The purpose of this paper is to study the informational role played by an intermediary in the service industry.
The paper used survey and choice data collected from agents and customers, respectively, in the hotel industry.
The paper shows that informational role of agents in choice varies from mere facilitation of the transaction (e.g. making reservation) to a more active role involving accurate predictions about attributes that consumers will perceive important, more realistic performance evaluation of choice options and providing information about experience attributes. The results also show how an agent's role depends on customer's prior knowledge about the choice options, the goal underlying service consumption (e.g. business vs vacation travel), benefits sought by the consumer and the agent's perception about a long term relationship with the consumer. Finally, the results also reveal a unique pattern of differences between agents and consumers in the perceived importance and performance ratings of various features of the service.
This research is limited to agents in the hotel industry. The hypotheses should be tested on other service agent industries such as airlines and restaurants. Future research should consider other alternative sources of information that consumers may use, such as printed material.
The unique nature of the data set – that is, information from the agent as well as the consumer on the same transaction – offers a great opportunity to study the two different points of view and test some hypothesis regarding the degree to which the players understand each other.
Trivedi, M., Morgan, M.S. and Kaushik Desai, K. (2008), "Consumer's value for informational role of agent in service industry", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 149-159. https://doi.org/10.1108/08876040810862886
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