The luxury service industry is one of the most competitive sectors in the business world. Players in the luxury service industry, including spas, restaurants, and hotels emphasise the need for delivering services of the highest quality to bolster their competitiveness towards fulfilling clients’ demands and expectations. Businesses that provide luxury services incorporate models that facilitate the measurement of the quality of service delivered. Some of the notable hotels that provide luxury services in London include The Dorchester and the Bulgari Hotel. Notably, the prestigious nature of the mentioned hotels implies that the management underlines the essence of providing high-quality luxury services that meet the needs, as well as expectations of guests (Jones et al. 2016). In this respect, this paper critically compares and contrasts The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel by incorporating service models such as the SERVQUAL to explore, analyse, and critically evaluate the two players in the luxury service sector.
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Background of The Dorchester and the Bulgari Hotel
As one of the world’s most expensive and prestigious 5-star luxury hotels, The Dorchester is situated on the eastern side of Hyde Park in London. Established in 1931, The Dorchester has a rich history in the luxury hotel sector (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). Interestingly, amid the embracement of modernisation over the years, The Dorchester still has the 1930s ambience, as well as furnishings. Some of the celebrated and rich guests who have visited the hotel include Queen Elizabeth II. She sought the luxurious services of the hotel when was a princess, just before the proclamation of her engagement to Prince Phillip on 10th July 1947. The hotel has accommodated rock stars, models, and film actors who seek housing services while in London.
On the other hand, Bulgari Hotel London opened its doors to guests in 2012 (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). It is also located in the Hyde Park area. Its location at Knightsbridge is considerably strategic since the luxury hotel continually seeks to set new hospitality standards in the city of London. In 2012, the facility was regarded as the most expensive hotel that offered luxury services in London (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). In its five years of operations in the luxury service sector, the Bulgari Hotel has received positive reviews regarding the extent to which it fulfils the needs and anticipations of its guests.
A Comparison of The Dorchester Hotel and Bulgari Hotel using the SERVQAUL Framework
In any given industry, service quality is essential in fostering the competitiveness of individual players (Dedeoğlu & Demirer 2015). Particularly, service quality entails the engagement in processes that boost customers’ satisfaction while ensuring the delivery of high-standard offers. In my opinion, service quality extends beyond ensuring clients’ fulfilment. I believe that businesses, which emphasise service quality, aim at attaining customers’ loyalty, profitability, and attracting new ones. The SERVQUAL framework, developed by Valerie Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman, facilitates the assessment of the scale of service quality in various service sectors, including hotel and hospitality. The SERVQUAL model bears five distinct components that include reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy, and responsiveness. Thus, using the model to explore, analyse, and critically evaluate the quality of service offered by The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel will create an in-depth understanding of the competitiveness of the two players in London’s luxury service sector.
The responsiveness component of the SERVQUAL model measures the extent to which a service industry player is willing to assist customers or provide prompt services that satisfy their needs and expectations (Raza et al. 2012). Notably, staff members at The Dorchester uphold the essence of responsiveness since this element has been the key factor that has accounted for its competitiveness in the industry for over eight decades. Importantly, The Dorchester hotel values the relevance of responsiveness. It expects its staff members to pay attention to the needs of guests from different backgrounds before responding accordingly to satisfy the demands in line with clients’ expectations (Tufts 2014).
For instance, workers in this hotel consider the desires of guests who request to change their rooms to get a better view of the Hyde Park or any other scenery to their liking in the city of London. I applaud this flexibility because it demonstrates the degree to which clients get value for their money during their stay in the 5-star hotel. Consider a case where clients’ requests are not attended to as expected. In my view, such a move may result in a few customers visiting the hotel. I also expect the situation to affect the facility’s productivity level to the extent that it cannot sustain its workforce. Hence, I can conclude that the tireless efforts made by The Dorchester’s staff members in heeding to clients’ demands depict the management’s awareness of the value of being responsive (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). The responsiveness of staff members towards such requests is a depiction of the great concern for clients’ needs.
Additionally, The Dorchester hotel offers extra amenities that seek to meet the unique needs of guests. In this respect, guests who pay for luxurious hospitality services in this facility expect it to offer them a spa that acts as a form of therapy. As such, The Dorchester hotel in London has a spa that is situated in an aesthetically designed oasis. The spa offers guest an array of treatments by qualified professionals. Services here include an Aromatherapy Associates massage, as well as a Carol Joy London facial (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). By so doing, the hotel demonstrates its willingness to satisfy the demands of clients who need quality and prompt spa experiences.
