March 9, 2009

Sample Research Proposal on Managing Image to Retain Loyal Customers

Research hypothesis

To make inferences about behavior patterns, attitudes and perceptions of the population as a whole, the researcher will  recourse to statistical analyses. Basing on the information to be provided by respondents, various hypotheses of image and customer retention among hoteliers have to be tested.

Ideally, building on notions explored during the secondary research, the researchers will aim to discover whether image of hoteliers will influence customer retention along with better decision process as such the notion that such first class hoteliers would drive more customers and that hypotheses denoted by H0 are as follows:

 H0. Business image has influence on retaining customers within the first class hoteliers rather than other hoteliers.

H1. Business image has varying influence on customer retention within hoteliers

H0. "Hoteliers will need to keep and manage strong image for retaining loyal customers as compared to keeping

H1. "Managing strong image" has varying persuasion on customer retention within hoteliers

Research questions

For the research, research questions serves a purpose in guiding how to do with the research and what information needs to be considered and focus relating to research studies in support to methods utilization and its anticipated outcomes.

1.     How can image management enhance loyalty among hotel customers? (Cite examples, such as case studies)

2.     Do hoteliers need to manage image to retain loyal customers? (Provide secondary support of information)

 3.     What are the ways to achieve customer retention within the effective assumption of business image in hotels? Discuss

4.     Aside, does technology utilization within hoteliers help in keeping their loyal customers? What image is emphasized in terms of communicating well to the customers? (Determine causal relationship between image and technology as imperative factors for retaining customers)

 

Overview of Research 

The focus of the research will have to be customer retention and image management within the hotel industry. Then, there is integration of research information and knowledge supporting such underlying concepts of how the research should be in essence with ample research applications through such empirical data gathering by means of utilizing research methods and describing detailed organization of how the research will be as a whole context as being backed up with comprehensive literature and its respected studies.

 Background

Amicably, retaining loyal customers for hoteliers is essential and a core factor in keeping the business industry in shape and competitive enough to level up the changing trends of globalization that has impacted such business and economic activities of the hotel markets. Thus, to be in control of business image and be able to manage it properly implies strong assumption that the hoteliers require and must keep a top propriety in order for them to retain loyal customers and possibly increase the size of the customers given the fact that, the hotel business must have to secure and update its business image to loyal customers and to the people who can be in a way become potential customers in the future.

 

Overview of Literature

In the past decades the hospitality industry has witnessed exponential growth, resulting in increased competition on such global scale. Thus, loyal customers critically assess the standards of service provided by competing hotel and confirmed that the customers' approval of firm's quality of service can outcome into better business image of the hotel industries thus, leading to growth in its sales and profits (Cited from, Zeithaml, 2000). Indeed, hospitality industry recognizes that superior quality of service is one of the crucial factors within its control that can add value to its image and amicably will lead into customer retention and loyalty then, good image as well as the quality of service have become the key to hotelier's ability to differentiate itself from its competitors and retain its loyal customers and gain their loyalty (Cited from, Kandampully and Suhartanto, 2003). Faced with intense competition in the marketplace, it cannot be assumed that there is an unlimited customer base prepared to maintain patronage. It is imperative for hotels to tailor hotel services to the changing needs and lifestyles of customers (Cited from, Min et al., 2002) with view to increasing customer loyalty and retention. On the other hand, research conducted by Reichheld and Sasser (Cited from, 1990) suggested that a 5 percent increase in customer loyalty could produce a profit increase of 25-80 per cent. Furthermore, they argued that the profitability derived from an individual customer grows during business relationship. They also found that up to 60 per cent of increased sales to new customers could be attributed to customer recommendations, form of customer loyalty. Thus, Reichheld (Cited from, 2001) argued that five percent increase in customer retention yields seventy five percent increase in net present value. Similarly, Grönroos (Cited from, 2000) indicated that, in most businesses, loyal customers are willing to pay premium price. It is therefore evident that the long-term benefits of loyal customer-supplier relationship can be significant to any hospitality firm, as the "return on relationship" reflects directly on the firm's long-term financial outcome (Cited from, Gummesson, 1999). In addition to hospitality organizations becoming more aware of the benefits of technological applications, customers have also become increasingly driven by technology, and are therefore demanding higher levels of services associated with technology. It is therefore imperative that hotels identify ways in which they can utilize new technologies to create services that contribute to increased value for their customers (Cited from, David et al., 1996).

