RESEARCH ON CRITICAL FACTORS AFFECTING SUCCESS OF THEME HOTEL IN CHINA

Chinese theme hotels are less vibrant and attractive than European and American theme hotels. Chinese hotel industry is established and flourished in traditional hoteling but for last three decades a little effort is evident to capitalise the potential of theme hotels. In this research, issues in Chinese theme hotel industry has been tried to figure out and to evaluate the utilisation of success factors from best practices in these theme hotels. It is found that on the one hand, investors do not prefer China mainland for theme industry and on the other, present day players in the field are not using the available space for business properly. Theme hotels in China, barring a few good brands, are lacking in innovation, branding, fun, and customer satisfaction.

INTRODUCTION PART

1.1       Introduction to the Research Topic:

Today’s day business world had been redefined after the communication revolution and availability of diverse and swift mode of transportations for discovering thematic beauty around the world. The tourism and hospitality industry is also under immense influence of this global change and is offering innovative services to tourists visiting their place to provide them a unique and rich experience of their stay (Buhalis and O'Connor, 2005).

The Theme hotel is a concept or theme-based hospitality provision where all the external and internal appearances, facilities, services and offering are revolving around a particular theme, hence offering a complete sense of homogeneity and absorption of the visitor to that place into the particular theme (Goldman, et.al, 2002). The list of themes is long and varied and it may vary from home appearance to fantasy environment, all natural to science fiction, royal treat to Disney world and so on (Cook, 2009). However, the basic selection of a theme is closely linked to the needs of selected group of customers that is not exclusively available in general hospitality places (Milman, 2010). Around the world this concept has set its place and is considered as Imagineering in the business world to perceive the need of the target population of the business and to imagine an environment closely related to the satisfaction of those needs with the provision of an external to internal environment to live a particular theme (Ren, 2007).

The hotel business around the world is transforming under influence of other businesses and has influenced other businesses too. However, the this influence is differential in different parts of the world, for example from example of Disney World, it is very mature in the USA and similarly in Europe, but in Asian and African countries, theme hotels are available only with limited options (Cook, 2009). There is a gap between the adoption of the idea as well as the resultant success of theme business in Europe and China too. This calls for an investigation into the reasons behind this gap and factors resisting success.

Success is however a varied term that may be defined differently in different settings. In most general term, it is an accomplishment of an aim and purpose (Hill, 2013). For the purpose of this research, success means profitable businesses with the potential to further grow within the theme business. Success is therefore, measureable in terms of average growth rate of the theme sector of hotel economy, annual profits of a theme hotel, average number of visitors per annum / occupancy, probability of opening new themes within that regional area as well as in China etc.

This research; furthermore is conducted in Chinese hotel industry’s settings and therefore will focus on the today’s day business situation, environment and future prospectus of themed hotels in China with prime interest to explore critical factors affecting success.

 

1.2       Background:

The Theme hotel is such a concept that arose half a century ago in Las Vegas, Orlando and soon was adopted by Western society as part of their hospitality ideas, however, this concept was lately adopted in Chinese hotel industry and is in developing phase (Goldman, et.al, 2002). But the use of theme in parks is an old Chinese tradition like the imperial garden of Yuanming Yuan was built in 1774, therefore, the acquaintance of Chinese society with themed areas is not new (Ren, 2007). Presently, in China mainland as well as in Hong Kong, there are a number of theme hotels operating with themes like romance, culture, symbols and royal living, however, as compare to the business opportunity keeping in view the market volume in China, the concept is still in infancy.  Similarly, theme hotels are restricted to a few neighbouring areas, hence showing its geographical closeness and proximity (Wang and Zheng, 2010). There is a need to review the factors that had resulted in such a slow growth of theme parks, and related hospitality industry in China in an era where the Chinese hotel industry is expanding and hence, this research is conceived around.

1.3Aim and Objectives of the Research:

In light of the introduction and the identification of knowledge gap in introductory part, this research is aimed to evaluate critical factors affecting the success of theme hotels in China. In pursuance of this aim, following objectives have been set:

  • To analyse market and operation in Chinese hospitality industry for theme hotel business,
  • To review present day issues in theme hotel in China,
  • To identify the key factors affecting / have the potential to affect success of theme hotels in China, and
  • To recommend future roadmap for theme hotel managements to focus to achieve success in Chinese setting

1.4Research Questions:

In pursuance of above stated aim and objectives, these are the research questions which this dissertation tries to answer:

  • Is there any good scope of theme hotels in China?
  • What are external and internal factors affecting the Chinese hotel industry?
  • Are hotel business managements fully prepared to apply the concept of theme hotels to exploit potential?
  • What are good hotel management practices to support theme hotel industry and vice versa in China?

1.5       Indicative Research Methodology:

In this research, the field research activity is designed. In this regard, a structure questionnaire based survey of residents and managers of different hotels are conducted and the results are complied and analysed using Excel based analysis.

1.6       Scope of the Research:

Chinese market is a vast market both in term of numbers of the target market as well as the geographical stretch, therefore, it will be unfeasible to cover whole of the hotel industry on both time and cost factors. Since major theme hotels and restaurants are limited to mega cities and surrounding sites, therefore, the scope of this research is selected as Shanghais whereas the results will be further extrapolated to rest of the country.

1.7       Structure of Dissertation:

This dissertation is structured around four chapters besides introduction, conclusion and recommendations sections. In introduction part, introductory aspects of this research are covered as discussed above. The first two chapters are dedicated to the literature review of the existing literature on the relevant areas and within the scope to further refine the areas of research. Third chapter provides the framework for the research activity on field and creates linkages between the research objectives and the selected research activity tools. Fourth chapter presents the results of the research activity as generated and fifth chapter discusses these results in light of research objectives. Conclusion part sums up the findings of the research and lastly, the recommendations for future roadmap are presented.

1.8       Summary of Introduction Part:

In the chapter one, major structural aspects have been provided including aim, objectives, research question and research structure. This will help in reading and understanding this dissertation itself. In the first chapter, literature review related to theme and themed business is presented.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE:  THEME, THEMED BUSINESS AND THEME HOTELS

Literature review is an activity where discussion is on the theoretical and research aspects of the research area and to review already done research work from different angles. This exercise is helpful in expanding the knowledge base of the researcher as well as the reader before going to the actual field activity through collection of data and resultant data analysis. This review is very conducive to avoid repetition in research and wastefulness of time and money. In this chapter, a theoretical exploration has been tried to cover with the practical demonstration of theme in hotels in China.

2.1       Disneyisation and McDonaldisation: Origin of Theme Business:

Hotel industry around the world is under transformation and new concepts are being introduced under the influence of overall hospitality industry (Pease, 2007). It is a matter of interest to know that from where this trend of theming is exactly introduced in the hotel industry.

The literature indicates that the influence of theme parks like Disneyisation and restaurants like McDonaldisation is immensely evident on the hotel industry around the globe (Bryman, 2004). Disneyisation is a term used for the theme parks in general which was initially started with the success story of Disneyland where all the characters and environment of Disney cartoon was realised for the visitors. Disneyisation is therefore, adoption of themes in park industry. On the other side, McDonaldisation is an adoption of themes in restaurants especially in fast food chains across the globe (Bryman, 2004). The concept of Disneyisation and McDonaldisation that have provided the present day business the concept of theme industry are very much available in China as there are theme parks on pattern of Disneyland and McDonald theme parks and restaurants and other with same ideology, but themes could not get popularity (Huang and  Wu, 2012).

Themes were not directly introduced in any hotel in the first instance but in the parks and restaurants and thereon were adopted by the hotel industry, both as part of that themed park and as independent themed hotels (Clavé, 2007; Bryman, 2004). It occurred as an assimilation of business culture and trend in the first instance and this assimilation of trends is seen as the direct result of successful adventures of Disney Park and McDonald food culture, if these two concepts have not caused these trends (Clavé, 2007). This successful assimilation has four different trends including theming, differentiation, merchandising and emotional labour (Bryman, 2004).

2.2       What is Theming?

Theming is often referred to the use of an overarching theme to create a holistic and integrated special organisation of a consumer venue (S. A. Lucas, 2007) It is the overall concept in an organisation and indicates towards the purpose of the creation of that organisation or its part thereof and without which, it’s own identity will be under question. On the other hand, on the part of the customer, it is an experience of a themed environment making some event of his life memorable, special or unique, that may be specific or general (Crawford, 2015).

Use of themes in economic activities is on the rise and more and more corporations around the world are aligning their businesses (wholly or in part) around different themes. There are themed parks, restaurants, rides, journeys and hotels based on different themes. These themes could be derived from music, romance, adventure, sports, films, food, horror, history, geography, religion and so on (Paradis, 2004). This list amply shows the width and breadth in theming. None of these themes are left untried by the business community as there are Disney Land, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Song Dynasty, McDonald Parks, HotSpot, Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, Alcatraz E.R. – Medical Prison Restaurant etc. (Milman, 2007) among those some are bizarre. Major attraction in using themes in the hospitality business is to differentiate business activities and identification for the attraction of the targeted population, e.g. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom hotel is a part of themed park designed by PGAV Destinations and was launched in 2014. It is considered as one of the top ten destinations in Asia for theme lover despite its higher cost i.e. 80% over and above the comparative traditional and standard hotel (Silk and Andrews, 2006).

Theming may leads to the dedifferentiation of product and hence branding and brand value in the minds of the consumer that attract her into a particular space as themed. In this case, the consumer assumes the need of many associated products while experiencing a theme without actually realisation of its need and hence the business / event manager at the time of proposing the same is in the position to influence the experience in effective way that is a partial success. Dedifferentiation is displayed in Disneyland by Walt Disney by associating the sales with the themes at different sectors and attaching a psychological association of purchasing at the park with the theme. Therefore, the demand for toys, food, clothing and other articles with themed logo / tags was exponentially high than in the superstores (Clavé, 2007; Bryman, 2004).

