Publication Date

4-2003

Abstract

[Excerpt] Many successful hospitality-management programs are predicated on the manager’s ability to get to know the customer, a task that is almost always easier said than done. The depth of understanding required to answer certain customer-related questions is often difficult to reach with traditional research tools such as surveys. Consider, for example, questions related to consumer decision making. Conventional wisdom suggests that a consumer’s choice of hospitality products is based on both rational and emotional considerations. That is, there is a logical component to the decision, in which the buyer considers such attributes as price, location, and ratings of service quality. There is also an emotional component, such as feelings of happiness and excitement, which are elicited by the decision itself and by emotionally evocative aspects of the choice options. The emotional aspects are likely to be strongest when a choice is made more for hedonic reasons (e.g., pleasure travel) than for utilitarian reasons (e.g., business travel).

The above discussion raises the question of what we know about how, when, and why positive emotions come into play in such a choice process. The answer is, surprisingly little, even though all manner of strategic decisions associated with the marketing of hospitality products, from product and service design to marketing promotion, involve some emotion quotient. Such limited knowledge about a topic of importance to managers and customers alike has a number of causes. Perhaps the chief cause is simply that positive emotion is an ambiguous construct that is hard to define and even harder to study. Indeed, despite centuries of theorizing about and studying emotion, there remains little consensus as to what emotion really is and how best to measure it.

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