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In October 2010, the city of Shanghai successfully held the World Exposition, with an accomplishment of participants coming from 246 countries, and more than 70 million visitors (Xinhua, 2010). There were many preparations made prior to the event, including constructing the buildings, transportation, accommodation for world wide visitors, and training service providers with better services. As holding international large-scale conventions and exhibitions will attract international guests and will boost the economy locally, the value-added brought by the events can also influence tourism industry with the service quality, and the influence will take effect even after the event is over. The current research is interested in the effects of convention and exhibition industry on service quality, as World Expo 2010 Shanghai just finished, it is suitable for collecting data concerning this topic.
The convention and exhibition industry is one of the most important and fastest growing industries in the 21st century. It is often categorized with meeting, incentive travel together as the meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry. With its gaining popularity, it has grown as a significant market segment over the past decades (Astroff & Abbey 2006; Kim, Chon & Chung 2003). MICE industry not only brings a destination with strength and development in their competitive advantage, but also enhances the image of the destination, and economic benefits for the destination and community (Opperman 1996).
According to the International Meeting Statistics by the Union of International Associations (UIA), 11,423 international meetings were held in 2008 worldwide (UIA, 2009). The industry consists of multi-sectors of hospitality service including lodging, food and beverage, catering, convention service, convention facility supply, transportation, tourism, retail, and entertainment (Astroff & Abbey 2006). And the benefit to local economy is huge. With U.S. Travel Association’s (2009) estimation, the MICE industry contributes $101 billion in annual spending, and provides $16 billion in tax revenue, and creates one million jobs. As for Singapore, every dollar generates by the MICE industry adds another 12 dollars to the national GDP (International Enterprise Singapore 2001). As the case in China, which is one of the most populous countries in the world, reports indicated that during the Kunming Expo 1999, the international horticultural fair, ticket revenues were 100 million RMB ($12 million), and it has brought 170 million RMB ($20.5 million) ticket revenues to the hospitality industry (China Research and Intelligence 2009). The development if convention and exhibition economy also provides more job opportunities, marketing, infrastructure and service quality.
Service quality has been an important attribute in the service industry; it is defined as the consumer’s judgment about an entity’s overall excellence or superiority (Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry 1988). It affects customer satisfaction, and it is one of the critical factors to business survival and competitiveness in the service industry. In previous researches, the efficiency and accuracy to measure service quality has been the main focus (Ladhari 2008). Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1988) conducted the most influential studies on service quality, which was developing the SERVQUAL instrument. The SERVQUAL instrument concluded five dimensions: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. This instrument has become the foundation of service quality measurement instrument in a variety of industries, which compares between customer expectation and realized performance of specific service.
Tsang and Qu (2000) on the other hand, adopted from several studies and indicated the 5 gaps of service quality. They describe the gaps as the difference between expectations and perceptions. The management perceptions of customer expectations and service quality specifications, the difference between service quality specifications and the service actually delivered, and the service delivery and what is communicated about the service to customers, these gaps affect the actual delivery of service. And the difference between customer expectations of service quality and customer perceptions of the actual performance affects customer perceptions of service quality, which is what this research would like to find out.
The World Exposition, or called World Fair, Universal Exposition, Expo, is a form of large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in 1851, in Hyde Park in London, United Kingdom. It was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. It was the idea of Queen Victoria’s husband, and it influenced the development of many aspects in the society (Findling & Pelle 2008, pp. 13-14). Since then, the World Expositions have attained increasing prominence as grand events for economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, serving as an important platform for displaying historical experience, exchanging innovative ideas, demonstrating esprit de corps and looking to the future.
The World Expo 2010 Shanghai is the first Expo to be held in a developing country, the theme is “Better City, Better Life.” Because nowadays, 55% of the world population lives in a city, the Expo sets out to explore the full potential of urban life in the 21st century, and display urban civilization, exchanging experiences of urban development, explore new approaches to human habitat, lifestyle and working conditions in the new century, also learn how to create an eco-friendly society and maintain the sustainable development of human beings. It is held from May 1st to the end of October in 2010, spanning six months (Expo 2010 Official Website 2008).
