In the hospitality industry, superior customer experiences play an important role in gaining customer loyalty and achieving a competitive advantage (Kandampully & Jaakkola, 2018). If guests feel well cared and their expectations are met or exceeded, it will result in a positive experience preserved in their memories (Slåtten and Mehmetoglu, 2010; Liu and Jang, 2009; Kim and Moon, 2009). As a result, it will lead to guest retention (Kim and Moon, 2009; Bowen and Shoemaker, 1998) and positive word-of-mouth about the hotel (Slåtten and Mehmetoglu, 2010; Liu and Jang, 2009). Those who receive superior guest experience are more likely to recommend or endorse a brand on social media, make recommendations to their families, friends to such that hotel. Consequently, the brand image of the firm is positively enhanced. (Frichou, 2018). Gentile, Spiller and Noci (2007) also claimed that a positive guest experience can establish a relationship between an emotional tie, firm’s brand and its customers, which results in the enhancement of customer loyalty and repeat purchases. Those are vital aspects of every business success. Besides, guests are willing to spend more if they believe and love the quality of service, which enables every business to keep the profits high.
Pine and Gilmore are one of the first researchers who present the concept of customer experience, stating that the physical environment, human interactions, and emotional characteristics are elements that emphasize the characters of the guest experience. Firstly, the physical environment enables a business to increase financial performance and improve the customer’s intention to experience again as well as gain customer satisfaction (Githiri, 2017; Magnini & Parker, 2009). When customers stay in a hotel, they tend to have a conscious and subconscious evaluation of the physical appearance of the interior designs of a hotel as well as the materials used in construction, artwork, and decoration. The interior schemes and the artifacts impact the evaluations of the guests on the overall quality and attractiveness of a hospitality setting (Nguyen & Leblanc, 2002). In a service setting, the ambient quality of the physical environment stimulates the guest to pursue the consumptions of service, resulted in their attitudes and evaluation towards the provider. Han and Ryu (2009) claim that fresh scent, relaxing music, comfortable temperature, low level of noise, and proper lighting harmonize with other conditions in a hotel would lead customers to have more preferable perceptions of a business and gain more positive experiences.
Secondly, the human interaction dimension, including employees and fellow guests, is another decisive impact on the guest experience. As the operation of any service consumption often takes place in the presence of customers, human interactions can have a substantial impact on the overall quality of customer experiences. According to PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017, nearly 80% of American consumers report that speed, attitude, knowledgeable help and friendly employees are the most important elements in leaving a profound impression on guest experiences. Also, 46% of all guests will abandon a brand if the employees are not knowledgeable and caring. Positive interactions among customers, in service settings, have considered important to both consumers and companies, which enhances consumer satisfaction and enjoyment (Levy, Hudson and Getz, 2011). Besides, Pullman and Gross (2004) further argue that when superior experiences are created and the result is a consumer-employee mutual understanding and emotional connect, it is more likely that the high level of human interaction will create a loyal customer (Yuan & Wu, 2008).
Thirdly, Hu (2005) finds that the guest’s emotions in the hospitality industry are engaged in cognitive service quality evaluation and reflected on customer loyalty. He also demonstrates that emotions influence customer loyalty toward a hospitality setting and that guests emotions play a vital role in their decision-making process. They are often willing to pay a given rate and willing to return. In addition, customers with positive emotions will feel more satisfied with the service they have experience, and show greater loyalty and provide an exceptional word of mouth references. They also tend to spend more and encourage others to do the same (Mills, 2017). According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, 83% of customers tend to spend more money with the brand they feel more connected. Consequently, businesses that have a high level of emotional connection with customers are more likely to increase their profitability (Slåtten et al., 2010).
In summary, the physical environment, human interactions, and emotional characteristics are key elements in shaping the guest experience. Taking them into account in management allows you to create a competitive advantage.