Guest satisfaction dimensions in the ecolodge context
This thesis explores guest satisfaction dimensions from the consumer perspective in the ecolodge context and asks to what extent guest satisfaction can be explained by using Herzberg's Motivator and Hygiene Factor Theory. Guest satisfaction dimensions are explored from the experiential perspective and the behavioural approach to refocus and replace the expectancy disconfirmation paradigm and SERVQUAL model that are primarily based on cognitive aspects and ignores the experiential factors. The present research recognises that in the service experience context the experiential and perceptions factors contribute significantly to guest satisfaction (Otto and Ritchie, 1996). The present research recognises the complexity and controversy of the measurement and definition of satisfaction as well as its constructs due to lack of generally acceptable definition of satisfaction. The complexity of guest satisfaction can be approached from an alternative perspective by extending Herzberg's theory developed for job satisfaction. This theory is contended to be better able to address human satisfaction more adequately compared to expectancy disconfirmation and service quality theory as both of these theoretical underpinning are driven by product and services. It has demonstrated both theoretical and operations limitations of expectancy disconfirmation and service quality theories in measuring consumer satisfaction in the service experience context. To overcome the methodological limitation of Herzberg's approach, the present research incorporates a multi research technique of participation observation and Profile Accumulation Techniques (PAT) for data collection. PAT is adapted from its original version developed by Johns and Lee-Ross (1995). These research techniques supplement and complement the strengths and weaknesses and to achieve consistency and reliability. An exploratory qualitative inductive approach enables the collection of "authentic" data that capture guests' voices. This offers a satisfactory methodological framework and a holistic, reliable and valid approach. The research reveals that guests interact with physical and human dimensions, involvement, and participation in leisure activities that are the main elements termed as satisfaction dimensions or satisfiers. The physical facilities, amenities and maintenance and operations standard are regarded as main elements of dissatisfaction dimensions or dissatisfiers. Guests' satisfaction is measured from both the cognitive and affective responses derived from two different sets of constructs. These satisfaction/dissatisfaction dimensions emerge from two different opposite motivational forces, as two different continua. At one extreme, satisfiers are dimensions related to the personal experiential aspects that derive from the ranges of natural environment and attractions, physical sites and participation in leisure activities that are sourced from the external ecolodge environment. These are intangible elements that are also uncontrollable by the ecolodge operators. At the other extreme, dissatisfiers are dimensions related to the performance and availability of facilities, amenities and maintenance of the ecolodge context. These are regarded as tangible and controllable elements. This indicates that guest satisfction with ecolodges is a two-dimensional measurement. Thus, Herzberg's theory is capable of exploring and explaining guest satisfaction dimensions, and these are perceived as two distinct constructs to represent service quality dimensions in a more meaningful way. This suggests that guest satisfaction can be theorised by job satisfaction theory and both contribute to human life satisfaction and the principle of human dual factors using Herzberg's theory. However, one must also note that these dimensions suggest that satisfiers and dissatisfiers may not be universal as they are subject to the nature of the service context and the type of activities provided.