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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TOURISM RESEARCH Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.

com) DOI: 10.1002/jtr.718

What Inuences Guests Emotions? The Case of High-quality Hotels


Alexandra Brunner-Sperdin1* and Mike Peters2 Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism, Innsbruck University School of Management, Universittsstrasse 15, A-6020, Innsbruck 2 School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong ABSTRACT
Received 7 July 2008; Revised 18 December 2008; Accepted 22 December 2008

This paper outlines the methodology and results of an attempt to assess inuences on the emotional states of hotel guests. When consuming tourism products, tourists do not only expect professional services but also desire satisfying experiences. According to Pine and Gilmore (1998), goods and services must be experientialized because customers seek for rewarding, memorable and pleasurable consumption experiences. Quality management research suggests that traditional service quality measures are insufcient in evaluating the satisfaction of the new tourists with consumed services. In order to measure customer satisfaction, it is important to take into account factors concerning the psychological environment such as subjective personal reactions or feelings experienced by consumers. Thus, experience quality should be the starting point for developing models to assess emotions in tourism industry. After reviewing the latest literature in the eld of service and experience measurement in leisure and tourism, the paper presents an experience model highlighting causalities measuring ow experience during the consumption of activities. The results show that the hotel setting has strong inuence on the emotional state of the guests and that the staging of the service environment as well as the service process constitutes a crucial part of the hotel strategy. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
*Correspondence to: A. Brunner-Sperdin, Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism, Innsbruck University School of Management, Universittsstrasse 15, A-6020, Innsbruck. E-mail: Alexandra.sperdin@uibk.ac.at

Keywords: hotel guest experience; emotional states; ow; measurement of satisfaction. INTRODUCTION hile the consumption of many different types of services is primarily driven by extrinsic motives, in leisure services such as amusement parks, theatres, resort hotels tourists mainly consume services to stimulate emotions (Otto and Ritchie, 1996). Previous research (e.g. Russell and Pratt, 1980; Mano and Oliver, 1993) conrms this statement and indicates that the degree of arousal or excitement experienced by customers when consuming a service may be a major determinant of pleasure and satisfaction yielded through the experience. Therefore, the experience value of tourism products is a dominant factor inuencing consumers motivation to buy a service. As the experience-generation (Schulze, 1992; Wolf, 1999) searches for emotional experiences, like fun or excitement together with a tendency for experience intensity and lifestyle offers, todays tourism enterprises are forced to sell experience services (Otto and Ritchie, 1996; Weiermair, 2006). Because the service delivery process plays a crucial role in customers service experiences, the operational, organisational and personal characteristics are of interest. These can be divided into the terms hardware, software and humanware. Hardware (setting) corresponds to service environments where the touristic performance is offered. The setting mainly consists of architecture, design, lighting and colouring. Humanware relates to human resource management and focuses on the
Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

