Assessing the Lounge Guest Experience Potential

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Assessing the Lounge Guest Experience Potential

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In this Article

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Lounges are amongst the first significant experiences guests have of an airline and airport.¹ Therefore, it is important the experience guests receive in a lounge is at World Class standard. A study of lounges globally has shown that over 40% of lounge users are dissatisfied with the standards of airport lounges, and there is a lot of inconsistency in the standards of lounges even under the same brand.²

Data on its own will not improve patient experience, there has to actionable information available and there needs to be a commitment to take action (Ahmed, Burt & Roland, 2014).

In fact, Coulter et al (2014) raised concern that despite the NHS implementing a thorough programme of PX measurement in 2013, there was no system in place to ensure the data improved performance.  This concern was confirmed in a study of all 153 NHS trusts which showed the results of the NHS patient satisfaction studies in various constructs did not lead to improvements in performance (Locock et al, 2020).  Below is the summary of patient experience dimensions included in different studies.  

Dimensions used in PX across studies are presented in the table below:

The standard ‘customer satisfaction (CX)  measurement systems’ in healthcare or to be precise  - ‘patient experience (PX) measurements’ do not provide actionable feedback on what or how things need to be improved, which has been highlighted as most desirable by healthcare facility managers(Barry et al, 2015; Coulter et al 2014). PX measures also do not provide the much-needed ability to benchmark against other health care providers (Barry et al, 2016). Patients are not experts on health care service delivery (Ahmed et al, 2014; Barry et al, 2016), many have different expectations, which biases the results (Ahmet et al 2014)and most will have few comparison points to make a judgement on patient experiences.

Customer Experience (CX)/Patient Experience (PX) measures also assume that measuring customer attitudes of service provision is a valid measure of the service provision on offer(rather than actually measuring the service provision) (Sharp, Page &Dawes, 2000).

Objective measures of service quality by industry professionals are rare in practice, with the exception of mystery shopping, which is considered a marketing research-based variant of participant observation (Sharp, Page & Dawes, 2000). Across industries, mystery shopping has been demonstrated to be reliable and valid as a measure of customer experience(Dawes, Sharp & Adelaide, 2000) and the dimensions that emerge from mystery shopping generally resemble SERVQUAL dimensions. More specifically, simulated patient studies, known as ‘pseudo-patients’ (Lazarus, 2009) have demonstrated robustness over other patient satisfaction measures that include reduced recall bias, social desirability bias and elimination of bias from demographic factors (Campbell et al, 2013; Goodrich & Lazenby, 2022) and should be part of a health facility’s PX improvement programme (Lazarus, 2009).  

Mystery shopping more broadly has been used extensively in health care scenarios (Jacob et al, 2018) and has been demonstrated in one clinical setting to increase net margins by over 14 percent within 18 months of implementation (O’Neill et al, 2012) and in others, it contributed to significant improvements in PX, along with improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement (Garantino et al, 2013; Daouk-Öyry, 2018).

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World Class simply implies that everything that is important to a lounge customer is considered and designed into the lounge experience at a remarkable level.

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But what qualities of an airline or independent lounge are important to guests? The research on important dimensions used in assessing lounge quality across key industry and academic studies are presented in the table below:

Many customer satisfaction (CSAT) or CX measurement systems use the items above to assess guest experience and in addition measure NPS to indicate the potential for future patronage. While these are useful diagnostic tools, they do not provide actionable feedback on what or how things need to be improved, nor do they necessarily provide the much-needed ability to benchmark against other lounge providers, which is a crucial marketing metric.¹⁰ Nor are guests experts on service delivery in lounges, so their impressions may not be reflective of the industry best practice. CSAT and CX measures also assume that measuring customer attitudes of service provision is a valid measure of the service provision on offer (rather than actually measuring service provision).¹¹ Given the validity and reliability of the NPS has been questioned for some time¹² to ensure validity of attitudinal measures, a triangulation approach must be undertaken, where several sources of data are used to inform decision making.

Objective measures of service quality by industry professionals are rare in practice, with the exception of mystery shopping, which is considered a marketing research-based variant of participant observation.¹³ Across industries, mystery shopping has been demonstrated to be reliable and valid as a measure of customer experience¹⁴ and the dimensions that emerge from mystery shopping generally resemble SERVQUAL dimensions.¹⁵

To address these issues, the YATES+ APEX World Class Lounge Award is launched.

This offers a lounge experience auditing system that uses industry experts to rate the key aspects of lounge guest experience, but more importantly provide detailed, actionable qualitative feedback to participating lounge providers. NPS and CSAT scores for the lounge provider will be triangulated with the World Class Lounge audits to provide a more rounded picture of the guest experience.

The Lounge audit by YATES+ assesses everything that matters to today’s lounge guest and provides an experience-based measure of all 20 dimensions detailed in the table above.

