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Concepts of Service Quality Measurement in Hotel Industry

The existing trend of complete quality management in hotel industry ensures the chievement of competitive advantage of hotel companies and is therefore the subject of contemporary research into service quality in hotel industry. The concept and the conceptual model of service quality is indispensable if we wish to understand the genesis of service quality and potential gaps in quality. The aim of this paper is to show the importance of service quality in hotel industry from both the conceptual standpoint and that of service quality measurement.

The paper describes the most common criteria for measuring service quality, namely the model of internal service quality and the SERVQUAL model. The shown results are those of quantitative and qualitative application of such models in hotels. Key words: Quality, Service, Hotel industry, Measurement criteria 81 EKON. MISAO PRAKSA DBK. GOD WI. (2007) BR. 1. (81-98) Gritnit,J. : CONCEPTS OF SERVICE… INTRODUCTION The domination of the service sector today is confirmed by the fact that 70% of the world GDP is realized in the service sector. The same sector sees the concentration of 70% of workforce.

In order to ensure and keep the quality expected by todays customer/tourist, we need to differentiate two aspects of quality in general with articular attention to tourism, namely: design quality and the quality of conformity with design. 1 The design quality is a concept implying the presentation of products/ services directed to the needs of the clients. The hotel company can satisfy the demands of the client (tourist) only if they are included in its design, i. e. in order to hotel. The hotels do market research in order to determine who their customers are and which of their demands require special attention.

The quality of conformity with the design completes the first aspect because it represents the level to which the roduct/service meets the demands of the market. The quality represents the satisfaction of the client’s needs and in order to achieve it and keep it in time, we not only need a continuous research into the demands of the clients but also of our own capabilities. Such an approach would ensure the pursuing of constant improvements according to the demands of the clients. The harsh competition on tourist market requires the development of a new approach to management known as TQM – Total Quality Management.

When introducing the quality management system, hotel companies use various approaches adapted to their business conditions. The following part of the paper describes the most common service quality measurement criteria, in particular the model of internal service quality and the SERVQUAL model. The paper presents a detailed analysis of arguments that have contributed to a high positioning of the SERVQUAL model among the various ways to measure service quality. 2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Service quality is a way to manage business processes in order to ensure total satisfaction to the customer on all levels (internal and external).

It is an Oakland, J. S. , op. cit. , p. 10. , in: Tourism and hospitality management, no. 1 Faculty f Tourist and Hospitality Management OpatiJa, OpatiJa. 82 approach that leads to an increase of competitiveness, effectiveness and flexibility of the entire company. 2 Benefits arising from a high quality are reflected in a more competitive positioning on the market, but also in a better business result. This statement can be proved by measuring the increase of profitability and market share.

The results of a research carried out in the USA on a sample of 2600 companies in the period between 1987 and 2002, show a direct connection between the level of quality of goods and services and their financial performances. As a matter of fact, it was observed that all indicators of success of a company, like market share, return on investments, property turnover coefficient, show significantly more value in system is possible only if we monitor and analyze the demands of the customers, as well as define and control the process and implement constant improvements.

Quality is a complex term, made up of several elements and criteria. All quality elements or criteria are equally important in order to obtain one hundred percent quality. If only one element of quality is missing, the complete quality of product or service is impossible to obtain. Besides the mentioned general elements of quality, the product or service have to satisfy specific elements of quality, according to the demands of the profession in their pertaining activity.

Today quality is the result of growing and increasingly diverse needs of the consumers, along with a highly increasing competition, market globalization and the development of modern technology. Problems in service quality measurement arise from a lack of clear and measurable parameters for the determination of quality. It is not the case with product quality since products have specific and measurable indicators like urability, number of defective products and similar, which make it relatively easy to determine the level of quality.

