The tourism industry in the last two decades developed significantly in Malaysia. Malaysia has received 24.6 million tourists from all over the world in the year 2010, (Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Tourism Minister of Malaysia) and in a report conducted by WTO, Kuala Lumpur( the capital city of Malaysia), was among the top 10 Most visited cities by number of international visitors in 2010.
All countries are looking for ways to attract more tourists. Because of this, tourist satisfaction has been a priority subject of research in recent years. Understanding what drives satisfaction for a tourist is one of the most relevant areas of research (Prebensen, 2006), as satisfied tourists tend to transmit their positive experiences to others and to repeat their visit (Alén, Rodríguez & Fraiz, 2007)
Although there are many definitions of satisfaction, Reichel (1978) defines tourist satisfaction as the result of comparison between “a tourist’s experience at the destination visited and the expectation about the destination”. According to Feng (2007) ), satisfaction is one of the most relevant variables when analyzing tourist behaviour, as it influences the choice of destination, the consumption of products and services, and the decision to return.
Many factors are involved in making of a country a tourist preferred destination. Both the government and the private sectors must work hand in hand. The people in the front line must be capable of making the visitors feel that they have chosen the right vacation destination. Thus the emphasis on language proficiency is understandable. Language not only is a means for establishing a communication but also is a tool for fostering relationships.
There are at least 1400 million people who live in countries that English has an official status, so it is not surprising that one out of five portion of the population of the world speak English at the level of competence and the rest are still in demand of learning this language ( David Graddol, 1997)
According to Malaysia’s Government official website, 54366 visitors arrived from Europe from January to September 2011, 14725 visitors from North America and 21445 visitors from Oceania (Australia- New Zealand). Most of these travellers’ mother tongue is English and there are Asian and African tourists, who recognize English as the Language of the world.
If these tourists can communicate in their mother language or any other language which has more usage, they can feel at home in those destination countries. It gives them confidence and makes them feel safe, resulting in increased levels of satisfaction.
1.1 Statement of the problem
As it mentioned, an important component in the tourism industry is tourist’s satisfaction. The level of tourist’s satisfaction plays an eminent role in promoting the image of the country as a top tourism spot.
Many researches reveals that the level of tourist satisfaction with a particular trip is the result of different factors (Peter & Olson, 1996) which are generally assessed as a comparison between the tourist’s perception of the products and services he receives and the expectations generated before and during his trip (Barsky & Labagh, 1992).
The Hotel Industry comprises a major part of the Tourism industry.The hospitality industry has a main goal which is: to provide necessarry or desired products and services to travelers.Tourists do not just come for the facilities and attractions. They want to be treated right and well. That’s why a good command of English language is always regarded as an asset for personnels working in the tourism industry specially in the hotel industry.
The importance of English is undeniable since for so many years English is considered as the most important medium of communication of the world generally.It is the language of power, prestige and success . This language as a global language can open doors throughout the world ( Philipsson, 1996)
Although Malaysia has two official languages, English and Malay, our focus is on English because most visitors do not speak Bahasa Melayu, the national language.Most Malaysian residents, who speak English, speak it as a second language but many tourism interactions occur in English.
Numerous studies have been carried out to measure the degree of tourist satisfaction, but very few papers have focused on analysing the possible relationships that this variable has with application of English language by tourism staff.
Consequently, the main aim of this paper is to question if English language proficiency of the staffs working in the hotel industry has any impact on the level of tourist’s satisfaction with hotels in Malaysia or not.
1.2 Research question
To what extend English language proficiency of the hotel staffs can raise the level of the tourist’s satisfaction in Malaysia.
1.3 Objective of the study
To examine whether the English language proficiency of the staffs working in the hotel industry can change the level of tourist’s satisfaction in Malaysia.
