Travel and tourism sector of the United Kingdom (UK) comprises several other industries including food, accommodation, leisure and fun activities. Out of these areas of tourism industry, accommodation is one of the most important industries due to increasing business of tour and travel agents who arrange business by offering packages ranging from few days to several months. Tourism industry in the UK is renowned as a billion dollars revenue source for over 65% of countries in this planet as per survey by United Nations Organizations which is simply an exceptional fact (Brotherton, 2012). From the basic idea of tourism in Great Britain, it is a process of a person or a group of people taking part in a travel activity for the purpose of leisure, recreation or business.
Above statement substantiates the accommodation as a basic need of all tourists who take part in domestic or international tourism activities. Commercial homes, guest houses, bed and breakfast are few alternative accommodations which are preferred nowadays comparing to usual accommodations such as traditional hotels.
Present study is principally designed to show the significance of unusual accommodations provided by the private establishments in order to make the tourists to deeply involve with ethnic, cultural and heritage aspects of major tourist destinations all over the United Kingdom. Also, the research illustrates the changing trends in the hospitality and tourism consumers which resulted in emerging new concepts, identifying the market segment which show more interest in a distinctive accommodations which differ from common accommodation in all aspects like architecture, service, location, amenities, accessibility and cost of living.
London, the heart of the United Kingdom and England is one of the most populous cities of Great Britain. It is often introduced as a mix of style, history, heritage, culture and lot more including the population over 8 million people. Apart from its major icons including red double -Decker buses, black cabs, the English capital museums are the most memorable features of the area being discussed. This 600 mile area itself is a world in one city which is often addressed as a wonderful city of the world. The city is famous in the world for its cultural and heritage diversity (Szivas, 2001). It is evident that London offers range of choices to its visitors who look for good night out. The historical background of the above cited city dated back centuries, the result of an spectacular civilization and culture made this land rich in cultural and heritage attractions synchronized with natural beauty of landscape and other precious resources. The enriched symphony of adaptive weather conditions, collaboration of most modern with culture of past and the imperishable history of British empire made this city and country one of the best and hottest tourist hubs of all time worldwide.
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Visitors also feel that it is one of the most exciting cities in the world therefore, it is selected appropriately for the present study. Additionally, there has been experienced intensive growth of the alternative accommodation in contemporary era. These alternative hoteliers offer different tourism product due to several points of differences comparing to usual accommodators. Thus, taking London case into consideration, the study has been designed to identify the factors affecting selection of alternative accommodation rather than traditional hotels. It is important to note here that the comparison has been made in terms of differences in different accommodation options in London (Slattery, 2002). For this, major points of differences identified are conventional elements of marketing mix including Product, Price, Place and Promotion. It seeks to assess significance of substitute accommodations in London for accelerating the growth of travel industry. Thus, the study is based on the selected city of Great Britain- “London” for achieving the desired outcomes (Amadeus, 2011).
1.2 Rationale of the study
Dissertations are prepared for academic and professional purpose in which certain resources are involved including labor, time, technology etc. Therefore, before proceeding with any research idea, its feasibility should be tested for the rationality behind carrying out a specific study (Piaget, 2007). Thus, by testing viability of this study, it can be stated that for this manuscript as well there are specific reasons for choosing the particular topic. It has been witnessed that in this era of globalization, the consumer needs and wants are changing particularly in hospitality industry and tourism sector (Krakover, 2000). As a consequence of this, the need has arisen for studying the change of consumer expectation. Major issue in this study is to identify points of difference among various accommodation alternatives. This is an issue because there has been experienced high growth in tourism sector with emerging changes. Additionally, the issue has become more relevant today because of increasing intensity of industrial rivalry in modern era. Furthermore, the industry has suppressed to engage in serious market study and the studies are focusing on ground-breaking new generation concepts.
In order to hit upon the innovations and its significance in contemporary tourism culture, it is important to understand the effectiveness of alternate accommodations in London. The logic behind the most modern corporate strategies is that longing extraordinary concepts attract the product consumers. Even though the concept of alternate accommodation engaged in the late 19th century but the all new level of its new face has emerged since the tourism corporate found possibilities in this concept (Orfila-Sintes, Crespí-Cladera and Martínez-Ros, 2005). Thus, the study sheds light on the significance of emerging concept of alternate accommodation. This manuscript demonstrates the factors which affect customer decision to avail the service from alternative hotelier. Selection of London can also be said as rational because it is the city responsible for evolution of alternative accommodation concept in the UK due to innovations and exceptional services in its hospitality sector (Hobson and Essex, 2001).