The trend to theme business is however, not very unique or recent as in the past, there are some examples as to the theme parks and activities in ancient Chinese history and in case of this part of the world, the tradition is established (Ren, 2007). But at the same time, the modern application of theming starts with the US Disneyland where first known theme part was established presenting cartoon characters in action, felicitating visitors and greeting them. This can be presented as first modern day theme that was later on replicated in other parts and industries (Zhang, 2010).

2.3       Theming: An Escape to Fantasy:

Themes were popularised with the theme parks in the first instance and as the name indicates, these were themed with some concept. In pursuance of theme in such parks were carefully planned and environment was deliberately created through personalised effects, theme introduction by related components, interiors, dress codes, foods, and language used in communication. Such themes gained popularity among the customers as imaginative flight from the normal routine and an escape from reality (Ma et al., 2013). The experience resulted in living a short span of time into a desired world and moments beyond imagination. The fantasy was introduced in comprehensiveness as a visitor’s experience started with the entry into the park wearing costumes, enjoying rides, meeting dream characters and eating themed foods. Their lodging, accommodation, transportation and other allied facilities was planned as part of the whole experience and was part of integrated theme (Dong and Siu, 2013). The success of initial Disney Park resulted in introduction of hundreds of other theme parks in USA and Europe in next one decade (Bryman, 2004).

2.4       Theming Purpose and Delimitations

The purpose of theme in general is to create a unique experience in the mind of the consumer besides to create a niche market for the business (M. Gottdiener, 2001). It may relate to some special events, holidays, general recreation made special, experiencing a specific cultural life, social activity or religious ceremony etc. (Munoz et al., 2006). Its use in the event industry and hotels is gaining popularity at most personal level and small events made beautiful with special treatment like birthdays in themed environment, holiday is Horror Park, an evening in space shuttle (Wood et al., 2007).

In modern business, theming is adopted to improve business environment and to ensure market competitiveness even at higher price value. It serves two basic purposes. One, theming provides coherence to various aspects of a business e.g. in case of restaurants, it provides an ambience that is corroborated with the colour, taste and garnishing of the food served. In Zombie theme, the food is served in red to give rise an appearance of blood and this is often made with the help of red toppings (Lashua, 2015). Similarly, romance theme is loaded with love inducing environment, use of colour scheme in the bed, use of aroma to induce romance, meals as per the taste of the lovers, use of exclusive beaches and swimming pools etc. Sea world theme parks are often under water with luminous sea creature surroundings, sea foods, literature and gifts matching sea theme (de Pâques, 2011). Two, the design of a themed business ensures wholesomeness in the business activity and each activity of the business, evident or potent, present or future must support the theme. This refers to interconnectivity of the theme design. In this regard, example of Disneyland may be relevant where initially rides were not included in the park theme, but on the insistence of youth and popularity of coaster rides, the management introduced these rides while relating the same to different cartoons / episodes like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain etc. (Gindin, 2015).

Businesses are applying theming as new branding techniques and to define their specific niche markets. In this effort, managers are relying on theme and the interested group in that particular theme in that market. The nature of attraction at the end defines the response and hence brand value in the minds of the prospective consumers. The uniqueness of the experience is the defining characteristic for determination of price (Magretta, 202).

However, adoption of theme is not a win-win situation as it poses greater risk than traditional business concept. Delimitations of theme hotels are discussed as under:

  • Theme business / hotels are unitary in nature and do not fall in regional unitary framework. The market segmentation results in customers of its own or no customers, therefore, theme will either be successful or a failure in toto (Clave, 2007).
  • Theme hotels are exclusive and are designed keeping in view the psychological needs of the customers and hence, excludes normal business client. These hotels offers specific activities and services that are otherwise absent in traditional hotels, hence has a defined but sensitive clientele. Theme hotels will be failed if the managements fail to read the customers’ need properly (Clave, 2007).
  • Theme hotels are expansive (Clave, 2007).

2.5       Themed Hotels vs. Traditional Hotels:

Traditional and budget hotels as a part of the hospitality industry are present to provide accommodation, rest and recreation, amusement, food, environment and many aligned facilities to the customers. These are designed purposefully and to accommodate needs of the customer with general sense of satisfaction. These are broader in purpose and success of these hotels is closely related to profitability (Zhang and Liao, 2006).

On the other hand, a theme hotel is defined as one that is associated with a theme park and is an attempt to create a fantasy through creation of a popular character or concept and enabling the visitor to live that atmosphere (Mena, 2014). From the hotel industry’s point of view, there are two broad categories of theme hotels. These may be built around the major theme of a theme park and is located inside the theme park as inner circle hotel. On the other side, these may be located independent either using the concept of any theme park while located in the vicinity or offering an altogether a new theme for their audiences (Mena, 2014). Inner circle theme hotels are however, popular in those regions where theme parks have been developed fully and in itself theme parks are offering a full business environment for theme hotels. It is important to note further that all the themes are not fit for theme parks and hence, certain themes would be adopted in the individual hotels only (Mena, 2014). Success of theme is the success of the hotel.

The concept of theming is important to differentiate from traditional business in broader perspective of hotel business.

  • In the first instance, traditional hotels are considered as the rest and recreational areas during travel and hence are the essential part of travel industry for all practical purposes. However, themed hotels are attractions that create the cause to travel to that particular part of the world (Holjevac, 2003).
  • Traditional hotels are disciplined and managed to provide general facilities to all the customers on the basis of generalised needs of human being in travel and do not relates to some event or activity in special, hence their identity is neither tagged with speciality nor its existence is linked with time and space. On the other hand, themed hotels have their specific existence that is special and its existence is heavily dependent upon the success of the theme in the first place (Holjevac, 2003).
  • Investors invest heavily on the theme in pursuance of profits beyond traditional business and hence, theme businesses are riskier as compare to traditional hotel adventure (Clave, 2007).  
  • Theming is a new form of branding in itself and is taking over the traditional business very rapidly (Zhang, and Liao, 2006).
  • From the pricing point of view, theme hotels are pretty expensive than traditional counterpart hotels. The major reason behind the cost difference is related to bran value or uniqueness of the experience of the customer who belongs to a niche and is ready to pay additional for his experience  (Zhang and Liao, 2006)

These few points clearly distinguish between traditional hotel and a themed hotel and emphasises that both must be treated differently from set up to day to day management.

2.6       Characteristics of Themed Hotels Facilities Review:

Since theme hotels are different from the traditional hotels, therefore, these must provide some different facilities to the customers.  A review of the themed hotel facilities is a made in the proceeding part:

2.6.1    Compatibility with the traditional hotels:

First of all, it is important that a theme hotel must provide all the facilities that a traditional hotel may provide to its customer like comfort at stay, communication and connectivity, living standards, business meeting place, recreational areas, etc. This compatibility ensures that the visitor during her visit is out of sight for a particular time period but is duly connected with the external world and at the time of need, she may recourse to normal life without leaving the place and may resume fun. This shows that a theme hotel is an improvement over traditional one and hence offers an extra piece of cake to the customers with choice environment and fantasy (Milman, 2001)

2.6.2    Room Facility:

Generally, theme hotel’s rooms are spacious and offer more faculties as compare to traditional hotels and are aligned with the theme. The additional requirements are due to the visitors’ needs like while visiting to an amusement park, often family joins hand and they need special accommodation to en joy their collective experiences. They may need kids’ rooms while visiting to Disneyland theme or need mobile accommodations while visiting to a safari park (Stevens, 2000). It was found that the inner-circle hotels in the theme parks have 13% larger rooms hotels situated outside the theme parks. Similarly, themed hotels in general have spacious rooms, kids’ areas and themed areas to ensure full fantasy without distortion. This is indicating a focus on attracting families close to the theme (Mena, 2014).

2.6.3    Food and Beverages:

This is a basic requirement for any hospitality service, but the difference is the attraction though sight. Theme hotels require ‘support dining’ that offers basic food and beverage as required in all the circumstances for human survival including traditional meals, basic food staples and clean water. Additionally these require, ‘experience dining’ based on themed, and covering specialty and concept restaurants. This is the area that creates theme attraction and the enjoyment of theme at a dining place. Eating in lounges with circus atmosphere is theme of new circus hotel in China and similarly, having all Panda related stuff with green food (as Panda’s basic food) is theme of Panda hotels. But, for this facility, theme hotels charge a premium for the added value. The other one is ‘Recreational dining’ that includes outlets. These must be there to add value for leisure and to create incentive for a longer stay like pool bar, roof-top bar, buffet restaurant, etc. (Pikkemaat and Schuckert, 2007)

2.6.4    Meeting places:

Theme places are getting popularity in business circles too; especially those are related to innovation and soft businesses. Theme hotels are increasingly offering themed environment to business activities to create an atmosphere that is conducive for creativity and innovation (Pikkemaat and Schuckert, 2007). Researchers showed that in future, theme hotels will snatch a considerable part of business activities and meeting halls from traditional hotels (Mena, 2014)

2.7       Themed Hotels in China: Opportunities, Issues and Present Situation:

Hotel industry in China is somewhat culturally themed. The use of Chinese culture at the hotels and to serve the customers in Chinese way is traditional in many forms, but from the other perspective, it is traditional in the Chinese setting (Chu et al., 2016). However, from the business point of view, absence of unique and versatility in themes somewhat restricts the success of themes and this is the case of China. In China, currently, most of the existing themed hotels are restricted to themes like ecology, history, husbandry and film fare. There are only a few unique themes.  Themes other than culture are mostly absent and hence are indicating vacuum to be filled (Chu et al., 2016). Business operations in Chinese hotel industry are traditional and often lack innovation. Themes are limited and absence of great themes restricts the choice of the customer (Dong and Li, 2006). Regulatory policies are vague as to the safety measures and regulatory regimes that has abstained international investor to come to China mainland with theme industry as compare to Hong Kong that has attracted good theme industry in the recent years. This is despite the fact that market is full of opportunities in terms of both affordability as well as the market space available (Dong and Siu, 2013). There is a general lack of interest from the local investors in theme industry since traditional hotels are themed in cultural perspective, but this has created a monotony that in the long run might cause fall in revenues of these hotels (Chu et al., 2016).

