Dimensions of Chinese Culture Values in Relation to the Hotel Dining Experience

Article excerpt

The ability of management to understand their customers is an important part of any successful business and this is particularly true within the hospitality industry. Globalisation has created a demand for international hoteliers to meet the needs of customers from different cultures. This paper looks particularly at the Taiwanese/ Chinese market, the dining experience and the critical factors that assist managers in meeting the needs of this market. The research involved the completion of 1053 Taiwanese guest surveys in four different types of restaurants in a five-star international hotel in Kaohsiung city in Taiwan. Results showed that "cleanliness" and "quality, taste and freshness of food" are the most significant factors influencing the evaluation of the dining experience. The analysis explores the dimensions of cultural values in the context of dining and uses structural equation modelling to develop a causal model which gives an insight into restaurant service delivery. Results from the analysis show a positive relationship between dimensions, suggesting that the concept of "face giving", "social status" and "harmony with people" have an impact on guests' dining experiences.

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It has been said that "the only constant is change". This saying is just as true within the hospitality industry as it is in any other endeavour in life. Over recent years there has been a growing diversity within the hospitality industry; much of this has been fuelled by the liberalisation of international travel. China is projected to become Asia's largest outbound market (Pacific Asia Travel Association, 2001). It grew as much as 16% from 2000 to 2001 with 12 million Chinese travelling overseas. The World Tourism Organisation has forecasted an annual growth of 12.5% from 2000 to 2020 (1999). This is in a large extent the result of intergovernmental agreements permitting more freely available visas. Emigration has also added to a growing cultural mix in many parts of the world; for example, Chinese-ethnic people were the second largest immigrant group to Australia after those from the British Isles and the number of offshore visas granted to Chinese students increased by 51% in 2001-2002 (Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, 2002a, 2002b). To cope with this changing environment hospitality industry management requires an understanding of the underlying cultural perspectives of their guests. This paper looks particularly at the Taiwanese/Chinese market, the dining experience and the critical factors that assist managers in meeting the needs of this market.

Literature Review

Understanding the dining experience within the hospitality industry is a complex process. Numbers of researchers have commented that the heart of this complexity is due to the extent of customer participation in the service process (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985; Kandampully, 1997). Delivery of superior quality service and meals is a more technical part of the overall dining experience. The guests' perception of service is strongly influenced by an emotional and experiential reaction from the service encounter with service providers. Nightingale (1979) suggested a model which illustrated the relationship between the provider's service system and the customer's service experience. In that model the service system was refined in response to customer feedback, suggesting that service quality exists only in the perceptions of the customer, not in what service providers believe to be good or bad (Stewart & Johns, 1995; Kandampully, 1997). As a result, understanding customer's needs about service delivery becomes essential to the success of a restaurant business. The service system is redesigned in response to the feedback of customer satisfaction, suggesting that service quality exists only in the perception of the customer, not in what service providers believe to be good or bad (Stewart & Johns, 1995; Kandampully, 1997). …