The purpose of this chapter is to critically review the literature relating to Food Service Industry, the position and attributes to gain costumers perception. The arrangement starts with the role of food service, with investigation into the food and beverage operations. Subsequently, considerations into Service Quality point were dimension such as expectance and perception and an illustration of service quality model are taken. In addition an overview into the food and beverage service employment. An important point is mentioned regards to food quality and influences on costumer expectance and perception. Furthermore, sections such us menu planning and meal experience will taken to enrich the research. Finalize with an important point nowadays, were environment impacts will be take into consideration.
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3.2 The role of food service
The provision of food and beverage service (Davis et al., 1999) and eating away from home are increasingly and there is widening diversity in the nature and type of food and beverage on offer (Lillicrap et al., 2002). In addition conferences organizers are very familiar with the need for a high quality of food and beverage service within venues (McCabe et al., 2000).
There are many reasons that clients normally desire to include a food service function in conferences and meetings. Shock and Stefanelli (1992, p.132) in McCabe et. al., (2000) have suggested several reasons such as:
to create an image
to provide an opportunity for interaction and networking
to present a person, product
to refresh conference attendees and sharpen their attention
to provide a interested audience
to keep delegates interested in other non-food activities
to increase attendance at conferences
Food and beverage service is the essential link between menu, beverage, and other services on offer in an establishment, and the customers (Foskett and Ceserani, 2008). The food and beverage function is characterized both by its diversity and by its size of the event as example of conference, meetings, exhibition and business events (Davis and Stone, 1991). Also can used as an effective tool to satisfy attendees and built attendance, as it empowers an attendee’s sensory memory of an event (Kim et. al., 2009).
It is a significant and critical part of conference operations, and responsible for a high percentage of revenue for the venue (McCabe et al., 2000). In the past, food and beverage service was not important for conference centres, however now when a conference or meeting is organized, food and beverage services plays a fundamental role in the decision-making (Meetingnet.com, 2002 p. 35).
Various groups and function venues dynamically search more out for group business as groups can be serviced with minimal costs and within particular times (Davis et al., 1999). Arranging an efficient food and beverage service for groups and functions at time can be very challenging. In many instances, groups may want very specific items, at very specific times and require special menus, or even an out-of-hours service (McCabe et al., 2000).
3.2.1 The food and beverage operations
For a particular food and beverage operation the choices of how the food and beverage service is designed, planned, undertaken and controlled are made taking into consideration a number of organisational variables (Foskett and Ceserani, 2008).
Figure 5 shows the variables that food and beverage operation has to take into account.
Figure 5: Food and beverage operations.
Source: Adapted from Foskett and Ceserani (2008)
A food and catering service into the conference industry is characterised as function catering. That may be described as the food and beverage service at a specific time and place, for a specified number of people, to an arranged menu and price (Davis and Stone, 1991; Foskett and Ceserani, 2008).
There are a variety of function events ranges from providing a bar in a reception area where delegates for a conference are able to assemble before their meeting, to large formal banquets of over 1000 where six to eight courses meals are served (Davis et al., 1998).
3.3 Service quality concept
The concept of service can be explained as an interaction between employees and customers (Ball et al., 2003). In this context service quality characterize the level of service that is delivered by operations (Sasser et al., 1982; Walker, 1990; Johns et al., 1994; Jones and Pizam, 1993). It is almost defined in terms of customer’s perception of expected quality and experienced quality (Brown et. al., 1993). However, service quality is a complex concept and generally needs more than one model to explain it (John, 1996). Many researches making effort to define service quality, they usually on quality service and how it reaches the customers needs.
Service quality can be again described as the difference between customer’s expectation and distinguished performance (Lovelock, 1992; Juwaheer and Ross, 2003). Therefore, services providers need to explore ways to increase productivity, which rely on objectives and goals to be achieved of the service although including quality. Product quality usually ends in the eyes of customers, particularly in the service industry. However the criterion used from customers to evaluate it might be complex and difficult to describe, in particular involving services with high labour content because performance of labour can be different from producer to producer, also each customer can perceived it differently (Berry et. al., 1990). It is also measured according to the level and direction of difference between experience and perception (Sasser et. al., 1987; Gronoor, 1982).
