From Customer Satisfaction to Customer Delight: Creating a New Standard of Service for the Hotel Industry

Edwin Torres, University of Central Florida
Sheryl Kline


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a typology of customer delight in the hotel industry. By doing so, it identifies patterns by which hotels delight their guests. The paper explores the Torres and Kline model in light of the data and proposes an addition to the model.

Design/methodology/approach – Content analysis is utilized to analyze letters of customer feedback provided by several hotels. A codebook was created, letters were coded by two raters and inter-rater reliability was calculated.

Findings – The most frequently mentioned codes included: taking care of the guest's needs, exceptional friendliness, professionalism of staff, employees going outside of the call of duty and problem-solving skills. Based on this information the authors propose the following delight types: fulfillment delight, charismatic delight, professional delight, comparative delight, problem resolution delight. It was also found that the culture of an organization has an impact on the type of delight that is most prevalent.

Practical implications – The research conducted helps hotel operators to identify the behaviors and actions that lead their guests to be delighted. By knowing this information, appropriate steps can be taken in the selection and development of staff that will lead towards greater customer engagement.

Originality/value – In the hospitality literature, much information exists on what to do to correct negative service experiences. However, a relatively smaller number of articles highlight how to create great service experiences for the guests. This article provides a theoretically sound and practically useful framework to delight hotel guests in the hotel industry.