The role of hospitality service quality in third places for the elderly: An exploratory study

Ji-Eun Lee, University of Central Florida
Denver Severt, University of Central Florida


This study examines the role of hospitality service quality in a third place for the elderly using a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) setting. The study builds from the relational theory of third places testing the causal relationships among resident needs, place meaning, and loyalty outcomes. The study extends the theory by applying it to the CCRC context through using data that were collected from 157 CCRC residents in the southeastern portion of the United States. The proposed relational third-place model using the construct of place meaning was tested using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM). Results indicated that resident needs (tangibles, instrumental support, and emotional support) positively influenced place meaning, and in turn place meaning positively impacted resident loyalty outcomes. Through the relational theory of third places, the CCRC is a meaningful place to residents, and CCRC residents are loyal to the community. Most importantly, the results of the study identified that service quality strongly impacted place meaning in the CCRC. Theoretically, the study provided valid and reliable support suggesting that the construct of place meaning is applicable to the CCRC setting. Practically, this study provides empirical support for the importance of providing a rich hospitality service culture through strengthening instrumental support, emotional support, and tangibles. In this way, management should establish a culture that is rich in hospitality and service through the enhancement of tangibles, empathetic and interactive staff care. Finally, this rich culture will lead to enhanced place attachment as supported by this exploratory study.