It is widely accepted that doing exercise regularly is essential to promote physical, psychological and social well-being. Yet, often dropout rates tend to be high. The purpose of this paper is to propose a model to understand the potential drivers of satisfaction and loyalty in the sports and fitness context looking in particular at four main dimensions of service quality: infrastructures/physical environment, relationship with instructors/staff, outcomes achieved and customer-to-customer interaction.
An extensive literature review was conducted to identify potential drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty in sports. The proposed model was estimated using data collected from a sample of 384 users of four Portuguese swimming pools facilities by means of a survey questionnaire.
The majority of the hypotheses tested found support in the data. In particular, the quality of the interaction with instructors and the results obtained from exercising have a strong impact on satisfaction, which, in turn, is highly correlated with psychological commitment and positive word-of-mouth communication.
Based on the findings some managerial implications can be derived. Such recommendations can enhance users’ perceptions of service quality and indirectly contribute to a more regular and effective sports practice.
The importance of enhancing loyalty has been emphasised in sports management literature. Yet, few studies have empirically investigated the simultaneous relationships among service quality dimensions, customer satisfaction and loyalty. This research partially addresses this gap.
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