Academic journal article IUP Journal of Management Research

Developing and Validating an Instrument for Measuring Online Service Quality in the Tourism Sector

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Management Research

Developing and Validating an Instrument for Measuring Online Service Quality in the Tourism Sector

Article excerpt

Introduction

The contribution of tourism sector to the economic development of India has been recognized widely due to its contribution to the balance of payments and employment. Tourism sector is the second largest foreign exchange earner in India (WTTC India, 2012). But the Indian government very lately noticed a crucial role of tourism expansion for economic development. In 2002, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) paid considerable attention by developing campaigns for the promotion of tourism sector, including, for example, incredible India' campaign. Nowadays, India is one of the most important countries as far as international tourism is concerned.

Since the tourism sector is based on information, each tourism service provider must organize their data in an easily accessible and attractive way. Retention of the customers is a major challenge in today's competitive market and unsatisfied customers may easily switch from one service provider to other service providers. So it is necessary to provide quality services to the customers. But it is not possible to serve customers only through traditional means of distribution. Therefore, many tourism organizations are going online to sell more services with the help of ICT. Moreover, they also expect to reach and persuade their potential customers through comprehensive, modified and up-to-date travel services via the Internet. Therefore, the tourism sector is changing with the growth of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and these changes mainly affect the methods through which the tourism products and services are communicated and distributed to the customers around the world for better satisfaction of tourists.

Further, "satisfaction is a person's feelings of pleasure or disappointment resulting from comparing a product's perceived performance (or outcome) in relation to his or her expectations" (Kotler, 2000). Customer satisfaction is a collective outcome of perception, evaluation and psychological reactions to the consumption experience with a product or service (Yi, 1990). In marketing literature, the disconfirmation theory emerges as the primary foundation for satisfaction model (Oliver, 1980; Churchill and Surprenant, 1982; and McKinney et al., 2002). According to this theory, satisfaction is determined by the discrepancy between perceived performance and cognitive standards such as expectations and desires.

Thus, satisfaction is something related with post-purchase evaluation. Postpurchase intention implies that the consumer will purchase services and products again from the same suppliers (Zeithaml et al., 1996). On the other hand, customer satisfaction can be defined as a result of cognitive and affective evaluation where perceived satisfaction is compared to already set standards (Expectations). Figure 1 depicts a customer satisfaction model.

The customer satisfaction model shown in Figure 1 explains that when the customers compare their perceptions of actual products or services performance with the expectations, then the feeling of satisfaction arises. Any discrepancies between the expectations and the performance create the disconfirmation.

e-Service Quality

Many authors have developed and modified various scales of e-service quality. Dabholkar (1996) conducted a research work on the dimensions of e-service quality focusing on website design and argued that seven dimensions of e-service quality can be illustrated. Lociacono et al. (2000) developed an e-service quality scale called WEBQUAL, which is composed of 12 dimensions. Similarly, Yoo and Donthu (2001) developed four dimensions scale (SITEQUAL) to measure online service quality of websites. Zeithaml et al.(2002) developed a framework consisting of 11 dimensions to be used in evaluating the delivery of e-service quality, which are access, ease of navigation, efficiency, flexibility, reliability, personalization, security/ privacy, responsiveness, assurance/trust, site aesthetics and price knowledge. …

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