172 employees, the customers and the service performance. Service performance can be interpreted as the core of every service experience: it takes place in certain settings and will be provided by certain interactions between staff and consumers (Arnould and Price, 1993; Normann, 1996, Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons, 2007). Finally, the software supports hard- and humanware with technology and process management, making sure memorable experiences are offered to guests. Pine and Gilmore (1998) dene experience as the latest stage in the evolution of post-industrial economies, engaging clients by turning services into memorable events. Experiences are more than additional benets and supplementary offers to the basic services (Pine and Gilmore, 1998; Grtsch, 2001). Through staging the service, emotional experiences such as ow and immersion (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975) can be created for the customer. Regarding tourism products, innovative experience design and orchestration will become increasingly critical core capabilities of successful hotel-management companies (Gilmore and Pine, 2002). Thus, the staging of experiences plays an important role in the service delivery process (Schechner, 1988). In order to design memorable experiences, tourists needs have to be analysed. All ve senses should be engaged and tourism entrepreneurs should try to surprise the guests over and over (Pine and Gilmore, 1998). On the one hand, this requires service managers to achieve high emotionality of services and products and, on the other hand, they have to direct more efforts towards design and maintenance of service experiences (Grtsch, 2001). The aim of this paper is to present an attempt to assess inuences on customers emotional states in the hotel industry. To do so, the rst part of the paper presents a literature review on previous studies and initiatives measuring emotions in general and in tourist settings. Therefore, the review presents conceptual as well as empirical work in the eld of emotional and environmental psychology and ow experience. In the second part of the paper, a research model for measuring ow experience during the consumption of activities in the hotel sector will be developed. In order to measure experience quality in a holistic way, the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) of
Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A. Brunner-Sperdin and M. Peters Csikszentmihalyi (1985) is adapted for the tourism industry. By this means the individual experience of an activity and the impact of rms input factors on these individual consumer experiences will be investigated. Therefore, concepts of emotion psychology, management science and environmental psychology (Kotler, 1973; Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Baker et al. 1992; Bitner 1992) will be integrated in a research model. In a next step, a questionnaire is designed to assess inuences on hotel guests emotional states during the consumption process. The results based on the experience quality model will be presented and the importance of several hotel-business input factors illustrated. The nal part of the paper concludes with implications for tourism and leisure enterprises concerning the management and design of guest experiences. In addition, the authors point out main areas for future research in this eld. LITERATURE REVIEW The design of experience is an ancient practice: rituals, ceremonies, drama and even architecture (e.g. medieval cathedrals) are designed to provide a certain kind of experience (Prentice et al., 1998). To some extent, everything has become an experience even the traditional 4-S paradigm (sun, sea, sand, sex) constitutes an experience which differs from everyday life. However, the novelty of the experience concept can be seen in the fact that today experiences are regarded as a specic type of product- or service- bundle which can be actively designed, produced and/or staged by the entrepreneur (Grtsch, 2001; Stamboulis and Skyannis, 2003). Experiences of leisure and tourism can be dened as mental state felt by participants during an event or encounter (Otto and Ritchie, 1996; Price et al., 1995). In emotion psychology, experience is perceived as a feeling which triggers an expression, like laughter, crying, etc., and physical change (pulse, blood pressure, etc.) (Mandler, 1980; Plutchik, 1980; Eckmann, 1981; Holbrook et al., 1984; Lazarus, 1991; Scherer, 1995; Izard, 2004). Thereby a trigger of experience can be described as impulse and experience itself as a reaction to it (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Donovan and Rossiter, 1982). Experiences
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

What Inuences Guests Emotions? require the involvement and participation of a person, because only participants can experience. By reason of this internal nature, experiences are very individual and personal (Knutson and Beck, 2003). This means that individuals react differently to the same events and stimuli (Graburn, 2001). How the experience is perceived depends on the mental and physical condition, personality factors as well as factors such as gender, age, experience, etc. (Hartmann and Haubl, 1996). Established expectations also play an important role (Mller et al., 2004). The development towards an experience society concentrating egocentrically upon maximising pleasure (Schulze, 1995) and resulting implications for the economy had been studied by Pine and Gilmore (1999). The authors anticipated that the key innovation in todays business is experience and coined a term experience economy describing the business of selling experiences. Pine and Gilmore (1999) postulate that the economy has moved from a service to an experience economy and that experiences are the basis for future economic growth. They distinguish services and experiences as follows: . . . when a person buys a service he purchases a set of intangible activities carried out on his behalf. But when he buys an experience, he pays to spend time enjoying a series of memorable events that a company stages as in a theatrical way to engage him in a personal way (p. 2). In this context an experience occurs when companies are able to engage their customers to use services as stages and goods as props. Customers reduced their consumption of goods to spend more money on services, and they are willing to buy memorable experiences, which create the highest possible individual value (Price et al., 1995; Gilmore and Pine 2002; Scheurer 2003). In this respect, entrepreneurs will have to stage their service products in order to create experiences and emotions that inuence the perception of quality in a positive way and thus create customer satisfaction. Hence, it will become necessary to stage quality attributes along the whole service chain (Weiermair, 2001) in order to create exciting and rich experiences (Pine and Gilmore, 1998; Voelkl and Ellis, 1998; Gilmore and Pine, 2002). The only
Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