The World Class Lounge audits should not be seen as a replacement for CX measures and the NPS. Instead, the World Class Lounge audits provide audits of customer experiences that triangulates these other two measures and in addition provides detailed qualitative feedback to the executive team for future improvements to guest experience.  Measures such as NPS and CSAT are measures of guest perceptions.  While this is useful from understanding how guests perceive an experience with a lounge, guests are not industry experts.  Aside from benchmarking the NPS and CSAT scores to provide a relative comparison of guest experience, the World Class Lounge audits ensure triangulation and extension of these scores with qualitative data that can provide more in-depth, diagnostic and actionable information,¹⁶ allowing the executive team to implement informed changes for future improvements to guest experiences.

To take this further and to learn how the lounge audit is processed.
References:

¹ Cholkongka, N. (2019). Identification of service quality competency framework for the lounge attendants: a case of a privately-owned airline in Thailand. ABAC Journal 39(4) , 123-150.

² Nghiêm-Phú, B. (2017). An analysis of airline/airport lounge service using data gathered from airlinequality.com. Asia Pacfic Journal of Advanced Business and Social Studies, 4(1), 127-134

³ YATES+ have taken the decision to include sustainability and keeping guests safe as these are notable in the strategic plan of many airline, airport and lounge operators and have received a lot of attention in the wider media. A number of studies highlight the importance of cleanliness of lounges and lavatories which is an important part of the perception of “keeping me safe”.  The following studies also support the addition of “sustainability” as important in lounge and airport experiences:
• Abdel-Gayed, A. H., Hassan, T. H., Abdou, A. H., Abdelmoaty, M. A., Saleh, M. I., & Salem, A. E. (2023). Travelers’ Subjective Well-Being as an Environmental Practice: Do Airport Buildings’ Eco-Design, Brand Engagement, and Brand Experience Matter?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(2), 938.
• Han, H., Lho, L. H., & Kim, H. C. (2019). Airport green environment and its influence on visitors’ psychological health and behaviors. Sustainability, 11(24), 7018

⁴ Cholkongka, N. (2019). Identification of service quality competency framework for the lounge attendants: a case of a privately-owned airline in Thailand. ABAC Journal, 39(4), 123-150.

⁵ Chua, B. L., Lee, S., Kim, H. C., & Han, H. (2017). Investigating the key drivers of traveler loyalty in the airport lounge setting. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 22(6), 651-665.

⁶ Curkan, S. C., & Özkan, E. (2021). The effect of airline lounge services on the selection of airline. Journal of multidisciplinary academic tourism, 6(1), 17-26.

⁷ Han, S., Ham, S. S., Yang, I., & Baek, S. (2012). Passengers’ perceptions of airline lounges: Importance of attributes that determine usage and service quality measurement. Tourism Management, 33(5), 1103-1111.

⁸ Aditya Julio, S. E. Proposed service quality improvement using servqual method and importance performance analysis (ipa) of sultan executive lounge in sm badaruddin ii airport. Second International Conference on Theory and Practice (ICTP-2016), 28th and 29th, October, Melbourne, Australia
ISBN: 9780 9943 65613

⁹ Kim, Y. J., Ban, H. J., Kim, D. H., & Kim, H. S. (2020). Understanding customer experience of airline lounge using text mining of online review. Culinary Science & Hospitality Research, 26(2), 36-44.

¹⁰ Farris, P.W., Bendle, N., Pfeifer, P.E. & Reibstein, D.  (2010).  Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance.  Pearson: London

¹¹ Sharp, B., Page, N. and Dawes, J., 2000. A new approach to customer satisfaction, service quality and relationship quality research. Australian & NZ Marketing Academy Conference Proceedings, Griffith University.

¹²  See:
• Fisher, N. I., & Kordupleski, R. E. (2019). Good and bad market research: A critical review of Net Promoter Score. Applied Stochastic Models in Business and Industry, 35(1), 138-151.
• Keiningham, T. L., Cooil, B., Andreassen, T. W., & Aksoy, L. (2007). A longitudinal examination of net promoter and firm revenue growth. Journal of Marketing, 71(3), 39-51.);
• Kristensen, K., & Eskildsen, J. (2014). Is the NPS a trustworthy performance measure?. The TQM Journal, 26(2), 202-214.
• Mecredy, P., Wright, M. J., & Feetham, P. (2018). Are promoters valuable customers? An application of the net promoter scale to predict future customer spend. Australasian Marketing Journal, 26(1), 3-9.
• Romaniuk, J., Nguyen, C., & East, R. (2011). The accuracy of self-reported probabilities of giving recommendations. International Journal of Market Research, 53(4), 507-521.
• Pingitore, G., Morgan, N. A., Rego, L. L., Gigliotti, A., & Meyers, J. (2007). The Single-Question Trap. Marketing Research, 19(2).
• Sharp, B. (2006), “Net promoter score fails the test”, Marketing Research, Vol. 20No. 4, pp. 28-30.
Also see [https://customergauge.com/blog/airline-customer-experience-net-promoter-score] to see that according to this source Airlines such as Aeroflot, United Airlines and Thomas Cook score significantly higher than award winning airlines such as Singapore Airlines. Not surprisingly, this leads to industry experts to questioning the validity of the NPS.

