Attractive cooking smells can stimulate the taste buds and attract customers. Foul
bar and cooking smells – the combination of stale beer, cigarettes and fried food
sometimes found in bars – are a powerful disincentive to many customers.
The combination of all these internal factors creates an overall atmosphere that
should, if properly designed, appeal to the target market. However, if some of the
key internal environmental factors fail, or do not fit with, the customer’s expectations,
then customers can be dissatisfied.
The appearance, attitude and behavior of employees should complement the positioning,
product concept and physical environment. Employees’ cleanliness,
deportment and dress should reinforce the design theme and send a consistent message
to customers. In formal, business-orientated hospitality operations, the staff
uniforms reflect the business environment – professional attire in conservative colors
and fabrics is the norm. In leisure and themed hospitality concepts, casual uniforms
designed as part of the theme or no uniforms are appropriate. Contemporary
boutique establishments often have contemporary designer-style dress for the
employees’ uniforms. Customers need hardly notice employees’ dress and behavior,
when it matches the brand image and other elements of physical environment.
However, if the employee’s appearance, attitude and behavior are inconsistent with
the design concept, then customers will probably notice the inconsistency because
it sends out a mixed message and confuses them.
We discussed inseparability in earlier articles. The customers’ appearance and behavior
when consuming the hospitality product also contribute hugely to the atmosphere
in the physical environment. Potential customers see and hear other customers.
If what they see and hear conforms with their expectations, then potential customers
will feel comfortable. If other customers’ dress seems inappropriate and
their behavior in terms of language, loudness, politeness and sobriety is inconsistent
with the expectations of potential customers, then again an inconsistent
message causes confusion. We have already discussed the problems caused by
mixing incompatible target markets. In today’s social environment, conventions
regarding dress and behavior are more informal than for previous generations.
This makes it more difficult for hospitality management to control the dress
and behavior of customers. A number of exclusive clubs, restaurants and hotels
(such as the Ritz, in London) still insist on a dress and behavior code for
Maintenance and refurbishment
In our discussion of the external and internal physical evidence, we referred to
the problems caused by damaged furniture, faulty equipment and tired décor.
The role of maintenance and refurbishment is to maintain the hospitality product
at an acceptable level to ensure customer satisfaction and efficient operation.
Unfortunately, the nature of the hospitality business means that both customers and
employees accidentally, and occasionally deliberately, cause damage to the property.
In particular, bathrooms and toilets suffer from abuse and accidental water damage.
The costs of not maintaining a property correctly include (Lawson, 1996):