This thesis proposes and tests a model of the antecedents and consequences of customer affect in collective hedonic services. To this end, an original mass service typology was developed in order to define collective hedonic services. Collective hedonic services are defined as services that are delivered by the service provider at a single location and time with the intent to entertain a mass audience (Ng, Russell-Bennett and Dagger 2007). Examples of such services are spectator sports, theatre performances and concerts. Understanding customer affect is particularly important for service organisations where the core service offering is an experience. In these services, customer affect plays a central role. Thus, understanding the factors that influence customer affect provides managers with the knowledge needed to generate positive service experiences and proactively minimise negative experiences. It is also important that service managers understand the consequences of managing affect and, in particular, the impact of affect on service outcomes such as customer satisfaction, value and behavioural intentions. As such, the two key research questions guiding this thesis are:
1. 1. What are the antecedents of customer affect in the context of collective hedonic services?
2. 2. What is the relationship between affect, customer satisfaction, value and behavioural intentions in the context of collective hedonic services?
These research questions underpin the research themes of this study. The first theme identifies the antecedents of customer affect and determines the relationship of these antecedents to positive and negative affect. In particular, eight antecedents emerged from both the extant literature and the findings of the qualitative study undertaken as part of this research. These were interior facilities, exterior facilities, atmospherics, social surroundings, entertainer performance, service provider performance, food/beverage and souvenirs/merchandise. The second research theme guiding this thesis focuses on the relationship between customer affect and important service outcomes, namely, customer satisfaction, perceived value and behavioural intentions. Examining these research themes is important because prior research has not put forward a holistic model that examines the antecedents and consequences of customer affect for services with high experiential qualities such as collective hedonic services. A comprehensive examination of the antecedents driving affect in collective hedonic services is yet to be undertaken in the literature. Similarly, prior research has not studied the impact of customer affect on satisfaction, value and intentions collectively, despite the economic ramifications of understanding these effects in the context of collective hedonic services.
This study was undertaken within the context of collective hedonic services, namely, spectator sport, theatre performance and concert events. These services are high in experiential qualities and hedonistic overtones. The role of customer affect is central to the experience of hedonistic services. The study conducted in this thesis involved a two-stage design. The first qualitative stage consisted of focus groups (n=5 groups). The focus groups were used to identify the antecedents of customer affect and to generate specific items for the measures developed in this study. The second quantitative stage consisted of a mail survey (n=450) of customers who had attended a spectator sport, theatre performance or concert event in the past six months. A multiple cross-sectional survey was used to collect data. This data was then used to refine the research measures and examine the hypotheses guiding the inquiry. To complete the analysis procedure, a two-step approach to structural equation modelling was used to analyse the data.
The results of this study demonstrate that exterior appearance, social surroundings, entertainer performance and souvenirs/merchandise positively influence customer affect. This suggests that service providers should pay attention to the management of these service aspects to enhance positive affect and reduce negative affect. The results also show that parking facilities, social surroundings, entertainer performance and service provider performance can negatively influence customer affect. This further emphasises the importance of managing these aspects to reduce negative affect. It was also found that positive affect had a greater influence on satisfaction and value perceptions than negative affect. Interestingly, only satisfaction significantly influenced behavioural intentions. Further examination of these effects found that satisfaction mediated the relationship between customer affect and behavioural intentions and also the relationship between perceived value and behavioural intentions. This highlights the importance of managing satisfaction for collective hedonic services
The findings of this research provide valuable insights into the antecedents that influence customer affect in collective hedonic services. These findings had not been identified in prior studies and thus contribute to theory development in this area. It is expected that these insights will enable service managers to more effectively allocate resources and adjust service offerings to improve the service experience. Such improvement is essential as enhancing positive affect and reducing negative affect has broader ramifications in terms of generating satisfaction, value perceptions and positive behavioural intentions which, in turn, have an economic and social impact on host communities.