In recent past, new attempts have been made to exploit the potential of themes in hotel industry as Ocean theme was adopted in Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Romantic hotels; Lux Luxury, Double Happiness and Inside China’s Cartoon are explored. Among these Lux Luxury Hotel and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom Hotels have gained a good momentum as Lux Luxury Hotel was the best theme hotel in 2015 and the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is considered as 10th best theme place to visit in Asia (Chu et al., 2016). Inside China’s Cartoon is influenced with the Disneyland theme park (Chu et al., 2016).

In light of this discussion, it is apparent that despite immense improvement in theme parks and hotels, Chinese progress in adoption of this concept is rather slow, though not absent. This give rise to two different opinions; either Chinese hotel industry is overpowered with the cultural themes or it is different from rest of the world.

2.8       Summary of Chapter One:

As the part of literature review, in this chapter, a review of the basic concept of theme and its application on hotel industry and Chinese hotels have been reviewed. It has been found that this concept is closely associated with the theme parks and Disney Park and later on themes were adopted by other businesses, including hotels. In current business practices, it is replacing brands and emerging as new form of branding. In case of China, themed hotels and parks are limited and hence showed a potential to apply themes in all businesses including hotels. In next chapter, literature related to business management theories and success factors has been reviewed.  

 

 

CHAPTER TWO: SUCCESS FACTORS: A PERSPECTIVE FOR THEME HOTELS

In the previous chapter, literature related to theme and theming was explored in hotel industry. In this chapter, the success factors for theme hotels as discussed in different literature and research work are presented. This review has helped in identification of differences from traditional hotel success and has highlighted the unique aspects of hotel management in this case.

3.1       Success and Success Factors in Theme Hotels:

In the introduction part, the term success had been discussed. It was found that in general, it relates to accomplishment of aim and purpose of the organisation and there are different factors to gauge the success of that organisation like popularity, profitability, potential to grow and the future perspectives etc. In this part of the literature review, the focus is however, on the factors that lead towards success of a business organisation with special emphasis on the success of theme hotels.

3.2       Branding:

Branding is a factor that helps the customer to identify a business entity or product in the market and influence the decision to buy a product / service or otherwise. This directly impacts upon the sales, profitability and future sustainability of the business (Ries and Ries, 2009). The branding on the part of the organisation is essentially, an attempt to create customer’s perception of about a business, organisation, its products and services through multiple efforts. For a customer it is a general perception about the product or service he has used based on the experience, feelings and expectations over the period of time. It creates mental real estate for the customer and influences his buying behaviour during the decision making moment. Branding is a common management strategy and organisations are creating brands to ensure the success of its own name, products and services (Ellwood, 2002).

Branding for theme hotels creates good image of the hotel, sells the theme to the target population, offers increased security, infuses trust and promote recognition of the hotel more quickly (Penz & Rösch, 2004). Statistics shows that successful theme hotels are strongly branded. 17% are internationally branded with the mega chains of hotels and 41% are branded with the theme park corporations where these are situated. As a recent trend, theme hotels, especially those are situated within theme parks or are sharing the theme with theme parks; prefer co-branding with the park corporations. In this way, a hotel becomes the centre of attraction on both the accounts, i.e. the repute of the hotel brand and the idea supported by the theme organisers (Mena, 2014)

3.3       Uniqueness:

Uniqueness is the factor that helps in identification of a product or service where the offered product and set of experiences and attractions at the site, in case of theme hotels, should be clearly defined to keep uniqueness against competitors and focus on selected segments of customers (Prideaux, 2002). For a theme hotel, the uniqueness is the prime requisite as theme in itself is unique. Unlike traditional hotels offering a diverse range of service under the same roof, theme hotel presents is self defined identity associated with the theme it follows. However, as Prideaux, (2002) indicated, it is the hotel management that must work with dedication to ensure its uniqueness over the longer period of time and play ahead of competitors in offering new attractions revolving around the theme. It may be seen that in case of Disneyland, introduction of rides was a later innovation and was pressed with the customers’ need, but Walt Disney did not adopted that idea until it was mixed with the theme of Disney and infused in the park’s theme well (Swarbrooke, 1995).

Studies have identified that theme hotels and parks attract more customers than the traditional hotels, due to their uniqueness, despite niche marketing. This conclusion is supported by the occupancy figures in comparison with traditional hotels of the same region. It was noted that theme hotels’ occupancy is 2-10% over and above the traditional hotels of the same areas (Mena, 2014). It was further identified that theme hotels with strong identity and situated in closely knitted theme location like island resorts, beech hotels attracts even high occupancy due to uniqueness (Swarbrooke, 1995).

3.3       Innovation, Design and Weather Independence:

The whole idea of theme parks and hotels is based in innovation and designing the theme in the most presentable and attractive way. The most attractive themes are without any success if these are not presented in the attractive way and the designs for these themes are presented poorly. A beach hotel is most suited in the hot areas and if the same idea is required to sell in cold weather, it must be designed with hot springs, warm pools and warm currents of water internally. (Prideaux, 2002). Similarly, the isolation is the base of romance and romantic themes within the mega cities will be counterproductive for the business. Isolation must be innovated if this theme is tried within or near cities. Therefore, it is a continuing process of innovation and redesign till the arrival of perfect match for a specific period of time.

Another aspect is the independence from the weather influences and maintenance of a steady and predictable weather environment in the theme area. Selection of a weather dependant area for a theme hotel or discontinuation of business in changing weather conditions will restrain business throughout the years and reduce the status of the hotel to a seasonal accommodation. For a reputed business this statement is killer (Hudson, 2006 and Reiter, 2004) Therefore, this continuity is essential keeping in view the changing external environments and market conditions and competition too and will help in hedging success against changing patterns of customer behaviour and fading customer loyalty (Milman, 2001). Statistics showed that romantic themes are more popular on islands, hill tops, resorts and isolated areas (Mena, 2014)

3.4       Continuity of Theme:

Researchers have identified the continuity as one of the success factors behind theme business. It is well noted that selling of a theme is bit different from the traditional marketing and hence needs a bit of more efforts than the traditional counterpart businesses (Goronzy, 2004). It is well noted that the time to bring breakeven in the theme hotels is 10-20% more than traditional hotels but at the end, the success of the theme eventually results in 30-40% more profits, 10-25% more occupancy rates and higher degree of loyalty among the customers (Mena, 2014) Themes are associated with different groups of people and hence the association is personal that takes time to believe in the theme but once, it is here, it stays. Therefore, in order to keep the interest of the customers intact in a successful business, the theme continuation is a must. However, it does not mean that no innovation may be made as Goronzy, (2004) has ably identified the need of continuity is closely coupled with the innovation.

3.5       Capacity and Managerial Smartness:

For any business, success goes with the capacity to rein the opportunity. A strong and capable management that has a comprehensive approach towards the theme (rather who lives the theme) is required to run the show successfully. It is pointed out that unlike traditional hotels, the management in theme hotels is dedicated, inclined towards the theme, dressed as theme, and trained to serve the purpose of theme. In a zombie environment, traditionally dressed waiter can be viewed as victim and not the part of theme, therefore, all the management in such a hotel must be in zombie mode (Goulding, 2003). Similarly, the management must be aware of the literature behind the theme and latest trends, choices the niche customers have and the changing requirements. This requires continuous improvement in internal and external environment of the hotels as well as the capacity of the management. Therefore, a smart, adoptive and innovative management is one crucial success factor in theme hotels (Goulding, 2003).

3.6       Escape / Fantasy and Imagination:

The major difference between traditional and theme hotels are the fantasy and escapism offered to visitor of a theme place. The target market of themed businesses is fun loving / escapist or is in the search of fantasy associated with different characters, concepts and activities. Generalised themes and lower fantasies however, will align theme hotel with traditional hotels following innovations. It has been observed that most popular themes around the world are based on cartoons (leading to imaginative life), scientific themes like space, time travel, etc.; nature likes aqua and wild life and romance (Goronzy, 2004).

For a theme hotel, therefore, the provision of this fantasy and / or escapism from the hard realities of life is a must. In case of space theme o aqua hotels, the visitors are looking for fun and amusement but when the theme is Disneyland, the visitor needs a break from the routine. Similarly, hotels and restaurants with theme of romance, weird cultures, and themes are mix of all. In order to ensure success of the theme hotels, in the first instance, the theme must offer its customers to either or all of these elements as it will create an attraction for consideration and alignment of needs of the customers with that theme (Opaschowski, 2000).

