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Mapping service
quality in the tourism
Eda Atilgan
Serkan Akinci and
Safak Aksoy

The authors
Eda Atilgan and Serkan Akinci are Research Assistants
and Safak Aksoy is Associate Professor of Marketing,
all at the Faculty of Economics and Adminstrative
Sciences, Department of Business Administration, Akdeniz
University, Antalya, Turkey.
Service quality assurance, Tourism, Perceptual mapping,
This study suggests a new approach to the exploratory
and evaluative research of service-quality dimensions by
employing correspondence analysis (CA). Although
several studies have investigated the service quality of
service providers using descriptive measures and
statistical tests, this study presents a graphical
interpretation of SERVQUAL data to aid managerial
decision-making in the tourism industry. This paper also
examines the expectations and perceptions of two distinct
groups by determining the differences between German
and Russian tourists' evaluations of service-quality
dimensions in tour operators. The study concludes that CA
can be used effectively in evaluating the service-quality
and displaying the differences in the expectations/
perceptions of distinct consumer groups. Managerial
implications for travel administrators are discussed.
Tour operators should consider cultural differences in
service-quality evaluations.
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Managing Service Quality
Volume 13 . Number 5 . 2003 . pp. 412-422
# MCB UP Limited . ISSN 0960-4529
DOI 10.1108/09604520310495877

In today's changing global environment,
many businesses are facing increasing
competition that forces them to seek
competitive advantage, efficiency, and
profitable ways to differentiate themselves
(Mei et al., 1999). In both domestic markets
and internationally, the service concept is
gaining in importance in parallel with
economic development and increasing
standards of living. In some businesses ± such
as travel, tourism, catering, and banking ± the
delivery of high-quality services to consumers
is increasingly recognised as a key factor
affecting the performance of firms. Not
surprisingly, service-quality measurement has
become the main subject of several empirical
and conceptual studies in services marketing.
Various scales and indexes ± such as
SERVQUAL, SERVPERF, service quality
index (SQI), and service performance index
(SPI) ± have been developed and extensively
used by academics and practitioners. These
developments have also created opportunities
to combine these tools with other methods for
simpler presentation and monitoring of
service-quality expectations and performance.
This paper demonstrates the use of
correspondence analysis (CA), together with
SERVQUAL, in measuring service quality in
the tourism industry. The study first reviews
the properties of the SERVQUAL scale and
its applications in the services sector. The
service expectations and perceptions of two
groups of tourists are then measured with the
SERVQUAL scale, and mapped using CA.
The service-quality dimensions that have the
most discriminatory power in separating
various satisfaction levels between the two
tourist groups are then identified. Finally, the
study concludes with a discussion of the
managerial implications of the present
research and proposes directions for further

SERVQUAL and its applications in the
services sector
Zeithaml and Bitner (2000) have suggested
that customers do not perceive quality as a
uni-dimensional concept. Rather, their
assessment of quality includes perceptions
of multiple factors. More specifically,