Chapter 2 : Literature Review
2.1 Importance of Tourism
Tourism is a driving force for economic growth in Malaysia. Tourism creates employment opportunities for Malaysian residents and brings money into the economy. Tourism industry in Malaysia creates high effects in the economy of this country as well as developing unity and national integration (Gom , 1991)
If tourism industry growth in Malaysia continues, it could push forward the country’s engine of growth which is manufacturing sector. International tourism can bring high amount of revenue. This earned revenue has a very important role in developing Malaysia’s economy (Sadi and Batels 1997)
Tourism Industry has helped Malaysia in developing its quality of life and its socio-economic status. An evidence of that is the upward trend of tourism and hotel industry in Malaysia until 1997 (Poon & Low 2005) . Today this industry is experiencing a year to year growth in foreign exchange earnings.
In the 70 decade government put lots of efforts to develop several objectives such as growing the earning from foreign exchange , increasing the number of employments and the level of their income, developing regional areas and increasing revenue made by the government (Khalifah and Tahir 1997).
From the tourism receipts (tourism revenue) contribution, there exists a steady growth. For example, tourism receipts increased from RM17.40 billion in 2000 to RM24.20 billion a year later and then increased further to RM25.80 billion (2002), RM29.7 billion (2004) and RM32.00 billion in 2005. In 2006 Malaysia received RM36.3 billion (USD10.4 billion) in tourism receipts. (The Financial Express 2007).
A total of 24.6 million tourists arrived in Malaysia and spent RM56.5 billion in 2010 compared with 23.6 million tourists spent RM53.4 billion in 2009. Tourism is the 2nd largest industry in the country after manufacturing and has been growing since 2000 with international arrivals increasing by 9% per year. (New Straits Times 2011)
The tourism industry in Malaysia is an important foreign exchange earner, contributing to economic growth, attracting investments and providing employment. The focus of the government is to enhance the country’s position as a leading foreign tourist destination, while promoting domestic tourism. (The Malaysia Government’s Official Portal 2012).
2.1.1 Importance of Hotels
The hotel industry in Malaysia is expanding rapidly due to the increase of foreign tourist. Tourism statistics of Malaysia has recorded MYR49.6 billion (about USD14.2 billion) earning from tourists in 2008, with 31.2% of the total tourist expenditures coming from travel accommodations (Euromonitor International, 2009).
Without a dubt one of the main components that will put tourists in a positive mood and also affect their satisfaction is Accommodation.(Ekiz, 2009) .Here, hospitality establishments in general and luxury hotels, is documented well to be very important.(Heung and Lam, 2003).
Malaysian hotels accommodated 68,886,154 guests in 2008 and had an average occupancy rate of 66%. The number of rooms supplied during 2008 increased by 3.4% (total of 165,739 rooms), while the number of hotels increased by 0.6% (total hotels 2,373) as compared to 2007 data.( Malaysia Statistics)
According to Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (2010) a total of 61,363,396 hotel guests were hosted in 2009, corresponding 60.9% occupancy rate. Hotels and restaurants alone provided employment for 1.7 million people, equivalent to 16% of the total employment in 2009 (Economic Planning Unit, 2010).
Form the data mentioned above it is clear that the average occupancy rate in Malaysia hotel industry is significant even in the years 2008 and 2009 that the world was experiencing a recession period. As a result of the economy recovering , it is expected that this industry will face a strong growth in the number of tourists and occupancy rates .It should be mentioned that ,the growth of this industry has a significant impact on other related activities ,too. Food and beverage, entertainment and also shopping in Malaysia are some of those other activities.(Poon and Low 2005)
2.2 Tourists’ Satisfaction
Oliver (1981) claims that tourist satisfaction can be seen as a tourist’s post-purchase evaluation of the destination. In many studies, satisfaction is distinguished as an antecedent of loyalty ( Kozak, 2001; Jang & Feng,2006). Although Oppermann (2000) states that studies on tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty have not been thoroughly investigated, Chi and Qu (2008, p. 624) claim that “customer satisfaction has always been considered an essential business goal because it was assumed that satisfied customer would buy more.” Although measuring tourist satisfaction is not simple, several studies have been conducted to examine the influence of customer satisfaction on loyalty (Gummesson, 1993; Anderson and Fornell, 1994; Um et al., 2006; Hui et al., 2007). Gotlieb et al. (1994) assert that positive satisfaction has positive influence on tourists’ repurchase intention. Similarly, Baker & Crompton (2000); Petrick et al. (2001), and Jang & Feng (2006) have highlighted that satisfaction is the primary antecedent of revisit intention.
