Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Miyoung Jeong

Abstract

In the past decade, an increasing discussion has taken place regarding the employment of hotel service robots. One critical issue is the impact service robots exhibit on customer experience. However, most of the existing studies focus on service robots’ technical functions or customer’s adoption behavior instead of customers’ psychological or attitudinal reactions toward the robot. Meanwhile, the emergence of humanoid robots has raised great attention from both researchers and industry practitioners. Humanlike features (e.g. facial expressions, emotions, and motions) inherently affect customer experience in a hotel environment. Nevertheless, limited literature exists in incorporating service robots’ anthropomorphism and service attributes into customer experience and perceived brand equity. Not many studies have included both the service robots’ traits and customers’ personality traits when assessing customer experience. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to explore and understand the impact of service robots’ appearance, service efficiency, and service customization on customer experience interacting with the service robot in the context of a hotel front desk check-in service. Customers’ personality traits such as robot anxiety, technology readiness, and self-image congruity are also taken into consideration. This study also examines the influence of service robots’ appearance and service attributes on hotel customers’ perceptions toward the hotel brand equity.

The current study used experiments and online surveys to test the theoretical model and the perception changes toward the hotel brand equity. Two samples of 220 and 161 hotel customers who have completed the check-in services in person in the past 12 months were recruited for Study 1 and Study 2, respectively. Pilot studies were conducted, and hypothetical scenarios were embedded in the online surveys. The results showed that hotel service robots’ appearance (extremely humanoid vs. humanoid vs. non-humanoid) did not lead to different customers’ experiences interacting with the service robot. Service efficiency was a significant factor while service customization was not in affecting customer experiences. Customers’ levels of technology readiness and self-image congruity exerted significant impacts on customer experiences. Moreover, customers did not show obvious perception changes before and after interacting with the hypothetical service robot. Theoretical and practical contributions were discussed.

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