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In this research project, I would like to investigate the LIC students' satisfaction with UK Hotel when they travel. As an international student studying in the UK and my major is Management, so I'm interested in the investigation of hotel satisfaction. Not only linking with my major in the future, but also getting useful information about choosing accommodations when I travel through doing the project.
Nowadays young tourists no longer agree with the traditional image of hotels as places to spend the night in. Instead, they have a wider variety of needs than ever before and they are increasingly selective in their choice of accommodation. Hasp and Kisang (2009) suggested that hotel's price and physical environment affect youth traveler's loyalty and companies' competitiveness alike. Due to students being still not fully independent, including international students, money is always a major concern as they need to pay for travelling (Quest, 1985). However, low price hotel is difficult to be equipped with good physical environment. In order to provide suitable guidelines to help international youth travelers choose accommodation and help the hotel company increase its competitiveness, it is important to compare and contract different factors. Students' satisfaction with UK hotel is difficult to measure. Therefore balancing these effects may be challenging, this is the main reason, and author chose this topic.
This report will aim to identify the needs of students travelers based on their levels of satisfaction in hotel stays in the UK, find out the most important factor leading youth travelers to choose accommodation and analyze the trend of preference for hotels. One verifiable hypotheses is presented that youth traveler will pay more attention to the price of the hotel compared with other factors. In order to test the assumption, a survey of 30 international adults in Liverpool was carried out.
In this project, definition for Hotel satisfaction is quoted from Crispian (1969). He defined hotel satisfaction as the leading criterion for determining the quality of environment, service standards and food as well as the technology level, whether it meets consumers' demand.
This article will first provide a review of important past researches and theories about what factors influence youth travelers to evaluate and choose a hotel. It will then describe the methods used in my own primary research. After this, results of analyzing the questionnaire with be presumed, analyzed and discussed. Finally, author's personal point of view and recommendation for further research will be posed in the conclusion.
2. Literature review
The literature review in this part is mainly about the satisfaction of hotel and is related to my hypotheses that I have set: hotel price is the most important factor when students choose live hotel. In order to test hypotheses, I will first do a literature review to collect data and get useful information.
In recent years, youth tourism business has grown constantly and sales accounted for 20% share of the whole tourism market ( Babin & Kremlin,2001). In addition, accommodation fees become the largest single element in the destination. Kirwin (1992) suggested that with increasing travelers, hotel's image affects youth traveler's loyalty and companies' competitiveness alike.
2.1 Hotel satisfaction
In this literature review, definition for Hotel satisfaction is quoted from Crispian (1969). Definition for Hotel satisfaction is the leading criterion for determining the quality of environment, service standards and food as well as the technology level whether meets consumers' demand. Hunt (1977) showed similar consequences that from the service provider's point of view, the physical environment and reasonable price were two essential elements that determine the level of customer satisfaction, and ultimately enhance customer loyalty. Hunt's opinion published in 1977; time is very old but still relevance defining the term nowadays.
2.1.1 Physical environment
According to Quest (1985), the role of the physical environment was especially pertinent in a service industry such as the hotel industry, which influenced customer behavior and created a provider's image. From a customers' viewpoint, hotel physical environment influenced his overall travelling experience. Hunt (1977) indicated the physical environment referred to three factors including artifacts, spatial layout, and ambient conditions and these three factors have been considered as getting the gauge of the physical environment for customer behavior study in service settings.
First, Bitner (1992) suggested artifacts contribute to the attractiveness of the physical environment. Their evaluations of the attractiveness and overall aesthetic impression were influenced by various aspects of interior schemes as well as artifacts. Reichheld and Sasser (1990:106) suggested that when customers stay in the hotel, they were likely to evaluate consciously and subconsciously the pleasant appearance of the interior designs of a hotel as well as the quality of the materials used in construction, artwork, and decoration.
Next, Shifflet and Bhatia (1997:22) mentioned spatial layout of a hotel was particularly important, which facilitated the fulfillment of customers' specific needs and wants. It referred to the arrangement of objects, such as furniture and equipment. Moreover, the author mentioned service qualities, including staff attitude and providing extra items (sharing books, DVDs). According to Heesup and Kisang (2009), an effective layout of the physical environment can let customers feel comfortable as well as increased custom loyalty.