1.3 Problem statement
For any research study, problem statement formation is of utmost importance because it seeks to address the issue so that identified problem in the manuscript can be solved. It’s very critical to understand whether these Substitute Accommodations being an up-and-coming threat for conventional Hotel establishments. This is a major problem in this study to identify the basis of the difference in various accommodation alternatives. The issue has been resolved by considering an appropriate approach in the study in which the difference in the various accommodation services has been discussed in terms of marketing mix elements. Thus, on the basis of this statement, aims and objectives for present manuscript have been formulated.
1.4 Research aims and objectives
For providing right direction to any study, aims and objectives should be carefully formulated so that potential to reap significance of research for target audience can be increased. Research aim can be defined as an ultimate goal in a manuscript what is expected by researcher to be achieved (Hacker and et.al., 2007). Objectives on the other hand are supportive documents which help in systematically attaining research goals. Research aims and objectives for this study developed are based on above stated problem.
To study the alternative accommodations in cultural and heritage destinations of UK: a case of London
- To identify different types of accommodation alternatives in cultural and heritage destinations in UK
- To analyze the points of differences in alternative accommodations in London in terms of marketing mix elements
- To evaluate the performance of substitutes of hotel accommodations using a framework of expectation-experience analysis
- To investigate the factors affecting selection of alternative accommodation by tourists
- To make recommendations of usual and unusual hoteliers to develop appropriate strategies for attracting more tourists and guests
1.5 Research hypotheses
Hypothesis in research is an important term which can be defined as an assumption about the population. Here, null hypothesis have been formulated instead of research questions based on the nature of the study (Saunders and et.al., 2011). Null hypothesis is developed in a negative form of the statement which is tested in order to reach research objectives. Thus, hypothesis formulated for this study are listed below:
- Hypothesis 1 (H1): There is no significant difference in different types of accommodation alternatives in terms of service quality, cost and demographics of users
- Hypothesis 2 (H2): There is no significant difference in the marketing mix of the alternative accommodation based on operational characteristics
- Hypothesis 3 (H3): There is no significant difference in various unusual accommodation alternatives in terms of performance
- Hypothesis 4 (H4): There is no significant difference in the factors affecting selection of accommodation alternative
1.6 Methodological framework
Introductory chapter is reviewed by audience to understand how the study has been carried out to get the idea regarding the same. Therefore, here, methodological framework used in the study has been described in this section. This study is basically conducted using a well structured plan in order to reach aforesaid objectives and test formulated hypothesis. In periodical development of research, various approaches, plans and measures are considered which leads the whole study in an accurate direction. Quite a few approaches have considered before beginning with the actual researching work (Creswell, 2013).
Present study is based on the positivism research philosophies which do not assume difference in the people as a social actor. Thus, this philosophy was used in order to carry out scientific study. In addition to this, it is also important to specify here that both deductive and inductive research approaches have been used in this dissertation due to nature of the research. Quantitative technique aims at gathering experimental data in numerical structure. It holds up collection of sample quantity of variables (Hoy, 2009). This data compilation system is mainly useful for evaluating and interpreting information’s. It appears in the structure of arithmetical equations, figures, models, graphs and statistics, quantitative research refers to the orderly experiential study of social occurrence by means of statistical, arithmetic data or computing methods (Patton, 2005). The intention of quantitative investigation is to build up and use mathematical representations, hypothesis or hypothesis pertaining to observable facts. The progression of quantity is vital to quantitative study for the reason that it provides the basic connection among empirical examination and mathematical term of quantitative interaction. Therefore, use of quantitative method can said to be rational in this study (Silverman, 2010).
There are various types of research designs of which descriptive research design has been selected because it seeks to define variables of the research. Additionally, both primary and secondary data have been gathered for drawing the fruit bearing conclusions in the study. Primary data is helping the major resource of information in this study. These data are in a straight line collected from the respondents. Thus, primary data has been collected from 100 travelers in London who were approached using judgmental sampling. Thus, common method of non probability sampling was used to identify the sample in this study. Primary data is useful as it generates genuineness therefore, it is essential for predictive validity of empirical research (Yanow and Schwartz-Shea, 2013).
Along with primary, secondary data is necessary for every research work. In this study also, numerous secondary sources has been referred. Secondary sources help to view the whole research topic critically. It also assists to enrich the whole research work with variety and information. Information received from online database, journals, reports, magazines, books, etc form backbone of this research work. This enables the researcher to examine various aspects of recruitment and selection process from various angles (Jonker and Pennink, 2010). Thus, using primary and secondary data, the data analysis plan has been executed in chapter-4 of this manuscript. The data analysis plan in this study involves use of various quantitative techniques using statistical software SPSS. Thus, in this cross sectional study, well structured methodological plan has been used to reach conclusions.