Oakland, J. S. , foreword. , in: Tourism and hospitality management, no. 1 Faculty of Tourist and Hotel Management OpatiJa, OpatiJa. Grove S. J. , and R. P. Fisk, The impact of other customers on service experiences: a critical incident examination of getting along, Journal of Retailing, 73, 1997, p. 63-85. 3 2 Table 1 . General elements of product and service quality Dimension Availability Guarantee Communication Expertise Standard Behaviour Flaw

Duration Engagement Humanity Effects Reliability Responsibility Safety Definition Product or service is easily available The personnel is polite, kind and educated Clients receive information on all products and services and their changes in the language they can understand The personnel has the necessary knowledge and skills to produce and sell products or provide services Products and services are up to the standard Kindness, good manners and care of the personnel towards clients Each quality that is not defined and affects the satisfaction of the client Performance, ervice result or product last longer The personnel shows understanding and gives individual attention to each client Product or service are provided so as to preserve dignity and self-respect of the client Product or service produces the expected effect Capability to sell products or provide services in a discreet and reliable manner Definite duration of product sale or providing of services Product or service are provided in the safest possible way, without any kind of risk or danger (Quality management in tourism and hotel industry), Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management, OpatiJa, 2002, pp. 12-13. The most important characteristics of services, separating them neatly from products, are the impossibility to separate production from consumption; the impossibility to store services; their non material quality; transience and heterogeneity. The impossibility to separate production from consumption and the impossibility to store services implicitly includes a simultaneous production and consumption, which is characteristic for most services. Since the services are performances, ideas or concepts rather than objects, they cannot be seen in the same way as products and are, therefore, characterized by heir being immaterial.

Furthermore, it is impossible to preserve services, which raises the issue of harmonizing offer and demand for services. The same service can be provided by different persons in an institution, and each of them might provide it in their own way so that heterogeneity also counts among characteristics of services that differentiate them from products. The quality system is based on principles such as commitment of the management, focus on the customers, employees and facts, constant improvement and co- operation of all the participants to the process. Research carried out in 101 ompanies in the service provision field (Zemke, Schaff, 1989) show the following results. – – – Managers are “obsessed” with listening to the changeable wishes, needs and expectations of their customers, and the wish to respond to them. A solidly defined strategy of servicing “inspired by consumers” is created by managers in their companies, and transferred to the staff. Managers develop and maintain a customer-friendly system of providing services. Managers look for, and then inspire and develop staff that is in direct contact with consumers. Two basic approaches to service quality have been identified in the early nineties of he twentieth century. The first approach is “technical” and product oriented, while the second approach is customer related.

These two approaches have been recognized as results of managerial efforts to consider the aspect of quality when providing services from two angles: on one hand, the manager tends to abide by the set standards, while on the other, he wishes to satisfy the customer. The first approach is production oriented and tends to the consistency of service by impeding or minimizing the influence of the personnel directly involved in providing a service. The service providing process is defined as a standard performance. The role of the staff providing services is reduced to the realization of the defined performance and the staffs discretion, i. e. its influence on the performance itself is minimized.

In that process of service provision is the result of the managerial view on this process as a series of elements that require a trained coordination and control, while the service itself is strictly standardized. The “product based” approach is contradictory to the aspirations of the consumers to be treated as individual people with marked ersonal tendencies and expectations. Besides, such an approach, “industrial” and clich©, is in contrast with the wish of the consumer to find warm and friendly manners when consuming the service. The second approach is consumer oriented. Expectations are the basis for satisfaction. After consuming the service, they compare their earlier expectations with experience. Results can range from satisfaction to dissatisfaction. The consumer anticipates the service standards in his expectations.

Wilkie claims: “The seed of the consumer’s dissatisfaction is sown in the pre- urchase stage, before reaching the decision to purchase. “4 According 4 Wilkte, 1996 85 to this, the consumer creates his own, individual benchmark, and the rating of his satisfaction is the result of his after purchase state. Normann, the creator of the concept “moment of truth”5, points out that the first generation of researchers in the field of service sector management, had the task to determine the specificities of the services as opposed to other sectors, which paved the way for the second generation of researchers who focused on the relations in the service industry, the behaviour hen providing service and service design, with the aim to optimize the “moment of truth”6.

