Date of Award

12-2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Corporate and Organizational Management

Department

College of Business and Management

First Advisor

Linsley T. DeVeau

Second Advisor

David Moffett

Third Advisor

Farideh Farazmand

Abstract

The chief goal hotels strive to accomplish is to satisfy and retain their customers. Previous research showed that contented hotel guests are more likely to revisit a hotel than guests who were somehow dissatisfied (Schall, 2003). South Florida is one of the most attractive destinations in the U.S. for tourists. The hotel industry in South Florida has grown rapidly in recent years to serve the increasing number of tourists. However, studies regarding the hotel industry in South Florida are limited. This study attempted to scrutinize and investigate the relationship between service quality and customer loyalty in the hotel industry in South Florida, encompassing Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties. The specific purposes of this explanatory quantitative study were: (a) to describe hotel guests of participating hotels located in South Florida, U.S.A. in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, perceptions of service quality of service providers, and customer loyalty; (b) to scrutinize the relationships between socio-demographic characteristics, service quality dimensions, and customer loyalty; and (c) to produce connotations for service quality training in customer loyalty strategies and service improvement in the hotel industry in South Florida.

In this research, service quality was measured through perceptions of hotel guests toward the service quality of hotels located in three counties in South Florida, through five dimensions of SERVQUAL (tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy). Customer loyalty was measured by hotel guests using the 7-item Modified Customer Loyalty. These instruments showed acceptable reliability, which were greater than 30. A factor analysis was conducted to confirm the validity of these instruments; scores ranged between .70-.80 for both. Three-hundred-sixty-nine hotel guests who stayed in hotels in South Florida successfully completed the survey. Using quota sampling, participants were approached to complete the survey questionnaire on the beach located in three counties in South Florida. Results demonstrated that service quality in terms of reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy were significant explanatory variables of customer loyalty. The hypothesis of this study was partially supported as tangible was not significant explanatory variable of customer loyalty. This study found no difference regarding perceptions between males and females. However, there was a significant difference for repeat patronage based on education level. Recommendations for future studies included exploration of the relationship between customer loyalty and other factors that can affect customers' use of services with a hotel, such as hotel reputation, special services, promotion, and location, etc.

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