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About this book

Service operations management in the tourism and hospitality industry requires a high level of coordination, communication and facilitation to satisfy visitors. In all of these activities, service excellence means a lot to visitors in terms of their experience, and to the business it means repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing. Based on fresh empirical evidence from the field, this book captures the different approaches and challenges to service excellence in the Asian tourism and hospitality industry. Focusing on hotels, attractions, transport providers and other segments in tourism and hospitality, this book presents new case studies underlining and detailing global and local travel industry practices. The book is meant as a reference and supplementary reading for students, researchers and industry practitioners.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Service Excellence in Asian Tourism and Hospitality

Today, customer satisfaction alone is not enough anymore in the tourism and hospitality industry in order to win the loyalty of guests. Instead, the industry need to achieve service excellence by delighting their guests with a set of drivers of excellence. Despite the relevance of the topic to the Asian tourism industry, the extant literature is scarce and fragmented. The 12 chapters in this book derive from a call for papers as well as from a study tour of Singapore and Malaysia. Papers went through a double-blind peer review procedure. They comprise both conceptual and—in most cases—empirical papers, drawing on recent research in the Asian tourism and hospitality industry. This edited book sets out to examine what and how companies in the tourism and hospitality industry do to deliver a high level of service excellence. They span aspects including the design of services, managing customer-oriented operations, leveraging digital technology and managing resources.
Dirk Klimkeit, Chun Meng Tang, K. Thirumaran

Designing the Service


Service Design of Franchise and Independent Japanese Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Japanese food culture has recently become more popular in Vietnam. To be successful, Japanese restaurants need to satisfy increasingly sophisticated and demanding customers, by designing the required service components to create the customer’s overall experiential journey effectively. Therefore, the service design process in Japanese restaurants, which aims to improve tangibility attributes and service delivery to delight customers by exceeding their expectations, could be considered a necessary research issue. There has been relatively little research on service design in the Vietnamese hospitality industry, especially in the restaurant industry. Moreover, the different service design applications between franchised and self-owned businesses has not been investigated previously. Thus, this paper explores the restaurant owners’ or managers’ self-assessment of business advantages and disadvantages, their perceptions of service design, and its application in the daily operation of Japanese franchise and independent restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Based on extant literature, the major service design-related aspects examined in this paper are service process, product features, and the physical environment. The researcher conducts in-depth interviews with managers from six Japanese restaurants. The study results enable existing or potential Japanese restaurants with scarce resources to apply service design effectively and efficiently to improve business success.
Thuc Thi Mai Doan Do

Creating Excellent Guest Experiences: Servicescape and Processes

Service excellence is an important aspect of the design of hotels. Hotels serve to satisfy their customers through various design choices, including servicescape and resource flows. Through proper operations design and planning, hotels can not only provide more enjoyable experience to customers, but also enjoy improved revenue flows as a result of making their brand more desirable. This study provides an analysis of one hotel and two resorts in Malaysia, regarding their practices in the areas of servicescape, process management, and guest-flow management, in providing the optimal guest experience. Information was gathered on site, through management talks, as well as from field observations made at these three establishments. In short, this study adds value to the existing concept of service excellence by focusing on resolving the issues in the servicescape, process management, and guest flow management of three examples of leisure establishments in the hospitality industry.
Shubhojit Bagchi, Jiachen He, Christopher Yan Fun Chen, Min Zhang, Abhishek Bhati

Managing Customer Expectations: A Study of Two Four-Star Hotels in Malaysia and Singapore

Successful management of customer expectations is an extremely important factor in achieving customer satisfaction. A hospitable culture and user-friendly technology are required to meet customers’ expectations. While technology can have a major impact on customer satisfaction, the various cultural backgrounds of guests also have a significant influence. In the paper, the hotel guests’ cultural backgrounds were studied to understand this aspect’s influence on their expectations and satisfaction. Three major cultural factors, namely brand identity (domestic vs. foreign), customers’ native language, and their country of residence, were observed and analyzed to determine guests’ expectations. The research study used a qualitative design to analyze the data, collected from field observations at two hotels: a Singapore hotel and another in Malaysia. Reviews were also collected from hotel booking websites, in order to understand how the hotels satisfy guest expectations.
Sriram Suryanarayanan, Shwetha Rani Srinivasan, Wenxin Lin, Linxin Wang, Jagdeep Kaur Sabharwal

Managing Customer-Oriented Operations


Measuring Customer Delight in Tourism and Hospitality Operations: Findings from Singapore and Malaysia