1.7 Significance of the study
Every research aims at producing significance for target audience so that it can be justified on practical applicability grounds. Present study is also significant for various usual and unusual hoteliers in UK because it seeks to identify the factors affecting the selection of particular kind of accommodation. Additionally, this research represent a pioneering and vibrant industry with serious implications for selected destination i.e. London, UK. The core area of practical implication i.e. marketing has also been discussed in the study because one of the hypotheses seeks to analyze and test marketing mix elements of different accommodation substitutes in place of hotels.
The significance of current manuscript can also be stated at the stand point of academic level because it provides worthy suggestions in addition to existing ones. Thus, the study fills research gap in tourism sector with special reference to accommodation industry in UK tourism sector. In addition to this, it will not be wrong to say that the implications of the study are important at policy level as well. Policy makers and other regulatory bodies can be provided with fruit bearing institutional directions for supporting alternative accommodation sector in United Kingdom.
1.8 Scope of the research
Limitations are inherent part of any study which narrow downs the scope of any dissertation. Present study also has certain limitations including limited sources for data collection, limited time etc. In this study, London has been selected as the destination on which alternative accommodation tourism industry has been analyzed. Thus, this study may not be applicable on other areas of United Kingdom. However, necessary precautions have been taken to select representative destination but it is less likely to be applied on countries other than United Kingdom. In this study, 100 respondents from the users of the industry have been selected which are very less in comparison to volume of universe.
1.9 Structure of dissertation
In this section of the present study, outline of overall dissertation has been provided which breaks down the same into five major chapters of the research. Providing information regarding the content of each chapter gives brief idea regarding how the research was carried out using a well structured plan. Thus, all these chapters and their major elements have been described under the following heads:
In this initial chapter, effective background has been created in order to generate interest among readers. The most important element of this chapter is the operational definitions which have been provided in table format. Definitions of important terms have been given for easy understanding of the technical terms and keywords used in the manuscript. Along with this, rational and problem statement has been provided in separate heads for developing appropriate objectives and hypothesis (Goddard and Melville, 2004). Introduction chapter in this manuscript also gives idea regarding methodology, significance and scope of the study.
Chapter-2: Literature review
This is one of the most knowledgeable and information seeking part for the research audience because of exclusion collection and analysis of secondary data is accompanied in this section of the research. In this chapter, secondary data has been analyzed which was collected from various books, journals and online articles. Various themes have been identified based on research objectives in which results of existing studies have been critically investigated. This chapter provides extensive knowledge regarding the area of investigation (Schostak and Schostak, 2012).
Chapter-3: Research methodology
One of the most important chapters contributing in the significance of the study is research methodology because it creates a base for researcher to reach ultimate goal of carrying out the study. Different aspects of research methodology including research approach, philosophy, and research design, data collection, sampling, research method, data analysis plan, time horizon, ethical and accessibility issues have been discussed in this chapter (Silverman, 2013). Along with this, justification for selection of particular research method and technique is also stated in the chapter.
Chapter-4: Data analysis
In this section of the study, based on the methodology, data has been analyzed and presented in different sections based on objectives. This involves testing of formulated hypothesis in order to accept or reject the same. Various tables and graphs have also been used in this chapter which were obtained from SPSS output. The presentation and application of selected quantitative tools and their interpretation is included in this chapter for the convenience of future researchers (Yin, 2014).
Chapter-5: Conclusion and recommendations
Conclusion and recommendation is the final chapter of manuscript which is the final outcome of the study. The chapter reflects the key points from results and discussion in this manuscript to assist interested parties to obtain significance of the study. Thus, the results have been concluded in this chapter under relevant objective of the dissertation (Piaget, 2007). Along with this, recommendations to various parties having stake in the study have been provided with implementation plan for the same.
CHAPTER-2: LITERATURE REVIEW
This is one of the most knowledgeable and information seeking part for the research audience because of exclusion collection and analysis of secondary data is accompanied in this section of the research. In this chapter, secondary data has been analyzed which was collected from various books, journals and online articles. Various themes have been identified based on research objectives in which results of existing studies have been critically investigated. This chapter provides extensive knowledge regarding the area of investigation (Schostak and Schostak, 2012). Various themes identified for carrying out research in systematic manner is cultural and heritage destinations, alternative accommodation, factors affecting customer behavior in tourism sector etc. Under these themes, structured research has been carried out to crate insightful information.
2.1 Cultural and heritage destinations in UK
Cultural tourism is among one of the largest growing tourism as tourists are attracted towards the diverse culture of countries. The word culture is derived from Latin word 'Colere' which means to grow, nurture and cultivation. Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a specific group of individuals which defined their language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. There is a increasing and direct relationship between culture and tourism as if they both are available at one place they will be the major drivers of attractiveness and competitiveness (Frost and Hall, 2009). There is a strong connection between both it fosters to become destinations more attractive for tourists also encourage competition. The culture and tourism have a relationship which mutually benefits to both as it can strengthen the attractiveness and competitiveness of different religions of different countries.