``reliability'' (that is. 1997. ``Empathy'' is defined as the provision of care. 1996). There is also a limited number of empirically oriented articles that discuss the use of the SERVQUAL approach in the tourism sector. The SERVQUAL scale and derivations from it have been used by many researchers in different industries. Another application of the SERVQUAL model in the tourism sector was reported by O'Neill et al. SERVQUAL is a multi-item instrument for quantifying the service expectation-perception gap using the five generic dimensions described above (Parasuraman. SERVQUAL has been widely applied and highly valued (Buttle. These dimensions represent how consumers organise information about service quality in their minds. Neither Augustyn and Ho (1998) nor Ryan (1999) presented solid empirical evidence. employees. ``tangibles''. Although some concerns have been advanced about the expectation concept (Teas. 1992. ``Responsiveness'' is the willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service. they identified nine dimensions in which assurance and reliability emerged as the main determinants of service quality. represents the appearance of physical facilities. Comparison of the median scores by the Kruskal-Wallis test indicated significant differences in expectations among the three groups. responsiveness. Gabbie and O'Neill (1997) compared the service-quality performances of two hotels that adopted different total-quality perspectives. detected a positive relationship between the arithmetic means for the overall marketing culture of a travel agency and its overall service quality. 1994). and communication materials (Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons. assurance. 2003 . Early research on service quality and related dimensions resulted in the two-part SERVQUAL scale ± the mostly used. which is a complex mixture of entertainment. and claimed that it ignored multiple stakeholders. In a similar context. Ryan (1999) considered that SERVQUAL was a simple tool for tourism managers to use in tackling the areas of weakness in their service delivery. DõÂaz-MartõÂn et al. he added that it was difficult for any mathematical model to capture all aspects of service quality and customer satisfaction ± particularly in the tourism industry. (2000). 1993) and the theoretical aspects of the scale (Dyke et al. Kettinger and Lee (1997) argued the suitability of this approach in the information services sector and inferred that it was a remarkable diagnostic tool for the assessment of service quality. Luk (1997). delivering on promises) has been consistently shown to be the most important determinant (Zeithaml and Bitner. self-discovery. t-tests. Cronin and Taylor.. and empathy. and then carried out multiple regression analyses to probe the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer perceptions of the service received. They concluded that the expectations of different groups influence their overall satisfaction ± which lends support to expectation-based market segmentation. The success of the higherscoring hotel was attributed to its commitment to the total-quality programme. equipment. 1994). Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . Juwaheer and Ross (2003) used the standard SERVQUAL procedure on 39 attributes to measure service quality in the hotel industry in Mauritius. and generally accepted measurement tool (Brown and Bond. Number 5 . and managers. They first used the k-means method to form homogeneous tourist groups in terms of their expectations. Boulding et al. ``Assurance'' covers the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence. tangibles. Examining descriptive 413 . (1988) have defined the service-quality concept in terms of five major dimensions ± reliability. ``Reliability'' is generally defined as the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. Baker and Fesenmaier (1997) focused on the levels of service-quality expectations of theme park visitors. In another study. 412-422 Parasuraman et al. Of these. 1998). On the basis of this evidence. and the paying of individualised attention to customers. education. the authors questioned the sufficiency of the SERVQUAL approach. However. personnel. 1995). 1993.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Eda Atilgan. The last dimension. for example. and sheer fun. valid. 2000). and ANOVA. Using factor analysis. Stressing the strong relationship between value and customer services in the tourism industry. who studied five tour operators in Australia. (2000) demonstrated that servicequality expectations can also be used as a segmentation variable in the tourism market. Augustyn and Ho (1998) claimed that the SERVQUAL model was of the utmost importance for defining the real meaning of customer satisfaction..