The management process for achieving customer delight is crucial for long-term success within the tourism and hospitality industry. In order to achieve customer delight, enterprises require a process for measuring it. This chapter gives an overview of the control circuit of service quality. Drawing on a standard for service excellence developed in Germany, it first outlines theoretical concepts of measuring customer delight for achieving service excellence, and introduces them into the English-language literature on tourism and hospitality. Based on an empirical study, it reports on how measurement is conducted in practice in select businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry in Singapore and Malaysia. Empirical findings show that a business must first determine the standard it aims to attain before designing a measurement. Results from a customer survey need to be reviewed from a business’s perspective. For small-scale businesses, a less sophisticated version of delight measurement may be more appropriate. Examples of how the measurement process itself can be delightful for customers are shown, and recommendations for practice are made.
Gabriela Maier Tolic, Dirk Klimkeit, Alexander Dingeldey

Providing Personalized Service Excellence: Findings from Tourism and Hospitality Businesses in Asia

This chapter analyzes personalized services practiced in Malaysia and Singapore, on the basis of literature research and practical observations. It also examines what is meant by the expression “service excellence.” According to Pine and Gilmore’s theory of the Experience Economy, personalized services allow a new perspective on this topic; this highlights the relevance of exceptional experiences that customers expect but often do not demand, and explains how personalized services can support the delivery of exceptional services. The study then considers the benefits and challenges of personalized services, and presents models from the existing literature and corporate surveys. Based on this, two specific models are described in detail. The first outlines the key elements that support a personal relationship, whereas the second provides a tool for the classification of personalized services. The second part of this chapter has a practical aim: the experiences of one of the authors on a study tour to Malaysia and Singapore will be incorporated. Based on the theoretical models examined in the first part, the practical examples will be analyzed accordingly. In conclusion, the chapter considers the relevance of a sustainable customer relationship that involves personalization.
Celina Greiner, Sandra Goh

Generation Z’s Perspective on Tourists’ Knowledge Sharing and Service Excellence in Tourism

The aim of this study is to understand the tourism industry’s techniques of achieving service excellence, through applying Generation Z’s perspective on tourists’ knowledge sharing to four service excellence dimensions. A quantitative research approach was implemented. Primary data were collected from 119 respondents from the sociological segment of Generation Z. Partial Least Squares (PLS) Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) was used as the statistical analysis tool. Findings indicate that Generation Z’s perspective on knowledge sharing has a positive and significant influence on the four service excellence dimensions: delivering the promise, providing a personal touch, going the extra mile, and dealing well with problems and queries. This study offers valuable insights to help service providers, tourism professionals, and policy makers in the tourism sector recognize that Generation Z’s perspective on tourists’ knowledge sharing is vital for achieving service excellence and competitive advantage, given that Generation Z is the future dominant consumer segment in the tourism industry. The study highlights the exploration of knowledge sharing in reaching service excellence, which is a new and initial attempt in the current research field. It also reveals the importance of Generation Z’s engagement in reaching out to service providers in the tourism sector.
Mcxin Tee, Lee Yen Chaw

Leveraging Digital Technology


Τwo to Tango: Entrepreneurs and Robots’ Users in Hospitality Service Innovation

Technological advances are modifying the processing of human needs, as well as our perception of needs, satisfaction, and service requirements. A human-centered approach has become necessary when examining hotel human–robot interaction in customer service, an emerging field of study. This chapter employs thematic analysis of papers written in 2015–2019 in order to examine social research methodological tools employed to study robot use in hospitality services. The chapter (a) adds to the ongoing discussion on the technology-driven design of hotel robots and automated services; (b) presents the use of social science methodological tools employed in technology-oriented research. It reinforces various previous studies on robots by incorporating technology competence or high level of novelty acceptance as a prerequisite for research participants, which can bring informed results to designers and startups. Thematic analysis identifies research that employed real-time measurements of humans’ experience of automated services and hotel robots’ design. These results can inform entrepreneurial strategic decisions on hotel and general-service robots’ design and development. Multidisciplinary and cross-cultural research teams should also should include a human–robot interface in a synergistic framework that (re)positions the human factor in the center.
Androniki Kavoura

Achieving Positive Hospitality Experiences through Technology: Findings from Singapore and Malaysia

Customers’ experience is one of the most impactful factors in the tourism industry. Only by offering customers an excellent experience is it possible to build and ensure long-term customer loyalty. In today’s world, technology plays a key role in providing customers with an excellent customer experience. This study has the objective of analyzing how a positive customer experience can be achieved, and which technologies are necessary to ensure this. Results were collected through a literature review, and qualitative interviews with managers of selected hotels, as well as of attractions in Malaysia and Singapore. The analysis of these hotels and attractions is based on a set of criteria to determine the extent of the adoption of the new standards that contribute to positive online customer experiences. As a conclusion, different perspectives are compared, and positive and negative aspects of the use of modern technologies in the tourism industry are specified and discussed.
Melina Weitzer, Valentin Weislämle