Moreover, Ogowicz et. al. (1990) states that perceived service quality can be see form external of the actual operation that appears between customers and servicer provider. In additional, Wyckoff (1992) and Becker and Murrmann (1999) argues that service quality is the level of excellence planned to meet customer’s requirements. Meeting or exceeding customer’s expectation is the means to ensure good service quality. Service performance can be judge as a low or high by customers comparing their expectation (Parasuraman et.al., 1988)
Customers have a wide range of choices regards to a food service business. From many years of dining experience, customers expectation of service quality have increase and the food and beverage industry is competing to rising it market share (Raajpoot, 2004). As well in the present market place, service quality is know as one of the mainly significant aspect in expand and retaining the successful relationship (Svensson, 2002).
Most organisations and managers now realise that customers satisfaction can generate a long-term success, the market were they control which not only include customers but also competitors, regulatory governments agencies and the overall marketing environment (Kandampully, 2001). Therefore, researches can be conducted to identify what creates and retains customer’s satisfaction and ways to evaluate.
3.4 Dimensions of service quality
The intangibility concerned services make it more complicated for consumers to evaluate than product quality because cannot be stored or held. Services are complex to assess until subsequent they have been performed, and even towards it still difficult. However, service quality can be observed as a measure of quality of the delivered-service level equivalent to customer’s expectations (Lewis and Booms, 1983).
Parasuraman et. al. (1985) developed a well-know research concerning service quality, to recognized factors that costumers perceive about service quality. As the research result, they revealed general criteria as the ten principle dimensions of service quality, commonly know as SERVQUAL dimension in order to judge an organisation’s service quality by customers. Figure 10 illustrates those ten factors.
Figure 6: The ten principle dimensions.
Source: Adapted from Parasuraman et. al., 1985.
Initially, the research proposed 22 statements to identify consumer’s perception and expectation of service quality. Secondly, those statements represent the ten determinants of service quality (Parasuraman et. al., 1988) illustrated on figure 10.
Moreover, service quality emerges from comparison of expected service with perception. Development of model concern service quality suggest that expected service is influenced by three key criteria which as Marketing/Service Package, Personal Needs and Desire and Past Conference Meal. (Parasuraman et. al., 1990). In this research the initial service quality has been adapted to food service function into the conference sector. Figure 11 will demonstrate service quality process to measure costumers expected service and perceived service quality.
Figure 7 – Service Quality Model to Conference Food Function
Source: Adapted from McCabe et al., (2000); Parasuraman et. al., (1985).
Even so, it has been suggested that expectations are bound by adequate and desire levels, with a zone of tolerance in between. Although a model has been suggested to conceptualise service quality, with gaps representing the problem associated with the difference between processes to assess costumer’s expectation ands perception on the food providers performance (Parasuraman, 1991).
GAP 1: The procedural gap
First gap is the difference between what management believes customers want and what customers really asked for.
GAP 2: The understanding gap
Second gap is the difference between costumer’s expectations and managers perceived from costumer’s expectation.
GAP 3: The behavioural gap
The service delivered is different from the service specification.
GAP 4: The promotional gap
The difference between what has been promised by marketing communication activities and the actual service delivered.
GAP 5: The perception gap
Level of service perceived by costumer diverges from the service actually provided.
The model helps catering managers recognise the understanding of customers. Also offers a clear thoughtful to managers who require improving the service quality provided by their service process. Consequently, managers gain the knowledge to improve their service quality and how they can understand their customer’s expectation and make then pleased which can promote a successful result to a conference meal service (McCabe et al., 2000; Rogers 2008; Zeithaml et. al., 1990).
