
In order to analyse the customer satisfaction and whether there is a gap between the expectation of the customer and the actual service delivered, it is necessary to evaluate the expectations and the perceptions of the customer. This can be done by conducting a survey on the customers of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant. Moreover the gap model identified that there are significant mismatch between the employee and management perceptions of customer expectations. Hence it also needs to be analysed what are the employees and the managers perceptions relating to the expectations of the customer and whether the actual service offered by the employees and the managers are in line with the customer expectations. If it is found that the customer expectations are higher or there is a mismatch, it is necessary to build this gap so that the customer expectations can be fulfilled.
A positivist philosophy is proposed, mainly because the customer expectations and the perceptions need to be analysed in a scientific manner rather than qualitative manner. A deductive form of research is proposed since a theoretical or a conceptual model of analysing service quality and customer expectations developed by Parasuraman et. al., is utilised. The need here is to analyse the model and utilise it in the research based on the data collected. The strategy of the research design will be based on quantitative methods since a survey needs to be conducted which will collect numerical data from the customer’s, which will then be analysed using statistical techniques.
To conduct a survey it is also necessary to develop a sample which can actually represent the population under the study. The population in the study is the customer base of McDonald’s restaurant in London. The researcher has taken permission to conduct a small study up on the customers of McDonald’s restaurant in London from the managers. A convenient method of sampling has been adopted due to the limitations in terms of time frame and other resources. In order to conduct this survey, the researcher will approach the customers and collect data from the customers. A sample size is 10 is assumed based on the convenience of the researcher. The data needs to be collected using a structured questionnaire in order to identify the customer’s expectations and perceptions relating to the quality of the food, the service provided by the employees and other aspects. Next the employees and managers are also to be surveyed using the same questionnaire. The analysis of the data is conducted based on the difference between the expectations of the customers and the employees of McDonald’s.
The ethical aspects of conducting the research have been completely and thoroughly fulfilled whereby no personal data has been collected and all the participants were assured of complete secrecy and confidentiality. The permission was taken from the management of McDonalds in order to conduct a survey from the customers and the employees. No data collected from the survey has been divulged to the management of the company and the publication has been done in such a way that no participant can be identified.
- Nadiri, H. and Hussain, K., (2005) “Diagnosing the zone of tolerance for hotel services”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 15 Iss: 3, pp.259 – 277
- Nadiri, H. and Hussain, K., (2005) “Perceptions of service quality in North Cyprus hotels”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 17 Iss: 6, pp.469 – 480
- Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A. and Berry, L. L., (1990), “Delivering service quality, balancing customer perceptions and expectations”, Simon and Schuster publications