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Alternative accommodation market in pondicherry a study of tourists’ expectations and experiences using servqual

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  • 1. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 –(IJM) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)ISSN 0976 – 6367(Print)ISSN 0976 – 6375(Online)Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012), pp. 08-16 IJM© IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijm.html ©IAEMEJournal Impact Factor (2012): 3.5420 (Calculated by GISI)www.jifactor.com ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION MARKET IN PONDICHERRY: A STUDY OF TOURISTS’ EXPECTATIONS AND EXPERIENCES USING SERVQUAL N. Gunasekaran1, Sangeeta Peter, Jijo George and S.Victor Anandkumar Department of Management Studies Pondicherry University, Puducherry – 605014 1 Corresponding Author Doctoral research scholar Department of Management Studies Pondicherry University Puducherry – 605 014 Email: aaapuducherry@gmail.comABSTRACTBackground: Alternative Accommodation market refers to private homes that are available forcommercial use for tourists. Such non-traditional accommodation businesses are becomingpopular with tourists to Pondicherry.Purpose: The purpose of this research study is to assess the gap between tourists’ expectationsand experiences in the Alternative Accommodation market in Pondicherry.Methodology: This is an empirical study using primary data collected from guests at AlternativeAccommodation enterprises using a structured questionnaire consisting of a 5-point Likert Scale.The data collection instrument is designed using the ServQual model.Findings: The findings reveal the performance of Alternative Accommodation on the ServQualdimensions. This study identifies the gap between expectation and actual experience of thetourists in Alternative Accommodation and highlights the aspects to improve upon.Practical Implications: The findings will be useful to the managers to fine tune their product,prioritize their service offerings in order to adapt to the expectations of the tourists. The resultsof this study can also help other groups such as individual entrepreneurs and self-help groups(SHGs) who seek to enter this market. 8
  • 2. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)Originality/Value: Alternative Accommodation market in India is unconventional and under-researched. This study illustrates the use of ServQual in studying this segment and providesinsights on the relationship between tourists’ expectations and experiences.Keywords: Alternative Accommodation, tourists’ satisfaction, tourists’ expectation, tourists’ perception, ServQual, Gap analysis, Pondicherry.INTRODUCTIONHotels are considered as a traditional type of tourist accommodation (Radder and Wang, 2006).However tourists’ are increasingly opting for alternative accommodation which refers to guesthouses, commercial homes and service apartments. These are aimed to provide short termlodging options to tourists on a paid basis (Gunasekaran and Anandkumar, 2012). This paperaims to identify the gap between tourists’ expectation and experience in the Alternativeaccommodation market in Pondicherry.Pondicherry is a small town located in the South-East coast of India with a history dating back tothe second century. Known for its French connection, Aurobindo Ashram, heritage buildings andbeaches, it attracts tourists from world over. Apart from the traditional hotels, Pondicherry hasbeen witnessing a growth in alternative accommodation (Gunasekaran and Anandkumar, 2012).LITERATURE REVIEWAccommodation is an important aspect of a destination’s offering (Henning and Willemse, 1999)and plays an important role in the destination experience. Lodging options for a tourist rangefrom traditional hotels to alternative accommodations. The increasing role of alternativeaccommodation providers was predicted by Reynolds and Emenheiser (1996). Changingpreferences of customers (Dawson and Brown, 1998), increase in competition, fragmentedmarket, and growth in communication technology (Novelli, 2005; Scarinci and Richins, 2008)were the reasons cited for the growth of alternative accommodations.An understanding of the alternative