3.4.1 Expectance and Perception of service quality
Customers translate their needs into a series of expectance of the service or product that stand on this ability to satisfy an assured or implicit need. If the food function meets and exceeds these expectations then the customers will feel satisfied and will feel that they have received ‘quality’ (Parasuraman, et. al., 1985 in Davis et al. 1998). However, if the food function does not meet their expectation, then there is a gap between customer’s expectations and the perceived characteristics of the service and quality will not have been provided (Davis and Stone, 1991).
Customers have different background which influences his or her perception (Olsen et al., 1998). Service delivery is variable and difficult to measure because of the individual character of the contact between customer and services provider (Lashley and Lee-Ross, 2003). Moreover, these needs become a series of expectations for customers such as the type of food they desire, how they would like to be greeted and how much they are prepared to pay (Lockwood et al., 1996).
In additional, culture, mood and timing jointly with the customer’s previous experience can effect on the way service is perceived (Walker, 1990). It is understandable that successful service providers will depend on the individual service delivered, being capable to interpret the customers’ requirement and adapt the service delivered to their desire (Lashley and Lee-Ross, 2003). If the customer expectations are meet or exceed, they will be satisfied and will have a quality experience (Lockwood et al., 1996).
Service providers seen to be more concerned about customer’s expectance and service delivered, it is important take into consideration if there is a mismatch between service delivered and what is expected, customers are less likely to return (Jones, 1989). Figure 9 illustrate four main outlines to meet customer’s expectations.
Figure 9 – Customer’s expectation Model
Source: Adapted from Martin (2003).
2.4.2 Customer expectations
Customer expectations are the required level of performance that customers require from a service (Swan and Trawick, 1980). Also based on how well services providers are able to fulfil customer needs and desires (Westbrook and Reilly, 1983; Woodruff; 1987).
It plays a central role in understanding the evaluation of service quality (Oliver, 1980). A range of methods for concept customer satisfaction have been proposed, each theory are based on different foundation. The commonly conceptual definition based on expectancy theory, is that customer expectations are predictions created by the customer regarding to what they believe it will be the result of a service provided or exchanged (Clow et. al., 1997). The models of service quality and customer’s expectation Model see figure 9 stresses the role of expectations.
As a result, food service providers should be not only to meet the customer’s expectations but also to exceed them. Even so, it should be evidenced that exceeding customer expectations by a very high level is both profitable and dynamic, also it will increase cost and customers will have even high expectations when they repurchase. (Olsen et al., 1996).
2.4.3 Customer perceptions
Customer perceptions play a vital to the concept of service quality. Perceptions are customer’s beliefs when they receive and experience service. It gives an explanation on how customers perceive service and how they evaluate their feelings. Additionally, it is important that organisations and managers understand the criteria that customers use to measure service quality (Gale 1994). On average, customers do not perceive circumstances in the same way for the reason that they comprise different needs, objectives and past experiences which persuade their expectations (Seaton and Bennett 1996).
Perceived quality is highly connected with service quality and customer satisfaction (Ndhlovu and Senguder, 2002), a high perception of service value can result in greater satisfaction and intentions to return (Tam, 2000). In the food service industry, customers evaluate, compare an establishment with is competitors, and that evaluation is based on satisfaction, where they observe evaluation of service quality from employees, product quality and price (Lewis, 1984; Johns, 1992).
3.5 Food and beverage service employment
People working in food and beverage service are the main point of contact between customers an establishment (Foskett and Ceserani, 2008). It is an important role in a profession with an increasing national and international status (Lillicrap et al., 2002).
A research conducted by Bowdin and Pherson (2006) states figures regarding tourism service industry. In UK, 13,276 people are employed in the industry as their main job, with a further 337 employed as their second job (The Labour Market review for the Travel Service in Bowdin and Pherson 2006). Moreover, People 1st (2009) registered on total 56 per cent of the labour force are employed on a full time basis and 44 percent work part time. Also the research suggests that conference and events is the largest employer with 13,771 employees, this figure does not included in the figure above. While is difficult to assess the number of employed into the industry. It is obvious that growth in employment in this are and associated sector is occurring. The innovative industries have seen a rise of 400,000 employees in an eight years period (Bowdin and Pherson 2006).
