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Customers’ emotions in real time: measuring affective responses to service and relationship quality at the reception desk

Christian Nordhorn (Ingolstadt School of Management, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Eichstatt, Germany)
Anna Scuttari (Center for Advanced Studies, Accademia Europea, Bolzano, Italy)
Harald Pechlaner (Center for Advanced Studies, Accademia Europea, Bolzano, Italy, and Ingolstadt School of Management, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Eichstatt, Germany)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 30 July 2018

Issue publication date: 30 July 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore customers’ emotions during a host–guest interaction at the reception desk of a hotel. Guests’ emotional responses are analyzed in real time to understand their link to behavior and levels of service and relationship quality.

Design/methodology/approach

To achieve this aim, 225 random customers experience six different types of interactions (scenarios) at a staged reception desk, representing a high/low service or relationship quality. The emotions provoked within guests are (video) recorded and analyzed with the help of SHORETM, a facial recognition software that processes four basic emotions derived from human muscular activity and calculates average emotional scores per scenario.

Findings

Results reveal that customers respond more positively to service than to relationship quality. Informal approaches to interacting with guests are mixed; they can both excite or irritate customers. As with existing evidence in service marketing research, the results found out through this study demonstrate that a good service recovery process seems to immediately generate more satisfied customers than do constant high-quality standards.

Research limitations/Implications

The main limitations are related to the semi-staged nature of social interactions, which might cause distortions in measuring emotions and limitations in the comparability of cases.

Practical Implications

Practical implications are directed to service designers and managers in hospitality to improve service design and ensure effective service recoveries.

Originality/value

This paper introduces a novel approach for assessing host–guest interactions in tourism based on a real-time emotional assessment of service and relationship quality in hospitality. Technologically advanced observation techniques enable in-depth analyses of actions and emotional responses between hosts and guests across time. New insights concerning service design and service recovery management are gained for practitioners and for future research.

Keywords

Citation

Nordhorn, C., Scuttari, A. and Pechlaner, H. (2019), "Customers’ emotions in real time: measuring affective responses to service and relationship quality at the reception desk", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 173-184. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-06-2017-0072

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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