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Concept of Customer Journey and Its Impact on Guest Satisfaction and Financial Performance

The topic that has been selected for analysis in the thesis paper is related to the customer journey and its impact on the financial results and guest satisfaction in hospitality industry. The examples of ITC Hotels, The Claridges Hotels and Resorts and Upper Upscale Hotels and Resorts have been selected for analysis of the topic. The major determination of the report is to comprehend the impact that customer journey on financial results and satisfaction that is provided to the guests in the hospitality industry. The report will be able to provide details regarding the changes that can take place in the highly competitive hospitality industry and the ways by which these can influence the profit margins of organizations. The growth of branding in the hoteling industry is considered to be a major aspect from the viewpoint of customers (Padma & Ahn, 2020). The different aspects that can have an impact on the branding related aspects of the organization include the reduction in searching costs, perceived risks and facilitating the process of purchase decision.

The customers are able to play a major role in improvement of organizations in the hospitality industry. The owners of hospitality organizations mainly aim at gaining a large share in the market in comparison to the competitors and their ability of maintaining customers based on levels of loyalty. Tourism industry is able to cover around 11 percent of the total GDP of the world and around 200 million individuals are currently working in the industry. The journey of customers is able to influence the decisions that are made by hospitality organizations and the financial aspects of the business are also affected in a huge manner. Customer journey is mainly considered to be a collection of various processes that customers go through while they aim at purchasing a particular service or product that is offered by an organization. The customer service executives of the organizations need to implement various steps for ensuring that their products are purchased by the customers (Moliner et al., 2019).

The experiences that are provided by customer service experts and relationships built by them can have an impact on the purchase decision that will be made by the customers. The service policies in this case are considered to be an important aspect related to the customer journey that is experienced and the reviews that customers can provide to the organization. The reputation of an organization is also influenced in a huge manner by the journey that is experiences by the customers. The hospitality industry is considered to be highly service-oriented and this has further increased the importance of the formation of an effective customer journey so that their loyalty levels can be maintained. The satisfaction levels of customers are able to play a vital part in confirming that the hospitality organizations can maintain their loyal customer base and can also attract the new customers based on services that are provided to them (Olya et al., 2021).

The hospitality organizations are also able to attract huge number of customers if they can enhance the quality of journey of the customers. The customer reviews are considered to be an important aspect of the operations of hospitality organizations and the positions that are formed by them in the industry. The research topic is thereby important for understanding the impact that customer journey can have on the hospitality organizations. The importance of customer satisfaction and experiences in the hospitality has also enhanced significance of the research topic as it can provide a clear picture related to the operations of hospitality organizations.

Customer Journey and Its Correlation with Net Promoter Scores

The literature review will be based on the impact that customer journey can have on the financial decisions that are made by organizations in the hospitality industry. The concepts of customer fulfilment, customer loyalty and customer retention will be considered for detailed analysis of the previous literature related to this topic. Moreover, the changes that can take place in the hospitality industry and their relationship with the customer journey will also be discussed and analyzed in the literature review based on previous researches and literature. The analysis in the literature review will be done by selecting a major organization named ITC Hotels, India. The theories will be implemented for understanding the ways by which customer journey and their satisfaction levels can influence the financial aspects of the organizational operations (Gunasekar & Sudhakar, 2019). The research provide details regarding the ways by which hospitality organizations can make their decisions based on the journey of customers and their satisfaction levels.

The foremost drive of this paper is to discuss the concept of the Customer Journey in the Hotels and its resultant impact on guest satisfaction and financial performance. The different financial factors associated within the same as well as its effects on net promoter scores (guest satisfaction) are also defined and the correlation among them is elucidated.

Customer journey talks about the series of processes that a customer has to go through when purchasing a product or service from any brand or business organization. During this process, there are certain steps where the customer service experts of the said organization come into direct or indirect interaction with the customers (Lundaeva, 2018). The conduct and service policies of the relevant organization, as well as the skills of the service experts in dealing with difficult customers plays a very important role in determining the net promoter scores for the relevant organization. The net promoter score is nothing but a method of expressing customer satisfaction in the form of a universal score, the higher the score, the higher the levels of satisfaction of the consumers (Yang & Xue, 2020). If the consumers of any business organization have a high satisfaction index, the reputation of the organization improves drastically. This attracts a larger customer base. As a result, the total profit generation of the business is also boosted.

This report aims to discuss these three concepts and their relationship dynamic with each other, in context of the different academic articles and journals published in this area of study.

In order to study the different concepts outlined above, a number of articles and journals were chosen by the keyword search method. The findings from the same are outlined and briefly discussed below.

According to (Baquero, 2022), customer journey is an elaborate process that is not limited to purchasing a product and accessing customer service for the same. The paper outlines that the main stages of customer journey as stated below. All of these stages are important for determining the customer satisfaction levels and the financial status of the company in the long run. The ways in which these three concepts interact during these stages of customer journey are being critically analysed below.