On the basis of the above exposed thesis, the understanding of service quality is based on the paradigm of service. In that sense, the service sector company manager looks for a “balance between the human factor and technology, between expenses and profit and, after all, between quality and productivity’ (Gummesson, 1993). The organization has to strive for success. When the set goals are achieved, we set other goals, striving for higher levels of product, processes and service efficiency. Accepting the concept of constant improvement means changing the management style. A total quality cannot be a program of changes with a set duration, it is a continuous, constant process.

The questions set before the organization are the following: How do you keep up the constant striving for new improvement? What kind of measures and revisions of the business process do you have to use? How do you convince the employees that the business success and survival of the organizations can only occur if all employees accept constant actions to improve all their activities in the organizations? A successful organization constantly identifies and tackles the causes of problems or potential problems that employees have in doing their Jobs. For that reason every employee has to be trained to identify such problems. The corrective and preventive measures. Each business process is subject to variability.

Process variability is considered a normal phenomenon that is usually counted on. Parameter variability in the field of transformation of incoming values into outcoming values of the process affects the variability of the entire business process. For example, a lack of a specific product on the supplies market may require a ubstitution with another product of similar characteristics. Departure from the usual process (variability) can affect the quality of meals as results of a process, “Moments of truth”, Normann, 1991 The phrase was taken from the title of a book by Carlzon, 1987, in which the author describes his experience as a client of the Scandinavian tour-operator Vingressor and the airline company SAS. 5 the timing of a process cycle, expenses of process quality, the level of satisfaction of the consumer/user with the process result7. Each episode of variability and a eparture from the optimal process does not necessarily have a negative impact on the quality level of the process results. However, if the process is moving away from its optimal course so much as to get close to the acceptable limit or it has surpassed the limit, cost incur due to poor quality. The process becomes too expensive, jeopardizing the quality of the results and thus seriously risking dissatisfaction on the part of the client/consumer, in other words, it becomes irrational. 3.

SERVICE QUALITY MEASUREMENT IN HOTEL INDUSTRY In order to achieve rationality the models of business excellence also, in a way, etermine whether the criteria have been met, but the evaluation of business excellence is based not only on the fulfillment of the set criteria but also on the determination of the level up to which the criteria have been fulfilled (systems of points). When analyzing the quality of service it is desirable to analyze the largest possible number of companies supplying the same type of service. As we already mentioned, if a company carries out a research and finds that the results are negative, it can interpret this information in the wrong way and conclude that it provides services in a totally wrong way.

On the other hand, when analyzing a large number of companies, it is possible to compare data and obtain a realistic picture of the position of an individual company compared to others regarding quality. The the lower part shows phenomena tied to the supplier of services. The expected service is the function of earlier experiences of the consumer, their personal needs and oral communication. Communication with the market also influences the expected service. Experienced service, here called perceived service, is the result of a series of internal decisions and activities. The management’s perceptions of the onsumer’s expectations is the guiding principle when deciding on the specifications of the quality of service that the company should follow in providing service.

If there are differences or discrepancies in the expectations or perceptions between people involved in providing and consuming services, a “service quality gap” can occur, as shown in image 1. Since there is a direct connection between the quality of service and the satisfaction of clients in 7 DrlJata, M. InformaciJska osnovica za kontinuirano pobolJSanJe kvalitete poslovnog procesa (Information basis for a continuous improvement of the business process uality) (kvaliteta. inet. hr/lnformaciJska%200snovica) 87 hotel industry, it is important for the company to spot a gap in the quality of service. The first possible gap is the knowledge gap. It is the result of the differences in managing knowledge and their real expectations.

This gap can lead to other gaps in the process of service quality and is, among other things, caused by: – – incorrect information in market researches and demand analysis; incorrect interpretations of information regarding expectations; lack of information about any feedback between the company and the consumers directed to the management; oo many organizational layers that hinder or modify parts of information in their upward movement from those involved in contact with the consumers. The second possible gap is that of standard. It is the result of differences in managing knowledge of the client’s expectations and the process of service provision (delivery). This gap is the result of. – – – mistakes in planning or insufficient planning procedures; bad management planning; lack of clearly set goals in the organization; and insufficient support of the top management to service quality planning. The anagement can be right in evaluating the client’s expectations and develop business methods to satisfy these expectations, without the employees being correct in providing service.

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