3.7       Safety and Security:

Unlike traditional hotels that are often located in the mainstream regions, cities and populated areas, theme hotels are often flourished on isolated areas, especially if these are situated outside a theme park. Even in case of theme parks, there is a bit more security threat due to presence of artificiality in the environment and controlled internal and external conditions. Therefore, for a theme business, it is essential to ensure an extra caution in security and safety provision of the visitors (Mena, 2014; Bieger, Dreier & Frey, 2002). In a survey, it was noted that customers visiting different theme lands were concerned about the safety of the rides and installations in the park. Similarly, there are little chances of rescue facilities for hotels in isolated places and islands from the public functionaries and therefore, it is the responsibility of the hotel management to ensure the same. In the report, it has been clearly mentioned that the parks which had met causalities in the recent times, have shown drop in visitors and occupancy rate. (Mena, 2014)  On the same time, the occupancy is found maximum in Adhari Theme Park in UAE where safety protocols are best as compare to others in the same region (Mena, 2014).

3.8       Summary of the Chapter:

In this chapter, a review of the success factors with focus on theme hotels has been made and it is found that a theme hotel is an innovation and addition over and above the traditional concept. This will help in identification of position of Chinese theme hotel industry and probability of its future success. In the next chapter, a discussion on the adopted research methodology has been made to proceed with field activity.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Literature review in the previous chapters has set a stage to look back at the research aim and objectives and the need to redefine in light of literature reviewed. This review of the aim and objectives provides the foundation to select research methodology and tools to carry on data collection activity as field work and its analysis in the later stages. Therefore, in this chapter, on the basis of structure redefinition, discussion is made on research methodology adopted in this research and its rationale.

4.1       Redefinition of Aim and Objectives of the Research:

In the first instance, literature review has provided a foundation and indicated critical factors of success in theme hotels, therefore, the aim i.e. to evaluate critical factors affecting the success of theme hotels in China can be achieved through an empirical data collection and its analysis and needs no redefinition. Similarly, objectives are fit and hence no change is found necessary before discussion on research methodology. Therefore, the proceeding parts are discussed focusing on aim and objectives set in introduction part, already.

4.2       The Research Onion:

For the researches for business students, Saunders et al., (2009) had provided a theoretical framework in form of research onion that discusses different layers of research process as given below. In this chapter, this logical patter is followed, modified as per need of this research.

 

The Research Onion

Source: Saunders et al., 2009, p.108

4.3       Positivistism, Interpretivism and Realism:

Saunders et al., (2012) has defined the research methodology divided between positivism and interpretivism at the top. These two schools bifurcates the whole research world into two defined parts and each has its own domain and it covers all types of researches being within the scope of natural sciences and social sciences including business behaviour.

Positivism is the research philosophy dealing with the natural world around and covers all those researchers which are aimed to uncover phenomena behind different happenings. Therefore, any research to describe the making of clouds in the sky or the rain formation is part of positivism. These explanations are universal and hence are defined irrespective of time and space e.g. the rain is a phenomenon that occurs in all parts of the world since its inception and has only one process behind its formation i.e. the evaporation of water from the surface of the earth and cloud formation. This truth is not going to change irrespective of the place and time (Creswell, 2013). The positivism has authenticity of results in form of its repetitive success and every time an experiment / observation are repeated, the results will remain the same under a defined set of variables (Saunders et al., 2012).

On the other hand, social realities are subject to change and cannot be confined in water tight compartments (laws) like natural science does. Social realities are subject to change with time and space as it is dependent upon human behaviour. These can neither be explained with precision and no social law evolved over the period of time is static, rather still in the process of evolution. Therefore, such researches are covered under an alternate school of thought that is called interpretivism (Creswell, 2013).   In this school, the facts gathered as the result of a research are presented to the audience with little or no explanation and the audience is free to define the impacts as the possibilities are many in either case. For example, there could be a number of explanations behind a successful mass movement in a particular time and at that time all may be valid but in present, the same can neither be replicated nor its results and interpretation of each fate can be offered in terms of time and space. This is evident in development of languages that vary from place to place and hence the dress taste. The rituals and religions cannot be confined and have their own interpretation from time to time due to change in human behaviour over the period of time (Saunders et al., 2011). In all researches that are based on human behaviour, the only way is to interpret that behaviour on the basis of background knowledge and not to define the same on the basis of some universal natural law. Human behaviour and resultant organisational behaviour is subject to influence of both psychological elements as well social factors happening around and falls under the umbrella of interpretivism (Wilson, 2010).

Realism implies that there is a reality independent of human thoughts and beliefs. It has commonality with positivism as both are scientific but realism often plays in social domain (Saunders et al., 2009).

The selection of either school during a research activity, is however, not a choice but it is dictated by virtue of its aim and objectives that define the precise nature of the research and its suiting philosophy (Creswell, 2013). In this research, success factors for a theme hotel in China have been put to review. Chinese hotel industry has its own strengths and weaknesses and therefore must interpret success factors and their application from their own perspective. Therefore, need exploration of facts and its interpretation since there is no hard and fast rule is available to apply. This leads to adoption of interpretive school.

4.4       Research Approach:

According to Saunders et al. (2009) there are two main research approaches, i.e. deduction and induction whereas the third one abduction has combined characteristics of both (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 1994).

Deductive approach indicates development of hypothesis on the basis of available information and later on its testing through defined research and data collection. It has five stages (Saunders et al., 2009):

  • Hypothesis formation from existing theory
  • Determination of variable and its measurement criteria
  • Testing of hypothesis against data collection
  • Examination of outcome and
  • Modification of theory if so required.

On the other hand, inductive approach is reverse and it starts with the collection of data and its analysis that moves to theory formation. Unlike deductive approach, inductive approach is flexible and allows during the research adjustments (Gratton & Jones, 2004).

In this research activity, the success factors are known for the rest of the world and hence a theory is available that has to be extended and explored in Chinese environment. This calls for deductive approach to reach a formidable conclusion.

4.5       Research Method:

There are two research methods as provided in different research literature. These are qualitative and quantitative research methods (Flick, 2011). The nature of these research methods is closely related to the nature of data to be collected. In case the data is statistical and its interpretation is more or less mathematical, an appropriate research method is quantitative. The analysed data can be presented in form of self explanatory graphs, charts, future trends, figures and frequencies etc. This does not require any personal interpretation or expert opinion of the researcher (Saunders et al., 2011). This research method is applicable to identify trends in market on the base of market surveys, scientific studies like to draw future trend of precipitation in a region on the basis of historical data etc. hence is equally valid in positivistic and interpretive researches. This research has certain advantages like it is cheaper and time saving but its results may require repetitive researchers to rule out presence of errors and omissions. Once results are defined and verified, quantitative researchers are more reliable (Denzin, 2009).

Qualitative research method is one where data applied is in form of statements and opinions, hence in qualitative form. Such data upon analysis does not gives a clear picture for the reader, rather needs an interpretation of researcher and experts to provide a clear conclusion. The data in qualitative research is either verbal, opinion based or descriptive. It may be written and recorded material, observations, discussions and available research material on the research topic (Saunders et al., 2011). The results in qualitative researchers are often social, non-scientific and behaviour based, therefore are most applied in social, behavioural and management sciences (Groves et al., 2014). From advantages and disadvantage point of view, it is well suited to researches involving human behaviour and hence may prolong to decades to produce results, hence time consuming and costly (Malhotra Naresh, & Birks, 2003).

In this research, the objectives are closely linked to management and exploration of ground situation in Chinese theme hotel industry and therefore, it requires an investigation into the matter from the management point of view. The data in this situation will be based on the opinion of the management as well as customers of theme hotels on the given situation. The best way to achieve this opinion is through structured questionnaire based survey of management and customers and the analysis of the data in form of frequencies. This makes the data quantitative and the selected research method is quantitative.

4.6       Research Design:

Next in the line is the research design. A research design is a set of governing rules applicable on the research and covers all activities starting from the data collection to its analysis and conclusion. It sets the environment of the research and the researcher sets it keeping in view the nature of the research and the objectives to achieve at the end (Saunders et al., 2011). There are scientific researchers where the environment may be controlled and the results will be authentic only after exclusion of all external and internal distortions. This requires a fixed research design (Flick, 2011). Examples of fixed research design are Descriptive, Experimental, Semi Experimental, Review, Correlation and Meta-Analytical. (Bernard and Bernard, 2013) On the other hand, where the environment is not controllable, there are possibility of discovery of additional data and factors influencing the environment, requiring changes in governing design even in the last moments. In all such cases, the researcher needs a flexible regime to avoid wastage of his work (Robson, 2002).

Mixed research design is a mix of both the fixed and flexible research designs. It combines the qualities of both as fixed design is applied at principle while the researcher has flexibility to change tools and analytical mode as required at the later stages (Creswell, 2013).

Selection of an appropriate research design is important as in the social and business researches, there could be a number of factors unknown at the time of initiation of research project and the later discovery of those factors may require adjustment. Therefore, in most of the social and business researches the desired research design is either flexible or mixed. Keeping in view the nature of the research in this research too, mixed research design is preferred.

4.7       Development of Research Instrument:

Research instruments is a generic term used for measurement devices for a researcher, tools applied to collect and analyses data and act as fact finding strategies (Creswell, 2013).  Research literature identifies a number of research instruments that can be applied in all types of researches and these includes experiments, interviews, surveys, observational methods and case studies. (Saunders et al., 2011) Selection of a valid research instrument for the research is closely linked with the research questions and their nature. Selection of correct strategy again ensures collection of best data and relevant conclusion (Robson, 2002).

This research is mainly about the success factors of theme hotels in China that involves both opinions of managements in these theme hotels as well as of the visitors of theme hotels, therefore, there is a need of selection of a research strategy either serving the purpose to collect these  both opinions or may opt two different strategies. In this research, however keeping in view the limitation of time and money, survey is selected as the tool to collect data whereas two sets of structured questionnaires are designed to collect data by approaching different managers in theme hotels and visitors of these hotels.  

