The influence of social interactions on senior customers’ experiences and loneliness

Haiyan Song (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Levent Altinay (Department of Hospitality Leisure and Tourism Management, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)
Ning Sun (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Xuan Lorna Wang (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Publication date: 13 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to use the theory of third places to understand how different kinds of social interactions in small hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, can enhance senior customers’ experiences and alleviate their loneliness.

Design/methodology/approach

The target population of this study were Hong Kong residents of age 60 or older. The sampling frame comprised respondents who visited a Cha Chaan Teng (i.e. a Hong Kong-style tea restaurant) more than once a year. The authors distributed 500 questionnaires and collected 411 valid responses in 2016. They used structural equation modeling for data analysis.

Findings

The results show that social interactions (service manner and need identification) with employees and other customers have a positive effect on senior customers’ experiences, while the service manner of employees reduces senior customers’ loneliness.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates the respective contributions of social interactions with employees and those with other customers to enhancing senior customers’ experiences and alleviating their loneliness. This study’s findings may provide a foundation for future research into the relationships between social interactions, customer experience and loneliness in third places (that are, informal public places that offer individuals opportunities to escape from home and the workplace and to enjoy voluntary conversation, entertainment and gatherings). Further, this study also demonstrates the specific role and importance of the hospitality industry in addressing a contemporary social problem in the form of seniors’ loneliness.

Keywords

Citation

Haiyan Song, Levent Altinay, Ning Sun and Xuan Lorna Wang (2018) "The influence of social interactions on senior customers’ experiences and loneliness", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 30 No. 8, pp. 2773-2790

Download as .RIS

DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-07-2017-0442

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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