Last factors ambient conditions, Heesup and Kisang (2009) conducted that ambient conditions were intangible background elements that generally have a subconscious mind effect on customer perception and responses to the environment. These conditions included convenient transport, comfortable temperature, low noise level, cleaner rooms and other elements in a hotel. Travelers often go to server's spots, convenient transport is very important for them, so the ambient conditions of hotel are also important factors for attracting customers. Additionally, Greg (2007) mentioned that for student's travelers feeling safe was also an important consideration in choosing an accommodation.
The other important factor is price. LeBlanc and Nguyen (1996) conducted the role of the price in influencing customer behavior would be more important in hotel choice selection, especially for students' travelers. Because in economic aspect, students were still not fully independent, therefore for the most of international students, money was always a major concern as they need to pay for travelling (Quest, 1985). In 1992, Ananth et al surveyed 510 travelers, most of who thought price and quality are the most important factors. Furthermore, customers tend to use price as a cue in evaluating their experiences with a product or service and in shaping their attitude toward a provider.
In conclusion, some researchers (Hunt, 1977; Heesup and Kisang, 2009 etc) conducted studies about investigating consumer's satisfaction. For example, Hunt (1977) indicated from past studies, the physical environment and reasonable price were two essential elements that determine the level of customer satisfaction, and ultimately enhanced customer loyalty. Concretely, this literature review supports my Hypothesis: Hotel price is the main factor when students choose hotel accommodation. Even though some sources were too old, which have been written before forty years ago, such as Crispian's definition for hotel satisfaction (1969), his idea was same as Heesup and Kisang (2009). Perhaps wider investigation could discover difference information, however, due to time limited.
In the literature review, there is no sufficient evidence that prove significant relationship between the physical environment influence youth travelers to evaluate hotel. In particularly, the effect of artifacts and ambient conditions are for students to evaluate a hotel. It is necessary to conduct further study about hotel's physical environment whether affect students choosing accommodation when they travel. Primary research is focused on investigating what are the factors leading to choice of hotel.
According to Boylan(1993), research is a systematic process throughout learning new knowledge and perspective about a phenomenon based on scientific methods. In this research, a positivist framework was adopted due to the importance of understanding the youth traveler's satisfaction on the UK hotels throughout the observable and measurable aspects of the phenomenon. Such as, the study will investigate the effectiveness of price and environmental prediction of a hotel in the UK for youth travelers choosing a hotel with quantitative research strategy, specifically with sampling and questionnaire methods to collect the data, linking it with historical and current theories on the subject in order to find the similarity and statistically working out the results of this study. The main purpose of this chapter is to discover new knowledge, which is could not be finished by the secondary research.
3.1 Research methods: questionnaire, sampling and analysis strategy
According to Saunders et al (2009), questionnaire is one of the best ways to collect quantitative data from large sample. Another advantage of questionnaire was mentioned by Jankowicz (cited in Sanders et al, 2009) that questionnaire requires less sensitivity than interviews. In addition, the limitation for time, budget and accessibility of the subject suggested that the use of questionnaire was the most practical and effective method. Form reasons mention above, this study used questionnaire method and chose systematic sampling technique.
The instrument produced for this research was 11 closed questions and1 open question, which was composed of 3 question types: category, multi choice and scale. Questions were separated to five areas based on the purpose (see appendix A). Details were as given below; question 2 related anglicizing youth tourism market, question 3 and question 7-9 were relevant to youth travel experience; Question 4 and 5 related to investigate what are the factors leading to choice of hotel and which are the most important factors. Question 6 was relevant to the relationship of hotel satisfaction and customers' loyalty, question 10, 11 and 12 were asked to provide suggestions and recommendations for the UK hotel.
Pilot test was carried out to 3 Liverpool International College students on 11th June. Questionnaire was tested about five types of errors, which are ambiguity, double questions, knowledge, leading question and appropriation of number of question. Pilot test revealed difficulty to understand the meaning of 'B&B' and 'Campsite' so that these two words were changed to Breakfast& Bed and 'Campsite (éœ²è¥¼‰'.Because the responders are Chinese students, so I use Chinese to explain. This questionnaire adopted self-report data collection.
Sampling technique will use systematic sampling technique of every 3 person at Liverpool University Sydney Jones Library and Liverpool International College from 1th to 2nd July. The sample was 30. Questionnaire was handed out by face-to-face style and collected on the spot. The subject of this research was students aged from 18 to 25. Two respondents were eliminated from sample group due to misunderstanding, and then total available participants were 28. In addition, four of the twenty-eight students have not travelled so that they did not answer question 10, 11 and 12. Thus, I only collected twenty-four responders' answers in question 10, 11 and 12.
