Understanding the Servicescape

Introduction

Outstanding services, personalized, and unique atmosphere makes up the important features related to hospitality concepts. A unique selling environment is a competitive advantage of every hotel. Servicescape is often used as a marketing tool by hotels by influencing employee and customer responses. Hotels differentiate themselves through offering unique services including the personalized relationship between service providers and customers, unique interior design, choice of music, and unique experience. A unique hotel is trendy, intimate, warm, inspiring, thematic, and aspirational. An effective servicescape in a hospitality service attracts loyal customers associated with improved performance. Physical surrounding influences service providers and customers response towards a business. To promote business productivity, a servicescape must ensure that it positively influences the responses. An effective servicescape leads to a positive response which enhances productivity.

Servicescape

Servicescape refers to the area within which interaction of service takes place between customers and service providers. It is the physical surrounding where the interaction takes place. As Bitner explains servicescape as the area in which services are assembled, where service provider and consumer relates, in combination with concrete commodities, which enable communication and performance of services (Bitner, 2001, p.3). Servicescape influences the behaviour of customers as well as their satisfaction level in regard to the service offered. Service scape also influences perceptions of customers especially when it comes to evaluation of interaction in service delivery. It is useful in understanding the behaviour of customers. Apart from influencing customer behaviour, servicescape influences the behaviour of service providers in terms of satisfaction, staying, and advertising eventually promoting performance.

Physical environmental dimension

The physical surrounding within which a hospitality service is offered consists of various environmental features that influence perception and behaviour. The features are captured under three dimensions, the ambient conditions, signs, symbols, and artifacts, and spatial layout. As the Mehrabian-Russell stimulus-Response model holds feelings are drivers of consumer response towards service environment. The model states that the environmental stimuli lead to the affective response seen in response behaviour. According to the model, the environment, the conscious and unconscious perceptions and interpretation affect how customers feel about it. It is these feelings that drive behaviour (Kloosterman, 2017. P.2). A common outcome is an approach to avoidance of the environment. According to the Russell Affect model, the physical surrounding can arouse excitement, pleasant feelings, and relaxation or distress, unpleasant feelings, and boredom.

Ambient conditions

Ambient conditions are useful in influencing responses to the environment. The conditions include background features such as music, lighting, temperature, scent, and noise. These conditions affect the five senses of human beings. Empirical studies on restaurants confirm that these factors influence customer experiences. Other studies have also proven that ambient conditions influence customer perception as well as service provider performance and satisfaction (Bitner, 2001, p.6). Servicescape elements that match the ambience must be present in a hotel for people to have positive perceptions.

Spatial layout

Spatial layout refers to the organization of equipment, machinery, and furniture within a physical area of an organization. Employees are mostly influenced by this factor. For instance the organization of front desk affects performance efficiency of an employee. Research shows that a great layout improves efficiency. The effective spatial layout also improves self-service for customers especially when the tasks are complex.

Signs, symbols, and artifacts

Signs displayed on the interior and exterior of the structure communicates to the users. Signs such as labels of the name of the restaurant, of entry and exits, those that communicate behaviour rules such as no smoking are explicit communicators. Other objects such as artwork, and wall photographs create an aesthetic impression of the business. Signs, symbols, and artifacts create the first impression, communicate service concepts, and enable customers to differentiate the service from competitors.

Internal responses

Service providers and customers in hospitality service respond to the physical surrounding psychologically, emotionally, and cognitively. Servicescape can influence people at the psychological level. For instance, comfortable chairs can make customers stay longer due to the comfort (Kearney et al., 2013, p.11). According to Rusell model of affect, a comfortable environment yields a positive psychological response. The emotional response can be elicited by the physical surrounding of a restaurant. This involves the degree of arousal and the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. A pleasant environment makes people spend more on a service than when in an unpleasant environment. When an environment elicits a pleasant emotion, then people tend to evaluate the services offered in a positive manner. A cognitive response can also be elicited by the physical surrounding of a hotel. The design of the furniture, and uniforms of the service providers, act as a form of non-verbal communication. Employee and customer perceptions of such elements determine their beliefs of the hotel and also the beliefs of the service offered (Lap-Kwong, 2017. P.4). The most important thing is to ensure that the employees and the customers are satisfied with the servicescape of the business.

Behaviour in Servicescape

According to Russell Affect model, a pleasant physical surrounding results in approach while unpleasant results in avoidance. When a hotel environment is pleasant, increasing arousal, to generate excitement, which leads to a positive response from both service providers and customers (Kashyap, 2015, p.3). Psychologists argue that people respond to environments through approach behaviours or avoidance. Approach behaviours include a desire to stay in a place, work, explore, and associate. Other behaviours include returning, more spending pf money and time, and friendliness. On the other hand, avoidance behaviours include a desire not to associate with a place, not to work, explore, or stay in a place. For employees, approach behaviours include staying longer, increased commitment, affiliation, and exploration. For customers, they include staying longer, loyalty, spending more money, and returning. The avoidance behaviours are opposite to approach behaviours for both.

Figure 1: Hotel Servicescape Diagram

Conclusion

It is clear that an effective servicescape leads to a positive response which enhances productivity. Creative servicescape management will enable hotels to contribute to the achievement of internal organizational goals as well as external marketing goals. Servicescape influences peoples’ response to a place. To ensure that employees stay longer in a business, is committed to organizational goals, associates with colleagues, and desires to explore an organization, management should focus on the physical design of a facility. Similarly, an effective servicescape increases the desire for staying, coming again, spending money, affiliation, and desire to explore in customers. The ability to attract and satisfy employees and customers leads to improved productivity when it comes to hospitality service.

References

Bitner, M. (2001). Servicescapes: The impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. Journal of Marketing, pp.1-15.

Kashyap, A, (2015). Revitalize Your Restaurant by Enhancing its Servicescape. International Journal of Engineering Technology, Management and Applied Sciences, Vol. 3, No.12, pp. 1-12.

Kearney, T., Coughlan, J. and Kennedy, A. (2013). An Exploration of the Effects of the Servicescape on Customer and Employee, Responses in a Grocery Retail Context. Irish Journal of Management, pp. 1-21.

Kloosterman, M. (2017). The Impact of Servicescape on the Brand Image and Brand Identity of Boutique Hotels, Bachelor’s Thesis, pp.1-64.

Lap-Kwong, D. (2017). The Role of Servicescape in Hotel Buffet Restaurant. Journal of Hotel & Business Management.