  • Awareness: This step is the first step of the customer journey. In this stage, the customers are to be made aware of the brand or business name, and the product or service that they offer to their customers. Different business organizations use different channels to create awareness of their products, like social media, televisions, magazines as well as newspapers (Batra, 2018). If the content created with the aim of gaining awareness of the product, is engaging or interactive for the consumer, their satisfaction levels are to boosted. This is maximized when using social media platforms as the channel to boost the awareness of the relevant brand.
  • Consideration: If the awareness creating strategies developed by a particular business organization is successful, the same leaves a mark on the customer, and therefore, they often consider purchasing the same. However, at this stage the customer has to study the details regarding the product or service that they want to pursue. If the product is of high- quality and within the price range, the customer satisfaction levels are boosted even further. This reflects upon the Net Promoter score of the relevant business as well (Phan, 2020).
  • Decision: This is the most important phase of the consumer journey process. This is because in this stage, the customer has already considered the product as an option for their purchase. The quality and price of the same are also taken into consideration. Other similar products from other brands are also considered. In order to boost the customer satisfaction in this stage of the journey as well, the chosen product or service should be cost- beneficial in comparison to the products of the direct conditions of the relevant company. It should be mentioned here that, even if the price is slightly higher than that of the competitors, the consumers are inclined to pay slightly more based on the quality of the product (Rajamani & RamaRao, 2019). Thus, brands whose products are both effective and of high quality, and is also reasonably priced are often the ones chosen by the consumers.
  • Retention: Retaining customers is one of the key aspects of any business organization. If done properly, the customer base of the company at hand increases rapidly, and therefore, the revenue generation of the company is boosted as well. However, a number of different factors are responsible for determining if a particular consumer will buy their product periodically, and develop a loyalty towards the brand itself. The first among them is the usability of the product. The quality of a product is also truly tested after the same is purchased by the consumer (Lucia-Palacios, Pérez-López & Polo-Redondo, 2020). If the product serves the consumer appropriately, they are satisfied with their own purchase. This propels them to become a regular customer at the relevant brand. Another important aspect that determines the same is that of customer support and service. This department within any business organization is responsible for making sure that the customer is not facing any issues with the product at hand. Polite behavior and fast solutions are often the two main factors that helps determine the customer satisfaction is this stage of the journey.
  • Advocacy: This is the final stage of the customer journey process, and is known to play a very important role in boosting the net promoter scores or guest satisfaction index. In this stage, the representatives of a particular business organizations reach out to recent consumers of their products and ask for their opinions regarding the same. If they are facing any issues relevant to the products, the service experts provide them with options of similar products that they can use and will be more suitable for them. This additional care and follow up techniques are very important in increasing the satisfaction index of the customers (Madsen, 2020). This differentiates the popular and successful brands from their competitors.  

Role of Service Experts in Determining Net Promoter Scores for Organizations

The importance of the net promote score is also very high in this aspect. (Srirahayu, Anugrah & Layyinah,2021) states that net promoter score is a measure of the level of consumer satisfaction which is determined by the customer journey process. The way of calculating the net promote score is to subtract the percentage of negative influences on customer journey from the positive influences of the same. This method of calculating the net promote score has been introduced with the aim of developing a universal scoring system. This will prove helpful when trying the compare the different business organization that are operating in the same market, and has the same target market. It is essentially a market research metric. The marking system for net promote score is from 1 to 10, where 9 and 10 scores show a high rate of customer satisfaction, 8 to 6 are considered to be normal levels of customer satisfaction, and anything below 6 is considered to be poor in the aspect of the satisfaction of the customers of a particular business organization.

The net promote score index also plays a vital part in the aspect of customer loyalty as well. A customer of a particular brand becomes a loyal customer of the same, if the products are renewed or new relevant products are also purchased regularly from the said store. Growing customer loyalty leads to the development of a bigger customer base, and therefore, the total revenue collection of the said business improves. Thus, the net promote score is a direct indicator of the popularity of a brand or an organization on the basis of customer journey and their satisfaction levels throughout the same.

It should be mentioned here that in order for a brand to be able to constantly gain customers and retain them in the long run, the company should be prepared to assist the customer in the different stages of their journey of purchasing a product for the relevant company. Therefore, it can be concluded from academic literature in this area that customer satisfaction and the customer journey are closely related to one another, and improvement in one often indicates improvement in the other (Bennett & Molisani, 2020).

In regard to the financial results in hotels, it is seen that Hoteliers must create a positive, long-term relationship with their clients in order for their business to flourish. They must be able to recognise a traveller’s different touchpoints in order to connect with its visitors. It is why customer journey mapping in hotels is so vital. According to Lemon & Verhoef (2016), Client journey mapping outlines various steps a customer or visitor goes through, from becoming encouraged to travel to arranging a vacation and leaving out of the hotel, to only return to the property again and again. In order to analyse the effects on the financial results, the research by Buckley & Webster (2016), revealed that Understanding the consumers' wants and requirements can help to enhance the value and pleasure of the consumers. Hotel owners may discover the key touchpoints among them and its customers by mapping their visitor journey. They can rapidly recognise the problem and take steps to enhance their guests' experience. Higher ROI can be directly connected to better customer satisfaction (Halvorsrud & Kvale, 2017). If a customer had a positive experience the first time, they are more likely to return and stay at your hotel again. By mapping a customer's path, one can customise their experience and improve their overall stay.

Customer Journey and Its Impact on Hospitality Industry

On the other hand, it can be stated that Customers nowadays prefer to express their opinions, opinions, and recommendations on social media. Indeed, individuals are more likely to share a horrible experience than a pleasant one (Tueanrat, Papagiannidis & Alamanos, 2021). Consumer success stories, but at the other hand, can still be shared on social media, influencing the choices of other prospects. Once hotel owners have a contented customer, the chances of receiving favourable social networking mentions grow. It assists in the growth of a positive internet repute, which then in turn aids in the attraction of additional reservations. The location is the motivating reason behind customers' decision to travel. Many hotels have realised this, and as a result, they become more active on Facebook. They provide inspiring relevant content, with an emphasis on consumer content. For keeping them motivated, they post about various activities or appealing hotel excursions. As argued by Vakulenko, Shams, Hellström & Hjort (2019), when tourists are motivated, they begin studying numerous places and narrow down their choices to a handful. They have yet to make a final choice. They might be seen searching the internet for locations to vacation and stay. This is why maintaining a positive internet reputation is so important. Revenue management is anticipating customer behaviour in order to offer a product at the unsurpassed conceivable value in every single day. As a consequence, proper money supervision can be described as vending the accurate room to the factual client at the accurate time at the right price through the right channel with the best fee efficiency (Mbama, Ezepue, Alboul & Beer, 2018). It is noteworthy that here revenue management is occasionally mentioned to as profit management depending on the non-equivalent concepts said above.