¹³  Sharp, B., Page, N. and Dawes, J., 2000. A new approach to customer satisfaction, service quality and relationship quality research. Australian & NZ Marketing Academy Conference Proceedings, Griffith University.

¹⁴  Dawes, J., Sharp, B., & Adelaide, N. T. (2000). The reliability and validity of objective measures of customer service: Mystery Shopping. Australian Journal of Market Research, 8(1), 29-46.

¹⁵ Lowndes, M., & Dawes, J. (2001). Do distinct SERVQUAL dimensions emerge from mystery shopping data? A test of convergent validity. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 16(2), 41-53.

¹⁶  Halvorsrud, R., Kvale, K., & Følstad, A. (2016). Improving service quality through customer journey analysis. Journal of service theory and practice, 26(6), 840-867.

References:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2023). [available: https://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/helpful-resources/index.html]. Accessed 19th February 2024.

Ahmed, F., Burt, J., & Roland, M. (2014). Measuring patient experience: concepts and methods. The Patient-Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, 7, 235-241.

Barry, H. E., Campbell, J. L., Asprey, A., & Richards, S. H. (2016). The use of patient experience survey data by out-of-hours primary care services: a qualitative interview study. BMJ Quality & Safety, 25(11), 851-859.

Campbell, J. L., Carter, M., Davey, A., Roberts, M. J., Elliott, M. N., & Roland, M. (2013). Accessing primary care: a simulated patient study. British Journal of General Practice, 63(608), e171-e176.

Coulter, A., Fitzpatrick, R., & Cornwell, J. (2009). Measures of patients' experience in hospital: purpose, methods and uses (pp. 7-9). London: King's Fund.

Coulter, A., Locock, L., Ziebland, S., & Calabrese, J. (2014). Collecting data on patient experience is not enough: they must be used to improve care. BMJ, 348.

Dawes, J., Sharp, B., & Adelaide, N. T. (2000). The reliability and validity of objective measures of customer service: Mystery shopping. Australian Journal of Market Research, 8(1), 29-46.

Daouk-Öyry, L., Alameddine, M., Hassan, N., Laham, L. & Soubra, M. (2018). The catalytic role of Mystery Patient tools in shaping patient experience: A method to facilitate value co-creation using action research. PLoS ONE, 13(10): 1-17 e0205262.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205262

Granatino, R., Verkamp, J., & Stephen Parker, R. (2013). The use of secret shopping as a method of increasing engagement in the healthcare industry: A case study. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 6(2), 114-121.

Goodrich, G. W., & Lazenby, J. M. (2023). Elements of patient satisfaction: An integrative review. Nursing Open, 10(3), 1258-1269.

Jacob, S., Schiffino, N., & Biard, B. (2018). The mystery shopper: a tool to measure public service delivery?. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 84(1), 164-184.

Jenkinson, C., Coulter, A., Bruster, S., Richards, N., & Chandola, T. (2002). Patients’ experiences and satisfaction with health care: results of a questionnaire study of specific aspects of care. Quality and safety in health care, 11(4), 335-339.

Johansson, P., Oleni, M., & Fridlund, B. (2002). Patient satisfaction with nursing care in the context of health care: a literature study. Scandinavian journal of caring sciences, 16(4), 337-344.

LaVela, S. L., & Gallan, A. (2014). Evaluation and measurement of patient experience. Patient Experience Journal, 1(1), 28-36.

Lazarus, A. (2009). Improving psychiatric services through mystery shopping. Psychiatric services, 60 7, 972-3 .

Lee, W. I., & Lin, C. H. (2011). Consumer hierarchical value map modeling in the healthcare service industry. African Journal of Business Management, 5(3), 722.

Locock, L., Graham, C., King, J., Parkin, S., Chisholm, A., Montgomery, C., ... & Ziebland, S. (2020). Understanding how front-line staff use patient experience data for service improvement: an exploratory case study evaluation. Health Services and Delivery Research, 8(13).

Lowndes, M., & Dawes, J. (2001). Do distinct SERVQUAL dimensions emerge from mystery shopping data? A test of convergent validity. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 16(2), 41-53.

O'Neill, S., Calderon, S., Casella, J., Wood, E., Carvelli-Sheehan, J., & Zeidel, M. L. (2012). Improving outpatient access and patient experiences in academic ambulatory care. Academic Medicine, 87(2), 194-199.

Sharp, B., Page, N. and Dawes, J., 2000. A new approach to customer satisfaction, service quality and relationship quality research. Australian & NZ Marketing Academy Conference Proceedings, Griffith University.

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Associate Professor Dr. Maxwell Winchester, Keith Yates