  1. Survey:

Survey is a data collection strategy that is applied when the total population of the research is too big to cover either due to number or due to regional non-proximity. In such a case, a strategy that can provide representative results will be better suited and survey offers representation of responses. In order to collect data, a survey strategy applies questionnaire tool (Flick, 2011).

  • Questionnaires:

It is data collection instrument that offers a systematic collection of data. It is a set of questions or statements that are designed to achieve responses on the aspects / variables/ relationships under research. These statements / questions poses a situation before the respondent of the survey and he o she has to respond as deem fit. The collective results / responses in the end help the researcher to form final opinion (Creswell, 2013).

Questionnaire may however, be of three different types. It may be structured in which all the statements are fixed and respondent is required to select one of the options provided to respond. There is no option to deviate or add opinion. Questionnaire may be semi-structured if offers a little bit explanation as to why one of the given option is preferred. Third type id of unstructured questionnaire where all the questions are open and respondent is free to express his or her opinion in qualitative form that will be analysed by the researcher using analytical tools like thematic analysis (Creswell, 2013). However, this third questionnaire is most fit for qualitative researches. This research is quantitative and in order to be precise, a structured questionnaire survey is selected as tool for data collection.

There are two sets of questionnaires placed at Annexure A and B for customers and management of theme hotels respectively.

4.8       Data Types:

A research may be classified on the basis of nature of data collected in that research. Data may be primary or secondary depending upon the source (Bryman and Bell, 2011).

Primary data is collected in all those researches where the objectives are novel or needs a reassessment of the situation based on new facts and hence fresh data is essentially required. In case of primary data, it is collected as per the needs of the research and its existence is created by the research through data collection process. In this process, field activity is carried out in form of observations, survey, interviews, consultative group discussion, or any other like instrument. Primary data has no existence in past and is directly analysed in order to search for answers of research questions. The selection of primary data in a research has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is costly and time consuming but the data collected in this way is most relevant to the research purposes. Primary data researchers are able to be repeated and results are verifiable (Silverman, 2010).

Secondary data has its own independent existence. It is the data that was initially collected for some other purpose, but due to likeness of the data, it can be used as base data to achieve the purpose of a research where objectives support the use. It may be noted that it is not collected keeping in view the objectives of the research where it is applied. The sources of this secondary data might be previous researches, encyclopaedia, reports, public surveys, and other authentic sources. However, the application of secondary data may require certain adoptions before application in the desired results (Silverman, 2013). Like primary data, secondary data has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is considered as cheaper and time saving but the reliance level is lower than the primary data researches (Bryman and Bell, 2011).  

In the previous sections, it has been discussed that survey is the research strategy and the resultant data in this research, therefore will be primary.

4.9       Sampling:

Population in this research is not great in number but it is disperse in whole of China that makes the reach impossible in a research of this scale. In order to obtain a representative response to all the objectives, sampling is required. The basis of the sampling is convenience random sampling. A convenience random sampling is one where initial stratification is made on the basis of convenience of approach and then random in the sense that participants are selected at selected site without any preference or defined criteria (Wilson, 2010). These are random in sense that any person out of population can be a respondent. In this research, the convenience is used in selection of region and theme hotels in Beijing and its surroundings are selected. Total 150 respondents are selected for survey of the customers and 30 respondents are from the management of different theme hotels from different managerial scales. This survey was conducted while physical visits to different theme hotels were conducted with due permission of the managements.

4.10     Data Analysis:

There could be a number of analysis techniques but the best selection is in light of the nature of the research. In this research the data is statistical and quantitative and the results are presented in form of statistical representation using frequencies and graphs. For analysis, SPSS, analytical software is used.

4.11     Data Validity and Reliability:

This research is based on primary data collected personally by the researchers using structured questionnaire based survey. In order to ensure the data validity, the whole exercise of data collection is recorded and responses are filed as backup record. Biases are controlled by using structured questionnaires.

4.12     Ethical Issues:

There is no ethical breach done during the course of research, furthermore, in order to ensure ethical discipline, following steps are ensured:

  • Data security and privacy of personal data of respondents
  • Proper references and credits to all sources
  • Use of structured questionnaire and independent analytical software.

4.13     Summary of the Chapter Three:

This chapter was dedicated to discussion on the research methodology and as the result of this discussion, it has been decided that this research belongs to interpretive school of thought and follows deductive method of research. This research is quantitative using survey as the research design and structured questionnaires as the tool to collect data. At the end, for analysis, SPSS software is selected as analytical tool.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR:   DATA PRESENTATION

This research has adopted primary data collection in order to achieve the aim and objectives. In this chapter, the data collected as the result of field activity has been presented after its analysis in form of frequencies and has been discussed.

5.1       Data Presentation of Annexure-A (Customer Survey):

First survey was pertaining to the opinion of guests staying in different theme hotels on the structured questionnaire placed at Annexure A. This questionnaire was containing two parts. In first part, some personal information including names of the participants were included and it was assured that the data of this part will not be shared with anyone and will not be used for any other purpose than this analysis, in terms of ethical guidelines in research activities.

Question wise data presentation of optional part is as under:

5.1.1Ages of the participants:

After indicating name, the participants were requested to indicate their age groups as per the given brackets. 39.6% of the participants are under the age of 20 years and 42% are falling in the range of 21-35 years. 15% are within the bracket of 36-50 years. Majority is falling under 35 years of age. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Age

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

under 20 years

59

39.3

39.3

39.3

21-35

63

42.0

42.0

81.3

36-50

23

15.3

15.3

96.7

over 50

5

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.1

 

Chart 4.1

5.1.2Gender:

The other information was about the gender. Participants were given option to not reply if they feel so. The data indicates that among the guests in theme hotels, there were 43.3 male and 53.3% female whereas 3.4% opted to not reply. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Gender

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Male

65

43.3

43.3

43.3

Female

80

53.3

53.3

96.7

not replied

5

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.2

 

Chart 4.2

5.1.3Statement No. 1: You enjoyed your stay in theme hotel:

This question is the start of the second part of the questionnaire wherein functional statements were posed for a suitable reply. Five options were available against each statement and the respondents were required to select one, including no reply.

When asked about the enjoyment while stay in theme hotels, guests responded as 76.6 % in agreement with the statement and 22.% in disagreement of the statement. 1.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

 You enjoyed in theme hotel stay.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

29

19.3

19.3

19.3

Agree

86

57.3

57.3

76.7

No Reply

2

1.3

1.3

78.0

Disagree

31

20.7

20.7

98.7

Strongly disagree

2

1.3

1.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.3

 

Chart 4.3

5.1.4Statement 2: You think that unique concept / theme create funs and attract customers

About fun in unique concept / theme, guests responded as 71.3% in agreement with the statement and 18.7% in disagreement of the statement. 10% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You think that unique concept / theme create funs and attract customers.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

40

26.7

26.7

26.7

Agree

67

44.7

44.7

71.3

No Reply

15

10.0

10.0

81.3

Disagree

17

11.3

11.3

92.7

Strongly disagree

11

7.3

7.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.4

 

Chart 4.4

5.1.5Statement 3: Theme hotels are not attractive for all hotel visitors / guests

In response to attractiveness of theme hotels for all types of visitors, results are 61.3 % in agreement with the statement and 33.4% in disagreement of the statement. 5.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Theme hotels are not attractive for all hotel visitors / guests.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

14

9.3

9.3

9.3

agree

78

52.0

52.0

61.3

No Reply

8

5.3

5.3

66.7

Disagree

40

26.7

26.7

93.3

Strongly disagree

10

6.7

6.7

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.5

 

Chart 4.5

5.1.6Statement 4: You have chosen this theme hotel because it has provided you escape from routine life:

Respondents were asked if they have chosen this theme hotel because it has provided them escape from routine life. 64.7% responded in agreement with the statement and 16% in disagreement of the statement. 19.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You have chosen this theme hotel because it has provided you escape from routine life.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

24

16.0

16.0

16.0

agree

73

48.7

48.7

64.7

No Reply

29

19.3

19.3

84.0

Disagree

19

12.7

12.7

96.7

Strongly disagree

5

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.6

 

Chart 4.6

5.1.7Statement 5: You were able to find theme hotel of your choice with ease in China:

On the level of ease to find a theme hotel in China, guests responded with 42.7% in agreement with the statement and 40% in disagreement of the statement. 17.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You were able to find theme hotel of your choice with ease in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

23

15.3

15.3

15.3

agree

41

27.3

27.3

42.7

No Reply

26

17.3

17.3

60.0

Disagree

49

32.7

32.7

92.7

Strongly disagree

11

7.3

7.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.7

 

Chart 4.7

5.1.8Statement 6: Theme hotels are attractive because it provides you a unique experience:

In response to attractiveness of theme hotels due to uniqueness, results are 74 % in agreement with the statement and 19.3% in disagreement of the statement. 6.7% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Theme hotels are attractive because it provides you a unique experience.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

29

19.3

19.3

19.3

agree

82

54.7

54.7

74.0

No Reply

10

6.7

6.7

80.7

Disagree

27

18.0

18.0

98.7

Strongly disagree

2

1.3

1.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.8

 

Chart 4.8

 

5.1.9Statement 7: There are only a few theme hotels in China:

Opinion of the respondent upon limited number of theme hotels is 71% in agreement and 24.6% in disagreement. 4% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

There are only a few theme hotels in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

44

29.3

29.3

29.3

Agree

63

42.0

42.0

71.3

No Reply

6

4.0

4.0

75.3

Disagree

35

23.3

23.3

98.7

Strongly disagree

2

1.3

1.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.9

 

 

Chart 4.9

5.1.10Statement 8: Chinese theme hotels are too expensive:

On the cost / expenses while stay in them hotels, response was 69 % in agreement with the statement and 21% in disagreement of the statement. 10% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese theme hotels are too expensive.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