3.2 Secondary Analysis
To search information from relevant past literature and to study on hotel satisfactions in the University of Liverpool Library or Internet and analysis the background and current situation of the topic. I will try to choose the sources which are more objective, such as newspapers, local hotel investigation research. There may be spending two weeks to collect data and analysis data. The open data will use qualitative method to analyze and the closed questions will use quantitative method. Research Question 7 will be mainly investigated through secondary research from sources, because respondents may not have the knowledge affect this issue.
3.3 Ethical conditions
The research will adopt questionnaire. Firstly, participants take part in the research of their own free choice, and I will explain the aim of the research before them agreeing to take part. Considering privacy and confidentiality, the answers of the questionnaires will be kept. But the responses will be analyzed and summarized the research report. Thirdly, I will strive for honesty in all scientific communications. Honestly report data, results, methods and procedures, and publication status. Based on ethical consideration, helping to build public support for research therefore I can get more truth data and information.
3.4 Expected limitations
There are possible reliability and validity problems in methodology, due to the limitation in region to distribute the questionnaire and the academic ability of researcher. Initially, the numbers of the samples were smaller than that in previous research; it is possible that the samples may not represent the accurate situation. Clearly, the numbers of samples in previous studies is from at least 300 to 600 at large. Additionally, in regard to the limitation of region, focusing on the Chinese students in Liverpool International College, it might be difficult for the results to be generalized all around the UK; the sample chose may undermine the validity of random sampling. Lastly, it may reflect negatively when implementing questionnaire, due to the respondents and researcher have not good English, such as misunderstanding the questions.
4. Findings and discussion
This chapter includes findings and discussion. This study aims to find out the effects the physical environment has on youth travelers when choosing accommodation and whether price is the most important factor for youth travelers to evaluate or choose a hotel. In addition, though discussing and analyzing, researcher will get more details about this topic. Data collected via questionnaire (see appendix B) was statistically analyzed based on quantitative method. Findings and discussion were analyzed based on four separate sections which are analyzing the youth tourism market, determining the key factors that affect youth travelers' satisfaction, discussing the relationship of hotel satisfaction and customer loyalty, and analyzing the existing problems of the UK hotel and giving some suggestions.
4.1 Youth tourism market
For the second question, students were asked how many times per year they travelled in the UK. 84% of the respondents travelled per year, and 43% of the respondents visited more than four times per year in the UK. Of a total of 28 respondents, only four students did not travel per year (see figure 1). This corresponds to the primary researchers ( Babin & Kremlin,2001). This result might imply that youth tourism sales accounted for a big share of the whole tourism market. According to the primary research, the main youth travel motivation tends to be to explore other cultures (83%), followed by excitement (74%) and increasing knowledge (69%) - demonstrating the desire to encounter 'different' people and places (World Tourism Organization,2007) . Due to these different reasons, youth tourism business has grown constantly and the trend will be possibility to grow continuously in the future.
4.2 Key factors influencing youth travelers when choosing and evaluating a hotel
Answers of Question 4 illustrated that which factors are the most important when youth travelers choose accommodation on a scale from 1 (most important) -5 (least important). Safety, clean environment, convenient transport, staff service and appropriate price were the main factors influenced youth traveler to choose or evaluate a hotel (see Appendix B. Q4). The majority (71%) of youth travelers indicated hotels' safety was the most important consider factor when they choose a hotel. This result was congruent with past research Greg (2007) mentioned that for student's travelers feeling safe was also an important consideration in choosing an accommodation.
Followed from safety, 53% of the respondents said clean environment of a hotel was the most important factor. However, contrary to my hypothesis, price was not the most important factor, 57% of the students thought price was a main consider factor. In addition, for hotels' inner design, the brand of a hotel and whether hotel offer free breakfast or extra facilities, such as free books, free Internet, which do not affect youth travelers in choosing accommodations. We found that in service industries, managers need to pay more attention to the environmental sanitation that because customers pay more attention to care their health.
This study could show some evidences that the physical environment and reasonable price were two essential elements that determine the level of customer satisfaction. In addition, price was not the most important factor when students choose a hotel when they travel instead of paying attention to hotels' safety and cleanness. This finding was opposite of past studies Abdel-Ghaffar (1992) found that approximately 80% of international students, their travel planning based on being able to travel as cheaply as possible . Moreover this finding was opposite to my hypothesis: youth traveler will pay more attention to the price of the hotel compared with other factors. One reason may be that international students get parents support in economy. Compared with the tuition fees, travel expenses are less.
