The importance of situation as an explanatory construct in consumer behaviour has been widely discussed and generally accepted, based on empirical research findings. The purpose of this report is to initially review the literature on s i t u a t i on with a focus on the hospitality industry and also to examine the influence of situational factors on the evaluation of service attributes and consumer satisfaction through applied research.
Based on the findings from a critical analysis of previous research, the pilot study was designed to be conducted within an a la carte restaurant. A survey questionnaire was developed based on a number of hypotheses designed to meet the above objective. These questionnaires were personally handed out to selected respondents after their dining experience on that occasion. Free post envelopes were provided resulting in a 40% response rate. A limited number of responses were received in two of the five situational categories, resulting in three explicitly defined situations remaining for analysis: "Celebrate a Special Occasion", "Intimate Dinner", and "Dinner with Family / Relatives / and Friends for Pleasure".
The results revealed for hypothesis one that the nine identified attributes did not differ significantly among and within the three defined situations, leading to a rejection of the null hypothesis. This result differed from previous studies, but was considered acceptable for the pilot study due to the research design. Hypothesis two was partially accepted, when a number of attributes were found to differ significantly between non defined and among and within the three defined situations. These findings confirmed that restaurant diners do consider the situation when making a restaurant choice. The last hypothesis was also partially accepted when a number of attributes were found to contribute significantly to consumer satisfaction among and within two of the three defined situations. Consumer expectations were almost met on many of the attributes identified in this study.
Significant implications for management derived from this pilot study are that (1) six attributes were identified as being important by the respondents when choosing the ABC restaurant to dine at. Any one or a combination of these attributes could be incorporated in the restaurant's promotional campaign and be used to directly appeal to one or more of the situational categories (segments) identified in the study, and (2) that management should focus on those attributes that contribute significantly to consumer satisfaction among and within defined situations and ensure that consumers' expectations are being meet. Variety of menu was considered an important attribute, but currently consumers expectations are not being meet. Consideration should be given to introducing a new menu, supplementing the new menu with special seasonal dishes, and possible theme nights. Another important attribute that needs improvement is Friendliness of Staff. This could be achieved through training sessions conducted by management where the front of house staff are exposed to the restaurants mission, needs of customers when dining out and desired quality of service expected by management.