37

24.7

24.7

24.7

agree

66

44.0

44.0

68.7

No Reply

15

10.0

10.0

78.7

Disagree

18

12.0

12.0

90.7

Strongly disagree

14

9.3

9.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.10

 

Chart 4.10

5.1.11Statement 9: Chinese theme hotels are replicating international themes:

If Chinese holes are replicating international themes, guests are 25% in agreement with the statement and 72% in disagreement of the statement. 2.7% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

 

Chinese theme hotels are replicating international themes.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

22

14.7

14.7

14.7

agree

16

10.7

10.7

25.3

No Reply

4

2.7

2.7

28.0

Disagree

73

48.7

48.7

76.7

Strongly disagree

35

23.3

23.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

 

Table 4.11

 

Chart 4.11

5.1.12Statement 10: Chinese culture is the major theme in Chinese theme hotels:

If the Chinese culture is the major theme in Chinese theme hotels, the guests are 72.7% in agreement with the statement and 12% in disagreement of the statement. 15.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese culture is the major theme in Chinese theme hotels.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

20

13.3

13.3

13.3

agree

89

59.3

59.3

72.7

No Reply

23

15.3

15.3

88.0

Disagree

16

10.7

10.7

98.7

Strongly disagree

2

1.3

1.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.12

 

Chart 4.12

5.1.13Statement 11: Theme hotels have no independent identity but are associated with the theme parks:

Upon identify of theme hotels in association with theme parks, respondents are 44% in agreement with the statement and 44.7% in disagreement of the statement. 11.3% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Theme hotels have no independent identity but are associated with the theme parks.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

18

12.0

12.0

12.0

agree

48

32.0

32.0

44.0

No Reply

17

11.3

11.3

55.3

Disagree

51

34.0

34.0

89.3

Strongly disagree

16

10.7

10.7

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.13

 

 

Chart 4.13

5.1.14Statement 12: You felt comfortable while stay at theme hotel:

On the level of comfort in theme hotels, guests are 61.3% in agreement and 31.3% in disagreement of the statement. 7.3 % guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You felt comfortable while stay at theme hotel.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

23

15.3

15.3

15.3

agree

69

46.0

46.0

61.3

No Reply

11

7.3

7.3

68.7

Disagree

38

25.3

25.3

94.0

Strongly disagree

9

6.0

6.0

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.14

 

Chart 4.14

5.1.15Statement 13: Services of theme hotel are better than traditional hotels in China:

Whether services of theme hotel are better than traditional hotels in China, responses are 25.3 % in agreement with the statement and 72% in disagreement of the statement. 2.7% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

 

Chinese theme hotels are replicating international themes.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

22

14.7

14.7

14.7

agree

16

10.7

10.7

25.3

No Reply

4

2.7

2.7

28.0

Disagree

73

48.7

48.7

76.7

Strongly disagree

35

23.3

23.3

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.15

 

Chart 4.15

5.1.16Statement 14: There is a need to focus on better management to attract guests at theme hotels:

In statement that there is a need to focus on better management to attract guests at theme hotels, guests responded as 72.7% in agreement with the statement and 18% in disagreement of the statement. 14% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You think that there is a need to focus on better management to attract guests at theme hotels

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

44

29.3

29.3

29.3

agree

65

43.3

43.3

72.7

No Reply

14

9.3

9.3

82.0

Disagree

21

14.0

14.0

96.0

Strongly disagree

6

4.0

4.0

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.16

 

Chart 4.16

5.1.17Statement 15: Theme hotels are not popular in China:

55.3% in agreement with the statement that theme hotels are not popular in China and 40.7% in disagreement of the statement. 4% guests however, preferred no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You think that theme hotels are not popular in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

19

12.7

12.7

12.7

agree

64

42.7

42.7

55.3

No Reply

6

4.0

4.0

59.3

Disagree

46

30.7

30.7

90.0

Strongly disagree

15

10.0

10.0

100.0

Total

150

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.17

 

 

Chart 4.17

5.2Data Presentation of Annexure-B (Management Survey):

In second survey, the opinion of management in different theme hotels in China was sought through a structured questionnaire placed at Annexure-B. This questionnaire is again has two parts. In part one, personal information (optional) is discussed and in second part, structured statements are discussed.

5.2.1Age:

After indicating name, managers were requested to indicate their age groups as per the given brackets. 23.3% of respondents are under the age of 20 years and 40% are falling in the range of 21-35 years. 20% are within the bracket of 36-50 years and rest are over 50 years of age. Majority i.e. 63.3% is falling under 35 years of age. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Age

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

under 20 years

7

23.3

23.3

23.3

21-35

12

40.0

40.0

63.3

36-50

6

20.0

20.0

83.3

over 50

5

16.7

16.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.18

 

Chart 4.18

5.2.2Gender:

The other information was about the gender. The data indicates that for management surveyed in theme hotels, there were 56.7 male and 43.3% female. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Gender

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Male

17

56.7

56.7

56.7

female

13

43.3

43.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.19

 

Chart 4.19

5.2.3Management level in which respondent is engaged:

It is important information as it provides the basis of opinion. Out of total, 53.3% respondents are from middle management and hence are more apt about implementing aspects of management. 30% are from lower management having little knowledge about policies and 16.7% are policy definers. This survey does not differentiate the replies but the presence of all three levels in survey ensures opinion of all cadres.

management level

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

top

5

16.7

16.7

16.7

middle

16

53.3

53.3

70.0

lower

9

30.0

30.0

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.20

 

Chart 4.20

 

5.2.4Statement 1: Market operations are supporting theme hotels in China:

The managers responded with 56.7% in agreement with the statement that market operations are supporting theme hotels in China. There is 23.3% disagreement and 10% has opted no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

 In your opinion, market operations are supporting theme hotels in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

10

33.3

33.3

33.3

agree

7

23.3

23.3

56.7

No Reply

3

10.0

10.0

66.7

Disagree

4

13.3

13.3

80.0

Strongly disagree

6

20.0

20.0

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.21

 

Chart 4.21

 

5.2.5Statement 2: Theme hotel industry is attracting investors in China:

73.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that theme hotel industry is attracting investors in China. There is disagreement of 23.3% with 3.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

In your opinion, theme hotel industry is attracting investors in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

12

40.0

40.0

40.0

agree

10

33.3

33.3

73.3

No Reply

1

3.3

3.3

76.7

Disagree

6

20.0

20.0

96.7

Strongly disagree

1

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.22

 

Chart 4.22

5.2.6Statement 3: Traditional management theories are applicable in theme hotels too:

26.7% responses are in agreement with the statement that traditional management theories are applicable in theme hotels too. There is disagreement of 60% with 13.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You think that traditional management theories are applicable in theme hotels too.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

4

13.3

13.3

13.3

agree

4

13.3

13.3

26.7

No Reply

4

13.3

13.3

40.0

Disagree

12

40.0

40.0

80.0

Strongly disagree

6

20.0

20.0

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.23

 

Chart 4.23

5.2.7Statement 4: Selection of an interesting theme is the key to success:

76.7% responses are in agreement with the statement that selection of an interesting theme is the key to success. There is disagreement of 23.4% with 6.7% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Selection of an interesting theme is the key to success.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

15

50.0

50.0

50.0

agree

8

26.7

26.7

76.7

No Reply

2

6.7

6.7

83.3

Disagree

5

16.7

16.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.24

 

Chart 4.24

5.2.8Statement 5: During stay in theme hotels, guests are more concerned about the continuity of theme in and out:

73.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that during stay in theme hotels, guests are more concerned about the continuity of theme in and out. There is disagreement of 23.4% with 3.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

During stay in theme hotels, guests are more concerned about the continuity of theme in and out.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

14

46.7

46.7

46.7

Agree

8

26.7

26.7

73.3

No Reply

1

3.3

3.3

76.7

Disagree

5

16.7

16.7

93.3

Strongly disagree

2

6.7

6.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.25

 

Chart 4.25

5.2.9Statement 6: Guests at theme hotels are more concerned about services they are served:

70% responses are in agreement with the statement that guests at theme hotels are more concerned about services they are served. There is disagreement of 16.7% with 13.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Guests at theme hotels are more concerned about services they are served.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

11

36.7

36.7

36.7

agree

10

33.3

33.3

70.0

No Reply

4

13.3

13.3

83.3

Disagree

5

16.7

16.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.26

 

Chart 4.26

5.2.10Statement 7: Regulatory mechanism is offering support to establishment of new theme hotels especially those are in isolated areas:

23.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that regulatory mechanism is offering support to establishment of new theme hotels especially those are in isolated areas. There is disagreement of 70% with 6.7% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Regulatory mechanism is offering support to establishment of new theme hotels especially those are in isolated areas.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

3

10.0

10.0

10.0

agree

4

13.3

13.3

23.3

No Reply

2

6.7

6.7

30.0

Disagree

10

33.3

33.3

63.3

Strongly disagree

11

36.7

36.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.27

 

Chart 4.27

5.2.11Statement 8: Management’s role is the key in providing satisfaction to the guests:

83.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that management’s role is the key in providing satisfaction to the guests. There is disagreement of 6.6% with 10% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Management’s role is the key in providing satisfaction to the guests.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

16

53.3

53.3

53.3

Agree

9

30.0

30.0

83.3

No Reply

3

10.0

10.0

93.3

Disagree

1

3.3

3.3

96.7

Strongly disagree

1

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.28

 

Chart 4.28

 

5.2.12Statement 9: Chinese hotels are lacking in branding and hence are not attracting international guests:

66.7% responses are in agreement with the statement that Chinese hotels are lacking in branding and hence are not attracting international guests. There is disagreement of 30% with 3.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese hotels are lacking in branding and hence are not attracting international guests.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