accessibility. which. 2003b) has defined quality in tourism as: . amounted to an estimated US$555 billion. Furthermore. requires a greater number of items than SERVQUAL employs. The World Tourism Organization (WTO. . The data collected from patients were examined using factor analysis. . excursions. surpassing all other international trade categories (WTO. throughout the service delivery period. the service-quality dimensions that have most discriminatory power in separating various satisfaction levels. the number of international arrivals has shown a remarkable expansion from a modest 25 million in 1950 to 699 million in 2000. according to Johns and Howard (1998). 2003 . 412-422 Eda Atilgan. Total international tourism receipts.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . 2003a). quality will be the main driving force as tourism firms strive to meet the competitive challenges of the future. impact on national economies. transparency. The appropriateness of the SERVQUAL model has been especially questioned in the context of the food-service industry. tourism is especially significant in terms of its sensitivity to quality issues. comparative perspective of distinct tourist groups in terms of their expectations and perceptions. The authors concluded that basing quality measurement on SERVQUAL was appropriate for medical services. Tourism and the quality concept Among the service industries. but that a post-encounter-only assessment of servicequality opinions would be more practical than the pre-encounter and post-encounter approach. 414 . . international tourism has been an indispensable source of foreign-currency earnings. which produced six dimensions for medical services. . he was critical of its administration and analysis. In 1999. the relative importance attached by tourists to each of the expected and perceived service-quality dimensions. 1998). corresponding to an annual growth rate of 7 per cent (WTO. requirements and expectations of the consumer. there is an ongoing need for original empirical research on certain aspects of quality in tourism. including all arrangements such as flights. the term tour operator is defined as the principal service provider who is responsible for delivering and/or contracting and monitoring the promised service mix. The authors asserted that the 18 attributes defined by Johnston (1995) were much more suitable because they include almost all of the diverse quality factors involved. in conformity with the underlying quality determinants such as safety and security. and . the study explored the following issues: . at an acceptable price. Similar concerns were also put forward by Carman (1990) who studied dental services. The possibility of using SERVQUAL in the hospital industry was tested by Headley and Miller (1993). 2003a). Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy statistics only. Although he accepted the stability of the original dimensions. tour operators are among the key players who have a direct influence on the underlying determinants of quality. For many countries. including those generated by international fares. As Kandampully (2000) has stressed. Quality in tourism is an important factor and ultimately dictates the success of the tourism business. . 2003a). accommodation. guidance etc. More specifically. In this context. the result of a process which implies the satisfaction of all the legitimate product and service needs. authenticity and harmony of the tourism activity concerned with its human and natural environment. a new method for evaluating service quality. Number 5 . international tourism and international fare receipts accounted for roughly 8 per cent of total export earnings on goods and services worldwide (WTO. transportation. particularly in the past decade (Harrington and Lenehan. hygiene. Although these developments have resulted in a growing number of studies devoted to the tourism industry. the authors claimed that assurance was the most prominent indicator of overall service performance. Aims of the study The present study investigated the quality expectations and satisfaction of tourists with respect to tour operators. the service-quality attributes that constitute fundamental service-quality dimensions in evaluating tour operators. Within this study. and recent expansion.

2003a).9 9.8 17.0 25.7 9.5 5.8 3.8 ±16.5 ±2.3 10. separate interviews were held with the management and staff of certain tour operators.1 6.5 8.1 ± 8. 1988) was used as the principal survey instrument. and behaviour are influenced by cultural factors.6 7. aesthetics. Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy Research methodology According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO).4 ±11. this figure accounted for a remarkable 17. was targeted as the main data-collection point because it is generally acknowledged to be the capital of Turkish tourism. Number 5 . cultural matters had to be addressed when deemed necessary.8 7.2 18. material culture.. 2003 .9 ± 17.5 10. Correspondence analysis scales the rows and columns in corresponding units so that each can be displayed graphically in the same twodimensional space. The advantage of correspondence analysis.7 ±6. A two-step datacollection method was pursued to measure the tourists' expectations and perceptions. 1999).0 1. A quota of 100 German tourists and 100 Russian respondents from each selected flight were asked to participate in the study. with Germans and Russians representing the majority of the tourist population.2 7.6 Note: aData as collected by WTO September 2002 attempt to ``understand'' these differences in terms of investigating the impact of culture on each particular tourist group's service-quality evaluations. perceptions. it does demonstrate an approach to ``understanding'' these differences by presenting the similarities and differences between the service-quality evaluations of different cultural groups. and education and social institutions are manifestations of the way of life of any group of people. values and attitudes.2 16. 