Author: Xu, Jing Bill
Title: Luxury hotel brand equity, customer experience, and their antecedents : a study of business travellers in Hong Kong
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2011
Subject: Brand name products -- Valuation
Branding (Marketing)
Hotels -- Marketing
Consumer satisfaction
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xvii, 424 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: Prior research has endeavoured to examine customer-based brand equity, but it remains unclear how customer experiences contribute to brand equity and the way brand equity is established from its antecedents. Luxury hotels are cognizant of brand value but they often fail to implement the right marketing and management strategies that can result in positive hotel experience and brand equity. The principal aim of this study is to fill this research gap and to identify the composition and structure of customer experience and brand equity in luxury hotels and to examine the effects indirect (advertising efforts and word-of-mouth) and direct (service performance) experiences of customers have on brand image and brand loyalty. To achieve the research objectives, a conceptual model comprising 11 hypotheses was developed. It was hypothesised that a luxury hotel's brand image consists of two components: brand associations and quality of experience. Brand associations are considered to represent the search image attributes, whereas quality of experience is considered to be related to experience attributes. Both constructs are proposed to be related to customers' direct and indirect experiences. Advertising and word-of-mouth are assumed to provide indirect experiences for customers, whereas service performance is hypothesised to generate direct experiences.
The research instrument developed to measure quality of experience employed a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. Personal interviews and literature review resulted in identification of relevant experience domains and items, and an expert panel review helped fine-tune the instrument. A pilot study provided preliminary verification of the measurement scale. Instruments for other research constructs were gleaned from past studies and adapted to the present study. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 682 business travellers in Hong Kong. As a result, quality of experience was found to comprise three components: escapism, "relaxation, sense perception & safety," and "ego-enhancement & self-accomplishment." Customers' direct and indirect experiences had positive effects on brand image, although the former played a stronger predictive role than the latter. Brand image was indirectly related to overall brand equity through brand loyalty. Direct relationships between brand image and overall brand equity, however, were not supported. The results indicate that there are some differences between Asian and Western customers. This study sheds light on customer experience and brand equity in luxury hotels. It fills the gaps in extant research by injecting experiential components into the conceptualization of brand equity. It also advances our knowledge of antecedents of luxury hotel experience and brand equity. In practice, this study implies that luxury hotel chains should gather additional information (other than customer satisfaction) about hotel experience to make strategic decisions. Additionally, it is suggested that luxury hotel managers develop cost-effective advertising, referral marketing and service programmes to improve hotel experience which in turn creates brand loyalty and equity. This will help hotel companies acquire competitive edge while reducing operations and management costs in the marketplace.
Access: open access

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