The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sectors surrounded by the fastest growing in the UK, with standard growth in the sector sitting at 7 per cent over the last 5 years, compared with a 4 per cent growth rate across the economy as a whole. Furthermore, it is predicted that 15,000 new jobs will be created in these sectors between 2002 and 2012 (Bowdin and Pherson 2006).
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From the Food Service Industry Profile (2009) in Peoples 1st (2009), a research shows that according to the labour force survey 2007/08 183,902 people work in food service establishments in the UK., which 67 per cent are women. They also supported that 15 per cent of those people working in the food and service industry are from black and ethnic minority.
Furthermore, graphics 8 and 9 shows the employment by gender and full and part time employment into the food service industry:
Graphics 1: Employment by gender and full and part time.
Source: People 1st (2009).
An additional data from the research reveal the industry age management profile, it says is relatively old when compare to other industry within the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector. More than half 52 per cent are aged between 30 and 49 compared to an average of 35 percent across the sector. A further 27 per cent are aged over 50. Across the sector this figure stands at 17 per cent.
3.6 The concepts of food quality
Food quality is generally distinguished from concept of ‘value’. It is understandable that food is a core product in any food establishment. Perception of food quality is part of the cognitive process, which influences satisfaction/ dissatisfaction as well as “need fulfilment, expectancy affirmation, equity/inequity, also regret and unapprised cognition (Frewer et al., 2001).
A high standard of service and quality of food with more sophisticated atmosphere can be found in a coffee shop or speciality restaurants; higher priced á la carte restaurant with more extensive menu and one or two cocktail bars in the hotel (Davis et al., 1998; Edwards and Nick, 1994). A well in conference centres were function meals served requires professionalism in preparing, planning and producing these meals; knowledge of the diners / customers and their expectations, desire and reasons for eating out are other crucial factors of food quality (Gustafsson et. al., 2006).
Examining customer satisfaction, finds that food quality is part of top nine factors tested that had a considerable effect on customer’s intention to return in a food service. Likewise, the crucial factor of selecting food service establishment is determined by quality of food (Cullen, 2004).
3.7 Importance of food quality
A researched carried by Kim et. al. (2009) analyse the influence of conference food function on attendee satisfaction shows that the quality of food content is the leading determinant of an attendees satisfaction with the food function performance.
However, consumers are increasingly becoming knowledgeable and sophisticated about food; they usually expect and require food with genuine quality. If companies are prepared to respond to these demands and reflect them in their marketing strategies, the bottom line quality will appear for it self (Wheelock 1992).
A term of quality are generally described rather differently between costumers and the provider (Wieske, 1981), and normally includes items such as the food variety, quality of ingredients, nutrition, portion size and price, those appropriated to meet customers desire and nutritional requirements contributing to pleasure of eating (Daget, 1988; Seo and Shanklin, 2005).
3.7.1 Customers role of food quality
Food is not only a basic need of life but, it is a survival necessity. Eating is a part of activities of the daily routine, where variation, life style, imagination and imagination on food preparation and presentation (Wieske 1981). With food and service product price and variety can be widely provided. In general, customers are prepared to pay more for what they recognize to high quality service or product (Wheelock 1992).
Quality on food can be relatively a complex issue. The food quality approach is engage into the natural sciences based on measurability of food quality characteristics. Those product and services characteristics are classified by costumer’s researches, transforming those in natural part of the product or service definition and can be conveyed to the next link to improve process on those processes with right specification related to an ingredients, manufacture procedures, packing and service standards, called specifications (Daget, 1988; Becker, 2000).
Specifications are the meaning by product knowledge which is transmitted to all those concerned at the service or product. Any failure to certificate this will inevitably confuse those who face the problem of putting the design into production (Daget 1988). The product knowledge and quality expectation is powerfully influenced both by the company’s marketing and advertisement as well as by the type of how it can be demonstrated and provision in the trade (Wieske 1981).