173 way to achieve margins will be in establishing core competencies based on the delivery of quality experiences. Therefore, experience can be seen as the new phase in the development of a memorable service encounter (Kiiskil and Kalenoja, 2001). Experience takes place whenever a company or destination decides to use services as the stage to engage and goods as props to engage an individual whereby memory is the most important characteristic of the experience (Pine and Gilmore, 1998; Pikkemaat and Peters, 2003). Based on the fact that products in the service sector are very similar, staging an experience will be a trigger for higher revenues. Customers would only pay admission fees if they decided that the offered experience meets their expectations (Gilmore and Pine, 2002). Barsky and Nash (2002) state if hotel entrepreneurs can offer all three key loyalty emotions (feeling of being pampered, relaxed and sophisticated), guests are willing to double their expenses. Traditional quality management theories have developed and tested numerous quality models (Donabedian, 1980; Grnroos, 1984; Parasuraman et al., 1985, 1988; Zeithaml, 1991) in order to measure service performance and satisfaction. These models emphasised functional and technical aspects of the service delivery perceived through cognitive information processing. Quality dimensions typically are reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles (Parasuraman et al., 1985, 1988). Thus, clients are typically asked what they know about a service but rarely how they feel at the service encounter. Despite the fact that customers emotions affect the decisions (Otto and Ritchie, 1996; Izard, 2004), cognitive quality measurement models previously mentioned do not target the assessment of emotional aspects. As a second stream of literature, environmental psychologists contribute to the explanation of consumer behaviour as an output of emotional states. Mehrabian and Russels (1974) model of environmental inuence was adapted by Donovan and Rossiter (1982) who attempt to reveal the inuence of environmental stimuli on emotional states (such as pleasure or arousal). In a next step, emotional states lead to either consumers approach or avoidance responses (Donovan et al., 1994). Within
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

174 this eld of research, several authors tried to develop typologies of environmental factors conceptually (Kotler and Rath, 1984; Baker, 1986; Bitner, 1992; Arnould and Price, 1993). For instance, Baker (1986) proposes three categories of environmental factors: social factors (e.g. people such as consumers or employees), design factors (e.g. visual amenities, layout and colours) and environment (e.g. the service encounter facility). Beside these theoretical contributions, we nd a number of empirical analyses using experimental design approaches: Babin and Darden (1996); Baker et al. (1992). Donovan et al. (1994) and Wakeeld and Blodgett (1994) tested the impact of specic atmospheric impulses on consumer behaviour. The latter could reveal that experienceoriented settings strongly inuence the emotional state of consumers. Other studies outlined the importance of various factors and their impact on consumers emotion: Areni (1993), Hui et al. (1997), Milliman (1986) and Oakes (2000) identied the relevance of music, Bellizi and Hite (1992), Crowely (1993) investigated the inuence of colours on consumers emotional states. The phenomenon of crowding was also subject in several studies (e.g. Eroglu and Machleit, 1990; Hui and Bateson 1991). The majority of empirical investigations observed these relationships in trade and service industries (e.g. supermarkets, car dealerships) but only a small number of studies were carried out in the tourism and hospitality industry (Robson, 1999; Siguaw and Enz, 1999). In addition, all these studies focus on a single environmental stimulus only, although it can be assumed that stimuli holistically affect consumer behaviour (Mattila and Wirtz, 2001). From the aforementioned literature review, the following results can be derived: (1) The majority of Service Quality models are of cognitive nature: In the traditional service quality research, mainly cognitive components are measured and emotional aspects are excluded to a large extent. (2) There is a lack of studies measuring the quality of experiences in the hospitality industry. Research has shown that affective and emotion-based reports, which form the basis of the quality-of-the-service experience, contribute a signicant but
Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A. Brunner-Sperdin and M. Peters often ignored part of explained variance in satisfaction evaluation (Otto and Ritchie, 1996). So far this facet of consumption has received attention from researchers in the eld of sociology, anthropology or psychology, but these have been conned to the investigation of the emotions of the individual in a certain environment (e.g. Donovan and Rossiter, 1982; 1984; Milliman 1986; Baker et al. 1992; Belizzi and Hite, 1992; Areni, 1993; Babin and Darden, 1996; Spangenberg and Crowley 1996; Hui et al., 1997; Turley and Milliman 2000). Besides the aforementioned hardware factors, one can assume that human- and software factors might inuence the emotional state of consumers. It is argued that rm- and serviceencounter-specic factors affect customer perceptions and substantially inuence his emotional states (Zeithaml et al., 1988; Bitner 1992; Arnould and Price, 1993). Humanware includes variables as proposed by the service management literature: empathy, qualication respectively expertise of employees, responsiveness and the ability of the customer to take part in the service delivery process (Harris et al., 2003; Zeithaml et al., 1988). Other factors inuencing the emotional state are dened as interaction quality. This term describes the satisfaction consumers perceive interacting with employees and other customers (Meyer and Mattmller, 1987) and the perceived image of the service provider, as well as the price/ performance ratios. In order to measure experience quality in a holistic way, an explanatory model was developed to focus on the phenomenon of ow experience based on the ESM by Csikszentmihalyi (1975). In Csikszentmihalyis study, ow experiences have been described as . . . holistic sensation(s) that people feel when they act with total involvement (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, p. 36 ). Csikszentmihalyi tried to measure ow experiences as close as possible to the actual state. In his approach, he applied the ESM, asking respondents (e.g. consumers) to carry a beeper device that sends signals on a time-based protocol determined by the researcher. Each time the beeper is going to be activated, subjects ll out a survey that typically includes questions asking what the subject
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