As opined by Hu & Tracogna (2020), demand forecasting can be related in this regard as demand from customers is never constant. It can be varied based on the several circumstances such as seasonal events, local events including the consequences related to the macro-economy. It can be stated that the demand can be forecasted during rising of the information falling based on the appropriate demand, marketing and the distribution plan. Here, the concerned study suggests for serving a foundation in order to establish the pricing, selection of the distribution channels, promotion generation for attracting authentic visitors or launch of some other marketing initiatives for enhancing the revenue management and the occupancy initiatives.  Another research by Voorhees et al., (2017), proposed that the term inventory denotes a product (rooms) supplied in revenue management. A room is a consumable element with an ‘expiration date’. Picking the right balance of distribution channels is thus another important part of revenue management. GDSs, Online travel agencies, bed bankers (wholesalers), and meta - search engines are generally the key channels users interact with. Users create a distribution strategy that balances occupation and revenue maximisation by using forecasting findings for various consumer categories and channels (Shiratori, Trevisan & Mascarenhas, 2021). For example, hotels may use online travel agencies as their primary distribution channel while allocating beds to bed banks in order to fill empty rooms at a reduced cost.

Literature Review: Customer Journey and its Impact on Financial Results and Guest Satisfaction in Hospitality Industry

In addition to offsets, according to Kall (2021), the hotel customer journey is just as important as some others. The visitor is getting ready to go. However, the marketers need to ensure that they would have a positive overall experience but were satisfied with the contributions, such as sanitation and customer support service. A happy visitor is more likely to return to your hotel for a second stay. The owners might either give them a discount or remind them of how much fun they had while staying at the concerned hotel. Owners may segment their visitors depending on their location and age, and send targeted reminders to them via WhatsApp or other forms of communication. Allow your visitors to feel thankful for picking your hotel and to appreciate the service. Hotel customer journey mapping may help hotels better communicate with the consumers, allowing them to satisfy their requirements and aspirations (Gloppen, Lindquister & Daae, 2016). In summary, experiential map may have a significant influence on the hotel's overall growth and strategy.

Customers are considered to be the most important part of the businesses and they can influence the success levels of an organization and its image in the industry as well. Moreover, the experiences that are provided to the customers can have an impact on the strategies that are implemented by the firms. The reviews being provided by customers can affect the future sales of organizations and their customer base. The number of customers that are gained by the organizations can be affected by the perceptions that are developed in their minds and the levels of needs that have been fulfilled as well. The levels or degrees of satisfaction can also influence the positions that are mainly gained by the hospitality and the service-based organizations. Customer loyalty has been a major objective of the service-based organizations that operate in various parts of the world. The levels of desire of the individuals can affect the services and products that are developed by the organizations (KHAN, HAKEEM & NAUMOV, 2018).

Customer satisfaction is also considered to be a major aspect of customer feedback that is mainly provided after the consumers have purchased the services or products. Customer fulfilment can be mainly enhanced by fulfilling expectations of the consumers by providing the services and goods that are required by them. The customers are mainly satisfied when there is a similarity that exists between the performance levels of services and products and the expectations of customers. The development of a loyal customer base is also based on the ways by which an organization is able to fulfill needs and expectations of the consumers. On the other hand, the disappointed customers will not re-purchase the products of an organization and they may also discourage the other consumers from purchasing the products (Kitsios et al., 2021). The future loyalty of customers is also effectively predicted by the detailed analysis of customer satisfaction levels. Customer satisfaction is an aspect of marketing that can demonstrate the desires of customers for effective services and products that can be gained by them. The organizations need to develop effective connections with the customers after purchase of the services and goods so that their loyalty levels can be maintained. The experiences provided to customers are thereby considered to be highly important for ensuring that the loyal customer base can be maintained for a long time (Kim et al., 2020).

Analysis: ITC Hotels and Its Relationship with Customer Journey and Satisfaction Levels

Customer loyalty is a significant aspect of marketing activities that are performed by the firms and the services that are provided by the firms. The organizations can easily chase the loyal customers by offering its products or services that have already been used by them. The repeated purchases that are made by customers for products and services being offered by an organization are able to depict the levels of customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is considered to be eagerness of the customers related to purchasing the products from a particular organization. The positive experiences that are provided to customers have a major optimistic influence on the enhancement of their fulfilment levels. The brands also have to offer effective services to the customers in order to ensure that they can visit again and again (Popovic et al., 2018). A major and fundamental theory related to loyalty marketing is based on increasing the loyal customers so that the profitability levels can be enhanced. Around the 5 percent expansion that can take place in the levels of customer retention can lead to more than 120 percent of the enhancement in profits. The loyal customers thereby have the ability to ensure that the organizations in service-based industries can maintain the profit margins and the competitive positions that have been gained by them in the industry (Zhang & Yang, 2021).

Customer journey is mainly a process that the customers can need to go through across the different touchpoints and stages with the organization. Customer experiences are also a major part of the consumer journey and the process of mapping the customer journey from the perspective of an organization is considered to be an effective tool for improvement of the levels of experiences. Some of the touchpoints that customers can go through during their journey can be easily controlled by organizations operating in different industries. The firms thereby need to enhance their understanding related to the factors that can be controlled by them along with the factors that cannot be easily controlled. The researches related to customer journey have thereby enhanced the understanding that organizations can gain regarding the touchpoints and the processes that can be implemented by them for controlling these aspects (Moreno-Perdigon, Guzman-Perez & Mesa, 2021).

The perspectives of the firms can be developed and enhanced effectively with the support that is mainly provided by the knowledge that they have gained regarding different touchpoints. The platforms and the new technologies have also changed the customer journeys and the experiences that are gained by them within the organization. The consumer journeys can be based on different activities that include engaging with the social media-based platforms and thereby visiting the retailers and analyzing the different service providers in a detailed manner as well. The experiential and the emotional journeys that are undertaken by customers are also considered to be an important aspect of the consumer journeys. The consumers can engage in the experiential journeys based on the aspects like the image of a brand, products, services and the technologies that are being offered by the brand (Alnawas & Hemsley-Brown, 2019).

