Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

A Study of Expected and Perceived Service Quality in Croatian and Slovenian Hotel Industry

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

A Study of Expected and Perceived Service Quality in Croatian and Slovenian Hotel Industry

Article excerpt

Introduction

Providing high quality services and maintaining customers' satisfaction are important factors that increase competitiveness and lead to the business success (Anderson et al., 1997; Parasuraman, 2002). Thus, understanding hotel guests and heaving in mind the importance of hotel service attributes are important criterions for gaining competitive advantages in tourism and hospitality marketplace (Baloglu et al., 2003; Tsaur and Lin, 2004).

A literature review indicates that studies related to hotel service quality in South Central Europe are rather limited (Snoj and Mumel, 2002; Markovic, 2003; Markovic and Raspor, 2010). What is more, existing studies have not compared expected and perceived service quality in Croatian and Slovenian hotel industry in such an extent as it was done in present research. Therefore, the present research aims to contribute to the existing literature in this field.

The focus point of this research was guests' expectations and perceptions of service quality in Croatian and Slovenian hotel industry. The specific aims were to assess the level of guests' expectations and perceptions, to identify main factors of expected and perceived service quality and to determine potential differences between Croatian and Slovenian hotels.

The paper is organized in two parts. First, a brief conceptual background of main concepts of interest is provided. In the second part, results of empirical research are presented, followed by discussion and conclusion.

Literature review

In order to set the research framework, in following sections the basic concepts of present research are explained.

Hotel guests' expectations and perceptions

A review of literature suggests that customer expectations have been consistently acknowledged as the basis on which service quality and customer satisfaction judgments are formed (Parasuraman et al., 1988; Oliver, 1997). Thus, to improve the service quality in hotel industry, it is important to understand hotel guests' expectations.

Hotel service providers should be aware of the fact that, their customers may use multiple types of expectations when evaluating hotel service. There are two most often referred to types of expectations, namely predictive expectations and normative expectations (Coye, 2004; Tam, 2005). Predictive expectations are generally defined as customer's beliefs about the level of service that a service provider would be likely to offer (Coye, 2004; Tam, 2005). These expectations represent customer's predictions about what is likely to happen and are frequently used as a standard of reference against which satisfaction judgments are made (Churchill and Surprenant, 1982). Normative expectations are generally conceptualized as customer's ideal level of service, i.e. what customers believe a service provider should offer (Coye, 2004; Tam, 2005). This type of expectations has been used as the standard against which customers evaluate service quality (Zeithaml et al., 1993). While seemingly distinct, these two perspectives of expectations are often used interchangeably.

Furthermore, Teas (1993a, b) believed that expectations can have six, somewhat different interpretations: service attribute importance (expectations represent levels of importance), forecasted performance (expectations represent predictions of performance customers would expect), ideal performance (expectations represent optimal performance), deserved performance (expectations represent the level of performance that "should be" delivered), equitable performance (expectations represent the level of performance in comparison with the costs) and minimum tolerable performance (expectations represent "must be" performance).

Customers form their expectations based on the provider's promotional activities, previous experience, word-of-mouth, first impression (Zeithaml and Bitner, 2003). Culture (e.g. customer's cultural values) is also one of the factors that determine customer's expectations in the service sector (Kueh and Voon, 2007). …

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