3.7.2 Influence of food sensory aspects on costumers
Food providers can be even less confident about how much that food contributes to an individual’s meal experience (Edwards and Nick, 1994). Experienced quality, including all sort of sensory pleasure particularly taste, and it is influenced by many ways for instance, the product itself, past experience which applies to both food quality and mood of the customer (Frewer et al., 2001).
Despite the fact that sensory quality of food is just a part of the customer’s eating experience, it is very vital for food development, market testing and quality control (Nick et al., 1994). Costumers can use their sensory dimension and the freshness of food to evaluate food service quality or perceived value A successful food service function is the one which ensures providence of appearance, aroma, taste, temperature and texture are all as customer expectations (Jones, 2002; Lee et al., 2004).
It is important to note that psychical quality of food is a vital part of customer satisfaction. Sensory aspects of food quality are perceived by numerous items (Jones, 2002), illustrated on table 9 the follow senses:
Table 9 – Food sensory aspects.
Colour, visual texture, portion size, apparent freshness and purity;
Aroma, some part of flavour which is actually perceived through the olfactory area;
Combinations of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness to create unique flavour of food;
Sense of muscular movement such as chewiness and tenderness;
Smoothness, dryness, lumps, fluid or solid including rare, middle or well – done level of steak;
Some foods are recognised by a crackle during chewing;
Serving with low temperature or high temperature depending on types of meals or sweet.
Source: Jones (2002).
3.7.3 The influence of food sensory attributes on customers
The sensory attributes of a food plays an important role in it overall acceptance process. For example, it has been well acknowledged that there is specific design to the growth of pleasantness/unpleasantness as a function of the strength of food related sensory attributes. It is makes clear that customers’ expectations about the sensory properties of food have an influential effect on perceived food appearance (Thomson, 1994).
According to many researchers regarding on the relative influence of food quality on customer satisfaction and behaviour (Auty, 1992), the sensory dimensions may perhaps be a core quality and seen as fundamental role to improve perceived service value in a food service context. Additionally the sensory attributes as well play a key role in the customer’s attempt to assess a particular food function performance (Kivela et al., 2000; Lee et al., 2004).
A research conducted by Hester and Harrison (2001) reveals that the sensory attributes can be transformed into a perception of food quality by the costumers that may go ahead to repeat purchase. In addition, a better perception of costumers permit food providers to meet their needs and offer a wide range of nutritious, delicious, attractive and good value products.
188.8.131.52 The importance of appearance, flavour and texture
Appearance is the first sensory sense that influences costumers to be interested in the food (Cardello 1994; Lawless 2000). It includes essential sensory attributes of the food as its colour, shape and size as well as more compounds attributes such as translucency, gloss and surface texture (Cardello 1994). Colour often predominate costumers expectations about flavour, and changes in shape or colour can reduce the sense of sameness. It predicts quality and motivates costumer’s expectations concerning other sensory attributes (Lawless 2000).
Astonishing colours may possibly persuade caution until the food is determined to be safe, palatable, and nutritious (Lawless 2000). Although the visual appearance of the food is a potential influence on acceptability, package related to shape, colour, design, associated logo, symbols, brand item; and names are also important (Cardello 1994).
Several researches has been conducted concerning important specifics attributes as important sensory factors involving acceptability of food variety, issues from costumers knowledge of food texture is essential to understanding its overall contribution to food acceptance. Furthermore, most of researches that have been conducted with food costumers, flavours are more often mentioned than texture as a reason liking or disliking food (Cardello 1994; Cardello et. al., 1983; Cardello and Maller, 1987; Hendrix et. al., 1963). On the other hand, other studies have indicated that texture is mentioned more often as a reason for disliking a food than as a reason for liking it (Schutz and Wahl 1981).
