University of Oulu

Utilization of humor in a tourism service encounter when creating a service experience

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Author: Lehtovuori, Hilla-Maria
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201604141482
Language: English
Published: Oulu : H. Lehtovuori, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-04-19
Physical Description: 93 p.
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa
Saraniemi, Saila
Reviewer: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa
Saraniemi, Saila
Description:
The motivation for this research is to explore how humor is utilized in a tourism service encounter when creating a service experience. The aim of this study is to link an understanding between theory and empirical data, and construct a framework that answers the research questions. The aim is also to increase awareness of how a company can utilize humor in creating a new service. The delimitation has been made by studying one phenomenon, which is the humorous service encounter situation that takes place between the tourists and service personnel. Santa’s Hideout Cabin is the service under scrutiny. This is a new service provided by Ranua Wildlife Park. Ranua Wildlife Park is the case company with whom this project has been done in cooperation with. This research is also part of a TEKES funded project, called HURMOS. The empirical research has been conducted as a case study. Data consists of interviews, which is a form of qualitative data. Consent of all participants was received prior to the interviews. Two focus group interviews were made, consisting of a total of ten participants, from seven different countries. In addition, four Finnish employees were interviewed. One of the employee interviews was made over phone, as an open interview. The rest of the interviews were semi-structured interviews. All interviews were transcribed, color-coded, and analyzed with a qualitative data analysis. The theoretical framework composes of a broad literature overview of scientific and academic journals, books and some online sources. Although humor is rather a difficult subject to study, it was possible to grasp an initial understanding of it. Service experience is understood through a model of four experience realms. Service encounter is understood to be the interaction between the customer and service provider. The perspective taken in this research, is the customer’s point of view on the service experience and service encounter situation. A service encounter can be understood to be composed of positive emotions, such as warmth and friendliness during service transactions. In addition, spoken language, non-verbal communication, and socially accepted facial expressions and tones of voices affect service delivery. Time dimension, service experience realms, and the appearance of humor from customers’ point of view are linked together with a framework constructed by the researcher. The results indicate, that humor appears in the service encounter situations from customers’ point of view, although the customers wish for more humor. Humor in this study appears in the behavior, actions, words, and non-verbal communication of the service personnel. Humor also appears as a smile, a laugh, a joke and funny behavior and the ease of approaching a service personnel. Humor is utilized to ease the customers’ comfort levels during their stay. The theoretical contribution with the constructed framework, is to give a better way of perceiving the linkage between time dimension, different service experience realms, and the role and appearance of humor. This study makes practitioners aware of the existence of humor and the possibility it holds as a tactical tool. Secondly, practitioners realize which factors account for a successful service encounter. Third, the interviews provide honest perspectives that the test customers and employees hold toward the service experience situation. Although, the sample size is rather small, it is possible to generalize, that humor is an important addition that tourism businesses can utilize in their services, to provide a memorable experience for the tourists.
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