Visitors to Shanghai
As the Expo brought over participants coming from 246 countries, and more than 70 million visitors (Xinhua, 2010), there is also a boost in tourism and numbers of travelers in Shanghai, both domestic and international. A statistic data gathered from the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration is given in Table 1. As shown in table 1 and the total number of visitors in Figure 1, there’s a big leap in year 2010, which the Expo took place.
Table 1. Visitors to Shanghai
Source: Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration
Figure 1. Total Visitor to Shanghai from 2006 to 2010
Hotels in Shanghai
Shanghai is one of the most visited cities in China, according to the statistics from Euromonitor research and China Bureau of Statistics, the market size of travel accommodation in China in year 2010 reach sales of RMB 510.8 billion ($78.2 billion) (Euromonitor International 2011). According to the report, the regional hotel parameters in 2010 indicate that Shanghai has the highest occupancy rate among all other municipal or provinces, as shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Occupancy rate For Travel Accommodations in China
Occupancy rate %
Source: Euromonitor International from official statistics, trade associations, trade press, company research, trade interviews, trade sources
As for a more detailed statistic for Shanghai, data retrieved from Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration is shown in Table 3, and the occupancy rates for total travel accommodations is shown in Table 4 and Figure2. The statistics suggests that the occupancy rate for accommodations in Shanghai experienced a growth between 2009 and 2010. Although the occupancy rates for Table 2 and Table 3 are slightly different, due to the differences is samples, numbers in Euromonitor International (2011) studies are narrowed to certain hotel chains, however it still indicates the market size in Shanghai is greater than other destinations in China.
Table 3. The Occupancy Rate for Hotels in Shanghai
Source: Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration
Figure 2. Occupancy Rates of Hotels in Shanghai
With the review and statistics presented above, we can infer that the 2010 World Expo Shanghai has brought more visitors to Shanghai, and helped increased the occupancy rate. Supposed there are more people visiting Shanghai due to the Expo, accommodation demands raise and the demand for service quality should also rise. The conceptual framework of this study is depicted in Figure 3.
Convention and Exhibition Industry
Total Visitors to a Destination
Hotel Service Quality
Figure 3. The Conceptual Framework
The convention and exhibition industry will influence the total number of visitors to a destination, weather they are participants to the event or guests and tourists. This link is already shown and proven in the data provided above, therefore, with more visitors coming to the destination, demands for accommodations will rise, and that will in turn influence the service quality in the hotel sector. According to the research questions and framework, the hypothesis for this study is formed:
Hypothesis 1: World Expo 2010 significantly influenced the number of visitors to Shanghai.
After examining the influence on increase in visitors to Shanghai, I would like to know if the increase in visitor numbers influences the service quality in the hotel sector, therefore:
Hypothesis 2: Increased visitors to Shanghai positively influenced the service quality in hotel sector.
If Hypothesis is also supported, then I would like to examine if the effects on service performance will keep on taking effect, or if there is no difference between service quality compared to before, or the quality will even drop, therefore:
Hypothesis 3: The increase in service quality in hotel sector will remain after the World Expo 2010 is finished.
The aim of this study is to answer the questions of whether the convention and exhibition industry brings benefit to a destination, and will the industry influence the service quality. Not only during the event, but also after the event, the total quality for service industry will increase. Therefore, the research questions I set out to answer are: – Will convention and exhibition industry bring more visitors to a destination?
– Will more visitors influence the service quality for hotels?
– After the event, will the influence still carry on?
