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Title: Interactional structures and engagement in service encounters : an investigation into communication at the hotel front desk
Author: Bengsch, Geraldine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 1938
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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The main aim of the study was to explore the specifics of communicative behaviour at the hotel reception that establish the institutional character of the interaction to accomplish a service encounter. The hotel provides a unique environment for research related to global communication and questions of politeness usage. Investigating conversations between hotel receptionists and their guests was used to demonstrate how interdisciplinary approaches can further knowledge in a globalised world order. Nine and a half hours of naturally occurring interactions between receptionists and guests were videotaped in four hotels in three European countries (England, Germany and Spain). The analysis was conducted using Conversation Analysis (CA) as the primary method and enriched through the use of ethnographic notes. CA was used to show how normative social structures are invoked in service encounters at the hotel front desk. Ethnographic insights provided additional evidence for how the interactions are anchored in the social reality. The findings suggest that conversations at the front desk are highly structured and possess features similar to institutional and mundane interactions. Conversations were classed into three phases (arrival, stay and departure), each of which has observable and robust interactional features. It is proposed that an effective encounter between hotel guest and receptionist is not solely reliant on a particular structure. Instead, the results indicate that a very specific amount of engagement by both the service provider and the customer is required. Thus, following the tradition of CA, it is demonstrated how precisely participants can organise their talk and behaviour according to a mutual preference of both guest and receptionist. The analysis showed that miscommunication occurs infrequent in these service encounters. Furthermore, intercultural notions are seldom made relevant in talk by participants. The study contributes to knowledge in interactional, service encounter and tourism related literature. The findings also have implications for practitioners in the tourism industry.
Supervisor: Szczepek Reed, Beatrice ; Reed, Darren Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available