Culture is an important factor of tourism which creates a distant identity in a crowded international marketplace. On the other hand, tourism also provide income which can useful for the preservation and strengthen of cultural heritage. Therefore, it is very important to create a strong relation between both to make them more attractive and competitive. In present era, destinations do not only offer physical products but they offer experience and creative services to make the experience of visitors’ exception. Today, mass tourism is considered as a good tool for economic development but focus is given to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage as tourist demand for authentic experiences (Girard and Nijkamp, 2009). Tourism in Great Britain almost started with the medieval pilgrimage those were undertaken for religious reasons. Timothy, (2011) in their study investigated the most attractive places for tourism in the world and concluded that tourism industry was growing at a faster pace in developed economies due to better infrastructural facilities available to those countries (Timothy, D. J., 2011). Global tourism industry consists of several sub functions of overall tourism sector across various counties of the world. These elements are present in the industry in forms of accommodation, food, transportation, lodging and security also in some specific cases. Thus, it can be said that accommodation is an important part of tourism activities.
Culture and heritage matters to tourists: 57% of respondents from 20 countries agreed that history and culture have strong influences on their choice of holiday destination (only 15% disagreed). So, it is clear that destinations excelling in this area are likely to be high on travelers’ consideration lists. Richards and Munsters, (2010) also provided that success of Great Britain in marketing accommodation and other tourism services have been enticing destinations which will hinge on the way that presents its best asset (Richards and Munsters, 2010). Thus, it will be appropriate to say that tourism activities in the UK largely revolve around its culture and heritage. The statistics revealed by Nation Brands Index regarding cultural significance, England is at the fourth position in the globe having exciting contemporary culture including literature, art, museum etc. Additionally, Britain is ranked 5th in terms of tourism. Here, it will not be wrong to give credit to rich built heritage and exciting and vibrant cities (Shackley, 2000).
Leslie and Sigala, (2005) also studied the contribution of culture and heritage in the UK as he investigated major factors contributing to the success of tourism economy of England. In addition to this, they also estimated unique culture and heritage which attracted more than £4 billion worth of spending by domestic visitors on an annual basis (Leslie and Sigala, 2005).
According to Carr, (2013) it has been more than a decade, an increasing number of studies have been preserved for finding the impact of tourism commotion on GDP and the responsibility of tourism on strengthening economic development for developed as well as developing countries. These studies were further extended and it was found in their research that in a modern aspect, the key to making tourist accommodations in the United Kingdom is more customer-focused who are attracted from cultural and heritage destinations (Carr, 2013).
Appadurai, (2013) highlighted that the top ranged ten nations which have their contribution in tourism activity for betterment of GDP are surprisingly small islands. They also explained that the undersized economies were rapidly going on the rise as they were extremely particular in tourism activity. Paradigms of this category are small countries like the St Lucia, the Cayman, Bahamas, Islands and the Virgin Islands by which the contribution of tourism for growth of GDP is not less than 65%. To this point, they also explored the reason for the same and concluded that the reason of tourism expansion may be set up in numerous regions (Appadurai, 2013).
In the similar fashion, Prentice, (2001) also given emphasis to the main reason of tourism improvement and stated that it is the subsistence of natural possessions. Additionally, all international tourists were expected to be fascinated by the heritage,culture and ambience of a subjected destination (Prentice, 2001). Hence, amenities, infrastructures, and ambiance were set in motion to convince the existing and new inbound and outbound tourism. Consequently, one of the aspects that force tourism growth is given by the organization for appearing ranged tourism furnishes. These evidences were clearly substantiating the reason and existence of merely new concept of alternate accommodation (Prentice, 2001). In this regard, it will not be wrong to say that the rising needs of the sensitive tourists is for more experience, discovery and knowledge, rather than the basic needs for fine quality place to stay, the orthodox fashioned, high-quality food and amenities.
2.2 Marketing plan in service industry
It is vital for hotel developers, proprietors, controllers and managers to practically implement sustainability during the planning, designing and building of new building property as well as in improvement assignments. McKercher, (2002) also supported the statement and provided that marketing planning of accommodation industry in the UK should involve strategic planning to attract customers visiting cultural and heritage destination throughout the world (McKercher, 2002). Thus, a hygienic, hale, hearty and confined environment is not only fine for tourism industry, but is also equally important to have competitiveness in marketing mix elements of usual and unusual hoteliers. In this context, it is also important to note that broadly, the “latest” up-coming tourists are knowledge savvy, more challenging, have broad and multifarious sort of demands, seek more customized experience and contain better expectation levels. Therefore, impressive marketing strategy is required by accommodation industry in the United Kingdom (Boniface, 2003). In this relation, Poria, Reichel and Biran, (2006) also analyzed the effectiveness of accommodators at cultural and tourist places to reel in tourists and accommodators. The research revealed that present strategy adopted by accommodators in Great Britain was not effective and there was need to make necessary improvements in this area of concern due to inefficiency of accommodators. In this regard, they also contributed worth bearing suggestions to target audience of their research and commented that hotels in developed nations require moving beyond segmentation due to intensity in the industrial rivalry. Thus, they suggested usual hoteliers in the UK to move away from segmentation and towards a “total service model” in order to deliver personalized experience with wide spectrum of service choice (Poria, Reichel and Biran, 2006).
