Measuring Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction of the Hotels in Malaysia: Malaysian, Asian and Non-Asian Hotel Guests

Article excerpt

Given the increasing arrivals of international tourists to Malaysia, this research assessed the expectations and perceptions of service quality in Malaysia's hotels by applying a modified version of the SERVQUAL model. Comparisons among Malaysian hotel guests, hotel guests from other Asian countries, and non-Asian hotel guests were undertaken. The findings indicated, as a whole, that the hotel guests' perceptions of service quality provided by the hotel industry were lower than their expectations. The lowest expectations and perceptions were given by Malaysian hotel guests towards the hotels in Malaysia. Between Malaysian hotel guests and hotel guests from other Asian countries, there was no significant difference in the overall satisfaction levels for the sample as a whole. However, between Malaysian hotel guests and non-Asian hotel guests, the results showed that the overall customer satisfaction levels towards the hotel stay was significantly different for the sample as a whole.

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Service quality has been recognised as a key factor in differentiating service products. Customer satisfaction can be secured through high-quality products and services (Getty & Getty, 2003; Gupta & Chen, 1995; Tsang & Qu, 2000). Edvardsson (1996) highlighted that the concept of service should be approached from the customer's point of view, since it was his/her perception of the outcome that constituted the service. Customers may have different values and different grounds for assessment and, most of the time, they may perceive the same service in different ways.

The concept of service quality has been the subject of many research studies in variety of service industries; even the research attention towards hospitality industry has been growing. However, these research studies were mostly focused on Australia, Korea, the United States (US), and Europe (Atilgan, Akinci, & Aksoy, 2003; Davidson, 2003; Gabbie & O'Neill, 1996; Min & Min, 1997; Wong, Dean, & White, 1999; Worsfold, 1999). Only a minimal number of research studies related to service quality in the hospitality industry in the Malaysian context can be found throughout the review of literature.

Furthermore, today's tourism business environment and the multicultural diversity of international tourists points to the importance of developing a better understanding of the culturally different tourist (Reisinger & Turner, 1999). Previous studies reported that people from different cultures have different preferences, expectations and so travel consumption patterns (Wong & Kwong, 2003). Cultural differences in value orientations and social behaviour have direct impacts on tourist holiday experiences. The hosts' ability to respond effectively to a culturally different tourist was an important element determining positive tourist holiday experiences and satisfaction (Reisinger & Turner, 1999).

As mentioned by Camison (1996), poorness or non-existence of customer satisfaction measuring systems could cause the hotel companies to be lacking in market orientation. Attributes of the service and product that add value for the customer and increase his or her satisfaction might be unknown and that gives no guide to the hotel operators for improvement projects. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the expectations and the perceptions of service quality dimensions towards the hospitality industry in Malaysia from the hotel guests' perspective by applying a modified version of the SERVQUAL model (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988). This study has the following objectives:

* to examine and to compare relative importance attached by hotel guests in terms of their expectations and perceptions towards the service quality of the hotels in Malaysia according to the hotel guests' countries of residence (grouped according to geographical regions)

* to examine and to compare the levels of customer satisfaction towards their hotel stay in Malaysia according to the hotel guests' countries of residence (grouped according to geographical regions). …