412-422 Eda Atilgan.3 72.0 31.6 1.5 7. The SERVQUAL scale (Parasuraman et al.6 7. Perceptual mapping of service-quality dimensions using correspondence analysis provides an easy way for providers to interpret their customers' perspectives on service quality.6 8.7 0.8 27. As the present research involved different tourist groups.8 1. Because consumers' expectations. and one flight of Russian tourists was similarly selected at random.3 2. services marketers who want their services adopted across cultures must understand these differences (Zeithaml and Bitner.9 30. Because it has been argued that modifications to the SERVQUAL scale might be required to reflect particular industryspecific characteristics (Stafford.5 ±6.9 8.7 3.8 10. as compared with other multidimensional scaling techniques.2 7. Turkey.5 19. Cultural characteristics comprising language.6 3.5 16.5 2. The same questions were directed to the same 415 . These interviews provided valuable insights into the special tasks and service areas of the travel business and resulted in the development of 26 items related to the five service dimensions of the original SERVQUAL scale.9 4. one flight of German tourists was selected at random. The city of Antalya.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . 1987). manners and customs.6 1. From the operator's July flight list. The tour operator selected for the study is one of the top-five Turkish operators in terms of sales revenue.7 1. Furthermore.8 1.5 30.8 17. Correspondence analysis is an exploratory multivariate technique that converts a matrix of non-negative data into a particular type of graphical display in which the rows and columns of the matrix are depicted as points (Greenacre and Hastie.9 billion of international tourism receipts in 2001 (WTO.0 per cent increase from the previous year ± the largest expansion of tourism earnings in the world in 2001 (Table I).6 4.3 1. Turkey ranked 11th in the top 15 tourism earners in the world with US$8.9 8. Although the present study did not Table I International tourism receipts by the top 15 countries in 2001 International tourism receipts (US$ billion) 2000 2001a 1 USA 2 Spain 3 France 4 Italy 5 China 6 Germany 7 UK 8 Canada 9 Austria 10 Greece 11 Turkey 12 Mexico 13 Hong Kong (China) 14 Australia 15 Switzerland % Change 2001a/2000 Market share 2001a 82. 1999). is that it reduces the data-collection demands imposed on the respondents (Malhotra. Antalya is a mature tourist destination for mass tourism.3 32.2 ± 1.5 ±9.2 9. 2000).9 1. The month of July was selected for data collection because this is the busiest month for tourist arrivals in Antalya.

right first time. . meeting the tour schedule. . demographic characteristics. provision of adequate information about the service delivered. . (1) Assurance dimension: . there were also other questions that probed: . The following aspects of tour operator evaluations (Luk. (2) undecided. . and . reinforcement of tourists' confidence. services delivered on time. The perceptual maps showed the relative importance attached to the service quality dimensions regarding the tour operator evaluations. The second step was carried out just before the tourists left their hotels and involved their perceptions of the service-quality performance of the serving operator. fluent and understandable communication with tourists. 200 questionnaires regarding the perceptions of service-quality performance were analysed. and . . willingness to help tourists. keeping promises.689 and 172. pleasant. . . 2003 . (3) Reliability dimension: . the perceptions. cultivation of friendly relationship. which was divided into three-groups: (1) satisfied. physical appearance of tour and hotel escorts (tidiness etc. willingness to be served again by the same service provider. Results Demographics The demographic profiles of the Russian and German tourist groups are summarised in Table II. and no sudden increase in tour cost. . . advice on how to use free time. Similarly.). Number 5 . The dependent variable consisted of the German and Russian tourists' overall rating of the experience. and discrepancies between the two. . Overall.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . The German tourists tended to be older than the Russians ± with only 28 per cent of Germans being 30 years of age or younger (compared with 52 per cent of Russians) and 20 per cent of 416 . which was conducted at the time of arrival. (2) Responsiveness dimension: . the overall service quality of the tour operator. with both groups having slightly more females than males. . and (3) dissatisfied. Apart from the SERVQUAL items. being served by the appropriate personnel. modern and technologically relevant vehicles. availability of information documents and notes. 1997) were examined under the five SERVQUAL dimensions. understanding of specific needs. easy contact on arrival at airport. 200 questionnaires (representing 100 German and 100 Russian tourists) regarding service-quality expectations were used for further analysis. Two separate multiple discriminant analyses (one for German tourists and one for Russian tourists) yielded two discriminant functions. provision of information on local entertainment. Both groups were approximately equally distributed between males and females. . 7 = ``very important'').05) in terms of Wilk's (s ± which transformed to chi-square values of 46. In the first step. satisfaction levels. . prompt response to tourists' requests. (4) Empathy dimension: . . and . Correspondence analysis was used to evaluate (or map) the service-quality dimensions by expectations and perceptions of the two tourist groups. . and . 412-422 Eda Atilgan. insisting on error-free service. The first functions for both groups were statistically significant (p < 0. high-quality meals. . . easy location of and contact with tour and hotel escorts. and . appealing accommodation facilities. .015 for Germans and Russians respectively. Discriminant analysis was used to determine the impacts of each of the servicequality dimension on tourists' satisfaction. sincere interest in problem-solving. respondents were asked to indicate their expectations by assessing the level of importance they attached to a set of 26 items on a seven-point Likert scale (with 1 = ``not at all important''. . friendly personnel. experienced and competent tour and hotel escorts. (5) Tangibles dimension: . Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy persons in both the first and second steps to measure the expectations.