2.3 Alternative accommodation
MacDonald and Jolliffe, (2003) in his research provided technical definition of accommodation for the sake of clarity in the understanding of the same. He stated that “Accommodations” specified in the Hotel Proprietors Act (HPA) of 1956; as per the Act, the expression “hotel” means an establishment held out by the proprietor as offering food, drink and if so required, sleeping accommodation, without special contract, to any traveler presenting himself who appears able and willing to pay a reasonable sum for the services and facilities provided and who is in a fit state to be received. Thus, similar law is applicable for the alternate accommodations like unusual hotels (MacDonal and Jolliffe, 2003).
According to Butler and Hinch, (2007) tourist locations on five lane segments are expected to be exact which is accommodation, transport, supporting amenities, attractions and infrastructures. They further explained that those attractions engage more influential in motivating tourists towards the locations and transportation is the facility which enables people to move far distance. In this context, accommodation is vital with its supporting facilities including restaurants, shops, banks and health care (Butler, R. and Hinch, 2007). Nonetheless, the relevance of infrastructure is far beyond since it reassures the essential execution of all other sectors.
Accommodation alternatives can be defined as a substitute of accommodation which is normally used for unusual staying facility. Dalton, Lockington and Baldock, (2009) defined hotels are traditional accommodation settings which is not yet a source of attracting tourists. Nonetheless, hotels across the world make a separate large billion dollar industry. Therefore, it will be wrong to say that the hoteliers need to concern regarding the sustainability for the same (Dalton, Lockington and Baldock, 2009). However, the emergence of alternative accommodation has increased competition for traditional hotels which should be a matter of concern for them.
According to Cuccia and Rizzo, (2011) various substitutes to traditional hotels which are demanded by the customers from tour operators are camps and tree house which can be heeded as an innovative accommodation setting in the United Kingdom. However, there are various tourists and visitors who access substitutes for the same including commercial home, service apartments, Bed & Breakfast (B&B) establishments, guest houses etc (Cuccia and Rizzo, 2011). All these major alternative accommodation establishments have been explained under the following heads:
This type of accommodation settings are availed by customers/visitors who visit a place for very short term. These facilities for staying purpose offer centered services to their customers. Thus, it is a type of accommodation service in which short term and self centered services of staying are provided. Moreover, additional services are also provided along with accommodation. The three sub types include luxury, budget apartments and mid range apartments. Iwashita, (2006) carried out research on the popularity of service apartments in the UK and revealed that major target customer segment for such type of substitute facility is middle class people who visit cultural and heritage destinations for health purpose (Iwashita, 2006). Therefore, luxury service apartments are quiet uncommon in developed nations.
It can be defined as a home which can be used for commercial purpose which provides commercial hospitality within a home setting. Sub-types of commercial home include home stay, bed and breakfast establishment, Country Inn etc. In few cases, such type of accommodation service, visitors or guests directly pay for staying in commercial homes which generally fall under the home stay category of commercial home. Kozak, (2001) investigated the effectiveness of various categories of commercial home in India and revealed the fact that in cultural and heritage destinations, B&B establishment were mostly preferred which provided accommodation for people on a short term basis with a provision of breakfast (Kozak, 2001). Nevertheless, their popularity cannot be predicted for the developed nations like the United Kingdom which are renowned for luxury life and advancement in infrastructural facilities. In order to evaluate effectiveness of commercial home setting as an alternative accommodation, it is also important to study the same on the basis of categorization (Buhalis, 2000).
According to Radder and Wang, (2006) in developing nations, guest houses have been successful in generating business from tourists due to cost effective characteristics in their service delivery. It is smaller than a hotel with fewer rooms and limited service facilities. They carried out a study on dimensions of guest house services. The objective of their study was to assess similarities and business travelers’ expectations and perception of managers regarding services rendered by guest houses. In order to evaluate customer expectations and manager perception they adopted well structured methodology in which a seven point Likert scale was created so that ANOVA test can be employed on the same. Findings of this study revealed that visitors within the country for business purpose were secured for parking and staff professionalism. On the other hand, managers of guest house believed that it friendly nature of staff would assist in handling customer complaints effectively and efficiently. In addition to this, research revealed one interesting fact that managers mostly overestimated the expectations of guests (Radder and Wang, 2006). Nonetheless, there were certain limitations of the study like small sample size and resource limitations. Yet, it will not be wrong to say that this study has practical implications for guest house management in order to run guest house business in an effectual manner.
