Explaining Consumer Behavior in the Hospitality Industry: CSR Associations and Corporate Image

Explaining Consumer Behavior in the Hospitality Industry: CSR Associations and Corporate Image

Patricia Martínez (University of Cantabria, Spain) and Ignacio Rodríguez del Bosque (University of Cantabria, Spain)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8606-9.ch025
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The aim of this chapter is to explore how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) associations and corporate image influence customers´ behavior. Specifically, a model is proposed in which CSR and corporate image positively condition customer loyalty. It also proposes that the company´ social responsible initiatives influence customer satisfaction. In order to test this model structural equation modelling is employed on a sample of 382 Spanish hotel customers. This study finds that both corporate image and customer satisfaction contribute to achieve customer loyalty, also proving the roles of corporate image as a mediating variable. Additionally, our results show that CSR influences customer satisfaction. Finally, although we did not corroborate that CSR associations increase customer loyalty CSR associations have an indirect effect on loyalty through corporate image. As the results of studies concerning loyalty will depend on the services or products examined other business areas should be considered to find out about the generalization of these results. Second, other relevant variables could be included in further research.
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These days, the hospitality industry copes with a number of opportunities and menaces as a result of the current worldwide financial and economic crisis (Tandford et al., 2011). Within Europe, Spain is one of the countries that have suffered most from the crisis because of its severe housing bubble (Álvarez, 2008). As extant studies corroborate, the service sector is the central sector of the Spanish economy given its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) (Alonso-Almeida & Bremser, 2013). In 2010, services represented approximately 72% of the GDP (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, 2011). Moreover, tourism companies are an important element of the Spanish service sector and accounted for nearly 13% in 2010. Within Europe, Spain has the highest number of hotels and restaurants (Alonso-Almeida & Bremser, 2013). Despite the fact that hospitality industry is of major importance for the Spanish economy, as a result of the recession subsequent to the economic crisis, international tourism to Spain deteriorated and spending by international and national tourists declined (Instituto de Estudios Turísticos, 2010).

In order to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis, some tactics allow firms to rebound more rapidly from a critical situation. In the hospitality setting, many companies are developing a loyal customer base (Mason et al., 2006; Tandford et al., 2011) since it is demonstrated that loyal customers buy more, tend to be less price-sensitive than others customers, spend a larger share of their income at the supplier and spread positive word-of-mouth (Williams & Naumann, 2001). As Alonso-Almeida and Bremser (2013, p. 146) state “in crisis periods, loyal customers remain satisfied with their hotel of choice and do not downgrade or switch to other offers”. Consequently, maintain customer loyalty is a critical mission not only for hospitality managers, but also for strategic management and marketing research. With this increased interest in customer relationships, it has become increasingly obvious that hospitality theory and practice must include customer loyalty as a central construct in relationships and must also incorporate its antecedents (Mason et al., 2006; Martínez & Rodríguez del Bosque, 2013; Tandford et al., 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hospitality Industry: It is a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise line and additional fields within the tourism industry. The hospitality industry is a several billion dollar industry that mostly depends on the availability of leisure time and disposable income.

Consumer Behavior: It is the study of individuals and groups and the processes they use to select and dispose of products, services, experiences or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.

Corporate Image: Mental picture that springs up at the mention of a company´s name. It is a composite psychological impression that continually changes with the firm´s circumstances, media coverage, performance, pronouncements, etc... Similar to corporate reputation it is the public perception of the firm rather than a reflection of its actual state or position. It is the result of multiple and diverse messages that, accumulated in the collective memory, draw a global meaningful concept able to affect and predict individuals´ behavior.

Customer Loyalty: It is a consumer´s preference for a particular company and a commitment to repeatedly purchase that brand in the face of other choices.

Customer Satisfaction: Customer satisfaction measures how well the expectations of a customer concerning a product/service provided by a company have been met. Customer satisfaction is an abstract concept and involves such factors as the quality of the product/service provided, the atmosphere of the location where the product/service is purchased and the price of the product/service.

Structural Equation Modelling: It is a statistical technique for testing and estimating causal relations using a combination of statistical data and qualitative causal assumptions.

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