Importance of Customer Satisfaction and Experiences in Hospitality Industry

The customer journeys are thereby motivated by the concrete goals and they can have an impact on the strategies that are being implemented by the firms. The service providers have started providing huge levels of importance to the roles that are being played by the customers. Customer journeys are considered to be an important aspect related to development of the service management and designs. The customer journeys can be described as means of taking of viewpoint of customers and to gain insights into the experiences that are being gained by them. The cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual and sensory responses that are provided by customers to the individuals are considered to be a major part of the journeys that are completed by them while purchasing a product or service (Godovykh & Tasci, 2020). The touchpoints can also be theorized as the clusters based on the groups of the experiential elements that can enhance the service or product experiences. The direct contacts can also occur based on physical interactions with the touchpoints and on the other hand, the indirect contacts can take place around the encounters with the representatives of value proposition. Customer journey can also be viewed as the service-based system that consists of network of the agents and the communications that can mix resources for co-creation of value (Paulose & Shakeel, 2022).

The hotels and hospitality organizations need to understand the importance of customer journey and experience based on the interactions that are made by customers through different touchpoints. The differences that exist between the journeys and experiences of two customers following the same steps can have an impact on the levels of satisfaction that are gained by them. The interactions can take place between customers and the hotels based on three different steps that include pre-consumption, consumption and post-consumption. Customer experiences in the hospitality industry can be based on many other factors other than food, beverages and the hotel rooms that include amenities, ambiance, on-line and off-line interaction and employee expertise. Customer experience management is considered to be a tough task that needs to be performed by the hospitality firms (Nobar & Rostamzadeh, 2018).

The changes that have been depicted in the consumer demands in twenty-first century led firms to change the methods of conducting business operations. The customers have also started demanding personalized and superior services and this has led to enhancement in the importance of customer journey. The customer experience analysis process also plays an important role in supporting the hospitality organizations to understand the needs and demands of customers. Reviews provided by the customers are also considered to be an important aspect of the analysis related to customer journey. The brands that have been gained success in the industry can enhance the customer experiences by integrating fundamental aspects of the value proposition within each feature and the services that are offered to the customers. A major factor that is a part of the customer experience related subject is related to the experiences that are offered to them (Ali et al., 2021).

Customer experiences can also consist of the individual contact that is developed between customers and the firm at various points within an experience that is termed as the touchpoint. Superior customer experiences are important in the hospitality industry for gaining the loyalty of guests and achieving an effective competitive advantage as well. The development of a proper balance between the service quality with the other factors like aesthetics, price, product quality, assortment and location (Merli et al., 2019). The managers and researchers have also depicted that the management of customer experiences by the organizations in hospitality industry can have an impact on the decisions that are made by them. The various factors like ambiance, price and the product quality can affect the experiences that are gained by the customers. The loyalty and commitment levels of the customers have an impact on the purchase decisions that are being made by them (Aakash & Gupta Aggarwal, 2022).

ITC Hotels is mainly a chain of hotels of Indian origin that is based in Gurgaon. The chain operates with more than 100 hotels and has been able to gain the position of fifth biggest chain of hotels. ITC Hotels is considered to be a major part of the ITC Limited group of the organizations and ITC had entered hotel business in the year 1975 by starting its first hotel in Chennai. ITC Hotels has been able to host different eminent personalities and the world leaders including Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The philosophy that has been developed by the hotel chain is “Responsible Luxury” and each of the hotels that are a part of the chain has gained a Platinum rating in LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Currently ITC Hotels has gained a huge customer base with the help of different brands that are being operated by the organization including Welcomhotel by the ITC Hotels that consists of more than 20 brands, Fortune Hotels that consists of 35 hotels and WelcomHeritahe that consists of more than 50 hotels (Itchotels.com. 2022).

The experiences that are provided by the organization to the guests have been able to play a major role in ensuring that it can gain more customers from various parts of the world. The customer journey in this case is mainly related to the time that is spent by the guests in the different hotels that are a part of the portfolio of ITC and the experiences that are provided to them in different parts of the world. The support that is offered by the staff of the hotel is also considered to be a vital aspect that has an influence on the customer experiences provided to the guests. The importance of customer journey is quite high as this can help the hotel to gain customers in the future and to ensure that they choose different services that are offered by the hotel in various parts of the world (Zhu, Lin & Cheng, 2020). The previous customers in the hotel group can also be maintained based on the time that they have spent in the hotels. The industry and hotel rankings have also recognized the services provided by ITC Hotels to customers. The “We Assure” program of ITC Hotels had received a Platinum a certification provided by M/s DNV. The program was also recognized as Best Safety Protocol program by readers of the Travel + Leisure India and South Asia 2020-2021. The commitment provided to innovation and research and the close ties that have been formed in the companies and the industry leaders can also have an impact on the customer journey (Koch, Gerdt & Schewe, 2020).

Conclusion

In conclusion, this report outlines the interaction between customer journey, customer satisfaction and the financial aspect of any business organization. The main reasons behind the close relationships within these concepts are also studied with the aim of connecting them, and understanding the importance of the satisfaction of customers in this aspect. The different aspects of customer satisfaction as well as the financial gain of the company associated with the same have been studied in this report. A number of academic, peer- reviewed articles were identified on similar and relevant topics. These articles were critically analysed in this report, and the findings from the same are discussed elaborately. The customer journey refers to the set of steps that a consumer must go through when buying a product or service from a company or brand. There are several points in this process where the mentioned organization's customer service specialists come into direct or indirect touch with the clients. The relevant firm's behaviour and service rules, as well as the service specialists' talents in dealing with tough consumers, all play a significant part in establishing the net promoter ratings for the relevant organisation. The net promoter score is a way of expressing customer satisfaction in the form of a universal score; the greater the number, the higher the consumers' levels of satisfaction.