Importantly, there is an agreement among several scholars that satisfaction provide a ground for revisit and positive word of mouth recommendations which are the indicators of loyalty (e.g. Kozak & Rimmington, 2000; Yoon & Uysal 2005; Chi and Qu, 2008). In another view, Um et al. (2006, p. 1141) state that “revisit intention has been regarded as an extension of satisfaction rather than an initiator of revisit decision making process.” Kozak (2001) pointed that level of satisfaction as one of the most dominant variables in explaining revisit intention. Accordingly, in tourism destination’s researches, it has been widely underlined that tourist satisfaction, loyalty and revisit intention have strong relationship (eg. Yoon & Usal, 2005; Awadzi & Panda, 2007), while a few studies disapproved the positive relationship between tourist satisfaction and revisit intention ( e.g. Um et al., 2006).
2.2.1 Other Variables Affecting Tourists’ Satisfaction with Hotels
Tourists’ satisfaction with a hotel is a result of many aspects, such as their perception of product elements experienced as well as their expectations before- and during their stay. People go on holiday to satisfy one or several of their needs, whatever these needs are. To achieve satisfaction people try to behave in a rational way. (Nina K. Prebensen) Some variables which affect tourists’ satisfaction are :
When traveling, you’ll find that the locations of your hotels will play a big role in your overall enjoyment of the trip. That’s because a well-located hotel will significantly cut down on the amount of time you waste in traffic or trying to navigate an unfamiliar place. For business travelers, centrally-located hotels will increase productivity by allowing them more time to work and meet with colleagues. “Location” is an important reason for selecting a hotel, especially for economy and mid-scale guests. ( Jonathan Barsky & Lenny Nash : 2003 )
Comfortable hotels and accommodation facilities play a very important role in popularizing any tourist destination. If a person, who is quite far away from home, gets to enjoy the same facilities and comforts as he enjoys at his home, then he is bound to become attached to the place. On the other hand if the tourist ends up at a place where the hotels and accommodation facilities are not satisfactory, it is quite likely that he might never return to that place. (Suman Ahliya : 2008)
In his article, Jerry Garner mentions that more often than not, price is the major factor influencing satisfaction with a hotel. The more money saved on the cost of the hotel, the more you have for other things, such as souvenirs, dining out and even extending your stay.
In hospitality industry, it takes time to get the trust of your target market unless your business is under the umbrella of a well-established name. As you gain trust from your target market, brand loyalty and customers’ satisfaction will follow. This will include loyal customers and sales promotion for your hotel. However, a good reputation is defeated if quality is not included in the purchase. (Joyce Ira : 2010)
18.104.22.168 Cleanliness and Hygiene
Knutson (1988) argued that tourists considered cleanliness as important in selecting a hotel for the first time and revisits. Lockyer (2002, 2005) noted that cleanliness was highly rated by hotel guests as the main hotel selection determinant. Callan (1998) stressed that cleanliness of hotel room has been identified as the most important factor. Dolnicar (2002) further argued that hygiene and cleanliness was one very critical factor influencing tourists’ satisfaction.