17

56.7

56.7

56.7

agree

3

10.0

10.0

66.7

No Reply

1

3.3

3.3

70.0

Disagree

5

16.7

16.7

86.7

Strongly disagree

4

13.3

13.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.29

 

Chart 4.29

5.2.13Statement 10: Chinese theme hotels are good at uniqueness:

40% responses are in agreement with the statement that Chinese theme hotels are good at uniqueness. There is disagreement of 50% with 10% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese theme hotels are good at uniqueness.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

3

10.0

10.0

10.0

agree

9

30.0

30.0

40.0

No Reply

3

10.0

10.0

50.0

Disagree

12

40.0

40.0

90.0

Strongly disagree

3

10.0

10.0

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.30

 

Chart 4.30

5.2.14Statement 11: Guests at hotels often look at escapism from normal life and hence prefer theme hotels:

63.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that guests at hotels often look at escapism from normal life and hence prefer theme hotels. There is disagreement of 30% with 6.7% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Guests at hotels often look at escapism from normal life and hence prefer theme hotels.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

14

46.7

46.7

46.7

agree

5

16.7

16.7

63.3

No Reply

2

6.7

6.7

70.0

Disagree

7

23.3

23.3

93.3

Strongly disagree

2

6.7

6.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.31

 

Chart 4.31

5.2.15Statement 12: There is no weather independence in Chinese theme hotels:

43.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that there is no weather independence in Chinese theme hotels. There is disagreement of 23.4% with 33.3% no reply option. There is one third response as no reply that indicates either the statement is not understood or they have no knowledge about the issue. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

There is no weather independence in Chinese theme hotels.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

6

20.0

20.0

20.0

agree

7

23.3

23.3

43.3

No Reply

10

33.3

33.3

76.7

Disagree

5

16.7

16.7

93.3

Strongly disagree

2

6.7

6.7

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.32

 

Chart 4.32

5.2.16Statement 13: Chinese theme hotels are lacking safety and security of their guests:

30% responses are in agreement with the statement that Chinese theme hotels are lacking safety and security of their guests. There is disagreement of 66.4% with 3.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese theme hotels are lacking safety and security of their guests.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

3

10.0

10.0

10.0

agree

6

20.0

20.0

30.0

No Reply

1

3.3

3.3

33.3

Disagree

13

43.3

43.3

76.7

Strongly disagree

7

23.3

23.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.33

 

Chart 4.33

5.2.17Statement 14: You think that theme is flourishing in China:

86.7% responses are in agreement with the statement that theme is flourishing in China. There is disagreement of 10% with 3.3% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

You think that theme is flourishing in China.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

17

56.7

56.7

56.7

agree

9

30.0

30.0

86.7

No Reply

1

3.3

3.3

90.0

Disagree

2

6.7

6.7

96.7

Strongly disagree

1

3.3

3.3

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.34

 

Chart 4.34

5.2.18Statement 15: Chinese theme hotels are under influence of Chinese culture that must be changed:

50% responses are in agreement with the statement that theme is flourishing in China. There is disagreement of 43.3% with 6.7% no reply option. Results of the survey in graphical and tabulated form are given as under:

Chinese theme hotels are under influence of Chinese culture that must be changed.

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Strongly Agree

8

26.7

26.7

26.7

agree

7

23.3

23.3

50.0

No Reply

2

6.7

6.7

56.7

Disagree

7

23.3

23.3

80.0

Strongly disagree

6

20.0

20.0

100.0

Total

30

100.0

100.0

 

 

Table 4.35

 

Chart 4.35

5.3       Summary of the Chapter:

In this chapter, data collected as the result of field activity has been presented. This presentation has also been presented in graphical and tabular forms for easy understanding of the reader. However, the logical consequences of this data are discussed in next chapter where these results are analysed against the research objectives.

 

 

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION ON RESULTS

In the previous chapter, data after analysis has been presented and in this chapter, the results of this analysis has been presented and discussed in light of the research objectives set in the first chapter and literature review in earlier chapters. In this chapter, it has been tried to present leads from literature review and then its linkages from both survey results. These survey results either confirm the previous status or reframe the perspectives and this strategy is followed throughout this chapter.

6.1       Discussion on objective one: To analyse market and operations in Chinese hospitality industry for theme hotel business:

Literature review has indicated that in China, theme industry has yet not flourished due to lack of interest from both local and international investors. Theme industry is yet to make its mark despite a vast population of over a billion and presence of unlimited niches to exploit (Wang and Zheng, 2010). In the world, theme industry was introduced three-four decades ago whereas this concept was prevailing in China for centuries, but that was restricted to certain cultural parks (Ren, 2007). It was further seen that present day theme industry including theme parks are lacking innovation and uniqueness of themes that has limited choices for prospective customers within China and at the same time some innovative themes introduced in the recent years have gained immense popularity (Dong and Li, 2006). Official patronage is however missing and in cases, regulatory requirements are missing in theme areas (Dong and Siu, 2013). It shows both non-availability of theme industry in general as well as absence of quality theme parks and hotels in China. However, since this literature review is more than five years old, therefore, this research provides up-dated situation in this regard.

On the availability of theme hotels and their access, customers were asked in statement 5 and 7 that if it was easy to find a theme hotel of choice in China and if theme hotels are limited in China. In response to ease to find theme hotels respondents were evenly poised as 42.7% agreed with the statement and 40% didn’t find it difficult (Statement 5; part 5.1). However, 71% agreed to the statement that there are limited choices (Statement 7; part 5.1). The result of statement 10 in customers’ survey indicates that Chinese culture is still major theme in Chinese hospitality industry and hence giving a monotonous tone to whole hospitality industry (Statement 10; part 5.1).  Similarly, it is noted that according to customers, theme hotels are yet not popular in China (Statement 15; part 5.1).

In response of the statement that if market operations are supportive to introduction of theme hotels in China, managers have shown their satisfaction and this shows that over the period of time, there is an improvement in market function. The absence of any hindrance from market operation leads to inference that this absence of theme hotels is due to lack of interest of investors, primarily. This inference is further coupled with the lack of attraction for international investors that might be result of apprehension of international investors over the official policies (Statement 1 and 2; part 5.2). In the opinion of managers participated in the survey, regulatory policies are not supporting establishment of new theme hotels (Statement 7; part 5.2). This result is closely associated with the results of statement 2 in this questionnaire discussed earlier.

This discussion offers an opportunity to look into market operations and official policy of China. This is clear that over the period of time, Chinese market operations have been improved and the response of market to newly introduced theme parks and hotels as reviewed in chapter one, is encouraging, but the reason of slow response of the investor is Chinese official policies and regulatory regime.

6.2       Discussion on objective two: To review present day issues in theme hotel in China:

This objective is related to difference between traditional hotel management on one side and the use of theme hotel concept in China on the other, specifically. In literature review, it was observed that despite a part of hospitality industry / hotel industry, theme hotels are different from traditional hotels in speciality, environment, theme centrism, cost, target customers, risk and profitability, and branding (Holjevac, 2003). However, it is compatible with traditional hotels in sense of all regular facilities like food, boarding and lodging facilities, and other aligned facilities that cannot be ignored in hospitality industry (Mena, 2014; Pikkemaat and Schuckert, 2007). Literature review indicates that in Chinese theme hotels focus is on cultural, environmental and other limited themes whereas European theme hotels have used themes like Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Song Dynasty, McDonald Parks, HotSpot, Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, and Alcatraz E.R. – Medical Prison Restaurant etc. (Milman, 2007) that are lacking in case of China. The concept of Disneyisation and McDonaldisation is present in China as there are theme parks on pattern of Disneyland and McDonald theme parks and restaurants and other with same ideology, but themes could not get popularity (Huang and Wu, 2012).

It has been seen in the last section that market operations are supporting but regulatory regimes are not. In this part, other problems and issues hindering flourishing of theme hotels in China are discussed in light of results of surveys.

It is found that Chinese theme hotels are still unable to adopt international themes and 72% of the customers surveyed have shown their agreement over this statement (Statement 9; Part 5.1). This indicates that Chinese theme industry is not fully influenced with the trends in the international market and to some extent shows tendency of close society. It has been found in literature review that ancient Chinese theme parks were themed on cultural aspects and this is still true for traditional hotels in Chinese small towns where interior and decor is culturally influenced. Furthermore, 72.7% of the customers have found Chinese culture as major theme in most of the hotels known as themed (Statement 10; Part 5.1).

Chinese theme hotels have been found expensive by the customers and this is again a result of lack of competitive market (Statement 8; Part 5.1) Service provision in theme hotels is not found satisfactory in comparison to traditional hotels in China that has resulted in deterioration of perception too (Statement 13; Part 5.1), that has resulted in rating management of present theme hotels very low as 72% of the participants are not satisfied (Statement 14; Part 5.1). This analysis indicates that despite high prices, the customers are not satisfied with the quality of services provided in theme hotels that shows internal weaknesses in management of available theme hotels. This aspect is further linked with the success factors in theme industry discussed under third objective of this research. Upon popularity of theme hotels, however, the opinion is divided (Statement 15; Part 5.1).

From management point of view, traditional management practices are not applicable on theme hotels (Statement 3; Part 5.2) whereas role of management is important in providing satisfactory services to the customers (Statement 7; Part 5.2). This shows that management in theme hotels is unable to modify in terms of requirements of theme hotels that has been felt by the consumers in statement 13 of survey at Annexure A. According to managers’ survey, 67% managers thought Chinese theme hotels are lacking branding that is the cause of its low attraction and this is mostly about international branding (Statement 9; Part 5.2). This low branding is a direct result of absence of international investor in market. Majority of managers in the survey has agreed for a change in themes from traditional cultural to innovative ones (Statement 15; Part 5.2). This covers both internal weaknesses and lack of external support theme business in China.

