Service Quality in Chain Hotels Book Report

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¶ … Guest Reviews

Although the international hotel industry is enormously competitive, brands such as Sofitel are able to charge a premium based on their consistent provision of high-quality services, accommodations and amenities. Maintaining these levels of high-quality services, though, is a challenging enterprise that demands constant management oversight and attention to details, and some Sofitel hotels appear to achieve this level of service better than others. This paper provides a review of the relevant literature and a content analysis of guest reviews to identify similarities and differences between the level of services being provided by two Sofitel hotels, one in London and the other in Bangkok. A series of recommendations is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Service Quality in Chain Hotels

Introduction

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The importance of service quality in the travel and tourism is well documented and there have been a number of theories developed over the years to help practitioners measure customer perceptions, including the North American and Nordic schools of thought. These theories have special significance for the travel and tourism industry where the consistent provision of high-quality services is a constant requirement. One chain that has succeeded in achieving such high-quality service delivery is the Sofitel hotel chain which forms the focus of this study. The objectives of this study were to review the relevant literature and analyze the perceptions of service quality in two Sofitel hotels (one in London, the other in Bangkok) based on guest reviews to determine key factors that affect guest satisfaction, motivation for travel, and hotel selection criteria. This analysis will be used to provide brand managers with recommendations concerning how the brand should be positioned and service quality should be managed across international boundaries. A series of recommendations based on this analysis is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

TOPIC: Book Report on Service Quality in Chain Hotels Assignment

Review and Analysis

Background and Overview

The Nordic school views service quality from a customer orientation that requires relationships to be forged throughout the service exchange process, which is regarded as equally important to the relationships themselves. The Nordic school maintains that "customer perceptions can be subjective as well as objective and that the subjectivity is socioeconomic-factor dependent" (Williams & Buswell 2003, p. 48). In sum, the Nordic school holds that service quality and personalized service is everyone's responsibility. By contrast, the North American school advocates standardization of customer service delivery but at a level that exceeds customer expectations. In order to ensure this is achieved, practitioners subscribing to the North American school have developed various instruments to measure customer satisfaction in order to identify problem areas and opportunities for improvement (Williams & Buswell 2003). Both of these schools of thought have special significance for the travel and tourism industry and can provide useful insights into customers' perception of service quality (Williams & Buswell 2003), and these issues are discussed further below as they relate to the Sofitel hotel chain.

The Sofitel hotel chain was created in 1963 by the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, together with investment from other banks as well as Air France (Endy 2004). The chain was subsequently acquired by the Accor Group in 1980 (Canals 2000). Other chains in the Accor Group include Mercure, Ibis and Formule 1 (Aharoni & Nachum 2000). The Sofitel hotel chain is well-known for the high quality of its services, furnishings and attention to detail. For example, Sofitel hotels feature the luxurious MyBed that specially made for the hotel group by French manufacturer, Epeda and which can be ordered by guests online through Sofitel's SoBoutique website as well as the same bed linens that are used in the hotel's guest rooms (Swengley 2006). In addition, Sofitel offers various items that are used to decorate their rooms including a brass Gatsby lamp from Sofitel St. James in London, a sculpture of a Buddha's hand from Sofitel Chicago as well as a glass pitcher and carafe from Sofitel Paris on its Web site. According to Swengley, "Fashion designer, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has even designed a quirky cushion with OK or KO embroidery for Sofitel that you can order online" (2006, p. 25). Clearly, Sofitel has placed a premium on providing top-level services in a comfortable and well-appointed environment, but as the Nordic school emphasizes, customer perceptions of quality can be both objective as well as subjective.

Analysis of Guest Reviews

To determine how former guests viewed their experiences at two Sofitel hotels, a summary of excerpts from the 30 most recent guests reviews for these hotels is provided in Tables 1 and 2 below followed by a content analysis to identify common themes and issues. This analytical approach is congruent with Riffe, Lacy and Fico (1998) who note, "Usually, content analysis involves drawing representative samples of content. The data collected in a quantitative content analysis are then usually analyzed to describe what are typical patterns or characteristics, or to identify important relationships among the variables measured" (p. 2).

Table 1

Excerpts from the Ten Most Recent Reviews for Sofitel London St. James

Review

May 26, 2011

This hotel was wonderful. The rooms were clean with all the amenities you need. The shower was fabulous as was the bed. The location was perfect. It is just blocks away from Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and Picadilly Circus tube is just up the street. Restaurants and convenience stores within very close walking distance. Overall, this is a great place to stay.

May 26, 2011

I stayed at this 5* hotel for a long weekend in March 2011. This hotel is permanently in the top 10 hotels in London on Trip Adviser. As usual for this level of hotel the service was excellent. My main concern was the low level of lighting in the room. It made it very difficult to read newspapers or books.

May 25, 2011

Perfect hotel! We stayed at the Sofitel St. James in maio/11 and our stay was spectacular. Highlight for every "my bed" which seems to have an imam who does not let up. Class service and F & B. perfect. Breakfast excellent! Perfect location for day and night!

May 24, 2011

They have a full buffet and will also cook whatever you want from their menu. Delicious! The concierge and staff are really helpful. With all of our wanderings we realized this hotel has the best location!!

May 18, 2011

Had the most amazing stay in London at this hotel. Booked a junior suite for 3 nights and apparently was upgraded to a premier suite without even asking. Suite had a separate living room, another TV, 2 bathrooms, and every little amenity you can think of. Bed was sumptuous. Very polite and efficient staff with every encounter.

May 18, 2011

It is an excellent location for Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, the Palladium, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square. Efficient and friendly reception staff. Excellent pianist in the evening. Tasteful decor. Good size room with all comforts catered for. Would definitely recommend and stay there again. A bit pricey

May 15, 2011

As usual, this hotel was excellent.... lovely room, beautiful decor, very professional staff, and good food at breakfast.

May 15, 2011

The staff was friendly and helpful. Even lent us umbrellas and held our luggage until late at night when we grabbed it to catch our late train to Scotland

May 13, 2011

My husband and I got an excellent rate for this hotel and if I could get that rate again then I would stay here every time that we visit the city.

The rooms are excellent and exceptionally clean which for me is vital. The bathrooms are lovely and ours had a separate shower and bath.

Our rate included breakfast and this was very enjoyable and in a very peaceful and relaxing setting. The bar I felt was overpriced and cocktails (although nice) were around £14 each which is more than in the top restaurants! All the staff were very friendly but the check in staff were a little aloof which came across as rude at times.

May 12, 2011

It is far the best experience we had in London in this category of hotels. Everything was perfect. The reception was fast and effective, the breakfast is fantastic and the restaurant provides a nice menu at affordable prices. On top of that the staff is very efficient.

May 12, 2001

Very smooth check-in and check-out, very nice with the iPod-dock, very nice with the espresso machine (however original Nespresso machines are easier to operate), very nice overhead shower, extremely good room service (with extra salad and bread and macaroons that was not even ordered). All in all a very pleasant stay

May 12, 2011

Actually it is regretful to sleep as you then not able to enjoy the great service. The staff does everything to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, without making the impression that only kings and presidents are welcome. Service and nice gesture are in small details; that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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