Service Quality Assessment of 4-Star Hotels in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Mohsin, Asad, Ryan, Chris, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Today's hotel guests require a high quality experience from their stay in a hotel. They expect quality service, product, atmosphere, entertainment, value for money and prefer hotels with a 'service personality' rather than those perceived as offering a commodity. This study discusses the significance of service quality and customer satisfaction, and undertakes a service quality assessment of hotels in Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia as perceived by their customers. The study analyses and discusses the response of 149 participants about their expectations from a stay in 4-star hotels. The paper suggests the value of delineating subsample groups based upon patterns of variance found in the evaluation scale. Undertaking this found that 10% of the sample expressed degrees of dissatisfaction above average and it is suggested that these complainers may act as a bellwether for management. It was found that this group tended to be male, Australian and under 29 years of age. It was also found that females differed statistically significantly from males in their scores, but the issue of whether this is a "real difference' or a response set is discussed.
Within the literature relating to hospitality and catering, significant attention has been paid to issues of service quality. The reasons for this are obvious in that customer satisfaction is a determinant of profitability and like other service industries hospitality research is focusing on the relationship between customer satisfaction, repeat sales and business profits. In an environment of increasing competition O'Neill, Watson and McKenna (1994) argue that international demand for products and a service no longer happen automatically but have to be created. Getty and Getty (2003) state that no matter how much effort is placed into producing quality service, it is the perception of customers that really matters. Suggesting that businesses typically lose 50% of their customers every five years, Mack, Mueller, Crotts and Broderick (2000) stress the need for the businesses to talk to their customers, to get to know their customers' expectations and build efforts to retain them and sustain profits. The argument that service quality impacts business profits has long been apparent (Baker & Crompton, 2000; Zeithaml & Bitner, 2000) and thus it is argued that the hotels of Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia are no exception.
Product planning and product quality are prerequisites for customer satisfaction. Substandard product and poor quality service are not likely to elicit satisfaction from customers (Mohsin, 2003). On the other hand, despite agreement on the importance of quality, there is no consensus among authors and researchers on its accepted standard definition. Likewise hospitality managers from different departments can variously view the concept of quality. Nevertheless, it is important to espouse some measure to assess what customers think about the organisation and use that information to improve current services. In the context of perceptions of lodging, Getty and Getty (2003) summarise a number of studies including the original studies of Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985) to state that quality identified the following dimensions as possessing importance:
Tangibility. Tangibility refers to the physical characteristics associated with the service encounter. In a lodging or hotel context, this consists of the general appearance and functionality of the property.
Reliability. Reliability means consistently performing the service right the first time. It is the extent to which employees can be depended on to perform services correctly and consistently.
Responsiveness. Responsiveness relates to the willingness that employees exhibit to promptly and efficiently solve customer requests and problems.
Competence. Competence refers to employees possessing the required skills and knowledge necessary to perform the service adequately. …