Due to the aim of this research, I try to discover the differences between service qualities before the Expo 2010 and after, the research will adopt a time series design. However it would be impossible to gather data prior to the Expo by myself, but I can reference past research on service quality in the hotel industry in China from previous studies and researches. Drawn from a research done by Tsang and Qu (2000), I will have a reference of the service quality done in year 2000, and then I will be able to compare the results done today and later.
To understand the hotel service quality provided in Shanghai, the current research targets at international guests that visits Shanghai, I will use a convenience sampling method, questionnaires will be distributed to guests in a hotel chain. Also a systematic sampling method will also be used, which every 5th visitor checking in will be asked to do the questionnaire. This will also be similar samples to the previous study done by Tsang and Qu (2000).
In this research I adopt the instrument developed and used by Tsang and Qu (2000). They adopt the questionnaire from SERVEQUAL and other research, and developed the questionnaire in 3 parts, with 35 service quality attributes. The first part is to measure the respondent’s expectations regarding service quality in the hotel industry, they will be asked to fill in the level of importance of statements with responses, from a 5-point Likert’s scale, ranging from (1) very low expectation to (5) very high expectation. The second part of the questionnaire is designed to examine the respondent’s perceptions of service quality actually provided during the stay. Also, the respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement with statements with responses from a 5-point Likert’s scale: (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree. The third part of the questionnaire collects the demographic and classification questions of the respondent. The 35 attributes are listed as below:
Gap mean differences between managers’ perception of tourists’ expectations and tourists’ expectations of service quality in the hotel industry
1. Comfortable and welcome feeling
2. Neat appearance of staff
3. Professionalism of staff
4. Hotel staff with multi-lingual skills
5. Friendliness and courtesy of staff
6. Special attention given by staff
7. Availability of staff to provide service
8. Staff performing the services right the first time
9. Reservation system was easily accessible
10. Quick check-in and check-out
11. Cleanliness of room
12. Quietness of room
13. Security of room
14. Attractive decor, furnishings of room/lobby
15. Comfortable mattress and pillow
16. Reasonable room rate/value for money
17. Variety of services offered
18. Reliable message and wake-up service
19. Provision of accurate and reliable information
20. The guarantee of reliable service
21. Availability of room service
22. Prompt breakfast service
23. Elegant banquet service
24. High quality of food in restaurant(s)
25. Variety of drinks and wine list
26. Reasonable restaurant/bar prices
27. The high degree/level of hygiene of food
28. Up-to-date and modern facilities
29. Adequacy of fire safety facilities
30. Availability of eating and drinking facilities
31. Availability of year-round swimming pool
32. Availability of business center facilities
33. Availability of sauna and health club
34. Availability of conference/meeting room
35. Convenient hotel location
Descriptive statistics analysis was used to understand the demographic information about the respondent. Each of the categories will be calculated and described in the descriptive statistics section. In order to understand the correlations between variables, a correlation analysis were conducted on all basic data such as gender, age, experience, educational level, marriage status and the scores of the scales. To investigate the service quality gaps, a paired t-test will be used to evaluate the service quality.
The expected results for this research will be there are positive relationship between visitors to Shanghai positively influenced the service quality in hotel sector. As the visitor numbers already increased during the period of the Expo, the hotel occupancy rates are also higher. With more people check into the hotels, hotel managers pay more attention to the service quality, in order to deliver better guest service. Also, it is expected that the increase in service quality in hotel sector will remain after the World Expo 2010 is finished.
There are several limitations of this research. First with the time series design, the differences in sampling and long time between the two time periods will cause some confounding. Since the improvements in infrastructure in Shanghai may also influence service quality, this is something we cannot eliminate. Second, travelers to the hotels will be different from the first sample, we can compare the demographic data between the two, trying to match the samples, however there are still unparallel between the two. For future research suggestions, we can collect the data again 5 years after the Expo, to find out weather the service quality keeps the same as the period right after the Expo. We can also get an idea of how hotel managers improve their service quality by interviewing them, with can reveal some more detailed facts on how the Expo really affect their business.
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