It is a unique kind of accommodation in which outdoor accommodation is provided which is often considered as a luxury element. Research conducted by Chitura, (2006) focuses of accommodation development in national parks of South Africa in which they compared changes in the dimensions of accommodation that was occurred between a selected time span i.e. 1980 to 1994. Major purpose of carrying out this study was to evaluate the development paradigm in accommodation industry in South Africa specifically focused on Kruger National Park. The study was based on identified literature gap as previous studies did not pay significant attention to change in tourism in context to policies and taste and preferences of tourists. The development however does not confirm single pattern of destination mix but demand and supply of alternative accommodation varied for sure. Camps, tents and other housing settings were found in demand due to change in customer preferences (Chitura, 2006). Nonetheless, the study was only focused on a single national park which may not be generalized. But, it confirms the fact that accommodation development within this selected tenure was based on consumer sensitive design of infrastructure.
Kim and Loksha, (2014) completed a research successfully titled new directions of the accommodation development in global tourism market. They argued in their study that usual and unusual hoteliers across the world in developed countries have undergone into the major changes which have affected due to ever-changing taste and preferences of tourists. Additionally, many of the tourism in modern era are looking for new experiences and facilities used across the international tourism industry. Aforesaid research revealed that modern hoteliers have adopted the experience of such hotel constructions due to which today, one can find hotels in small houses and tree holes (Kim and Loksha, 2014). In this regard, contribution of Murphy, Pritchard and Smith, (2000) is also significant who provided that developed nations like UK, USA and many more have witnessed major interest of tourists for innovative accommodation. They also found in their study that there was a trend of growing number of tree house hotels where cost of accommodation was moderate comparing to other standard and luxury hotels.
2.4 Factors affecting customer behavior
Customer buying behavior is a commonly used word in marketing planning of any organization because all strategies are developed and decisions are taken based on the study of customer behavior. In the words of Boukas, Ziakas and Boustras, (2012) buying behavior of a customer is comprised of all those emotions and attitude due to which buyers behave in a certain manner. Furthermore, it is important for each and every marketer to understand the behavior of its buyers so that appropriate plans can be developed by marketers (Boukas, Ziakas and Boustras, 2012). There have been carried out several researches in this regard which have investigated the significance of customer behavior in hospitality sector. González, Comesana and Brea, (2007) in their manuscript provided that in spite of knowing the importance in the relation between customer satisfaction and service quality marketers often witness difficulties in achieving marketing objectives. This is because, information regarding customer intentions remain insufficient. Thus, to deal with this issue they developed a model which identifies appropriate measures to predict consumer behavior. Their study was carried out on consumers visiting spa resorts in United Kingdom and research clearly shows that there is significant influence of service quality and customer satisfaction on consumer’s behavioral intentions in global tourism sector (González, Comesana and Brea, 2007). Thus, if this study is applied on present manuscript, it can be said that customers of usual and unusual accommodation settings in UK are mostly likely to show effect of satisfaction level and service quality on behavioral intentions in the industry. However, this is applicable for making repetitive sales by usual and unusual hoteliers in United Kingdom.
The extension of above discussed research was reflected in the study of Kozak, (2001) who also proposed a model for multiple relationships among satisfaction of customers of tourism industry in Spain and Turkey regarding previous visits and intention in the behavior for revisiting. This empirical research systematically presented the difference in the behavioral intensions of customers revisiting tourism destination between mature and less developed tourism destinations. The examination of this model presented a fact the however, influence of overall customer satisfaction is consistent but there were certain factors which made difference in these two destinations for accommodation (Kozak, 2001). Although this research provided an idea regarding why customer may choose to select same destination for accommodation but it does not give true evidences regarding the point of differences. Therefore, present study would assist in extending existing literature by making previous studies more specific in terms of marketing mix, customer behavior and strategy of usual and unusual hoteliers.
There has been seen growing interest of researchers and academicians in investigating the competitiveness of cultural and heritage tourist destinations therefore, Ashwort and Larkham, (2013) focused their attention on providing clarity in the definition and meaning of a ‘destination product’. Their study also seeks to describe in what manner tourists perceive the critical amalgamation of experiences and marketing mix elements. In this context, the testing of conceptual model developed by them reveals that perception of tourists and visitors regarding service quality, value and intent to return is contributes majorly (Ashworth and Larkham, 2013).