In general, this discussion on the results gives an inference that Chinese theme hotels are mostly localised in themes, cultural and lack innovation. These are expensive and locally branded. Guests have not found services at theme hotels better than traditional hotels and management has not found appropriate change in management practices as required. In previous part, it has been seen that regulatory regime is also a hurdle in this regard. This shows a vacuum to be filled.

6.3       Discussion on Objective three: To identify the key factors affecting / have the potential to affect success of theme hotels in China:

Third objective pertains to success factors for theme hotels in China. It has been analysed both from the perspective of customers and management in this research, however, prior to that referring to literature review, success factors are branding, uniqueness, innovation, design and weather independence, capacity, management skills, fantasy and imagination, and safety at site (Mena, 2014; Bieger, Dreier & Frey, 2002).

Branding is one of the key success factor identified in literature review and it has been already discussed that 67% managers thought Chinese theme hotels are lacking branding that is the cause of its low attraction and this is mostly about international branding (Statement 9; Part 5.2). Other than a few theme parks, major brands available in European markets are absent in China. International investor is found averse to invest in China and local investors are satisfied with their traditional hotel management, despite demand in market and awareness of customers about theme industry. The gaps are both at management level and policy level.

In customers’ survey, in statement 2, respondents are convinced that unique concept creates fun as 71.3% agreed and 18.7% disagreed with the statement. This shows that for customers, theme is equivalent to uniqueness of the idea (Statement 2; Part 5.1). In response to attractiveness of theme hotels due to uniqueness, 74 % agreed that to them theme hotels are attractive because these are unique (Statement 6; Part 5.1).This result is further confirmed from the response on the very next statement that hints on attraction of theme hotels only for targeted customers instead of all probable guests in hotel industry. 61.3 % respondents with the statement that it is for targeted group whereas 33.4% disagreed (Statement 3; Part 5.1). In the management survey, results of statement 10 indicate that half of the respondents have not agreed to the presence of uniqueness in Chinese hotels (Statement 10, Part 5.2). These all results are confirming that Chinese customers are aware of importance a unique theme has in this industry. There is a lot of awareness among both the customers and the management on importance of uniqueness but at the same time, other results are indicating on absence of unique themes in theme industry.

Fantasy is one of the cornerstones in Disneyisation or theme industry that attracts the visitors towards theme area and gives them a feel of reality of an aspiring world.  Theme industry is associated with escapism and fantasy (Ma et al., 2013). 64.7% customers in survey have agreed to the statement that they have chosen this theme hotel because it has provided them escape from routine life (Statement 4; Part 5.1). In management survey, 63.3% respondent have agreed that guests at hotels often look at escapism from normal life and hence prefer theme hotels and this confirms presence of fantasy factors from both sides (Statement 11, Part 5.2) But in case of China, this aspect is found lacking. As discussed earlier, customers are not satisfied with services provided in theme hotels as compare to traditional hotel services therefore, this may lead to delusion and un-satisfaction at the end of their stay. In management survey, this aspect was placed for opinion and it was found that 70% of managers agree that guests at theme hotels are more concerned about services they are served (Statement 5, Part 5.2). Like uniqueness, fantasy and escapism are also absent in present day Chinese theme hotels in general and those few parks and hotels those are successful in retaining these characters have place in international reviews and ratings like Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Romantic hotels; Lux Luxury, Double Happiness and Inside China’s Cartoon.

Innovation of theme is important and it may provide something new every time guests come across. In case of Chinese hotels, it is missing as many customers used to identify theme hotels with theme parks and not as independent entities. In response to statement 11, the results are however, poised and shows growing acknowledgement of theme hotels as independent entities (Statement 11; Part 5.1). Similarly, in the management survey, it was pointed out that 76.7% respondents agreed with the statement that selection of an interesting theme is the key to success (Statement 4; Part 5.2)

Continuity of theme throughout the stay is an important factor to provide satisfaction to the customers as 73.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that during stay in theme hotels, guests are more concerned about the continuity of theme in and out (Statement 5; Part 5.2).

Other aspects like safety and security and weather independence have been explored too. In response to weather independence, only 43.3% responses are in agreement with the statement that there is no weather independence in Chinese theme hotels that shows little satisfaction over the issue as majority abstained from response (Statement 12, Part 5.2). However, management has a disagreement on lack of safety measures in theme hotels in statement 13 of management survey.

6.4       Summary of Chapter Five:

This chapter has covered discussion on results with reference to objectives set in introduction chapter except fourth objective that has been dealt in next part. The next part is concluding part that has summed up findings of this research and has ended with the recommendations.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUDING PART

7.1       Conclusion:

In this research activity, the aim was to evaluate critical factors affecting the success of theme hotels in China. In the course of literature review, it was found that theming is popular in US and Europe but its popularity and success is lacking in China. This literature review further provided a comprehensive list of success factors and during the research; these factors were included in surveys at Annexure A and B. As the result it appeared that Chinese theme industry is still under developed and lack most of the success factors in general despite potential. These factors includes governmental patronage and supporting policies, lack of theming innovation and fantasy in theme hotels, absence of branding and failure to provide satisfactory services to their customers in existing theme hotels.

7.2       Discussion on Objective Four: Recommendations for Managements in theme Hotels:

Last objective in this research is to recommend a roadmap for managements in theme hotels. In light of results of this research and discussion made above, following recommendations are forwarded for consideration:

  1. On the macro level there is need to realise the need of customers and the potential these customers are offering to the hospitality industry. If this potential is not capitalised, there will be a miss. Therefore, in absence of international investor, it is a time to promote national investment with diversification. For this purpose, national forum of existing theme hotels may be activated and get the national policy straight in favour of theme hotels. This effort must be aimed to realise government about the peculiar requirements of theme industry and need of special efforts / regulation aimed at providing best and safe theme environment.
  2. On the management level, customer needs full reward of price she paid. Therefore, the standards of existing theme hotels must be improved in the first instance.
  3. There is need to realise out of box thinking in theme business. It is not all about culture but capitalising every pocket of customers. Innovative ideas may be copied from western theme industry and the same may be offered with Chinese touch.
  4. Some of the existing traditional hotels with desired localities for a theme may be converted into theme hotels. Innovation and fantasy will attract guests wandering for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

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Annexure A

(Questionnaire to be filled by Guests in theme hotels)

Part 1: Personal information (optional):

This information will not be shared with anyone and it is optional for the participants to reply.

 

  • Name
  • Age

Under 20

21-35

36-50

Over 50

 

  • Gender

Male

female

Not replied

 

 

Survey question:

Sr #

Statements

Scale

Strongly Agree

Agree

No reply

Disagreed

Strongly disagreed

1

 You enjoyed in theme hotel stay.

 

 

 

 

 

2

You think that unique concept / theme create funs and attract customers.

 

 

 

 

 

3

Theme hotels are not attractive for all hotel visitors / guests.

 

 

 

 

 

4

You have chosen this theme hotel because it has provided you escape from routine life.

 

 

 

 

 

5

You were able to find theme hotel of your choice with ease in China.

 

 

 

 

 

6

Theme hotels are attractive because it provides you a unique experience.

 

 

 

 

 

7

There are only a few theme hotels in China.

 

 

 

 

 

8

Chinese theme hotels are too expensive.

 

 

 

 

 

9

Chinese theme hotels are replicating international themes.

 

 

 

 

 

10

Chinese culture is the major theme in Chinese theme hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

11

Theme hotels have no independent identity but are associated with the theme parks.

 

 

 

 

 

12

You felt comfortable while stay at theme hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

13

In your opinion, services of theme hotel are better than traditional hotels in China.

 

 

 

 

 

14

You think that there is a need to focus on better management to attract guests at theme hotels. .

 

 

 

 

 

15

You think that theme hotels are not popular in China.

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

Annexure B

(Questionnaire to be filled by Managers in Theme Hotels)

Part 1: Personal information (optional):

This information will not be shared with anyone and it is optional for the participants to reply.

 

  • Name
  • Age

Under 20

21-35

36-50

Over 50

 

  • Gender

Male

female

  • Management level

Top

Middle

Lower

 

 

Survey question:

Sr #

Statements

Scale

Strongly Agree

Agree

No reply

Disagreed

Strongly disagreed

1

 In your opinion, market operations are supporting theme hotels in China.

 

 

 

 

 

2

In your opinion, theme hotel industry is attracting investors in China.

 

 

 

 

 

3

You think that traditional management theories are applicable in theme hotels too.

 

 

 

 

 

4

Selection of an interesting theme is the key to success.

 

 

 

 

 

5

During stay in theme hotels, guests are more concerned about the continuity of theme in and out.

 

 

 

 

 

6

Guests at theme hotels are more concerned about services they are served.

 

 

 

 

 

7

Regulatory mechanism is offering support to establishment of new theme hotels especially those are in isolated areas.

 

 

 

 

 

8

Management’s role is the key in providing satisfaction to the guests.

 

 

 

 

 

9

Chinese hotels are lacking in branding and hence are not attracting international guests.

 

 

 

 

 

10

Chinese theme hotels are good at uniqueness.

 

 

 

 

 

11

Guests at hotels often look at escapism from normal life and hence prefer theme hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

12

There is no weather independence in Chinese theme hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

13

Chinese theme hotels are lacking safety and security of their guests.

 

 

 

 

 

14

You think that theme is flourishing in China.

 

 

 

 

 

15

Chinese theme hotels are under influence of Chinese culture that must be changed.

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 


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