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Interactions between customers and service employees have a strong influence on customers’ perceptions of service quality and their overall satisfaction. During service encounters, both physical and social dimensions of the service environment affect interpersonal dynamics and the subsequent relationships that develop. The study described here focuses specifically on the cruise experience and the distinct passenger-service employee relationships that develop during a cruise. An extensive review of related research combined with interviews and observations on six cruises suggests a framework of four specific role relationships: the passenger as expert, the passenger as manager, the passenger as friend, and the passenger as a team member. By focusing on dimensions of the context in which service occurs, managers can anticipate the types of relationship that develop. They are then better prepared to address the service challenges most likely to occur as they strive to enhance service delivery.


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