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This kind of thinking requires a shift in the approach to the topic. If standardisation and customisation are seen in a quality perspective, it is easy to recognise that both of them are needed at the same time. (Gyurácz-Németh – Clarke 2011) Standardisation in a quality context can provide a minimum quality level to the hotel but no standardisation on the other hand can only provide insecurity and variance as it was mentioned before. According to this theory standardisation is necessary for a hotel to be able to ensure a certain quality level and satisfy their guests’ needs. Customisation fits this theory because it represents the ‘real’ quality in this model. While standardisation stands for the minimum quality the hotel has to provide for the guests not to complain about the hotel service, customisation is something more than that, as the hotel already ensures that the customer is not dissatisfied, customisation is an added value which a hotel can offer to its guests to make them pleased, loyal and frequent visitors: satisfied guests.

As Figure 1 shows there is no customisation without standardisation in a successful firm. The minimum level of quality has to be assured first and then hotels can deal with customisation. It PETRA GYURÁCZ-NÉMETH 89


–  –  –

drops the reliability of customisation decreases at the same time. With a minimum level of quality, the basis of the service (standardisation), is not firm, it is not possible to go on to the next level (customisation).

Since the subjects of this research are hotels, a hotel group example would be appropriate for showing the usage of standardisation and customisation. Accor has hotel chains from different segments. Two extremes are the Formula 1 hotel and Sofitel. Formula 1 is a budget hotel chain providing only basic service mostly accommodation, they are practical, simple and economical (http://www.accor.com/en/brands/brand-portfolio/hotelf1.html 13/1/ 2015). Sofitel is the luxury brand of Accor providing every service the guests can image (http://www.accor.com/en/brands/brand-portfolio/sofitel.html 13/1/2015). In Sofitel it is clear that customisation has a bigger role than in Formula 1 hotels - given their different target segments - but standardisation is still needed and the level of standardisation could even be larger because these luxury hotels always have much more types of services which should be standardised. It is actually true that in Formula 1 hotels customisation is not needed because of its budget hotel status – although there can be special requests – but it is not correct to think that a luxury hotel does not have to be standardised.

Ad hoc activity means incidental solutions with low awareness where customisation and standardisation questions are not raised. These are random events which do not aim to assure quality or provide customer satisfaction only happen because of the front staff ’s attitude or mood. This ad hoc section is not going to be examined in this research.

Research questions and assumptions

The role and significance of standardisation and customisation had to be analysed empirically. The following research questions have been formed:

Q1 Is there a relationship between standardisation and customisation? If so, how strongly are they connected?

Q2 Which performance indicators can be brought together to improve the analysis of hotels?

What kind of performance groups can be identified?

Q3 Is there a relationship between the standardisation and customisation level of the hotel and the performance indicator it reaches?

The assumptions are built on the research questions and contain the author’s assumptions about the two concepts and their appearance in hotel management PETRA GYURÁCZ-NÉMETH 91


Assumption 1 There is a relationship between standardisation and customisation in the Hungarian hotel sector.

Some of the reviewed literature (Cloninger - Swaidan, 2007; Ritzer, 2001; Schmid – Kotulla, 2010; Samiee et al., 2003; Bharadwaj et al., 2009) suggest that standardisation and customisation are two distinct strategies to choose from; they do not raise the option that they could be mixed or applied at the same time at the same firm, in this case a hotel, so general managers have to choose between the two strategies. Others mention a possibility to apply both at the same time though for different processes (Kimes – Mutkoski, 1991; Liu et al., 2008; Moore et al., 2010) but there are authors who consider dealing with standardisation and customisation at the same in the same process (Heskett, 1986; Mount – Mattila, 2009). There were also researchers who started to develop new theories which somehow mix the two and create another category or concept (Sundbo, 2002, Gilmore – Pine, 1997). As this topic is argued in the literature one of the most important aims of the research was to investigate if there is a relationship between standardisation and customisation or these two concepts are independent.

Assumption 2 The performance indicators (revenue per available room, occupancy rate, average daily rate, stars, foreign guest percentage, loyal guest percentage, booking evaluations, Tripadvisor evaluations) can be grouped into two factors: operation performance, guest performance.

This assumption is searching for the relationships between the applied performance indicators. The logic suggests that the operational performance indicators belong together and guest performance indicators contain all the data coming from guest satisfaction and the percentage of foreign guests.

Assumption 3 The average value of the performance indicators is higher in case of higher level of standardisation and customisation in Hungarian hotels.