There was a tendency for German tourists to stay closer to the city centre ± with 68 per cent of Germans staying at four-star or fivestar hotels (compared with 54 per cent of Russians). and empathy. attributes of special importance were indicated as being service delivery on promises. and personnel were ``important'' attributes. confidence. 2003 . tourists have high levels of expectations of tour operators and other organisations engaged in the service process.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . trust. which operated on an ``all inclusive'' basis and were located along the coastal line. willingness to help tourists. Number 5 . German respondents were less educated than Russians ± with 46 per cent of Germans having an education below high school (compared with only 5 per cent of Russians) and only 29 per cent of Germans having a university degree or above (compared with 62 per cent of Russians). the German tourists' expectations regarding responsiveness. reliability. Tourists' expectations of the physical appearance of the transportation vehicles. However. In these dimensions. The proportion of Russian respondents staying at holiday villages was 37 per cent (compared with 21 per cent of Germans). there was less expectation regarding physical aspects of the travel service. informative leaflets. As depicted in Figure 1. The research findings also showed that German tourists had little tolerance for any unexpected situation that would lead to a failure in these dimensions. In contrast. but not as important as the other four service-quality dimensions. This might give tour operators some flexibility in designing the physical characteristics of their offers without a major decline in tourists' Table II Sample demographics German tourists (%) Russian tourists (%) Gender Male Female 48 52 44 56 Age (years) 20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >50 10 18 34 18 20 22 30 21 24 3 Education Below high school High school University Master's or above 46 25 21 8 5 33 53 9 Accommodation Holiday village Five-star hotel Four-star hotel Three-star hotel Two-star hotel Other 21 25 43 9 1 1 37 21 33 9 0 0 Holiday duration (days) 7 8-14 >14 41 43 14 31 49 20 Germans being 50 years of age or older (compared with only 3 per cent of Russians). empathy. 412-422 Eda Atilgan. and assurance dimensions were all grouped around the ``very important'' category. accommodation facilities. These findings are in line with the general assumption that before the travel and holiday experience starts. In terms of the holiday duration. Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy Service-quality expectations and perceptions Expectations of German tourists Figure 1 shows the results of German tourists' expectations. there was little discernible difference between the groups. Russian tourists preferred staying at holiday villages. Figure 1 Service quality expectations of German tourists 417 .

