You know your hotel inside out, but do you ever see it through your guests’ eyes? In many cases, there is a disconnect between what hoteliers think is important to guests and what actually matters to them. Paying close attention to guest feedback can help bridge this gap.
Back in 1985, Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry came up with the “gap” model of analysing service quality. In their seminal article, they recognise that several gaps can exist between the expectations and experiences of a guest, and between the perceptions of guests and management, and it is in these gaps that service quality, as perceived by the guest, often falls short. They describe five gaps:
Gap 1: Consumer expectation vs. management perception gap – management isn’t always aware of what guests expect in an establishment in order for it to meet the level of quality that they were expecting.
Gap 2: Management perception vs service quality specification gap – management knows what needs to be done in order to satisfy guests, but doesn’t deliver it. This might occur because it cannot physically be done, because management believes it can’t be done, or due to poor management.
Gap 3: Service quality specifications vs service delivery gap – although the standards have been set at the appropriate level to achieve guest satisfaction, they are not being met. This is often because it is impossible to completely eliminate human error, especially in an industry like hospitality, where excellent service delivery depends on multiple front-line and behind the scenes staff.
Gap 4: Service delivery vs external communications gap – the hotel doesn’t live up to the image portrayed by marketing and other external communications, or communications fails to explain all the positive aspects of the hotel that guests might not be aware of (e.g. their environmental conservation efforts).
Gap 5: expected service vs perceived service gap – the last gap is a combination of all the others put together.