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Return guests comprise approximately 15% of bed and breakfast guests with another 15% of guests being individuals who have been referred by former guests of the bed and breakfast. Therefore, it can be understood that "quality of stay and customer satisfaction" are both important factors in the decision making process of the guest when choosing to stay at the bed and breakfast as compared to staying at another establishment. Qualities of the room that contribute to the overall satisfaction of guests include the following:
Mattress and pillow quality - 88%
Towels - 84%
Linens - 82%
Washcloths - 75%
Glasses - 62%
Reading lights - 61%
Soap - 50%
Reading material - 30%
The work of Tucker and Lynch entitled: "Hospitality, Tourism and Lifestyle Concepts" states that there are several categories of host types based on social control strategies and interactions with guests. Each of these types of accommodations along with the host categorization and the social control strategies for interactions with guests are listed as follows:
Cultural Stay - Upper middle class / Upper class hostess: This type of accommodation involves the hostess acting like a domestic hostess as if one had gone to visit an upper middle class or upper class friend's house while the friend has gone away.
Farmstay bed-and-breakfast - Service / Jeeves-like: This type of accommodation involves the 'taciturn host providing formal service with minimum interaction; the interaction that does occur is invariably concerned with social control.
Self-catering - Neighbor: A notable feature being the host's distancing from personal responsibility.
Guest House - Maternal: The host takes a very maternal approach, and is solicitous of the guest's welfare.
While these do not begin to cover the full range of interactions that may take place between the hostess and the guests the important point related is that it is critically important that the hostess or owner of the bed and breakfast create their own 'brand' of service provision to their guests and that this 'brand' be of a welcoming nature that makes the guests desire to return again and that ensures that they will tell their friends and associates about the bed and breakfast.
II. ARCHIVAL REVIEW
The work of Cheng (2004) entitled "Antecedents and Consequences of Relationship Quality in the Bed -- and Breakfast Industry of Fu-Hsing Village, Taiwan" states that research has noted "that service provider's expertise, experience and professional appearance enhances guests' trust and satisfaction." Furthermore, the innkeeper's "knowledge of local attractions, events, and restaurants is an important factor when that guests consider their experiences with bed-and-breakfasts Offering an interesting and friendly atmosphere is at the heart of the bed -- and -breakfast industry." (Cheng, 2004) Women particularly seek lodging at the bed -- and breakfast "because they offer security, quaintness, attractive appointments, and a relaxing home-away-from-home atmosphere." (Cheng, 2004) Cheng additionally relates that the provision of amenities of innkeepers "...are also a vital factor for guests in selecting bed-and-breakfasts." Factors that result in higher relationship quality and the resulting increase in "positive word of mouth, share of purchases and relationship continuity are those of:
1) greater service providers' relational orientation;
2) customer orientation; and 3) service providers' attributes. (Cheng, 2004)
The study reported by Cheng (2004) states that the reason guests choose to stay at bed and breakfast establishments include those as shown in the following table labeled Figure 1.
Reasons Guests Stayed at the B&B
Source: Cheng (2004)
Cheng (2004) states that the factors that attracted guests to stay at the B&B include those listed in the following table labeled Figure 2.
Factors that Attracted Guests to Stay at the B&B
Source: Cheng (2004)
Activities that Cheng (2004) states attracted guests to the bed and breakfast establishment include those listed in the following table labeled Figure 3.
Activities that Attracted Guests to the B&B
Source: Cheng (2004)
Cheng (2004) states that recommendations that innkeepers provided to guests that were most useful are those listed in the following table labeled Figure 4.
Recommendations from Innkeepers Most Useful to Guests
Source: Cheng (2004)
Finally, the information sources that Cheng (2004) states were used by guests in discovering a bed and breakfast establishment include those listed in the following table labeled Figure 5.
Information Sources Used by Guests to Discover a B&B
Source: Cheng (2004)
According to Cheng (2004) bed and breakfast innkeepers should focus on:
a) being friendly, b) being knowledgeable about the area's attractions and able to plan trips for guests, and showing interest in self-development to provide better service
Bed and breakfast owners should enhance privacy by focusing on:
a) Providing a quiet atmosphere; and b) Offering private facilities, such as a private bath.