4.3 The relationship of hotel satisfaction and customer loyalty
According to the responses of the questionnaire, there was a significant positive correlation between customers' loyalty and hotels' satisfaction. As can be seen from Question 6, the majority of 89% youth consumer will choose the same hotel in the next journey when they satisfied with hotels' products and overall service quality. 64% of the respondents reflected that they would recommend the hotel to others if they feel comfortable in the hotel (see appendix B. Q6) .
From this trend, it would be expected that the increase hotel satisfaction might maintain and improve customers' loyalty. These evidences supported post researches (Hunt, 1977; Heesup and Kisang, 2009 etc), which suggested that increase customers' satisfaction to the hotel ultimately enhanced customer loyalty. Even though youth travelers satisfied with hotel products and overall service quality, only 32% of the students can accept the high price of the hotel in the next holiday. This result might imply that appropriate price was also play an important factor relevant to customer loyalty.
4.4 The existing problems of the UK hotel
Result of question 12 was analyzed in this section. Q 12 was open question. 15 respondents illustrated three main problems (figure 2) : hotel price was over-high (53%); compared with same level hotel in china, UK hotels' room equipment was old (40%) ; there were no breakfast and no toiletries (33%).
Figure 2:The existing problems of the UK hotel
One reason may be that the exchange rate of RMB and pounds was 10:1, for Chinese everything multiply 10 became big one. Therefore, lots of students thought hotel price was high. However, high price did not the most important effect when they choose a hotel, linking Q4 and Q6. 33% of the respondents reflected that UK hotels did not provided toiletries, which influenced youth travelers' satisfaction. That may be because in the UK, government tries to encourage environmental consumption. These evidences supported post researches (Harris,2009), which suggested that customers had more choices, one-time items should be preserved, but customers need to pay. If one-time items need to pay, most of travelers, especially youth travelers, consider take private toiletries. Environmental consumption is better for our environment and encourages people to form thrift quality.
After analyzing the data, two limitations for accuracy were considered. Clear definition for different type of accommodation was not given to participant. Thus, it would be a possibility that standard for hotel satisfaction would vary from individual to individual. In addition, this study could not measure the length of stay. Whether length of stay is long or short does/does not affect youth travelers choosing or evaluating a hotel.
This report argued that what factors influence youth travelers to evaluate or choose a hotel. The result of analysis illustrated some possibility that physical environment and price are the main elements affect youth travelers' satisfaction for the UK hotels. There were three interesting findings in this study. First, contrary to my hypothesis, price was not the most important factor when youth travelers choose a hotel. Second, there was a significant positive correlation between customers' loyalty and hotels' satisfaction. Similarly to past researches ( Heesup and Kisang, 2009), this study also intimated some possibility that to increase customers' satisfaction to the hotel ultimately enhanced customer loyalty. Third, if one-time items, such as toiletries, customers need to pay, most of travelers, especially youth travelers, consider take own toiletries rather than using free one-time items.
Surprisingly, results of this study demonstrated possibility of youth consumers will choose the same hotel in the next journey when they satisfied hotel products and overall service quality even though the hotel's price was high than others'. In addition, they would recommend the hotel to others. Other possible hotel managers add CCTV and other safety facilities to protect customers' safety because this study illustrated possibility that safety was the most important factor when youth travelers choose or evaluate a hotel. According to youth travelers' behavior and demands, youth hostels and Bed &Breakfast are possibility to more adapt to youth travelers.
Past studies will help to analyze my research theoretically and critically. This study would define different character of influencing students to evaluate hotel's satisfaction, additionally, to evaluate different type of accommodations. The research will be useful for students to choose accommodations when they travel and hotel managers who can get useful information about how to attract youth travelers then to increase the companies' competitiveness.
Naturally, many questions were thrown up in need of further investigations. This study could not measure the length of stay. Whether length of stay is long or short does/does not affect youth travelers choosing or evaluating a hotel. As a practical matter, the main cause of the increase customers' satisfaction is still uncertain and only 12 respondents answered open question so that there is no clear evidence that to analyze the existing problems of the UK hotel. Hence, in order to correctly evaluate affect of different factors, it is necessary to conduct researches in the same hotel to reduce affect of other factors.