Many others attributes have been taken into consideration, such as gender, socio-economic status and geographical location were factors related to awareness of texture. Women prefer to be more texture conscious than men, an attribute shared by people in higher socio-economic classes (Schutz and Wahl 1981). Despite the fact that the texture of food products can have a profound effect on perceived acceptability, an even greater influence is applied by the flavour of food (Cardello, 1994).
3.7.4 Expectation and perception on food quality
Food services are characterised basically by experience also by an acceptable quality dimensions. For most quality dimensions, costumers can not recognize quality before or during the process, however, they have to create quality expectation which is called quality indication. There are generally two quality indication outlining the expectations which are extrinsic quality and intrinsic quality (Olson and Jacoby, 1972 in Frewer et al., 2001).
Extrinsic quality factors refers to everything including price of the product or the brand Also, it includes atmosphere and service quality of staff (Frewer et. al., 2001). Measure satisfaction factor, it is becomes more critical as customer expectations and perceptions of product change. Customer product expectations are expected to increase, also their expectations of money value (Edwards and Nick, 1994). A research conducted by Dube and Renaghan (1994) recognises the importance to focus on relationship between satisfaction and the frequency of repeat purchase. In addition, they suggest to food service environment different ways to encouraging repeat purchase based on aspects such as tasty food, atmosphere, attentive staff, helpful staff, consistent food, menu variety and waiting time.
Into the food service industry intrinsic quality refers to physical characteristics of the product or service, for example, when the taste or the appearance is inferred from the colour or other aspects include appearance and brand knowledge (Frewer et al., 2001; Tregear and Ness, 2005); also staff appearance and atmosphere of dining hall (Kim et. al., 2009). In addition, customers’ meal acceptance normally is not only influenced by food quality itself (intrinsic quality) but customers may rely previous meals experiences and value expectation (Oh and Park, 2000; Hartwell, 2004).
3.8 Menu planning
The aim of food menu or beverage list is to inform customers what is available to them (Davis et al. 1998), in apparently random fashion with the food being raw, prepared or cooked. Individual menus came into use early in the nineteenth century, as the twentieth century advanced, and people settled around the world, the food service industry began to introducing different style of food and service (Foskett and Ceserani, 2008).
Function catering venues normally work on menu planning based on the guidelines in the financial and marketing policies, the different types of menus offered by a function organisation (Davis et al. 1998). Usually, those venues adopt the cyclical menus, these are complied to cover a given period of time: months, or seasonal. The length of the cycle is determined by management strategies (Foskett and Ceserani, 2008). Table 6 shows the advantages and disadvantages of cyclical menus.
Table 6 – Advantages and disadvantages of cyclical menus.
Cyclical menus save time by removing the daily or weekly task of compiling menus, although they may require slight alterations for the next period.
When used in association with cook-freeze operations, it is possible to produce the entire number of portions of each item to last the whole cycle, having determined that the standardised recipes are correct.
They give greater efficiency in time and labour.
They can cut down on the number of commodities held in stock, and can assist in planning storage requirements.
When used in establishments with a captive clientele, the cycle has to be long enough so that customers do not get bored with the repetition of dishes.
The caterer can not easily take advantage of ‘good buys’ offered by suppliers on a daily or weekly basis, unless such items are required for the cyclical menu.
Source: Adapted from Foskett and Ceserani (2008).
Manage menu planning for conference events, should take several factors into consideration: food costs, delegate requirements, the type of items required by the client, nutritional concerns, seasonality, staffing implications, and the overall impression that the meal will give to delegates (McCabe et al., 2000).
As a sales tool, menus often will by using well-planning and presented advertisement techniques, direct the customers what they are buy (Davis et al. 1998), also it is important to present clearly to clients and delegates the quantity, quality, price, brand (if necessary) and means of preparation of items within menu (McCabe et al., 2000).
3.8.1 Menu selection
From conference managers, food function is related to cost driven, as food and beverage sector accounts for 28% of the total expenditure for the conference industry, which is the single largest portion (
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