Number 5 . the perceptions of German tourists did not match their expectations in most of the service-quality dimensions. In contrast. reflecting a failure to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. high expectations were not met. 2000). With regard to responsiveness. Service perceptions of Russian tourists Russian tourists' perceptions were to a great extent parallel to their expectation levels (Figure 4). Service perceptions of German tourists After the service experience. With respect to other dimensions.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . 1985). whereas assessment of the empathy dimension was ``neutral''. 2000). The implications of this can be very serious for the service provider because previous studies clearly indicate that sustaining service quality is one of the most important strategic issues for service firms (Kandampully and Menguc. which were higher than expectations. German tourists indicated that none of the service quality dimensions was poorly performed. the assurance dimension received a ``good'' performance rating. In the present research. with the actual service delivered being below expectations. Russian tourists' expectations were somewhat similar to those of the German tourists. It is also noteworthy that none of the service-quality dimensions was positioned close to the ``unimportant'' category. trust. whereas tangibility was placed somewhere between ``fairly important'' and ``neutral''. These differences may arise from the level of the performance which either exceeds the expectations or remains below them. Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy satisfaction levels. While the performance over the expectations leads to quality surprise and customer delight. performance below the expected level results in unacceptable quality and customer dissatisfaction in turn (Parasuraman et al. Expectations of the empathy dimension were ``fairly important''.. 412-422 Eda Atilgan. Expectations of Russian tourists As shown in Figure 3. In summary. In tourism industry in particular. They evaluated performance as ``excellent'' in terms of the dimensions of Figure 3 Service quality expectations of Russian tourists Figure 2 Service quality perceptions of German tourists 418 . as depicted in Figure 2. actual performance of the serving firm could be somewhat different than the expected level. Service delivery on promises. willingness to help. customer satisfaction has been found to be closely related to customer loyalty and renewed patronage (Kandampully and Suhartanto. and confidence during the travel experience were again ``important'' dimensions. perceptions of the tangibility dimension were ``excellent''. which implies that none of the service quality dimensions should be overlooked or taken lightly by service providers. Reliability was the ``most poorly'' perceived dimension. 2003 .

reliability.252 0.070 0. Comparison of service perceptions of German and Russian tourists A comparison of the perceptual evaluations of German and Russian tourists reveals distinct differences between two groups (Figure 2 compared with Figure 4).042 0. Firms are searching for ways to deliver increased value 419 . Performance in understanding specific needs and cultivating friendly relationship were seen as indications of ``good service''. For Function 1 Function 2 0.255 Note: Pooled within-groups correlations between discriminating variables and standardised canonical discriminant functions.950 0. The following linear combinations that best discriminate the satisfaction levels for each tourist group provide further information about their relative importance: YGerman ˆ0:627Assurance ‡ 0:005Tangibility 0:209Empathy ‡ 0:008Responsiveness ‡ 0:456Reliability 4:849 YRussian ˆ0:693Assurance 0:214Tangibility ‡ 0:663Empathy ‡ 0:270Responsiveness ‡ 0:304Reliability 9:742 Conclusions and managerial implications Correspondence analysis The tourism industry has witnessed a tremendous change in recent years. In terms of the empathy dimension.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . In terms of the tangibility dimension.669 ±0. Satisfaction: discrimination by service dimensions The results of the multiple discriminant analysis are shown in Table III (German tourists) and Table IV (Russian tourists). Variables ordered by absolute size of correlation within function Table IV Structure matrix regarding Russian tourists Assurance Responsiveness Reliability Empathy Tangibility responsiveness. whereas Russians perceived it as ``good''. but responsiveness and reliability were the next most important (Table IV).851 0.811 0. 412-422 Eda Atilgan.890 0.300 Note: Pooled within-groups correlations between discriminating variables and standardised canonical discriminant functions.111 ±0.904 0.971 0.859 0. Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy Figure 4 Service quality perceptions of Russian tourists Table III Structure matrix regarding German tourists Assurance Reliability Tangibility Responsiveness Empathy Function 1 Function 2 0. 2003 . Germans perceived tangibility as ``excellent''. Number 5 . In discriminating the Russian tourists' satisfaction levels.772 0. Russian tourists regarded both the assurance dimension and the reliability dimension as ``excellent''.828 0.345 0.190 ±0. and reliability had the second-highest correlation (Table III).228 0. Russian tourists were ``neutral'' in evaluating service performance. German tourists evaluated the service performance as ``neutral''. the assurance dimension was again first.112 ±0. Variables ordered by absolute size of correlation within function German tourists. and assurance ± which were rated as the key factors for a perfect service. German tourists evaluated the assurance dimension as ``good'' and the reliability dimension as ``very poor''. In contrast. unlike the ``neutral'' perceptions of the Russians. the assurance dimension had the highest correlation with the discriminant function.