E-Service Quality: Evaluation of Tourism Websites

The increasing role of travel websites in distributing tourism products highlights the need to study how travelers interact with tourism websites and what is a good service on the web. E-service quality (e-SQ) features are among the main factors contributing to service excellence and customer satisfaction. Tourism managers should identify and assess the underlying dimensions of electronic service quality, to deliver value-added services to their customers. Hence, tourism providers must constantly ensure their website is efficient, helpful, and appropriate, through proper website evaluation. The main objective of this chapter is to investigate the travel websites’ service quality dimensions. First, the concept of e-service quality (e-SQ) and the conceptual model for e-SQ are clarified. By reviewing the different methods of website evaluation in the tourism industry, this chapter provides a foundation for understanding how travel website design features contribute to website users’ online experience. This knowledge can improve the service delivery by tourism websites; it also helps tourism organizations to evaluate the e-SQ of their websites, to guide improvement efforts to increase the e-SQ level. This chapter provides recommendations for tourism service providers in implementing e-service quality measurements to develop attractive e-SQ attributes.
Zahra Pourabedin

Managing Resources


Hospitality and Tourism Management: Adopting Lean Six Sigma, Achieving Service Excellence

This paper reviews the potential benefits of Lean Six Sigma for service providers in the tourism and hospitality industry. The fact that Lean Six Sigma was designed and mainly used by the manufacturing industry makes it seem unattractive for service providers. The goal is to provide scientific information on the advantages and difficulties associated with implementing Lean Six Sigma in a tourism and hospitality operation, with a focus on Asia. In order to gather information for this paper, a literature review and field research were conducted in several South East Asian touristic attractions. The discussion entails the extent to which two selected attractions can employ Lean Six Sigma, and what benefits could result from using them. Overall, Lean Six Sigma has high potential in the tourism and hospitality industry, but has yet to be more frequently used by businesses operating in this sector.
Sérafin Fiala, K. Thirumaran

Shifting Paradigms in Human Resource Management while Striving for Service Excellence in the Tourism Industry

Globalization has led the tourism industry to undergo radical changes, with an ideological shift toward embracing the customer-centric approach and discarding the traditional focus on profits. Tourism organizations need to fulfill the demands and expectations of customers by training staff to maintain service excellence. A strategic approach must ensure employees are engaged, recognized, innovative, trustworthy, and loyal, exhibiting innovation and enhanced performance. This conceptual study explores the paradigm shifts in tourism human-resource management, and highlights a strategic approach of integrating operational and cultural elements for achieving service excellence. The proposed Operational Integration and Cultural Integration (OICI) elucidates effective management of human resources to achieve service excellence. It highlights that the customers’ power to choose has increased, as the quality of the overall experience is wholly based on perception and acts as a main differentiator in the competitive world. Hence there is a need for constantly innovative ways to enhance services’ effectiveness through efficient utilization of human resources (employees). To achieve high performance and service excellence, organizations must constantly encourage and inspire their employees, and acknowledge their contribution. The OICI model’s implementation can achieve organizational goals and lead to satisfied, delighted, and loyal customers.
Ruchi Sharma, Zilmiyah Kamble

Towards Service Excellence: The Zone of Tolerance for Hospitality and Tourism Education in Malaysia

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the zone of tolerance and student satisfaction level; it examines desired educational service levels, minimum service levels, and students’ perceptions of actual service. By utilizing an inclusive service quality approach, a conceptual framework for measuring zone of tolerance in higher education services is presented, to examine the delivery of both non-academic and academic service quality for hospitality and tourism education in Malaysia. A self-selection sampling approach is used, with an online questionnaire survey of 300 respondents, to study hospitality and tourism programs in public and private universities across Malaysia. Data are analyzed using descriptive measures, gap analysis, and t-tests. Results reveal that the evaluation of educational services can be scaled according to different types of expectations—desired and adequate—and that students use these two types of expectations as a comparison standard in evaluating higher education services in Malaysia.
Kashif Hussain, Rupam Konar, Pradeep Kumar Nair, Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan

Conclusion: The Future of Service Excellence in Asia

Whilst the Asian region is experiencing a growth in tourist arrivals, it becomes increasingly important for businesses in its tourism and hospitality industry to find ways to sustain the growth momentum into the future. This edited book posits that going beyond just customer satisfaction to achieve customer delight may be the solution. For long-term competitiveness, with a better understanding of customer needs, businesses can develop their operational capabilities and competencies in meeting these needs, not only to satisfy, but also to delight their customers. Some key takeaways from the broad array of practices and challenges discussed in the 12 chapters in this book include the influence of cultures on how and what businesses in the Asian tourism and hospitality industry do in their quest for service excellence, as well as how adding a personal touch can make a key difference on the whole customer experience.
Chun Meng Tang, Dirk Klimkeit, K. Thirumaran
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