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Are there gender differences in what drives customer delight?

Edwin N. Torres (Assistant Professor based at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Xiaoxiao Fu (Doctoral Candidate and Xinran Lehto is an Associate Professor based at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Xinran Lehto (Associate Professor based at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to understand how male and female hotel guests become delighted customers. It aims to present the similarities and differences along with respective implications for theory and application.

Design/methodology/approach

During a period of three months, tourists were interviewed at an upscale Florida hotel. A total of 208 semi-structured interviews were conducted. The script for the interviews was based on an interview protocol used by Crotts et al. Adapted from a previous customer delight study (Torres and Kline), a codebook was developed to determine the salient themes that emerged during the interview process. Interviews were coded independently by three experienced reviewers using the process of content analysis.

Findings

The results demonstrated that while men and women agreed on most aspects of the service experience that led them to feel delighted, there were other aspects of the delight experience that seemed to vary by gender. More specifically, female guests were more likely to be delighted by employee friendliness and professionalism. In contrast, male tourists appeared to be more likely to be delighted by having their needs met, by efficient and timely service and by the availability of complimentary amenities or upgrades.

Research limitations/implications

The present study contributes to existing literature by demonstrating that men and women can potentially be delighted by different aspects of the service experience. Such information can potentially benefit hospitality industry practitioners to deliver service experiences desired by each gender.

Originality/value

Ekinci et al. proposed that the ultimate evaluation of customer experiences can be highly individualized by elements such as personality. The present research argues that the process of delighting customers might be more complex than originally conceived. Accordingly, the results suggest: a universal set of criteria will tend to delight all guests, and a more specific set of criteria will potentially delight guests of a certain gender. Future research is encouraged to quantitatively validate the findings and explore other factors that impact customer delight such as personality, age, income and culture.

Keywords

Citation

N. Torres, E., Fu, X. and Lehto, X. (2014), "Are there gender differences in what drives customer delight?", Tourism Review, Vol. 69 No. 4, pp. 297-309. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-04-2014-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited