Kansas State University professor of marketing Swinder Janda, along with Dongguk University professor of international trade Hong-Youl Ha, recently had their research published in the Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing.
Their paper, “The Evolution of Expectations and Attitudes Toward Online Travel Agencies over Time,” investigates how expectations and attitudes toward an online travel agency evolve over time, and the moderating role played by quality of the travel service experience in this context. The study also explores the effect of these constructs on overall customer satisfaction.
Survey data were collected from 364 customers of travel packages both before travel and after travel. Results revealed that the effect of the expectations-attitudes linkage diminishes over time. This finding is significant because it implies that a customer’s expectations have a greater bearing on attitude when they have not had an experience with the service. After they have experienced the service, then attitudes are affected indirectly through their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the service.
Findings from this research imply that travel agencies need to better understand their potential customers, particularly repeat customers, and tailor travel packages based on their knowledge of customers to maximize the service quality of the experience. For instance, by utilizing a deeper understanding of a customer’s specific travel preferences, travel agencies can match these preferences with travel vacation packages that emphasize the right mix of experience elements — like immersion, surprise, participation and fun — that will resonate best with specific customers. Such a matching will be most likely to result in superior customer satisfaction.