accommodation and classification of the same has beenprovided by researchers (Foxley, 2001; Canwell and Sutherland, 2003; Professional Associationof Inn keepers International (PAII), 2009). There are three types of Alternative Accommodation:Service Apartments, Guest houses and Commercial homes. Commercial homes have beenfurther classified into Home Stay, Bed and Breakfast Inn, Bed and Breakfast Cottages, Bed andBreakfast Hotels and Country Inn. Service Apartments are self contained units with additionalservices and aim at providing short term stay (Foxley, 2001). Guest houses have limited numberof rooms and facilities (Canwell and Sutherland, 2003). Commercial homes on the other handrefer to a type of alternative accommodation where-in a guest stays with the host, in latter’shome on a paid basis (Lynch, 2005; Lynch, McIntosh and Tucker, 2009; McIntosh, Lynch,Sweeney, 2010). 9
  • 3. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)Research indicates an increase in the popularity and growth of Alternative Accommodations(Dawson and Brown, 1998; Ingram, 2002; PAII, 2005). In India, particularly Pondicherry,despite the growth of Alternative Accommodation there is no empirical study conducted on theTourists’ expectation and experience of Alternative Accommodation. This study aims to fill thatvoid.Customer satisfaction is the result of subjective comparison of expectation and perception(Oliver, 1981; Oh, 1999). Expectations predicts what should happen (Teare, 1998), are beliefsagainst which customers judge the performance and is influenced by customers needs, staffpromises, word of mouth communication, and past experience (Zeithaml and Bitner, 2000). Acustomers perception is affected by image, price, service encounter and evidence of service(Ugboma et al., 2004; Radder and Wang, 2006). A Visitor’s experience with accommodation isessential for understanding their satisfaction (McIntosh and Siggs, 2005). In specialistaccommodation a study by McIntosh and Siggs, 2005 listed five factors namely uniqueness ofthe environment, personalized attention, homely ambience, quality, and value added informationbased on which gusts will evaluate their experience in specialist accommodation.RESEARCH METHODOLOGYThis is a descriptive study based on primary data collected using a structured questionnaire,through the survey method at the alternative accommodations. The ServQual model(Parasuraman, et. al. 1985) was used to develop the questionnaire. The ServQual dimensions oftangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy were adapted for this study asappearance, ability to perform, willingness to help, knowledge and courtesy and caringindividual attention respectively. The tourists were asked to indicate their response on a Fivepoint Likert scale with ‘5’ representing a strong agreement, ‘1’ indicating a strong disagreementand ‘3’ indicating a neutral opinion. The sample comprised 51 tourists. The sampling methodused was convenience sampling. The data was collected during Q1, 2012.DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGSProfile characteristicsTable 1 lists the profile of the respondents namely their demographic and travel characteristics.The guests opting for alternative accommodation are young, well educated, and have moderateincome. They are generally first time visitors on a holiday accompanied by friends looking forbudget accommodation. 56.9% indicated that alternative accommodation was their firstexperience in the present trip. 10
  • 4. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012) Table-1. Sample profile Demographic characteristics Travel characteristics Age % Visit Status % • 20-29 74.5 • First visit 74.5 • 30-39 7.8 • Second visit 5.9 • 40-49 13.7 • More than two visits 19.6 • 50-59 3.9 Purpose % Country % • Holiday 94.1 • Wellness Tourism • India 90.2 (Yoga) 3.9 • International 9.8 • Leisure / Fun 2.0 Employment_Status % Travel with % • Govt. 16.0 • Alone 9.8 • Private companies 8.0 • Friends 78.4 • Business 23.0 • Business Partner 9.8 • Others 4.0 • Family / Relatives 2.0 Education_Level % Stay % • Schooling 7.8 • 2-3 days 41.2 • College 23.6 • 3-4 days 56.9 • University 43.1 • more than 4 days 2.0 • Professionals 25.5 Budget % Income % • < USD 40 49.0 • < USD6000 p.a. 7.8 • USD 40-60 9.8 • USD6000-10000 p.a. 41.2 • USD 60-80 31.4 • USD10000-14000 p.a. 41.2 • > USD 80 9.8 • > 14000 p.a. 9.8 AA Facility % • First time 56.9 • More than once 43.1 11
