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Title: The role of consumption emotion in the hotel and resort spa experience
Authors: Wu, Keying Corrine
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: Consumer experience studies have triggered considerable attention from both the academia and the industry. Understanding emotion is important in the consumption experience not only because Westbrook and Oliver (1991) stated that consumers experience a variety of emotional response, but it is also a signal indicating whether consumers have achieved their goals. Spa refers to a business offering spa treatment based on authentic water-based therapies which are practiced by qualified personnel in a professional and relaxing environment (Intelligent Spas, 2005). In recent years, business and leisure tourists increasingly intend to have a spa experience as one of the components of their leisure activities when they are travelling (Mak, Wong & Chang, 2009). People go to spas because they feel "stressed" and want to have a small "indulgence"; they want to "feel better", to "rest and relax" and to enjoy being "pampered" (Monteson & Singer, 2004). The results of Mak et al.'s (2009) study showed that "relaxation and relief", "escape" and "self-reward and indulgence" are important motivations for Hong Kong residents to visit spas while they travel abroad. The emotional desire of spa goers demonstrates the importance of consumers' affect in the consumption of spa service. The present study focused on the role of consumption emotion in the tourists' spa experience. The Asia Pacific region is now leading the development of spa tourism. China ranks the third in terms of the number of spas followed by Thailand and Australia (Intelligent Spas, 2008). Demand for spa and wellness therapies, along with sports and fitness issues have gained greater awareness with China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics. The fierce competition in China's spa industry requires much research for helping managers and operators to understand their customers. Holbrook (1999) suggested that customers' evaluation of service quality arouse their emotions. These emotions then shape their perceived value which is the outcome of their spa experience. Consumer's perceived value was found to have positive effect on positive behavioural intentions. However, previous studies only focus on service quality, satisfaction and positive behavioural intentions in the western markets (Gonzalez, Comesana, & Brea, 2007; Snoj & Mumel, 2002). It is noticed that these studies ignored the fact that customers have emotions. Their human nature influences them during the process of consumption and behavioural intentions. Consumption emotion is regarded as an emotional reaction that one has in response to a product or service (Richins, 1997). Positive emotion and negative emotion are two dimensions that are present in an individual's experience of emotions (Diener, 1999). Based on Sorensen’s (2008) criteria, Richins's (1997) consumption emotion scale is considered superior to other measuring scale of emotions. One of the antecedents of consumption emotion is cognition (Howard, 1983). Evaluation of service quality has so far largely been viewed as a cognitive process (Brady & Cronin, 2001). It is a global consumer's judgement of the superiority of the product or service and the five dimensions are tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy (Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry, 1988). This study considers that the five dimensions are the most appropriate dimensions to measure service quality, the same as that in the studies of Gonzalez (2007) and Snoj and Mumel (2002). However the measuring items are different from previous studies in order to cater the specific context. Previous studies proved that service quality can trigger both positive and negative emotions (Lemmink & Mattsson, 2002; Ng, 2008). The consequence of emotion is consumers' perceived value (Lin et al., 2006). It is an interactive relativistic preference experience (Holbrook, 1986). The current study developed the measuring scale for perceived value based on Babin, Darden and Griffin (1994)'s study of perceived value in shopping experience. Besides, positive impact of service quality on perceived value is also supported by numerous studies (e.g. Baker et al., 2002; Cronin et al., 2000). Perceived value is the direct determinant of behavioural intention which is the most powerful predictor of consumers' actual behaviour (Petrick, 2002). Zeithamal, Berry and Parasuraman's scale (1996) was partly employed in the present research. By reviewing the literature, the research model of cognition (service quality), consumption emotion, perceived value and behavioural intention was identified. Ten hypotheses were proposed. H1 and H2: service quality positively influences positive emotion while negatively affects negative emotion; H3 through H6: positive emotion positively affects both dimensions of perceived value whereas negative emotion negatively impacts both dimensions of perceived value; H7 and H8: service quality positively influences hedonic value and utilitarian value; and H9 and H10: both dimensions of perceived value positively influence behavioural intentions.
This study aimed to propose and test a model of consumption experience and behavioural intention for customers of hotel and resort spas. More specifically, it tested the interrelationships and strengths among the constructs of service quality, consumption emotions, perceived value and behavioural intention. Besides, the measurement instruments for each construct which cater to the hotel and resort spas located in China were developed. In addition to filling the theoretical gap and serving as the platform of future study, results of the study can help hotel and resort spa managers to understand the criteria their customers used to evaluate service quality; how these service attributes trigger customers' positive or negative emotions; how the emotions influence their perceived value of the spa experience and how value predict positive behavioural intentions. The measurement items for of each construct were developed through the following process. Firstly, existing items generated from in the literature review were listed and summarized. Secondly, duplicated items measuring the same construct were screened and deleted. Thirdly, the remaining items were rewritten to cater to the hotel and resort spa setting. New items were added based on the suggestions from the interviews with spa customer and managers. Items not applicable in the spa context were also removed. Finally, an expert panel consisted of spa consumers, relevant subject educators, spa managers and directors were invited to evaluate the relevance and appropriateness of the measurement items. The final questionnaire consisted of 20 items measuring service quality, nine items for consumption emotion, six for perceived value and four items for behavioural intention. The target population for the study was non-local spa customers of five-star hotel/resort spas located in China in Macao, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Sanya. The actual data collection was performed by the researcher and the staff working in the collaborated hotels and resorts spas. The pilot study with 113 valid questionnaires was used to examine the dimensions of service quality, consumption emotion and perceived value by conducting exploratory factor analysis. The measurement scale was assessed with high reliability. The main survey was conducted in the same locations as the pilot test. Finally, 487 efficient surveys were obtained. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were conducted to test the measurement models of constructs in the study. Acceptable goodness of fit indices were obtained. The construct reliability and validity (convergent validity & discriminate validity) were test and with good results. The overall structural model fit was then examined with reasonably good fit indices which indicated an acceptable model fit. Eight hypotheses were supported by the data and except that negative emotion has insignificant relationships with hedonic and utilitarian value. Finally, the mediation role of positive emotion between service quality and both dimensions of perceived value were proved. The study made both theoretical and practical contributions. From theoretical aspect, it confirmed the measurement model of the constructs proposed and was empirically tested with high reliability and validity in the spa context. The vital function of consumption emotion especially the positive emotion dimension was found in this study. The mediating role of positive emotion in connecting service quality and creating consumers' perceived value was supported in spa context and provides strong evidence to Holbrook's (1986) arguments. The revised model cognition-emotion-value-behavioural intention proposed by the present study and was supported with acceptable model fit in the empirical study though a large-scale quantitative survey. The updated model can be regarded as the best alternative model to the previous consciousness-emotion-value model proposed by Holbrook (1986). From practical side, results of this study can help spa managers and directors to understand the essential role of emotion, and what they can do to enhance service quality and to create pleasurable and valuable spa journeys for the customers. Due to the limited time and budget, this study was only focused on five-star hotel and resort spas located in the southern China which could possibly lead to limitations. Since tourists may be from different countries and of different nationalities and they may have different spa experiences, future studies may test customers who have different demographic and behavioural characteristics on their perception of service, experienced emotion, perceived value and behavioural intentions in spa experience.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Hotel management
Resorts -- Management
Consumers -- Psychology.
Consumption (Economics) -- Psychological aspects
Pages: xi, 189 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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