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Similarly, Bulgari Hotel has a spa at the Workshop Gymnasium that offers the “classwork” programme to its guests who intend to maintain their fitness levels. As such, the spa seeks to ensure that the hotel responds to the needs of guests who seek to engage in healthy living practices. In addition, Bulgari Hotel’s spa is regarded as the crowning success of the hotel in demonstrating its responsiveness to service quality since it incorporates an array of the most developed beauty, grooming, as well as health-improving treatments available today (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). Thus, amid its short time since its opening, the hotel has incorporated modern advancements that promptly fulfil customers’ anticipations.
Furthermore, through Rivea London, Bulgari Hotel has shown a considerable degree of responsiveness in meeting the dietary expectations of its guests. I commend this strategy because it shows the hotel’s acknowledgement of the fact that clients have diverse needs that they wish to fulfil whenever they visit the 5-star facility. Many hotels have a fixed menu, meaning that customers have no option other than sticking to the options presented to them. Hence, from my observation, the Bulgari Hotel’s move to meet customers’ unique dietary requirements has contributed substantially to its current ranking as one of the highly reputable 5-star hotels in London. Important to note, Alain Ducasse, a section of the hotel, incorporates delicacies from various vibrant food markets, including the Provence, as well as Italy (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). As such, Bulgari Hotel serves its guests with an array of menus that include cuisines from Italian and French food markets. In this case, the hotel responds to the dietary expectations of its clients with different tastes. For this reason, guests from the UK and beyond identify the facility as one that has embraced cultural diversity to a desirable extent. Conventionally, no one expects a hotel that has been operational for less than six years to attain a 5-star ranking. I link Bulgari Hotel’s current position to its plan of addressing its clients’ demands, regardless of how unique they appear.
Similarly, The Dorchester pays attention to the dietary cravings of its customers by offering meals from different cultural backgrounds. Notably, the luxurious facility boasts of its ability to offer one of the best grilled dishes in London. Apart from providing a wide range of delicious foods, The Dorchester boasts of its signature delicacy, the blue lobster chowder, and an all-encompassing sweet soufflé menu that is regarded as the finest in London (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). Dorchester’s restaurant section responds to customers’ needs by upholding elegance in its surroundings. For instance, it has integrated creative details that portray a contemporary tone.
The assurance component of the SERVQUAL framework underlines on the need for a player in the service industry to uphold the knowledge and courtesy of employees (Bhat 2012; Tufts 2014). The extent to which staff members demonstrate knowledge and politeness influences the assurance aspect of service delivery (Legrand, Sloan & Chen 2016). Thus, it is important for workers at The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel to assure guests and clients that they offer quality services. As such, the two players need to guarantee customers that they are indeed 5-star hotels in the market and that they are continuously providing quality luxury services. The reader may wish to know the major elements that clients need to be assured of whenever they visit high-ranking facilities such as The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel. Although customers’ expectations vary from one hotel to another, I believe that guests who visit the above hotels wish to be assured of a proper reception, high standard and timely services, and an apt interaction with the facilities’ management.
The Dorchester has the edge over Bulgari Hotel given that the latter facility has limited experience in the luxury service industry. As such, apart from its friendly and professional staff members, The Dorchester assures its guests of an intriguing view overlooking the Hyde Park (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). Personally, one of the factors that inform my choice of hotel to stay at revolves around the sceneries I expect to see or the anticipated unique experiences. Will I see any monuments, fountains, and statutes? Does the hotel have a spectacular garden? Does it offer entertainment services that feature high-calibre artists? Will I enjoy any sports and leisure activities? I believe that these questions among others equally inform the decisions of clients who choose to visit The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel. For instance, guests confirm that The Dorchester’s strategic position makes it possible for guests to enjoy the view of Hyde Park and other monumental structures in London. Similarly, owing to the proximity of the Bulgari Hotel to Hyde Park, it also assures its clients of an amazing view of the city from different dimensions. As noted earlier, the strategic location of Bulgari Hotel is one of the factors that contribute to its competitiveness in London’s luxury services market.
Guests staying at The Dorchester rarely experience the hassles of shopping in London, owing to the easy accessibility of the Chopard shopping section (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). In contrast, Bulgari Hotel lacks a shopping complex that can assure its guests of quality shopping experiences within the vicinity of the hotel. Nonetheless, in the effort to guarantee its clients of superior shopping experiences in London, Bulgari Hotel assigns personal assistants to its guests (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). This strategy helps customers to navigate London’s shopping centres. In this respect, although the Bulgari Hotel lacks its shopping joint, it ensures that it provides its customers with the required support to fulfil their shopping needs in London.