Therefore, usual and unusual hoteliers are required to understand the perception of their customers to stay into the competition. In this regard, traditional theories of customer buying behavior can be reviewed which present insightful information regarding the factors affecting customer behavior in tourism sector. Black Box Theory is one of the useful models which provide strong theoretical base for understating customer behavior. However, this will be appropriate to quote here that “knowing consumer will never be an easy task”. It has been usually seen that customer do what they do not say. Additionally, customers in specifically accommodation industry may not be in touch with their deeper motivations. Therefore, in order to deal with such issues in understanding perception of a buyer, theories like black box approach have been developed. Above cited theory of customer behavior refers to the reasons due to which marketers may not be able to tap into the minds of existing and potential buyers. According to Girard and Nijkamp, (2009) Black Box Model significantly contributes in understanding service industry due to complexity in its product marketing. In this regard, this approach can assist marketer to understand the mental and emotional process which is used by buyers to select, retrieve, consume and dispose products and services in order to satisfy the needs of customers.
This is an important element of black box model which is comprised of four major elements of marketing mix including Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The theory of black box describes that marketing stimuli significantly affect the behavior of customers in their decision making process. In this regard Frost and Hall, (2009) also presented their views and provided that marketing mix elements are of utmost importance for buyers of service industry. They carried out their research on hoteliers in UK and revealed that customers gave preference to these elements largely. To conclude their study, factor analysis was performed using statistical tool SPSS explanation of which strongly supported the statement that traditional marketing mix elements affect customer behavior largely than any other attribute or element in purchasing process of buyers (Frost and Hall, 2009). Thus, their research can also be applied for this study in order to determine customer behavior of usual and unusual accommodation providers in United Kingdom. Nonetheless, there were certain limitations of this study because in service industry extended marketing mix is used instead of conventional one. Thus, it is also important to incorporate three additional P’s of marketing mix including People, Physical evidence and Process.
Black box model also contains other stimuli in the list of factors affecting buyer’s behavior in purchase decision making. The above diagram also demonstrates the same in which political, economical, technological and cultural etc. factors have been included in the list of factors influencing perception of consumers. It will be inappropriate to ignore other stimuli in service industry therefore; further research carried out by Macleod and Carrier, (2010) considers other elements affecting buyer behavior. To increase the significance of their research, along with factor analysis, a Chi Square test was also performed which was used to test significance of PESTLE (Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) factors in consumer’s decision making. The results of this research revealed that there was no considerable difference in the views of customers across selected usual and unusual accommodation facility’s customers (Macleod and Carrier, 2010). Thus, this study demonstrated strong evidences regarding the confirmation of the statement that in all type of accommodation setting, external environmental factors in addition to factors of marketing stimuli affect buyer’s behavior. Therefore, buyers of usual and unusual accommodators can be influenced by considering the impact of external environment in development of appropriate marketing strategies.
This element of above cited consumer behavior model demonstrates that buyer decisions are affected by combination of marketing stimuli and other stimuli elements. In this context, decisions of buyers are considered on different dimensions including choice of product, brand, dealer, purchase timing and agree amount for buying the product or availing the service. Here, it is important to note that buyer decision is an underlying perception which becomes visible after interaction of market and other stimuli. Maitland, (2007) in this context stated that a customer seeks to select the product which is favorable from both marketing mix elements and external environmental factors. They provided that buying of a product may involve several decisions of customer regarding selection of dealer, brand, timing, purchasing amount etc (Maitland, 2007). Although, they conducted the research on the buyers of manufacturing industry but it can be considered for understanding the customer behavior in service industry. Thus, hoteliers and other players in the infrastructure settings of accommodation sector of UK can heed both marketing mix elements and other factors related to external environment of the organization for predicting buyer’s preferences.
Vagionis, (2005) in his study reviewed the significance and extent to which consumer behavior models could be used in context to modern organizations. The research carried out by them concluded that buyer decisions do interact with customer characteristics because their personal characteristics associated with their culture, social, psychological etc. He also added in his study that buyer’s own characteristics influence decision making process because people with same characteristics tend to behave in certain manner (Vagionis, 2005). Thus, the black box model covers various elements which entail how customer behaves and affected by different factors. Therefore, standard and non standard hoteliers are required to have extensive information regarding customer’s personal characteristics. For example, difference can be stated in the personal characteristics of usual and unusual hoteliers. A hotel may have more customers from business traveler segment whereas customers for unusual especially innovative accommodators like tree house, camps and house boat can have more segment of travelers for spiritual or leisure purpose.
