Managing the perception of service quality; the importance of understanding differences between demographic and behavioural customer segments amongst theme park visitors

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© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the differences in the perception of service quality among various demographic and behavioural visitor segments within the theme park tourism market. Design/methodology/approach: A quantitative survey was conducted using a structured questionnaire which was distributed to 655 theme park visitors. Different groups of visitors were identified through the use of cluster analysis based on the evaluation of both demographic variables and a number of behavioural factors associated with their characteristics in terms of “time and cost” allocations for visits to a theme park. Findings: The findings confirm that differences in demographic characteristics significantly affect perceptions of visitors as demonstrated in the way they are likely to evaluate importance and performance factors in a theme park’s delivery of services. In contrast, behavioural segmentation in terms of time allocation and associated expenditure is unlikely to produce significant differences in the visitors’ perceptions of the level of service provided. Originality/value: Although there are many studies related to visitors’ perceived service quality, none of them use the same methodology as applied in this study of theme park industry. The research results reveal important implications for the theme park industry because of this new understanding of the segmentation differences for visitor-perceived service quality. By directing attention of management to these differences, improvements in service quality perceptions can more readily be achieved.

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