  • 5. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012) Table 2: Expectation – Experience Gap TableVariables Average Expectations Average Experiences Gap Type of DeviationModern 4 4 0 NilamenitiesVisually 3.98 3.57 0.41 NegativeappealingSmart staffs 4.49 4.1 0.39 NegativeHost promise 4.06 4.94 -0.88 PositiveGuests’ probe 4.24 3.59 0.65 NegativesolvingFirst time itself 3.94 4.45 -0.51 PositiveService on time 3.92 4.02 -0.1 PositiveError free 4.02 3.37 0.65 NegativeserviceService perform 4.41 4.8 -0.39 PositivePrompt service 4.63 3.31 1.32 NegativeWilling to help 3.82 3.55 0.27 NegativeResponse to 3.63 4.78 -1.15 PositiveguestsStaff behavior 3.86 4.12 -0.26 PositiveSafety 4.24 3.59 0.65 NegativeCourteous 4.22 3.88 0.34 NegativeKnowledge to 3.8 3.39 0.41 NegativereplyIndividual 4 3.86 0.14 Negative 12
  • 6. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)attentionTime convenient 4.76 3.45 1.31 NegativeHost attention 4.25 4.02 0.23 NegativeBest interest 3.8 4.04 -0.24 PositiveUnderstand 3.96 3.47 0.49 Negativespecific needsIn order to identify the gap between the tourist expectations and experiences, the differencebetween the respective mean was calculated. Table 2 details the gap between the tourists’expectation and experience. Of the 21 variables studied, the variable modern amenities showedno deviation. The mean value of the experiences of seven variables namely Host promise, Staffskillfulness, Service on time, Service performance, Response to guests, Staff behavior, Bestinterest was higher than the mean expectations. The score of the mean expectations on thethirteen variables namely visually appealing, smart staff, guests problem solving, error freeservice, prompt service, willingness to help, safety, courteous, knowledge to reply, individualattention, time convenient, host attention, understand specific needs was higher than the meanexperience.To evaluate the gaps in tourists’ satisfaction with the alternative accommodation enterprises, the21 variables were grouped under the five ServQual dimensions namely Appearance, Ability toperform, Willingness to Help, Knowledge and Courtesy, and Caring individual attention. Table 3displays the mean scores on the ServQual dimensions. Table 3: Mean Scores on ServQual Dimensions DIMENSIONS EXPECTATIONS EXPERIENCES APPEARANCE 4.16 3.89 ABILITY TO PERFORM 4.11 4.02 WILLINGNESS TO HELP 3.89 4.01 KNOWLEDGE AND COURTESY 4.14 4.03 CARING INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION 4.17 3.74 13
  • 7. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)A radar chart (Figure 1) was generated based on the mean scores on ServQual dimensions APPEARANCE 4.2 4.1 4 3.9 CARING 3.8 ABILITY TO INDIVIDUAL 3.7 PERFORM ATTENTION 3.6 EXPECTATIONS 3.5 EXPERIENCES KNOWLEDGE WILLINGNESS AND COURTESY TO HELP Figure 1: Expectation – Experience Gap AnalysisFigure 1 reveals that gap exists on two ServQual dimensions of Appearance and Caring,individual attention.DISCUSSION OF RESULTSThis study shows that the guests’ expected the alternative accommodation enterprises to haveconvenient operating hours, be visually appealing, replete with modern amenities. The staffswere expected to be smart, being able to understand their needs and provide personalized,individualized services. However gaps were found in the above mentioned areas. The alternativeaccommodation market is still at its infancy and is an entrepreneurial/ small business venture inPondicherry. The employees are not professionally trained and have basic educationalqualification. This probably explains why the host/ employees failed to understand the Guests’needs and provide individualized services.SUGGESTIONS AND CONCLUSIONTo improve the performance it is suggested that the employees be professionally trained. Thiswill help the employees understand the customers’ needs, their point of view and offerpersonalized services. Quality of service can be used to differentiate one alternativeaccommodation from another. Hence aspects of service quality like efficiency, understandability,appearance, language skills and politeness should be stressed upon. Guests who are satisfied with 14
