Aim: Evaluate the pet-friendly services in the hospitality industry in Panama, as well as know how if these services are satisfactory or not for pet-lovers.
Purpose of dissertation
The emerging trends in regard to the keeping of pets have created challenges for pet-owning hotel customers. Therefore, it is imperative that the challenges faced by the pet-owning customers are analyzed and determined as a basis for improving services. This research investigates the perspectives of the pet-owners about the pet friendly services that they received from the hotels in Panama.
The study employs qualitative research method to collect the views of pet-owning hotel customers. Interviews were employed in the collection of the views of pet-owning hotel customers regarding their experiences in Panama hotels.
The research revealed that most customers are not provided with the services to their expectations. Specifically, the hotels have stringent regulations and policies governing the keeping of pets in their vicinity which makes it difficult for their pet-owners to access different locations of the hotels. Further, it was discovered that most of the hotels were inaccessible to their pets. Resultantly, most respondents suggested the hotels should improve the services provided for pet-owning customers. The research as well reveled that most of the interviewed stated that they would become loyal to the hotels which enhanced accessibility for their dogs and those which lowered the prices. Proper attention and the provision of excellent amenities came in second last and last respectively regarding importance to the selection of pet-friendly hotels.
Implications of the study
The study is significant towards ensuring that the hotels improve the services provided to the pet-owning customers. Such a measure is bound to enhance the experiences consequently the satisfaction of pet-lovers while increasing the hotels profitability.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Pet-loving customers satisfaction in the hospitality industry
Pet ownership is a human trait, which dates back to the dawn of human civilization. According to Archer (1997), pet ownership is a widespread human activity characterized by deluge expenditure and affection on the pets. From the perspective of the Darwinian Theory, the relationship between the human beings and their pets is quite surprising because there are no physical benefits, which can be accrued. The existence of such a close relationship between human beings and their pets has been extended to all facets of life. In regard, to the hospitality industry, for instance, individuals have been much concerned with the treatment of their pets. In other words, individuals are now interested in ensuring that their pets are given appropriate treatment that befits a family member. As indicated by Knight and Edwards (2008) pet owners have raised the status of their companion animals to an equal level to that of a family member. In fact, some consider the pets as being their grandchild or child substitutes which makes them liable for similar privileges as that of other family members.
It is based on such a mindset that the pet-owning hotel customers deserve improved treatment for their companion animals. In line with the fact that the hotels are in the business of meeting the needs of the consumers, it is necessary that they take into account such concerns and emerging trends. According to Cook (2002)the principal challenge for business in the contemporary society is changing from product orientation to customer emphasis. Wadud (2013) postulates that the problem is made worse by the fact that the current cohort of customers is more educated and progressively sophisticated apart from being well informed. Ostensibly such characteristics make them develop high expectations regarding the services that they are supposed to receive. Further, they demand more comprehensive array of choice besides making it difficult for the service providers to manipulate them. It is in line with such aspects that the contemporary customers require personalized services. In other words, as indicated by Wadud (2013) customers want to be treated as individuals.
Complete customer satisfaction is only attained when the internal and external needs of the customer are put into consideration (Wadud, 2013). Excellent customer service can achieve customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction according to Wadud, (2013) is influenced by the behavior of the employees, service quality, and competitive pricing. The employees should also try as much as possible to ensure that the best services to the customers. It is based on such studies that the hotels in Panama have to consider the views of their clients who in this case happen to be pet owners.
According to Serpell, (1987) pet keeping has always been associated with the wealthy in the society throughout history. The trend has however changed in the recent past specifically with the improvement of living standards in the western world. The author asserts that historically there has often been a distinction of class between those who own pets and those who do not. Apparently, such aspects have resulted in the creation of the mindset that pets are a luxury possession for the wealthy in the society. Johnson, (2009) indicates that human beings began keeping pets during the agricultural revolution. According to the author, the domestication of animals and crops which took place during the period wholly altered the relationship between animals and human beings. The subsequent domestication of dogs and cats as the most preferred pets has fluctuated over time from negative to positive in line with religious views and perspectives (Johnson, 2009). The dog specifically proved vital in hunting and gathering activities which were the primary preoccupation for human beings during the periods. Such relationships between human and animals have developed over time to the level currently witnessed whereby animals have been integrated as part of the family. As highlighted by Cohen (2002) pets have become more of family members in the contemporary society with the owners being keen to ensure that they receive a befitting treatment for their status. Such a mindset has resulted in human beings accompanying their animals in all the places that they visit since they want to have a similar experience with their pets. Ostensibly by being close to their animal companions, human beings are bound to acquire health and physical benefits. According to a study conducted by Maharaj, Colleen and Haney (2015) the association between pets and human beings is beneficial to the latter. It is based on such statistics that more individuals are bound to be accompanied by their animals to every place that they travel.