Additionally important for the bed and breakfast innkeepers to provide an environment that is quiet for their guests "Therefore, maintaining a quiet atmosphere and providing a private bath become very important to B&B innkeepers success." (Cheng, 2004) in order that the orientation of guests are enhanced and an atmosphere that is 'homelike' exists the bed and breakfast innkeeper must necessarily focus on:
a) Putting guests' interests and needs first, b) Dealing with guests' inquiries or complaints effectively,
Providing social activities, and d) Creating a homelike atmosphere. (Cheng, 2004)
It has been demonstrated by Kim, Han and Lee (2001) that "higher service quality results in repeat purchases." (Cheng, 2004) Cheng also relates the work of Kaj, Tore and Christian (1994) "...creates a strong relationship with the service provider that leads to relationship longevity or customer retention." (2004) Additionally, the following facts are related by Cheng:
1) Choi and Chu (2001) stated that from the customers' point-of-view, service quality, room quality, and value are factors that most influence their decision to rectum to the same hotel.
2) Thorsten, Gwinner, and Gremler (2002) noted that positive word-of-mouth communication helps to attract new customers.
3) Bowen and Shoemaker (1988) found that a loyal guest helps create new guests through positive word-of-mouth. Satisfaction with the company is positively associated with word-of-mouth about the company.
4) Word-of-mouth about the salesperson is related to word-of-mouth about the company (Reynolds & Beatty, 1999).
5) Kaj, Tore, and Christian (1994) mentioned that customer retention generates steady revenues and increases profitability of the business.
6) Previous studies found that it costs approximately five times more to attract a new guest than it does to keep an existing one (Bowen & Shoemaker, 1988; Christopher, Payne, & Ballantyne, 2002; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990).
7) Vallen and Rande (1997) argued that bed-and-breakfasts that spent the least on marketing (less then $1,000) showed the lowest occupancy rate. There are only a few ways to measure property-to-property performance, comparisons of total profits, profits-per-available room, and return-on-investment (Hotel Online, 2004).
8) Occupancy rates and average daily rate (ADR) are two common indicators of a property's success (Lubetkin, 1999). (Cheng, 2004)
The bed and breakfast establishment is stated by Cheng (2004) to be characterized by the following:
a) Generous hospitality and personal attention to guests b) Architecturally interesting or historic structure
Owner involvement in business d) Clean and comfortable ambiance and surroundings e) Individually decorated rooms.
In the case where the owners of the bed and breakfast are not active daily in the operation of the establishment, the establishment, in the mind of the guest, begins to take on the appearance of a hotel. Marketing is becoming increasingly important as the bed and breakfast establishment become more and more popular for accommodation. Cheng (2004) states that word-of-mouth is the most frequent source of information about bed -- and breakfasts for customers." Marketing factors that impact the potential for future markets include changes in:
population, such as an increase in older people or an increased diversity in the population;
available income due to changes in employment;
supply of natural resources, such as energy or water;
laws, such as child restraint systems or 65-mile-per-hour speed limit; institutions, such as the deregulation of the banking industry; weather; consumer tastes and preferences; and competition, such as a new super store. (Bull and Passewitz, nd)
Market strategy can be defined as a plan of action for "influencing customer choices and obtaining a market share. Market strategy should entice customers to buy the product or service. Market strategy encompasses customer perception of the relationship between price and quality. Is the quality of the product or service worth the price? Is the price too low for the quality the customer desires? Is the price higher than the customer's perception of quality? Market research identifies the price and quality relationship customers perceive to be important." (Bull and Passewitz, nd)
Perception is the key factor in marketing. Included in the marketing strategy is the "distribution channels for the product, pricing and terms of sale, promotion and advertising plan, marketing budgets, inventory selection and management, visual merchandising, customer relations and an evaluation of the marketing strategy. The marketing plan provides information on what the market will be (retail, wholesale) and what specific customer groups will be targeted, what will be sold,…[continue]
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