In terms of financial performance in hotels, it is clear that in order for their business to thrive, hoteliers must build a strong, long-term connection with their clientele. In order to communicate with its guests, they must be able to recognise a traveller’s many touchpoints. This is why customer journey mapping is so important in hotels. Client journey mapping depicts the many actions taken by a client or tourist, from being inspired to travel to planning a trip and leaving the hotel, only to return to the resort again and again.

For the drive of collecting data which is credible and valid to the research question, it is important to apply data acquisition and data evaluation methodologies. The purpose of the research methodology section of any thesis is to outline the key methods and procedures which were implemented for collecting and analysing data pertaining to the research questions (Snyder, 2019). With this respect, the following chapter aims to establish how information was collected and analysed to scrutinize the influence of customer journey on guest satisfaction of the hospitality industry in India.

Research philosophy implies approach or concept based on which the researcher will select data collection methods and analysis procedures for this study. In this research, a positivist research philosophy was applied. The philosophical framework of positivism is based on the knowledge that a research phenomenon can be best understood from a statistical or objective perspective. An interpretivist research philosophy, on the contrary, is focused on understanding a research phenomenon from the actual experiences of individuals and communities (Žukauskas, Vveinhardt & Andriukaitien?, 2018). Since this study was focused on evaluating impact of customer journey on guest satisfaction of the hospitality industry in India from an objective point of view – the research philosophy of positivism was thus considered to be the most relevant (Xu et al., 2019).

Research design means the framework based on which data collection and analysis procedures will be decided. Research design generally comprises of two types – qualitative and quantitative. A quantitative research design is when the researcher collects objective or numerical data which can then be used to determine cause-effect relationships between two or multiple variables using statistical or computational analysis. A qualitative study on the other hand, comprises of the researcher collecting in-depth responses from participants regarding their subjective experiences pertaining to the research question (Dannels, 2018). Since this research aims to analyse the relationship and impact of variables such as customer journey on the guest satisfaction a quantitative research design was thus considered to be the most relevant.

Research approach indicates the overall idea or assumption based on which, findings will be analysed. A descriptive approach was used for this paper. A research design which is descriptive, as the name suggests intends to describe and explore the characteristics of a phenomenon or population being evaluated (Bloomfield & Fisher, 2019). Since this study aims at describing the relationship and influence of customer journey on guest satisfaction of the hospitality industry in India – a descriptive approach was thus found to be the most appropriate.  

A cross sectional survey was used for the collection of data from participants of the hospitality industry. This is because a survey paves the way for the acquisition of a large amount of objective data in a cost-effective manner. A survey comprises of close ended questions based on which participants can choose multiple, objective answers (Sovacool, Axsen & Sorrell, 2018). For this study, participants were required to answer close ended questions exploring the impact of customer journey on guest satisfaction and using responses as per a 5-point Likert scale (Appendix 1).

Sampling is the process by which, participants for studying a research phenomenon are recruited. The sample or participants for the study comprised of 99-100 customers from the hospitality industry. This is because customers would hold the best knowledge regarding how operational factors such as guest satisfaction are affected by the customer journey (Robertson & Sibley, 2018). Additionally, an adequate number of participants were recruited to obtain a comprehensive set of data and also prevent the risk of statistical errors in the form of false positives and false negatives.  A technique of simple random sampling was used wherein, participants or customers from the hospitality industry were selected from social media profiles using computer generated random numbers. Such a form of sampling technique was useful in terms of reducing bias and ensuring that every potential participant had a probability to be included in the study (Cash et al., 2022).   

Data analysis is the process by which, the primary data so collected are analysed using methods of statistical analysis. Findings acquired from the survey were first evaluated using descriptive statistics and percentages to understand how various participant responses were distributed from the total sample. Additionally, statistical analysis in the form of correlation and regression analyses were used due to their ability to demonstrate the extent to which two or more variables would be significantly associated with each other (Abutabenjeh & Jaradat, 2018). For this study, the dependent variables guest satisfaction while the independent variable is customer journey. Since this research intended to analyse the relationship or the influence of the independent variables – customer journey – on the dependent variable, that is the guest satisfaction – a correlation and regression analysis were thus considered to be the most appropriate.

Studies which rely on data collected from human participants must adhere to certain ethical obligations so as to prevent any harm or safety risks. For this study, the autonomy of participants was respected by first obtaining consent prior to their participation. Participants were also assured that their engagement in the survey was unpaid in nature and the non-appearance of the same will not impact their current personal or professional life (Cascio & Racine, 2018). Participants were also well-versed that their personal information will not be collected and all of their answers will be kept personal and not revealed to any third-party stakeholder without their consent. Lastly, in order to ensure data security, the primary data so collected were stored in a password protected, electronic database – which was available only to the researcher (Barrow, Brannan & Khandhar, 2021).

The methodology section intends to establish the major procedures of data acquisition and analysis which were utilized, for of answering the research questions of the study. A quantitative study, comprising of a cross sectional survey was utilized to understand the effect of guest satisfaction and financial results on customer journey of the hospitality industry in India. A descriptive approach was further used to evaluate the results against literature review findings. The subsequent findings which were obtained from applying these methodologies have been discussed in detail in the succeeding chapters.

The aim of the results chapter of any paper is to outline how raw data was collected and interpreted and also establish the causal relationships which were observed between variables during statistical analysis. The following chapter aims to evaluate the key results which were obtained after survey implementation and how customer journey were found to impact the guest satisfaction in the hospitality industry of India respectively.

Table 1: Age of the Participants

Age

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

26-32 years

22

22.2

22.2

33-40 years

23

23.2

45.5

41-50 years

23

23.2

68.7

Above 50 years

21

21.2

89.9

Between 18-25 years

10

10.1

100.0

Total

99

100.0

Age of the Participants

Figure 1: Age of the Participants 

Based on the given data and figures (Figure 1, Table 1), it can be implied that a large majority of the participants were aged 33 to 40 years (24%), followed by participants aged 41 to 50 years (23%), participants in the age group of 26 to 32 years (22%), participants in the age group above 50 years (21%) and finally, participants who belonged to the age group of 18 to 25 years respectively (10%).