Further 420 . and thus provide service providers with an opportunity to direct their scarce resources to weak service dimensions. service expectations). these dimensions vary in significance in determining satisfaction and dissatisfaction.Mapping service quality in the tourism industry Managing Service Quality Volume 13 . but might not be as sensitive in assessing perceived service levels. 1992). and provides a clear picture of quantitative data results (Whipple. 1994). This represents an efficient tool for practitioners and managers who prefer not to use detailed statistical procedures. 2003 . Perceptual maps are useful tools for visualising expectation-perception gaps. the present study illustrates the graphical evaluation of service-quality dimensions. However. masculinity/ femininity. this market-based information is crucial to strategy development because it allows marketers to fine-tune their service mix according to the target customer segment. the present conclusions on German and Russian tourists should be interpreted cautiously because the present study did not use a probability sample. an understanding of this issue will become an increasingly important factor of success. it is best to combine it with other statistical tests or use an alternative approach ± such as the multi-dimensional scaling technique (MDS). as more and more service companies enter the international arena. Second. Despite the widespread use of such statistical tests. it adds a fresh dimension to exploratory and evaluative research. Although CA is not a substitute for quantitative study. however. it cannot provide exact distances between the items. Limitations and future research Some limitations of the present study must also be acknowledged. For those who would like to see statistical precision of their assessment in addition to a graphical representation. The present study brings a new approach to the service-quality evaluation process. Cultural differences Cultural characteristics affect perceived service quality (Espinoza. it is of critical importance to cover all cultural dimensions (such as power distance. lies with its very detailed data-collection requirements. 1999) and. First. Providing high-quality service depends on identifying customers' expectations accurately and delivering the expected services efficiently. In contrast.. Quality is a critical ingredient for competitiveness. Tourism managers therefore have to consider national differences in providing satisfactory service to their customers. CA enables tourism managers to visualise their firms' comparative advantages and disadvantages with respect to their service dimensions. collectivism/individualism. mean scores) or certain statistical tests (for example. the CA approach can also be applied between competing firms and service perceptions to develop positioning maps and subsequent marketing strategies for long-term tourist satisfaction. and because the research was not specifically based on nationality. in cross-cultural studies. and although it has several advantages for practitioners and scholars. As depicted in the present findings. The problem with the MDS. Most studies in the literature involve either simple descriptive measures (for example. in different cultural groups. Furthermore. Third. Therefore. but any assessment of quality requires a comparative approach ± both in terms of expectation-perception gaps and in terms of serving different customer groups. and so on) for more grounded inferences. From a managerial viewpoint. As has been suggested in similar studies (Javalgi et al. their interpretation is often easier for scholars rather than for practitioners. this research shows that cultural orientation as represented by nationality can affect service-quality evaluations. Service providers are keen to provide what customers expect. factor analysis) for measuring service quality. Further research incorporating additional cultural attributes could provide stronger evidence on the subject. determining the dimensions of service quality is of vital importance for tour operators and other service companies. In the tourism industry. 412-422 Eda Atilgan. although CA can allow easy visualisation of the differences between items being considered. different cultural groups can have different levels of expectations and perceptions in terms of service-quality dimensions. ANOVA. Serkan Akinci and Safak Aksoy to customers and to improve overall company performance and capabilities. Number 5 . t-tests. CA can be used in conjunction with the existing methodologies. This technique is also appropriate for visualising the relations between demographic variables and other data sets (for example.

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