The “tangibles” element of the SERVQUAL framework denotes the appearance of the equipment, physical facilities, and personnel, including communication materials (Bhat 2012). Regarding this perspective of measuring service quality, both The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel demonstrate a considerable degree of strategically positioning their tangibles. White marble bathrooms, remarkably comfortable beds, antique furniture, and commissioned fabrics are not only strategically located in the available hotel room space but also add luxury and elegance (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). Notably, The Dorchester boasts of its recognition as one of the most iconic luxury hotels globally, a position that Bulgari Hotel has not realised so far. Additionally, the exquisite rooms, suites, and modern spa at The Dorchester offer guests the epitome of glamour during their stay at the hotel.
On a similar note, Bulgari Hotel has also taken into account the essence of incorporating contemporary architecture that hooks guests who frequent the British capital. The munificently proportioned rooms, as well as suites, facilitate the delivery of high-standard experiences for guests staying at the city hotel. In addition, the hotel also incorporates unrivalled facilities, including a physical training centre and a gymnasium that has on-site personal training experts at the workshop. Additionally, Bulgari Hotel portrays its interest in fostering the satisfaction of guests by integrating tangibles such as a private spa, 11 single treatment rooms, a 25-metre swimming pool, an amazing ballroom, and a 47-seat cinema among other stunning facilities (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). In my view, I expect the hotel to record a high number of guests, especially during festive seasons. However, the size of its swimming pool and the number of clients who can use the cinema hall seem considerably limited. I believe that the limited space in these areas does not meet clients’ expectations.
In the area of luxury services, the aspect of empathy in service quality is crucial. Particularly, empathy entails the demonstration of care and customised attention to the needs and anticipations of clients or guests (Dallabona 2015). For this reason, The Dorchester and Bulgari Hotel underline the need for their customers to establish a meaningful relationship with guests. The empathetic approach ensures that clients check out of the hotel with a happy face after experiencing the best-quality services offered to them.
Notably, staff members at The Dorchester welcome their guests warmly when they check-in. According to Wieseke, Geigenmüller, and Kraus (2012), empathy is an essential factor that enhances clients’ satisfaction. The same approach is notable when a client is welcomed at the Bulgari Hotel. Staff members put in the required efforts to create a bond with guests within the first five minutes of their arrival. Undoubtedly, the two rivals in the luxury service sector demonstrate a significant degree of empathy to their clients by engaging in interactions that seek to establish lasting relationships.
Lastly, the reliability element of service quality relates to the extent to which an organisation can perform the service it promises to customers in a dependable, sustainable, and accurate way (Bhat 2012). Since its incorporation in 1931, The Dorchester has managed to prove its reliability over the decades by continuously availing memorable encounters to clients during their stay at the luxury hotel (The Dorchester: The Dorchester hotel in London 2017). Consequently, key personalities, including politicians, artists, and sports personalities regard The Dorchester as their first choice hotel destination in London.
On the other hand, over the few years of its operations in the luxury service sector, Bulgari Hotel has also assured a notable degree of reliability to its customers. Nonetheless, Bulgari Hotel has not reached the calibre of its rival, The Dorchester, owing to the brand image that the latter has created over the decades. In this respect, although Bulgari Hotel has demonstrated a considerable extent of reliability, The Dorchester edges it out in the hospitality field (Bulgari Hotels: Bulgari Hotel London 2017). Therefore, there is a need for the Bulgari Hotel to improve its standard services offered to guests to create a positive perception of its reliability.
Amid the demonstration of exceptional service quality, The Dorchester and the Bulgari Hotel need to consider several areas of improvement to enhance customer satisfaction levels and consequently competitiveness in the luxury service industry. Firstly, there is a need for the Bulgari Hotel to improve the shopping experiences of its guests by introducing a shopping complex. Apart from assigning its customers personal shopping assistants, the hotel needs to establish other outlets. By adopting this strategy, the Bulgari Hotel will enhance its competitiveness by assuring customers of memorable experiences. In addition, both The Dorchester and the Bulgari Hotel need to consider expanding the size of their tangibles. Notably, Bulgari Hotel’s space for the swimming pool, cinema, and spa are limited relative to the number of clients in need of these particular services. Similarly, for The Dorchester to retain its edge in the luxury service sector, it should also adjust the space allocated for its swimming pool and spa to accommodate more clients. Thus, expanding the size of such facilities is considered necessary, owing to the increasing number of guests who frequent the two luxury facilities.
A comparison of The Dorchester and the Bulgari Hotel demonstrates the importance of quality in the luxury service sector. Through the integration of the SERVQUAL framework, one identifies various aspects that determine the ranking of the two competitors as 5-star hotels. Both rivals acknowledge the importance of responsiveness, assurance, tangibles, empathy, and reliability in bolstering the competitiveness of their luxury services. Nonetheless, the differences may be linked to the period of their operation in the industry. Hence, The Dorchester’s performance is higher compared to the case of the 5-year-old Bulgari Hotel.
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