Customer satisfaction undoubtedly results in repeat purchases of services and products (Tepeci 1999). Wadud, (2013) postulates that the modern business philosophy should be focused on customer satisfaction. According to the author, continuous improvement principles are primary justification for the firm to ensure that it improves its services in line with the needs of the customers. In other words, customer satisfaction is deemed as the primary determiner of business success.
Evangelos and Yannis (2010) assert that customer satisfaction can be vital in the identification of prospective market opportunities.Oliver (1997) indicates that satisfied customers would not be easy to shift to other products. In short, happy customers will tend to be content with the products supplied by a particular firm and hence would not easily consider other alternatives. Further, the achievement can enhance word of mouth promotion of the said products apart from a willingness to accept new services. Word of mouth promotion is deemed as the most efficient way of creating awareness regarding specific products since the firm does not need to make additional spending towards product and advertising. Additionally, prospective customers will find it much easier to trust advice from fellow customers as opposed to information from the said company. According to Trusov, Bucklin, and Pauwels, (2009) word mouth marketing is advantageous since they encounter less resistance as compared to traditional marketing apart from the company expending comparatively lower expenditure. Therefore, it is vital that stakeholders in the hotel industry understand specifically the significant aspects which can promote pet owner satisfaction with the services that they provide. Trusov, Bucklin, and Pauwels, (2009) affirm the above-highlighted assertions by indicating that the traditional marketing strategies are losing their effectiveness. According to the study conducted byNail (2005), only 40% of people suggest that they learn about new products through advertisement while 59% stated that they make purchases due to the advertisements that they observed. Trusov, Bucklin, and Pauwels, (2009) postulate that such trends have greatly informed the decision of stakeholders in the advertisement industry to shift their attention from traditional marketing to word of mouth marketing. Pourabedin and Migin, (2015) argue that deciding which hotel to stay in is one of the most critical aspects of the planning for trips. It is during such moments that individuals would consider learning about the hotels that they would be staying.
According to Pourabedin, and Migin, (2015) several factors which include brand names, facilities and the quality of services will affect the decisions made by the prospective hotel customers. Research indicates that the travelers during such moments will seek information from travel agents, friends or family members courtesy of word of mouth. Zairi (2000) affirms the above assertions by indicating that satisfied customers tend to share their experiences with five other prospective customers while dissatisfied customers will share their experiences with ten potential customers. It is in line with such statistics that the hotel industry should be seeking to improve its word of mouth advertisement which has been found to accompany customer satisfaction. If the services are not satisfactory, the hotel will suffer from adverse publicity as indicated by Zairi (2000).
In the area of marketing practice and academic research, the aspect of customer satisfaction was madefamous by Cardozo's in 1965. Since its inception, the element has been of significant interests to industry players keen on improving their profitability. According to Giese and Cote, (2000) there has been no clear consensus on the measurement and explanation of customer satisfaction. The term is defined as evaluating judgment carried out after the consumption of goods or services (Gundersen, Heide and Olsson, 1996). It primarily involves the comparison between pre-consumption expectations or perspectives with the perception of how the performance was carried out or implemented.
1.3. Statement of the problem
There is a need for the hotels to improve the quality of services provided to the pet-owning customers. Apparently, the practice of keeping pets has been in existence for a long time. As indicated by Johnson (2009) the tradition dates back as early as an agricultural and industrial revolution. The recent trends in pet-keeping have seen a closer relationship between the animals and their owners. According to...
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