Since hotel general managers had to be convinced that the application of standardisation and customisation at the same time has its significant advantages, the above mentioned assumption has been made. It states that higher performance indicators can be detected in those hotels which have higher standardisation and customisation levels.



Primary Data Collection

The data has been collected via expert interviews and questionnaires completed by hotel general managers.

The topic of standardisation and customisation required to be decided and answered by hotel general managers. The interview was determined to be replied by hotel chain general managers and the questionnaire by hotel general managers. The hotels which were contacted all belong to the Hungarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, which was meant to be a segmentation of hotel according to quality.

The first step was to determine the hotel general managers who could belong to the sample. The aim of the interview was to define the different importance of the standard groups and the weight of oral and written standardisation. Six interviews were carried out with hotel chain general managers and the results were used for identifying the standardisation level of hotels.

The questionnaire which has been made for investigating the topic consists of three parts:

general questions, standardisation questions and customisation questions.

Before starting the actual survey pilot questionnaires was carried out improving the questions and the answer options and make them more understandable for the professionals.

After the pilot tests, the questionnaire was finalised and the actual survey started in June 2013 and closed in November. 20% of the questionnaires were asked personally by the researcher, the rest were sent to the hotel general managers via email. The questionnaire was in an online form but it was attached to the emails as well. The link to the online questionnaire was sent to the email addresses of 366 hotel general managers (though the direct email addresses of every one of the general managers were not available). As the result of the survey 81 questionnaires were filled out and ready to be evaluated.

Testing the assumptions

Before testing the different assumptions the exact level of standardisation and customisation had to be determined. The first step to count them is to define the weight of the standard groups.

For the determination of the standardisation level a collection of standards was used which is found out and applied by one of the biggest international hotel chains – the exact name of the hotel chain cannot be mentioned because of the confidentiality of these documents. The ‘book’ contains all the standards referring to every activity which can happen in PETRA GYURÁCZ-NÉMETH 93


a hotel concentrating on processes in connection with the guests or only affect employees and their contact. Although there are too many standards which number cannot be asked from the participants, so it had to be shortened. The standards are grouped into groups, called standard groups by the researchers. In the questionnaire and the analysis these categories have been used as indicators by which the standardisation level of each hotel could be measured.

As it has been mentioned before the different weights of standard groups had to be determined. The interviewees had to define the importance of standardising the list of processes (standard groups) in Likert scale from 1 to 7. The results of these evaluations can be seen on Figure 3.

In independent and in some chain member hotels there are no written standards and they have some rules (oral standards) to keep. It raised the question to determine if there is a difference between the efficiency of written and oral standards or regulations. The same hotel chain general managers (interviewees) had to evaluate the effect along a 1 to 7 Likert scale as well.

The questionnaire contains a table with the 44 standard groups and the hotel general managers – who fit the sampling criteria and were able to fill out the questionnaire – had to mark if they standardise those processes and if there are oral or written standards considering the processes.

After collecting the results, the analytical method has to be elaborated. For this reason an indicator has been developed. A number has been assigned to the different answer options, so if the hotel does not have a service or process mentioned by the 44 indicators, it got no number. An example for this is the business centre cleanliness, because it is obvious if a hotel does not have any business centre the cleaning process of it is impossible to standardise. If the hotel does have that service but is not standardised any way, it got the 1. If the standard group exists in the hotel and it standardised but not written down only standardised orally, it got the number 2. The highest category was if the process existed in the hotel, so they provided that service and it was regulated and written down so documented, the hotel got a 3 for that standard group.

The numbers then were put into an excel table, where the vertical column contained the name of the standard groups listed below each other. The weights were put next to them to be able to match these two together. The numbers of the hotels were inserted in the horizontal lines so the different evaluations (1, 2 or 3) were listed under them to match the standard groups they belong to. The weights of written and oral standards were put below the large table containing the rest of the data.



–  –  –

Firstly the point given to a standard group by the hotel general managers has been multiplied by the weight determined by the hotel experts in the previous interviews. This method is carried on for every standard group – all the 44 – one by one. Primarily the product was defined by these two indicators. Then the different significance of the form of standards – oral or written – is used as an alteration, the formula is multiplied by the weight determined by the hotel experts for the compliance of the standard by the employees. After calculating every product for every standard group the formula sums up the products. Then the result had to be transformed into a percentage to be able to determine the level of standardisation for each hotel. Firstly the sum was divided by the sum of the weights and then the maximum of the written/oral weights which equals the evaluation matching the written standard. The result became a percentage which is able to describe the level of standardisation in the analysed hotels. This number makes it able to compare the different hotels with each other and allow further calculations. The result at the end can be seen as the percentage the hotel is standardised.

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