  • 8. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012)their stay are likely to become repeat customers and are likely to give positive word of mouthpublicity.The findings concerning the alternative accommodation market in Pondicherry will be useful tothe managers to fine tune their product, prioritize their service offerings in order to adapt to theexpectations of the tourists. The results of this study can also help other groups such asindividual entrepreneurs and self-help groups (SHGs) who seek to enter this market.REFERENCES 1. Canwell, D., & Sutherland, J. (2003). Leisure and Tourism, Cheltanham: Nelson Thornes 2. Dawson, C. P., & Brown, T. L. (1988). B & Bs: A matter of choice. The Cornell H.R.S. Quarterly, 29(5), 17-21. 3. Foxley, S. (2001). Serviced apartments in the UK – a growth sector?, Journal of Property Investment & Finance, 19(1), 79 – 89. 4. Gunasekaran, N., & Anandkumar, V. (2012). Factors of influence in choosing alternative accommodation: A study with reference to Pondicherry, a coastal heritage town, In: 1st World Conference on Business, Economics and Management, Antalya, Turkey and accepted for publication in Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences. 5. Henning, R., & Willemse, C. (1999). Effective guest house management. Kenwyn: Juta & Co. 6. Ingram, G. (2002). Motivations of farm tourism hosts and guests in the South West Tapestry Region, Western Australia: A phenomenological study. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 2(1), 1-12. 7. Lynch, P. (2005). The commercial home enterprise and host: A United Kingdom perspective. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 24(4), 533–553. 8. Lynch, P., McIntosh, A., & Tucker, H. (2009). Commercial homes: An international perspective. Oxon: Routledge. 9. McIntosh, A., Lynch, P.A. and Sweeney, M. (2010). ‘My Home is my Castle’: Defiance of the Commercial Home Stay Host in Tourism’, Journal of Travel Research, 20(1), 1- 11. 10. McIntosh A.J, Siggs A. (2005). An Exploration of the Experiential Nature of Boutique Accommodation. Journal of Travel Research, 44, 74-81. 11. Novelli, M. (2005). Niche Tourism: Contemporary issues, trends and cases. Butterworth- Heinemann. 12. Oh H. (1999). Service quality, customer satisfaction, and customer value: A holistic perspective Hospitality Management 18 67-82. 13. Oliver, R.L., (1981). Measurement and evaluation of satisfaction processes in retail settings. Journal of Retailing 57(3), 25-48. 14. Parasuraman, A., Zeithamal, V.A and Berry, L.L. (1985). SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring customer perceptions of service. Journal of Retailing, 64(Spring), 12- 40. 15. Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) (2005). BandB Industry Facts and Figures: Industry Overview. PAII. 15
  • 9. International Journal of Management (IJM), ISSN 0976 – 6502(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6510(Online),Volume 3, Issue 3, September- December (2012) 16. Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) (2009). Frequently asked questions: Are there different types of B&Bs?, Retrieved February 10, 2009, from http://www.paii.org/paii_faqs.asp. 17. Radder, L., & Wang, Y. (2006). Dimensions of guest house service: Managers perceptions and business travellers expectations, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 18(7), 554-562. 18. Reynolds, J., & Emenheiser, D. (1996, March). Marketing issues related to the senior market segment of the bed and breakfast industry. In: 4th International Conference for Keepers of the Inn, San Antonio, Texas. 19. Scarinci, J., & Richins, H. (2008 ). Specialist lodging in the USA: Motivations of bed and breakfast accommodation guests, Tourism, 56(3), 271-282. 20. Teare, R.E (1998). Interpreting and Responding to Customer Needs. Journal of Workplace Learning, 10(2), 76-94. 21. Ugboma, C, Ibe, C. and Ogwude, I,C, (2004). Service Quality Measurements in ports of a developing economy: Nigerian ports survey. Managing Service Quality, 14(6), 487-95 22. Zeithamal, V.A and Bitner, N.J. (2000). Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm, McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y. 16

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