Several authors have highlighted the implications of being "customer oriented" as the most important component image management (Cited from, Rich, 2000; Siegel, 1999). Supporting the idea is Gummesson (Cited from, 1996) as he claims that "customer focus" not only: "compels management to realize the firm's primary responsibility to serve the customer", but also "to recognize that customer knowledge is paramount to achieving market orientation". As Christopher et al. (Cited from, 1991) offer checklist of how companies can become customer centric:

-         Focus on customer retention

-         Offer superior products services benefits

-         Pursue long-term vision

-         Emphasize exemplary customer service

-         Engender customer commitment

-         Ensure that quality is the concern of all


Meanwhile, there directed emphasis away from transaction strategy towards that of attraction and retention, and as Kandampully and Duddy (Cited from, 1999) point out: "This shift in focus manifests acknowledgement of the lifetime value of customer, as opposed to the one time sale" In support of this paradigm shift, Zineldin (Cited from, 1999) further concedes: "Getting customers is important, but keeping and satisfying customers is more important". What is changing is the pace at which companies must improve their products/services if they hope to keep customers loyal. Reichheld and Schefter (Cited from, 2000) maintain: "Loyalty is not won with technology" and insist "It is won through the delivery of a consistently superior customer experience". Given the involvement of hotelier services in complex relationships with customers, this research will have to discuss empirical research that will be able to attempt in establishing the degree to which hotel groups are subject to image maintenance and update of services provided to the customers.

 Methodology

The purposes of this study is basically to investigate the extent to which business image management has influence customer retention of the services being provided by the hoteliers within the hotel industry and then, to acquire better understanding of the perceptions held by management regarding the impact of imaging through technology on its service and customer loyalty. In particular, the sample excludes small and medium-sized accommodation. Second, the study will focus on perceptions of sales and marketing managers, thereby excluding the perceptions held by customers. Moreover, in order to provide comprehensive understanding of the impact of image on customer loyalty, future studies could incorporate the perceptions of the parties to be involved. Although customer survey questionnaires continue to represent common tool in tracking customer information and customer satisfaction, the results could indicate that managing good image in hotels is essential. To manage hoteliers effectively within diverse operating networks, managers must ensure that the hotel's technology is compatible with other network system. In the past, the hospitality industry was primarily focused on selling accommodation, food and beverages. It has now evolved into truly global industry, not only because hospitality enterprises serve international markets but also because their products and service are complex, discontinuous and globally competitive. For many people, hospitality services have become an integral component of business and social life. Hotel managers must incorporate services that customers demand, and in many respects these are substantially different from those demanded in the past. Hotels today do not represent a mere home away from home. For many business customers, hotels are a traveling office, a meeting place for learning and the exchange of ideas, and a place to entertain, enjoy sporting activities, and so forth. Thus, the traditional core offerings of hotel represent only small component of the package of experience that customers seek. Hotel managers must realize that technology will not be the differentiator. Rather, creative and innovative use of technology that enhances the value of offered services will be the means by which hotels differentiate themselves from their competitors. Managers must adopt new technologies that assist hotel employees to serve customers better at the operational level.

 Research Design

For the design purposes, a questionnaire will be use and will comprise of 17 open-ended and closed-ended questions to be formulated. The questionnaire will cover customer retention information and business imaging process within the impact of such matter on customer loyalty respectively. A total of 70 questionnaires have to be randomly distributed to sales and marketing managers of independent and chain hotels in the city of New York to be the chosen ample because of such known success in hospitality and tourism industries in the US. Along with the four-page questionnaire will include covering letter and such stamped self-addressed return envelope.

Sampling

Although purposive sample would usually be appropriate for qualitative research, the fact that the sample possibly be nested in context provides such extra advantage. Moreover, the various types of hotel groups can be well represented in the composition of the sample. Thus, it should be noted that hotel groups, would evolve once the fieldwork began, as this represented the full population of hotel groups in the US.

 

 

 

Sources of Data

Given that the primary research aimed to focus on managing image of hoteliers for customer retention, there has to be qualitative perspective deem the obvious choice to express the current reality in explanation and such objective was to offer grounding to secondary research and give the research in-depth information value and structure. In addition, sources of data can include primary and secondary sources that will involve first hand information of research outcomes and certain literature studies from reliable books, peer reviewed articles and journal from such academic resources such as from Blackwell, Ebsco as well as Questia library.

Form of Results

After assessing the pros and cons of the various tools appropriate for the quantitative research, survey questionnaire with regards to the customer retention will have to be in consideration within straightforward method of collecting substantial data as well as being most cost effective. On account of the widely acknowledged reluctance of hoteliers to openly discuss their business imaging and operations, detailed questionnaire, which could not be too probing will be devised. Although the questionnaire has to consists mostly of close-questions and "Likert scale" type of analyzing data (Cited from, Malhotra and Birks, 1999) some open-ended questions, more typical of qualitative research, have to be introduced to provide greater depth of data regarding retaining of loyal customers of hoteliers in order to better understand the complex behaviour of the hotel industry that is without imposing too much links that could limit the field of research.

Analysis

In order to specify details of such analysis that can be good basis for assessing the research study as such attempt to further explore the research will be important in creating methods and process of research which will determine how far the particular choice of methodology in the form of questionnaire application could continuously lead to the same research measurement and such detailed results supporting aspects of the study. Additionally, when assessing the research against the backdrop of notions under study in the literature review, the researchers could not guarantee consistency of results if another investigation of the topic was to be carried out at the same time using different research instruments. However, to counteract the unconscious deformation of information gathered and to strengthen the reliability of the primary research, case study presentation will have to be utilized. Despite the fact that limitations of the questionnaire in terms of depth and relevancy of information gathered could not be completely eradicated, the data to be apprehended and requested can be deem appropriate for such type of research analysis.


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