What Inuences Guests Emotions? was doing and how the subject was feeling at the time of the alarm. With a sufcient number of subjects and samples, a data collection of activities can be generated. According to Csikszentmihalyi (1992), several feelings characterise ow, e.g. degree of involvement, timeliness, the sense that one can control ones action, focused and intense concentration on the present moment, and joy. Csikszentmihalyis (1975) model, which originated in psychology, postulates that ow experiences appear if challenges of activities are in balance with the skills of a person. The eld of application has been the measurement of ow experience during consumption of leisure activities and practising extreme sports. In order to assess emotions in tourism and to answer the research question, the Flow model of Csikszentmihalyi (1975) had to be adapted. So the authors state that experiencing an activity or a certain situation is not only determined by the aforementioned emotional factors, but also by rm-specic factors. Therefore, not only the research areas of emotion psychology concerning the experience of the individual but also concepts of the environmental psychology should be included in an explanatory model of experience measurement. In a next step, the aforementioned research gap will be closed with the development of an experience-quality model that is valid for tourism product and service bundles.

175 substantially inuences the guests perception and emotional state. (2) Situative factors, demographics and degree of involvement and intuition: The individuals tendency to make decisions either in a more rational or a more intuitive way plays a substantial role when experiencing ow. In the model, this variable is named degree of intuition. In addition, situational (such as daytime, weekday) and demographic factors (such as age, sex) of guests have to be considered in the model. (3) Emotional state: According to Csikszentmihalyi (1992), several variables inuence the emotional state of individuals. Momentary characteristics, i.e. ow-like emotions felt in a moment, are described by factors like e.g. to feel to be in good hands, lose track of time, or to become immersed in something (see Figure 1). The experience-quality model shown in Figure 1 includes the staging potential (rm-specic factors) (1), the situational factors, demographics and the degree of involvement and intuition (2), as well as the emotional state of the guest (3): The model assumes several causal relationships, which should be analysed in the empirical survey. The following hypotheses will be tested: H1: The emotional state depends on the customers degree of ow-like feelings during the service delivery process. H2: The emotional state depends on rmspecic factors (staging quality). H3: The emotional state depends on personal demographics of the guest when consuming the service. H4: The emotional state depends on the involvement of the guest during the service delivery process. H5: The emotional state depends on situational factors during the service delivery process. H6: The emotional state depends on customers degree of intuition during the service delivery process.
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

METHODOLOGY Model development Referring to the literature review, the authors present a model that attempts to include the basic concepts of experience measuring: (1) Staging potential: The inuence of the service environment (hardware, software, humanware) e.g. potential of the service facility, of entrepreneurs and employees, social factors, design elements and atmosphere are variables inuencing customers quality perception (Zeithaml et al., 1988; Bitner, 1992). Thus, the potential quality
Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

(1) Staging potential HARDWARE Interior design Lighting effects Colour effects Scent effects Sound effects HUMANWARE Empathy of employees Expertise of employees Responsiveness Ability to take part in the service delivery process SOFTWARE Composition of guests Image of Hotel Price/performance ratio (3)
To feel to be in good hands Lose track of time Time passes Enjoy Immerse oneself in something Under control Being happy

A. Brunner-Sperdin and M. Peters


H4 H6



Emotional State

Degree of intuition Situational factors Demographic factors

H5 H3


Figure 1. The experience quality model (source: own illustration).