22.214.171.124 Guest Experience
The experiences of guests during their hotel stay directly impact repeat visits and recommendations (personal and online reviews, e.g., TripAdvisor). A positive/negative guest experience can impact a hotel’s reputation and may trigger recommendations or reviews about that experience. “Guest experience factors” which include past experience, reputation, recommendations, and online reviews, are critical to selecting a hotel by the majority of hotel guests. ( Jonathan Barsky & Lenny Nash : 2003 )
126.96.36.199 Safety and Security
Knutson (1988) mentioned that leisure travellers were mainly concerned with a hotel’s safety and security. This concern might stem from the idea that leisure trips often involve families, and these travellers have a high sensitivity to what may occur around them when their families are involved. Marshall (1993) and Clow et al. (1994) revealed that security was cited as one of the most important criteria in selecting a hotel. Tourists want to be safe and secure in their accommodation, and are willing to pay for this. The safety and security system may differentiate one property from its competition, hence becoming a competitive strategy that helps a hotel to gain tourists’ confidence and trust. Ananth et al. (1992) found that leisure travelers were likely to express concern with regard to a hotel’s reputation and name familiarity.
2.3 English Language
2.3.1 What is a Global Language?!
When a language develops in such a way that it can be recognised in every country we can say that it has achieved a global status. when a large number of people speak a language and that language is their mother tongue while that language has taken up by other countries across the glob we can say that language has gain a global status. In the case of English, united States of America, Britain, South Africa, Australia, Ireland , New Zealand, Canada, several Caribbean countries and etc. this language has been spoken as their mother tongue and in some countries like Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria , India , Singapore , Vanuatu and etc. English has a special status.( Crystal, 1997)
According to Crystal there exist 2 ways which we can help a language to be globalised :
Firstly, we can make it the official language of a country and use it as the only medium of communication in every domain such as : courts, media, education , and politics.
Secondly, while a language has no official status we have it as the prior language in the educational system and use it as the language of teaching.
2.3.2 A language in common
In his book, English as a Global Language, Crystal says that :
“the idea of a single, common language emerged in the 20th century, particularly during the 1950s .Around this time, many international agencies and organizations were being formed. With the numerous languages of the member countries, interpreters were a critical element in the progress of these organizations. Crystal states that half the budget of international organizations can easily be consumed on translation and interpretation expenses.”
He also believe that when we have so many languages to translate, we will loose some information with each subsequent translation. He then argues that a global language is very necessary in preserving and conveying important information.
2.3.3 English as a global language
In his book, English as a Global Language, Crystal states that :
“By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Britain had become the world’s leading industrial and trading country .This position allowed the British to spread English around the globe. The power of English was further developed by the growth of the United States.During the twentieth century, this world presence was maintained and promoted almost single-handedly through the economic supremacy of the new American superpower. As English-speaking nations acquired power, so to did their language.English is now the most widely taught foreign language in the world. English currently holds some form of special status in over 70 countries and is spoken fluently or competently by about one quarter of the world’s population “( Crystal ,1997)
2.3.4 English language in Malaysia
Nowadays people in any countries use English, the cause was the United Kingdom Empire and United State of America as a dominance in economic was another cause later on.
This language became the international language because its user had the most political and economic power of the world( Crystal ,1997)
English then became more than just international , it changes to be the global language. International languages existed before speared as a result of settlement , inhabitation, migration and colonalization but some factors make English a different international language such as its prestige in the culture , science , technology and so many fields. This helped English to become globalized.(Leitner 1992)
In Malaysia English language is assumed a second language. A language as a result of British colonisation. During the colonisation , the English language was used by the British who had a long presence in this adopted land . Since then English has existed in Malaysia for more than 150 years in Malaysia. After Malaysia independency in 1957 , Malay Language replaced the English language( Crystal , 2005)
English language together with Putonghua have approximately 1.5 billions of speakers . So these two languages are the two most spoken languages round the world by the greatest number of people . Tourist from countries that English is the official language like United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand communicate through English. In Europe in 19 countries out of 29 countries, English language was the language which is the most common one( European commission 2006)
Chapter 3 : Methodology
In this chapter our first goal is to collect and record everyday English interactions within the tourism industry. Observation of interactions between tourism staff and tourists will be recorded in some hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 10 hotels will be observed. All interactions will be observed through naturalistic observation and each interaction involves at least one tourism employee and at least one customer. In all the steps the researcher will make use of the advices of at least 3 official tour guides in Malaysia.
