Special Features of Services

It is very important for all professionals who are involved in tourism and travel to remember these important ways in which services differ from tangible goods:-

Firstly, as we have explained, because they are intangible services cannot be “tested” in advance, so neither the client nor the seller or vendor can be certain that the holiday/vacation recommended or selected is exactly what is sought. Thus to a large extent the client buys “on trust”.

Secondly, the success of a holiday or vacation can depend to a large extent on the personnel who provide the various services which together make up the “full” product. Such personnel might include some or all of: couriers, air hostesses or stewards, travel representatives and travel agency counter staff, hotel receptionists, restaurant and housekeeping staff, and many more, because most services - and tourism is definitely no exception - are “labour intensive”.

Therefore, the standard of performance of the various services can vary considerably depending on,

(1) The behavior of people who are involved in the provision of the services.
(2) The manner in which the services are provided.

The satisfaction of travelers and tourists will be affected by whether or not the services are provided in a friendly way, efficiently, helpfully, sympathetically, offhandedly, disinterestedly, carelessly, and so on. 

What is more, much depends on the attitude of the person ‘receiving’ a particular service, because very often the provision and “consumption” of a service are inseparable, and the recipient participates in the process. Some people are easy to please, whilst other people are very difficult to please; some people can overlook minor problems whilst other people are very critical and demanding; some people are determined that nothing will spoil their enjoyment, whilst other people seem equally determined not to enjoy themselves!; and so on.

# Another feature of a tourism product is that it cannot be taken to the consumer; instead the consumer must be taken to the product and, of course, part of the product actually involves the “taking to” - by one or more modes of transport, such as by road, rail, water or air.

# The many services which jointly make up a tourism product are perishable. They cannot be “saved” or “stored” for later use. For example, an “unsold” hotel bedroom or cruise ship cabin, aircraft or coach or train seat cannot be “stored” for sale at a later date (as can be often done with many tangible products); once a sale has been lost, it is lost forever! That is why large discounts and/or other incentives might be offered for “last minute” holidays or “breaks” - in order to fill aircraft, hotels, etc.

# Finally, at least in the short-term, the supply of a tourism product is inelastic, that is, it is more or less fixed. For example, the number of hotel rooms or beds available at a particular resort cannot be substantially increased to meet higher than anticipated demand in a particular season. Some hotels and/or guest houses, etc, might close during the “off season”, but it is not easy to reopen them at short notice to meet greater than expected demand, in the way in which the rate or volume of production or manufacture of tangible products can be increased to meet increased consumer demand.


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