Buyer’s decision making process
Most of the theories do not consider buying decision process for understating the perception and behavior of customers. Therefore, the significance of black box model is implied because it mostly covers all aspects which can influence buyer’s behavior. Ekinci, Prokopaki and Cobanoglu, (2003) described that the common steps in buying decision process like problem recognition, information search, and evaluation of alternatives, purchase decisions and post purchase behavior do have significance in the perception creation process of buyers (Ekinci, Prokopaki, and Cobanoglu, 2003). Krakover, (2000) also supported the statement and investigated the role of market stimuli and other factors in different steps of purchase decision making. For this, they applied ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) test which is used in investigating the difference in the two or more mean observations. Thus, for concluding their research they adopted well structured methodology with pre defined research objectives. Results of this statistical analysis provided that there was a significant difference in the degree of influence of certain factors across different stages of buying decision making process. Additionally, they also recommended that for customers in different stages, different strategies can be adopted by service organizations to persuade buyers to avail service from them (Krakover, 2000). From the above discussion, it can be said that there can be difference in the factors affecting various accommodation facilities to develop their marketing mix and advertisement campaign. It will be significant for various kinds of hoteliers in United Kingdom to consider various elements of black box model.
In this study, it is important to investigate the factors influencing tourists to select a particular destination for accommodation in cultural and heritage places. In this context, Tong and Sivanand, (2004) carried out research in which they investigated motivational aspects which influenced customers to select alternative accommodation. It was also explored in their research that service quality of alternative accommodation was growing in terms of expectation. Thus, it becomes unilateral to analyze perception of guests at tourist destinations (Tong and Sivanand, 2004). Nevertheless, the tourist motives are varied as recreating is more than just playing as it includes activities like amusing, diverting, gratifying, refreshing, reviving, recreation etc. Slattery, (2002) inferred the fact regarding the motives of customers and asserted that health concerns have also been a major motive of travel in last few couples of decades by tourists. Thus, recent development has resulted in the evolution of alternative accommodation in the United Kingdom. They also concluded that there was a difference in the socio demographic and travel characteristics between the guests at usual and unusual accommodation facilities in the UK (Slattery, 2002). The study of A revealed that there was a difference in the perception of business travelers regarding perceived service quality and experience for usual hotels which shows inefficiency of traditional hotels to meet the demand of the customers of hospitality industry.
Orfila-Sintes, Crespí-Cladera and Martínez-Ros, (2005) critically examined the satisfaction level of customers with respect to different staying facilities across various cities of the UK. A customer is said to be satisfied if performance of a business exceeds expectations of customers. They also found in their research that guest houses in the UK have been increasingly used accommodation alternative instead of hotel. Additionally, aforesaid study also provided that customers were satisfied because they believed that guest houses are economic form of accommodation in the country and therefore, their money is repaid in the service quality. Nonetheless, business people for corporate purpose were not found satisfied with this alternative rather they preferred usual forms of accommodation especially four and five star hotels (Orfila-Sintes, Crespí-Cladera and Martínez-Ros, 2005). With this point of view, it can be stated that both usual and unusual hoteliers are required to have an essential understating of the fact that in which terms customers of service industry define quality of services rendered by accommodation industry. Moreover, satisfaction of buyers is recognized as of utmost significance to all the commercial organizations as they tend to make repetitive purchase and word of mouth marketing (Radder and Wang, 2006).
Satisfaction of the buyers from various accommodation modes is the result of theoretical comparison of perception and expectation. González, Comesana and Brea, (2007) made a successful attempt in investigating alternative accommodations in the UK and difference in their quality. They used a well structured methodology in these terms and applied SERVQUAL model for identifying the points of differences in the marketing mix of various substitutes to traditional hoteliers. The results demonstrated that customers required buying the ambience than just a room for accommodation (González, Comesana and Brea, 2007). However, a gap was identified for almost all types of accommodation alternatives in service perception and actual quality delivered by the concerned firms.
In the similar fashion, (Chitura, 2006) also carried out a study in India on 50 different accommodation facilities in order to understand the factors affecting customer perception related to selection of an option among available alternatives of accommodation. Additionally, they applied factor analysis test and investigated various factors in this regard. The research concluded that personal interaction between guests and hosts was an important feature of specialist accommodation (Chitura, 2006).Thus, experience as a guest was important for customers in tourism industry who can accelerate growth of the hotelier’s organization by referring to their acquaintances and friends.
An ongoing trend in the tourism industry is witnessed in recent few years that is related to reinforcement of rural tourist destinations due to attractiveness of cultural and heritage. The case of alternative accommodation establishment in rural tourism is different in this regard as quality of service rendered included different factors. To this point, Ashworth and Larkham, (2013) asserted that the major factors affected the impression on the buyers of accommodation facilities included attitude of operators towards guests, cleanliness of the rooms, furnishing, attitude of residents, reservation system etc. Study carried out by them revealed interesting facts that buyers had different preferences therefore; quality cannot be defined with rigidity in this regard (Ashworth and Larkham, 2013).
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