Research design The aim of the study was to test the hypotheses. A survey was carried out during spring 2007. After pre-testing the questionnaire, eight hotels were selected in Austria, Southern Germany and South Tyrol (Italy). Questionnaires were distributed to the guests. Hotels are categorised as four- and ve-star hotels with typical alpine- and/or spa-oriented product and service bundles. These hotels received between 20 and 40 folders. The folders contained three questionnaires for different service situations. Each guest received one folder and was asked to answer the questionnaires by reecting and expressing their mood and feelings during the consumption along the hotels value chain (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, beauty area and sauna). In training sessions, the survey was briey explained to the hotel customer-contact personnel: The guests were asked to ll out the questionnaire during their stay interpreting it as a well-being diary. The folders were offered in German, English and Italian. A total of 239 questionnaires have been completed and used for statistical analysis. Each questionnaire consisted of four questions, which listed a bundle of attributes and statements. The questionnaire was structured as follows:
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(1) In the rst part, the interviewees had to select that activity and/or service which they consumed at that moment. A list of offered hotel activities along the value chain was presented here. (2) The next step was to evaluate the guests feelings and indicate how they feel in that specic situation of consumption (a vepoint scale was used indicating whether the statement meets the feelings or not (no (1), yes (5)). (3) The methodology section measured the inuence of hardware items (design, lighting, colour, scent and sound effects), humanware items (empathy, expertise and responsiveness of employees) and software items (image, take part in the service process) on guests satisfaction. In this section, participants were asked to reect on the chosen activity by means of the aforementioned factors and to indicate their satisfaction (a ve-point scale was used to indicate satisfaction (5) and dissatisfaction (1)). The authors argue that the neutral rating in a ve-point scale is needed when conducting survey research. Sometimes respondents truly feel neutral about a topic and choosing a scale without midpoint forces respondents to choose a more positive or negative response (Bhl and Zfel, 2002).
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

What Inuences Guests Emotions? (4) In the nal part of the questionnaire, the atmosphere and the staging potential was evaluated and a semantic differential was used so interviewees could express their mood (e.g. happy vs. unhappy, thrilled vs. bored, energetic vs. weak). Results Forty percent of the guests were male. A total of 87.8% of all interviewees were between 25 and 44 years of age. Austria (35%), Germany (39.3%), Italy (10%) and Switzerland (6.3%) are the main countries of origin. Fifty-ve percent of the guests were visiting the hotel for the rst time, 45% were repeat customers. The average stay in the hotels was 13 days. The following section presents the test results regarding the previously discussed hypotheses. H1: The emotional state depends on the customers ow-like feelings during the service delivery process. At the beginning, the relation between the emotional state and the variables which describe ow-like feelings was examined. In the literature individuals who experience such feelings, describe these with statements such as I feel like to be in good hands, I loose track of time and do not realise how time passes, I enjoy the situation, I am lost in what I am doing, I have a sense of potential control and I am happy (Csikszentmihalyi, 1985, 1992; Rheinberg et al., 1997). First a regression was calculated, where all variables at the same time were included into the analysis. The beta values of the regression analysis lie between 0.360 and 0,023. A total

177 of 41.9% (= R2) of the variance of the emotional state can be explained by these variables (see Table 1). In the next step of the analysis, the regression was carried out stepwise, so that only independent variables are included which contribute to R. The variables which appear to be signicant are happiness and time passes. The emotional state is not inuenced by further factors according to the stepwise investigation. A total of 40.2% of the independent variable emotional state can be explained. The hypothesis cannot be rejected. H2: The emotional state depends on rmspecic factors. If the inuence of rm-specic factors on emotions of guests is analysed, the regression analysis points out that, under inclusion of all variables, determinants such as composition of guests and expertise of the employees and colour effects inuence the emotional state of the guests (R2 of 26.1%). If we only include variables in the model which show signicance of < 0.01, the model is explained by the variables composition of guests and colour effects to 20.8% (=R2; see Table 2). The hypothesis cannot be rejected. H3: The emotional state depends on personal demographics of the guest when consuming the service. To test this hypothesis, demographic variables such as age, gender and marital status of the hotel guests were used as determining variables. The inuence of the personal characteristics on the emotion potential is very low (the R2 is only 1.2%). The correlation analysis shows