Table 2: Gender of the Participants

Gender

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Female

41

41.0

41.0

Male

42

43.0

84.0

Others

8

8.0

92.0

Prefer not to say

8

8.0

100.0

Total

99

100.0

Gender of Participants  

Figure 2: Gender of Participants 

As per the given data (Figure 2, Table 2), it can be implied that 41% of the participants comprised of females while 43% of the participants comprised of male participants in the hospitality industry, followed by 8% of participants identifying as ‘others’ and the remaining 8% who did not specify their gender identity. 

Table 3: Income

Income

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Above Rs. 800000 annually

47

47.5

47.5

Below Rs. 450000 annually

6

6.1

53.5

Between Rs. 450000 annually to Rs. 800000

46

46.5

100.0

Total

99

100.0

 Income

Figure 3: Income.

In order to understand the background of the participants in India, it is crucial that information about their overall income is obtained. In this concern, it is relatively crucial to underline that 46% of the participants had their income between Rs. 450000 to 800000. On the other hand,47% had their income above 800000 annually. This reflects that a majority of the participants enjoyed a comfortable life in terms of the overall income. 

Table 4: Hotels visited

Hotel visited in the past one year

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

1

1.0

1.0

ITC Hotels

18

18.2

19.2

Marriot Hotels

38

38.4

57.6

Taj Hotels

24

24.2

81.8

The Claridge’s Hotels and Resorts

18

18.2

100.0

Total

99

100.0

Hotels Visited 

Figure 4: Hotels Visited

The different participants were also asked about their choice of hotel and the one visited in the past one year. 38% of them had visited the Marriot Hotels whereas 18% of them had visited the ITC hotels. In line with this, 24% of them had visited the Taj hotels and the rest had been to the Claridge’s. Hence, as all participants have visited the hotels on a regular basis and formulate the right participant set to answer the different questions as related to the hospitality industry. 

Table 5: Satisfaction in the hotel

How would you describe your satisfaction in the hotel?

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Great

52

52.5

52.5

Satisfactory

34

34.3

86.9

Very poor

13

13.1

100.0

Total

99

100.0

Satisfaction 

Figure 5: Satisfaction

From the given data (Table 5, Figure 5), it can be implied that a majority of participants (52%) felt that the client satisfaction in their enterprises were extremely positive and great. Additionally, approximately 35% of participants felt that client satisfaction was moderate and 13% felt that client satisfaction was very poor in their hospitality enterprises.

Table 6: Customer experience

How would you describe your customer experience within the enterprise?

Frequency

Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Great

47

47.5

47.5

Satisfactory

38

38.4

85.9

Very poor

14

14.1

100.0

Total

99

100.0

 Customer Experience

Figure 6: Customer Experience

With respect to the given data (Figure 7, Table 7), it is observed that a majority of customers feel that (48%) the customer journey has been great whereas 38% felt that it was satisfactory and lastly 14% felt that it was quite poor. Hence, varying responses have been received in this regard.

Table 7: Descriptive Statistics of the Data

Descriptive Statistics

N

Minimum

Maximum

Mean

Std. Deviation

Skewness

Kurtosis

Statistic

Statistic

Statistic

Statistic

Statistic

Statistic

Std. Error

Statistic

Std. Error

The customer journey in the hospitalisation industry is affected by the social influence

99

1

5

1.87

.933

1.037

.243

.695

.481

The technological factors greatly influence customer journey

99

1

5

1.96

1.087

1.297

.243

1.260

.481

The market influence has a strong influence on the customer journey

99

1

4

1.85

1.004

1.053

.243

.041

.481

The service provided affects the customer journey

99

1

5

1.98

1.000

1.041

.243

.661

.481

The financial results of the firm are affected by brand name

99

1

5

1.81

.955

1.545

.243

2.599

.481

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the discounts and offers made to them

99

1

5

1.95

1.110

1.244

.243

.823

.481

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the service quality

99

1

5

1.88

1.033

1.439

.243

1.849

.481

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the response time and service delivery speed

99

1

2

1.55

.500

-.185

.243

-2.007

.481

customer journey

99

1.00

4.00

1.9242

.79335

.739

.243

-.399

.481

guest satisfaction

99

1.00

4.50

1.7879

.66659

1.350

.243

3.067

.481

Valid N (listwise)

99

The above tables indicate the descriptive statistics of the data (Table 8, Table). The data indicates that the means or average values of most of the data are similar to each other and a majority of the respondents agreed to the statements and that the standard deviation of most of the data components are close to 1 which reflects close distribution.  Additionally, it can be observed that almost all the data components have skewness value ranging from -3 to 3. Such descriptive statistics thus indicate that the data demonstrates normal distribution and that the values are closely dispersed to each other.

The reliability and validity analysis seeks to identify and understand the strength of the data set and the questionnaire chosen for the study. In this regard, the reliability analysis depicts the way in which the data set is rather suitable for the study and the validity test measures the sampling adequacy. 

Table 8: Reliability Statistics of the Data

Reliability Statistics

Cronbach's Alpha

N of Items

.825

10

Table 9: KMO and Bartlett's Test

KMO and Bartlett's Test

Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy.

.389

Bartlett's Test of Sphericity

Approx. Chi-Square

643.255

df

45

Sig.

.000

The given tables (Table, Table 11) indicate the reliability and validity of the data utilizing Cronbach’s Alpha as well as the KMO and Bartlett’s test. According to the Cronbach’s Alpha test, it can be observed that the questionnaire and data values demonstrate high reliability greater than 0.7. Additionally, the data also demonstrates a KMO value greater than 0.5 and a Bartlett’s test value less than 0.05 thus indicating that all variables in the data are correlated strongly with each other.  Moreover, the sampling size appears to be adequate in nature.