According to Gay ( 1987):
” Random sampling is the best singe way to obtain a representative sample, No technique, not even random sampling , guarantees a representative sample , but the probability is higher for this procedure than for any other.”
20 (males and females) hospitality staff at ten hotels is going to be observed. Within hotels, front desk staff, concierges, direction assistants, and food and beverage staff will be observed as the interaction between tourists and hotel staff is important for the researcher.
40 tourists (male and female) who stayed at each hotel will be asked to complete a questionnaire.
A linguist will accompany the researcher in every observation makes.
3 official tour guides from MTGC (Malaysia Tour Guide Association) will contribute the researcher for getting more information.
Ten hotels (3 to 5 stars) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be selected from the www.agoda.com travel and hotel guide website, this site is organized these hotels by rates, price and region of location. The researcher will choose those hotels which are suggested by the official tour guides.
Suskie (1996)believes that reliability and validity are very important to design a questionnaire. However it is difficult to develop designing a questionnaire which approaches a consistence level of response.
According to Robson (1993) responses are reliable when they are obtained from the same sets of questions answered by the population
The survey instruments are:
– A paper questionnaire containing questions about the level of satisfaction of the tourist who stayed in the hotels will be administered to all tourists with the same sets of questions.
– A set of 6 open ended questions for the semi-structured interview, will be asked from the hotel staffs, by the researcher.
– A voice recorder device for the linguist, to help her analyze and rate the English Language proficiency of the hotel staffs is needed too.
In addition to the surveys and interviews, as supplements to the information, the author also tries to gather secondary data from tour guides. These include reports , comments, complaints and discussions by official tour guides.
A mixed method design can be described as a kind of research in which a researcher combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, concepts, or language into a single study (Johnson 2004).A mixed method design combines the strength of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches.Connelly (2009, pp.31) believes that “the goal of mixed methods research is to draw on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both types of research”.
This research involves both qualitative and quantitative data analyses approaches because the investigation resulted in the gathering of a variety of types of information. To be more specific, quantitative data obtained through surveys ( questionnaire) among tourists and qualitative data obtained through interviews.
For the Research methodology which has been designed to collect data from a specific population or samples selected from that population we typically apply survey. Questionnaires or interviews are commonly used for the instrumentation.(Robinson ,1993).
To get data from individuals surveys are useful .sample surveys are important tools to collect and analyze data obtained from selected individuals .to conduct and apply basic social science, surveys are broadly accepted as a key tool for the research methodology. ( Rossi , 1983)
Questionnaires has some advantages over interviews and other methods of data collecting, they are not expensive and they are much more easier to conduct and to be administered.( Leary 1995)
At each hotel, the researcher together with a linguist will enter the establishment acting as friends and observed the same interactions for 45-90 minutes. Researcher tries to be inconspicuous by either posing as a visitors waiting for someone in the lobby lounge, or by having a food or beverages at the lobby café or restaurant.
After the interactions ended, the researcher will introduce himself to the front desk staff with a semi-structured interview he will ask questions about the number of languages spoken at the hotel and the kinds of customers that regularly stay at the hotel. This data will collect so that possible correlations between price range, target audience, and number of languages spoken at the hotel can be analyzed.
Then the linguist will rate the staffs observed. Level of English ratings will be conducted by a speaking rubric which includes six aspects of effective speech: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammatical accuracy, flow, and ability to engage in meaningful conversation. Level of Formality will be determined based on four criteria: degree of honorifics (e.g., sir madam), use of slang and colloquial terms, jokes, and percent of talk related to business. Notes will be taken about the price range of the hotels and the position (e.g., sales associate, concierge, front desk employee) of the tourism staff involves in the interaction.
At the final step, the 3 official tour guides (from Malaysia Tour Guide Association) will check the result and will comment on the findings.
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