Table 1. Regression: the emotional state and customers feelings during the service Model 1

R 0.647a

R-square 0.419

Corr. R-square 0.397

Deviation 0.55965

Determining variables: (constant), Happiness: I was happy; Control: I had a sense of potential control; Immersion: I was lost in what I was doing; Feeling in good hand: I felt to be in good hands; Losing track of time: I didnt even realise how time was passing. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr


A. Brunner-Sperdin and M. Peters

Table 2. Regression: the staging potential and rm-specic factors Model 1 2
a b

R 0.370 0.456b

R-square 0.137 0.208

Corr. R-square 0.131 0.197

Deviation 0.66301 0.63712

Determining variables : (constant), immerse oneself Determining variables : (constant), immerse oneself, colour effects

Table 3. Regression: emotional state and personal demographics R 0.108



Corr. R-square 0.002

Deviation 0.72099


Determining variables: (constant), age, marital status, gender

Table 4. Regression: emotional state and involvement R 0.498


R-square 0.248

Corr. R-square 0.227

Deviation 0.62806

a Determining variables: (constant), safe/condent, self-determined, energetic, thrilled, feel free

a similar picture: both gender and age show weak negative correlations. Because these correlations are neither signicant at the 0.01 level nor at the 0.05 level, it must be assumed that no signicant relations between gender, marital status, age and the emotional state exist during the service production process. H3 cannot be conrmed (see Table 3). H4: The emotional state depends on the involvement of the guest during the service delivery process. The emotional potential depends on the involvement of guests during the service production process. By means of a linear regression and partial correlation analysis, the relation between the guests degree of involvement and the emotional state was analysed. In this case, the results differ from those before. Thus, it can be conrmed that all variables, describing the involvement in a service situation, have signicant inuence on the emotional state. As Table 4 shows, the 24.8% (R2) of the model is explained by the variables assessed in the semantic differential: feel
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safe/condent, to feel free of fear, selfdetermined, energetic, thrilled and free. Furthermore, the correlation analysis shows medium/strong positive connections at 0.01 level. For this reason, it can be supposed that the involvement inuences the emotions of guests in a consumption situation. H5: The emotional state depends on situational factors during the service delivery process. The day of a week or the time of the day during which a service was consumed were dened as situational factors. This assumption could not be conrmed. There are no signicant differences when analysing daytime or weekday and the emotional experience of guests in different consumption situations. The assumption arises from the following regression analysis. The independent variables explain only 10% of the model. Hence, the hypothesis must be rejected because p > 0.05. Furthermore, there are hardly any correlations between the variables (see Table 5).
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

What Inuences Guests Emotions?

Table 5. Regression: emotional state and situational factors R 0.102



Corr. R-square 0.000

Deviation 0.64888


Determining variable: (constant), daytime, weekday

Table 6. Regression: emotional state and the degree of intuition R 0.068



Corr. R-square 0.000

Deviation 0.72361


Determining variables: (constant), decision of guest

hotel room lounge

breakfast lunch dinner bar

sauna, steam bath solarium swimming pool treatments

Fitness roomcourses: e.g.(Step) Aerobic, Yoga)

skiing billiard archery




activities wellness/ beauty

activities wellness/ sports

other departure activities





guest n

Figure 2. Value chain in the hotel industry (adapted from Bieger 2005, p. 59).

H6: The emotional state depends on customers degree of intuition during the service delivery process. The assumption that the degree to which decisions are made either rationally or emotionally (gut feeling) has an impact on the emotional state cannot be conrmed, neither at the 0.01 nor at the 0.05% level. Guests were asked to indicate how they decide on a scale from 1 = rational to 5 = intuitive. The regression analysis shows no signicant relation between the decision behaviour of the guests and their emotional state (R2 of 0.5%). The
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hypothesis must be therefore rejected (see Table 6). Figure 3 summarises the hypotheses testing and shows the R-squares and the correlation coefcients for the single variables. Hypotheses postulating signicant correlations between the staging potential of hotels and emotional states of guests cannot be rejected. The results suggest that the perception of staging depends on the capabilities of the employees: The more competence is associated with the service-contact personnel, the more empathy is shown in the service delivery process and the easier it is to satisfy the hotel guests.
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