Table 10: Data Communalities

Communalities

Initial

Extraction

The customer journey in the hospitalisation industry is affected by the social influence

1.000

.632

The technological factors greatly influence customer journey

1.000

.515

The market influence has a strong influence on the customer journey

1.000

.561

The service provided affects the customer journey

1.000

.560

The financial results of the firm are affected by brand name

1.000

.551

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the discounts and offers made to them

1.000

.626

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the service quality

1.000

.679

The guest satisfaction is influenced by the response time and service delivery speed

1.000

.831

customerjourney

1.000

.959

guestsatisfaction

1.000

.912

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.

The above table (Table 10) indicates the communalities of the data in factor analysis. From the given table, it can be observed that most of the data components indicate cut off values ranging from 0.5 to 0.7. This indicates that the data is a good fit and adequately represented by all variables.

Table 11: Correlation of the Data

Correlations

customerjourney

guestsatisfaction

customerjourney

Pearson Correlation

1

.394**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

N

99

99

guestsatisfaction

Pearson Correlation

.394**

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

N

99

99

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The above table (Table 13) indicates the extent to which the variables of the study were correlated to each. The correlation between guest satisfaction and customer journey was found to be 0.4 thus indicate moderate positive correlation. The correlation analysis is a statistically tool utilised to engage in a critical analysis between the variables to identify the strength of the relationship. A correlation coefficient above 0.4 represents a strong association.

The regression analysis tends to identify the manner in which the independent variable is strongly associated with the dependent variable. It helps in establishing the association between the variables and outlining how the independent variable strongly influences the dependent variable and brings about changes in the same. The regression analysis has been done to establish the relationship between the dependent and the independent variable and gives way to identifying and assessing how the customer journey influences the guest satisfaction.

Table 12: Regression Analysis of the Data

Model Summary

Model

R

R Square

Adjusted R Square

Std. Error of the Estimate

1

.394a

.155

.146

.61588

a. Predictors: (Constant), customerjourney

From the above regression analysis, it can be implied that the customer journey of a hospitality enterprise impacts the guest satisfaction by 14% as per the adjusted R square values (Table 12).  Moreover, the correlation between the variables is quite strong.

Table 13: Anova of the Data

ANOVAa

Model

Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

F

Sig.

1

Regression

6.753

1

6.753

17.803

.000b

Residual

36.793

97

.379

Total

43.545

98

a. Dependent Variable: guestsatisfaction

b. Predictors: (Constant), customerjourney

From the given ANOVA results, a significance value less than 0.05 is indicative that there exists a statistically significant association between the dependent variable and independent variable (Table 13). Based on such findings, it can be stated that the customer journey of an enterprise in the hospitality industry significantly has an impact on the enterprises’ guest satisfaction respectively.

Table 14: Coefficients of the Data 

Coefficientsa

Model

Unstandardized Coefficients

Standardized Coefficients

t

Sig.

B

Std. Error

Beta

1

(Constant)

1.151

.163

7.058

.000

customerjourney

.331

.078

.394

4.219

.000

a. Dependent Variable: guestsatisfaction

The above table provides the regression equation and the coefficients of the dependent and independent variables – that is, customer journey and guest satisfaction of enterprises in the hospitality industry (Table 14).

The cross tab analysis is a statistical analysis tool which helps in identifying the key way in which the opinions of the different customers varies as per the related hotel choices. In this context, it has been identified that in regards to the customer journey of the Marriot Hotels alongside the ITC hotels has been rather smooth and impressive which signifies that these hotels have been performing considerably well in the context of the workplace management and ensuring sound customer journey. 

Table 15: Cross tab 1

Hotel visited in the past one year * customerjourney Crosstabulation

Count  

customerjourney

Total

Strongly Agree

1.50

Agree

2.50

Neutral

3.50

Disagree

Hotel visited in the past one year

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

ITC Hotels

4

9

4

0

0

1

0

18

Marriot Hotels

8

11

7

4

4

3

1

38

Taj Hotels

3

4

7

1

6

3

0

24

The Claridge’s Hotels and Resorts

5

5

4

3

0

1

0

18

Total

21

29

22

8

10

8

1

99

In the context of the guest satisfaction it can be assessed that the Marriot Hotels and the Claridge’s hotel scored well in this sphere. Hence, other hotels need to improve their operations to ensure better service quality.

Table 16: Cross Tab

Hotel visited in the past one year * guestsatisfaction Crosstabulation

Count  

guestsatisfaction

Total

Strongly Agree

1.50

Agree

2.50

Neutral

3.50

Disagree

4.50

Hotel visited in the past one year

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

ITC Hotels

4

5

7

2

0

0

0

0

18

Marriot Hotels

9

13

9

3

2

1

0

1

38

Taj Hotels

3

6

11

2

1

1

0

0

24

The Claridge’s Hotels and Resorts

5

5

6

1

0

0

1

0

18

Total

21

29

34

8

3

2

1

1

99

Conclusion

In order to provide evidence-based answers to the research question, it is essential to first evaluate the extent to which the variables of the research phenomenon being studied are associated with each other. The aim of this results chapter is to examine the statistical relationships between the variables customer journey and guest satisfaction across the hospitality industry of India. The findings revealed that customer journey instilled a statistically significant impact on guest performance. The following chapter evaluates the extent to which such findings can be supported by existing literature.

The discussion related to hospitality industry in India has been able to depict that the customer journey can have a huge influence on the success that is gained by the hospitality organizations. The changes that are continuously taking place in the hospitality industry have an impact on the organizations and their profit margins. The male and female participants in hospitality industry have been considered for understanding the aspects of hospitality industry. The customer satisfaction levels and customer retention approaches that are applied by the firms in hospitality industry can have an influence on the decisions that are made by firms. The participants who have been considered for analysis of the hospitality industry are able to play a key part in ensuring that proper data and information is collected (Liu et al., 2020).

