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International Journal of Tourism Sciences, Volume 11, Number 1, pp. 75-94, 2011 Tourism Sciences Society of Korea. All rights reserved.

Monitoring Consumer Attitudes in Hospitality Services: a Market Segmentation

Vera Toepoel∗
Tilburg University

ABSTRACT : This research examines the development of a hospitality monitor in the Netherlands to map consumer attitudes and assist hospitality organizations in designing effective market strategies to attract, satisfy, and retain consumers. A factor analytic approach revealed that there were different consumer segments based on identified attitudes in the hospitality industry, developing their hospitality selection on different attributes of hospitality services. This requires specific marketing segment and management strategies. A repeated measure some six years later demonstrated the robustness of the identified consumer attitudes. The impact of the attitudes on consumer behaviour is demonstrated and areas of research are identified in which this hospitality monitor may better inform theory development and best practice. Keywords: Consumer behavior, Marketing, Attribute-value theory, Service quality

** Vera Toepoel is an assistant professor at Leisure Studies, Tilburg University, Netherlands. E-mail : V.Toepoel@uvt.nl

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Vera Toepoel

Introduction
Consumer trends come and go, affecting the extent to which individuals appreciate certain aspects of hospitality services, and over time this can have significant implications for businesses in the hospitality industry. It is important for the sector to understand what the current trends in consumer behavior are, which consumer segments exist, and how consumer behavior will develop in the future. Verma, Plaschka, and Louvriere (2002) argue that it is imperative that businesses take into account consumer preferences when making decisions regarding product and service attributes. Understanding consumer choices is the key to successful management of hospitality services. According to attribute-value theory (Mowen and Minor, 1998), consumers base their choice on different attributes. Consumers may be attracted by price, by quality, by location etc. Consumers weigh up the overall value in terms of the presence and weight of each attribute. A favorable overall attitude is expected to result in repeat business. Over the last decades, several studies on market segmentation in the hospitality sector have demonstrated that consumers’ requirements of hospitality services differ between market segments. Market segmentation divides a market into distinct groups of buyers who might require different products or services. Understanding what various segments require and developing focused management strategies to fulfill these specific requirements are crucial to penetrating new markets and maintaining repeat business (Yuksel and Yuksel, 2002). The benefits of monitoring consumer attitudes seem evident. Incorporation of these attitudes into market segmentation and management is limited, however. In addition, although many segmentation studies have been performed in the hospitality sector (see John and Pine, 2002), research on stability over time is scarce. This study investigates which consumer segments exist in the hospitality sector in the Netherlands. A segmentation analysis based on consumer attitudes in the hospitality industry is used. This study demonstrates differences in personal characteristics and behavior of the identified consumer segments. The measure is repeated to demonstrate the robustness of results. In addition, the repetition of the measure demonstrates how segmentation studies can serve to monitor consumer trends over time. This research can be used to map consumer attitudes and assist hospitality organizations in designing effective market strategies to attract, satisfy, and retain consumers.

Monitoring Consumer Attitudes in Hospitality Services: a Market Segmentation

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