Staging Potential

A. Brunner-Sperdin and M. Peters

self-determined (0.345**) free (0.384**) energetic (0.293**) free of fear (0.382**) thrilled (0.422**)

HARDWARE Interior design Lighting effects Colour effects Scent effects Sound effects HUMANWARE Empathy of employees Expertise of employees Responsiveness Ability to take part in the service delivery process SOFTWARE Composition of guests Image of Hotel Price/performance ratio

-0.021 0.175 0.220 0.074 -0.113

Rationality vs. Intuition


-0.033 0.261 -0.107 -0.021

Emotional State


Situational factors
time of day (-0.096)* day of week (-0.086)*

0.265 0.034 -0.065


Demographic factors

age (-0.063) * gender (-0.068)* marital status (0.00)*

Figure 3. Correlation of demographic, situational variables, mental base attitude and involvement on emotional state (source: own illustration) (**signicant, * not signicant).

IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION The empirical analysis reveals that humanware shows stronger correlations than typical hardware factors such as design, lighting, colour, scent and sound. In contrast to secondary literature, neither the degree of intuition of customers, nor situational factors (like daytime or weekdays) showed signicant correlations with the emotion potential of guests. Further demographic factors such as age, gender and marital status of guests have no inuence on the emotions during the service process. The variable involvement constituted through feelings like feeling self-determined, being free, energetic, free of fear and excitement of the service delivery process inuences the emotional experience of the offered hotel services on a highly signicant level. Although it could be considered as a limitation of the sample that the distribution was carried out by the customer-contact personnel at the hotel reception rather than directly by the interviewer, nevertheless, the study does reveal some initial insights into the experience setting of hotels. The theoretical as well as the empirical investigations have shown that to explain the function of experiences in the eld
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of hospitality and tourism, still more research is necessary. The review of the theory has shown that psychosocial aspects of service design are the missing link from traditional to experience-oriented service decisions. Whereas measurement of traditional service quality is analysed along the value chain, problems of measurement arise in the case of experience products because the behavioural and emotional aspects have also to be considered. Therefore, psychological theories need to be incorporated into the area of service experience management research. A combination of both disciplines was carried out in this investigation. There is no convincing account in the management literature as to what an explanatory model for assessing experience quality in the tourism industry should or could look like. The present work delivers new insights because the investigation of emotions is still at its beginning in the eld of economics in general and tourism in particular. Nevertheless, the study faces its limitations as the ndings have more of a conceptual and explorative than a representative character. Accordingly, further investigations should be carried out for a longer period and for a substantially larger population.
Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr

What Inuences Guests Emotions? The issue of whether a study for the measurement of experience quality can be accomplished solely by means of questionnaires without the use of face-to-face interviews also should be considered critically. Because experiences are internal emotional events of a person, it is difcult to chart them by means of quantitative research methods. Whereas some psychologists prefer qualitative in-depth interviews, facial measurements and narrative interviews, other psychologists support the approach developed by the authors as they believe that the measurement of emotions should be done during or immediately after the consumption of a service. The implications for resources should also be thought about. The analysis shows that humanware plays the most important role when offering experience-oriented services. Therefore, the strongest emphasis should be laid on human resource management, which plays the major role in creating successful experience-oriented service encounters. The knowledge about the relevance of businessinternal aspects in relation to the experience quality-of-the-service enterprise can form the base for a variety of further investigations. These could focus on two aspects. First, as previously discussed, the methodology should be improved as it is of utmost importance when and how researchers attempt to gather information about the ow experience of consumers. For future research, new mobile technologies such as mobile phones could enable the assessment of ow-like feelings (emotional states) closer to the actual state of consumption. In a second step, tourism research should try to explore the validity of existing theories of the constructs of staging experiences. In this paper, a rst attempt was to explain underlying variables of the staging potential. However, it remains uncertain whether all the relevant effects of hardware, humanware and software were fully explored. Further service quality research is needed to more thoroughly dene the relevant service dimensions and their contribution to customers emotional states. REFERENCES
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Int. J. Tourism Res. 11, 171183 (2009) DOI: 10.1002/jtr