The employees and managers of the hotels have been selected for analysis of the operations of hotels and their positions in the industry as well. The analysis and findings have been able to depict that as the hospitality industry is highly competitive in nature, the development of an effective customer journey is important for ensuring that the organizations can maintain their loyal customers and can also attract the new customers. On the other hand, the effective experiences that are provided to the customers can also have a direct influence on the satisfaction levels and the relationships that are formed with the organizations as well. Moreover, the satisfied customers will be able to play a major role in supporting the organization so that it can target the new customers. The ratings and reviews provided by the customers in the hospitality industry can thereby affect the strategies that are being implemented by the organizations (Hu & Olivieri, 2021).

On the other hand, the hospitality organizations can also make effective financial decisions with the help of proper study of the customer data. The data that the organizations of hospitality industry have gained from the customers can be used for development of the future services based on their demands and needs. The different departments that are a part of the hospitality organizations including customer care, finance, marketing, operations and sales can also be affected in a huge manner by the satisfaction levels that are depicted by the customers. Satisfaction of customers in this case can be measured effectively by analyzing the number of loyal customers who are a part of the customer base of hospitality organizations. On the other hand, the organizations can also maintain their position in the industry by support that is mainly provided by the customer base (Prayag, Hassibi & Nunkoo, 2019).

The hospitality organizations can also take the effective financial decisions related to investments that need to be made in the promotional activities and discounts provided to the customers based on results of the customer journey. Customer journey has a direct influence on fulfilment levels of the customers that in turn can affect the financial decisions that are made by the hospitality organizations in different parts of the world. The changes taking place in the hospitality industry can however change the experiences of the customers and the journeys that are being completed by them (Zhu, Lin & Cheng, 2020). The proper completion of customer journey can thereby influence the strategies that are being implemented by the organizations. The loyal customer base can also be influenced by the strategies of the organizations and the activities that are being implemented by the organizations. The positions of employees can also play a major role in development of the financial decisions of hospitality organizations (Merli et al., 2019).

As per the findings, it can be clearly understood that customer journeys strongly impact the customer satisfaction and financial results of an enterprise in the hospitality industry. It is thus recommended that hotel managers and employees work towards mapping the journey of their customers. This can be done by first evaluating the demographics of the customer – such as their spending habits, income, purchase history and previous transactions (Kokins, Straujuma & Lapi?a, 2021). This data can be helpful for hospitality enterprises to determine the possible services, prices and pain points which a customer may experience or expect in their journey when visiting such organizations. Additionally, as per these findings, it is also recommended that enterprises understand the customers’ journey by obtaining feedback from customers (Rudkowski et al., 2020). This can be done by implementing feedback surveys or by evaluating the reviews which the customer may have shared across social media. This will enable the enterprise to determine the dislikes and likes of the customer based on which the possible journey of the customer can be mapped. This form of mapping will thus enable the organization to understand the kind of services which are likely to contribute to positive customer satisfaction and customer retention thus resulting in greater profits, revenue and financial results (Kranzbühler, Kleijnen & Verlegh, 2019).

The weaknesses of this study provide a useful understanding regarding the ways by which future research on the aspect of customer journeys can be implemented. For instance, in this study, the data so collected was mainly primary and quantitative nature. While such data provide a useful understanding with regards to the causal relationships between key variables, the data however does not shed light on the subjective perspectives which managers or employees may hold regarding the role of customer journeys. Thus, it is suggested that future research be conducted using qualitative research so as to better assess the experiences which employees and managers have had to encounter so as to align their services to match the customers’ journey (Dannels, 2018). Additionally, this study was also limited only to the hospitality industry. It is recommended that further research be conducted to better understand how customers of other industries experience their journeys and how the same impacts the financial results and customer satisfactions of other industry enterprises respectively (Kuehnl, Jozic & Homburg, 2019). Lastly, the data was also collected largely from employees – especially managers regarding the impact of customer journeys. Thus, future research can be conducted using customers who can provide a better understanding regarding how they themselves perceive their journey especially while availing the services and price packages of an enterprise. Further research using employees can also be conducted to better understand how their managers assist them in understanding the customer journeys and associated operational factors such as customer satisfaction and financial results. Lastly, it is recommended that further research can also be conducted using a secondary research design or a case study approach. This will provide e better understanding regarding how existing, globally renowned organizations use the journey of their customers to align their financial resources and customer services (Tueanrat, Papagiannidis & Alamanos, 2021).

Chapter 7: Implications and Conclusion 

Despite the comprehensiveness of findings, this study was also associated with several limitations which cannot be overlooked. One of the first limitations is that the study was only restricted to employees in the hospitality industry and not customers who could have provided a better perspective regarding how they subjectively view the financial results and guest satisfaction. However, to refute the same, it is worthwhile to note that customers may not have effective knowledge regarding the financial results or other operational factors regarding an enterprise thus making it more appropriate to recruit employees. Additionally, since this study was mainly quantitative in nature, there was limited exploration regarding any subjective views which employees may have had regarding the role of customer journeys in impacting their professional roles and responsibilities. Nevertheless, this study enhances the existence repertoire of literature and provides a foundation based on which, future research in the field of customer journey exploration can be implemented.

The findings of this project contributed to the topic by firstly establish the extent to which variables such as financial results and guest satisfaction are greatly impacted by the customer journey. The findings demonstrate useful implications in the form of providing a guideline based on which, future employees and managers of the hospitality industry can improve their practice as per the key factors and elements influencing the customer journey. Additionally, the findings of this study are also useful in terms of guiding future researchers regarding the possible strategies and alternative research questions which they can explore with respect to the impact of the customer journey. Lastly, to conclude, this project also contributes by providing an understanding regarding how employees and managers of the hospitality industry can align their financial resources and customer satisfaction practices to better reflect the journey of their customers respectively.

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