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    Antecedents of Relationship Quality from the Perspective of British and German Tour Operators and Cretan Hotels

    Fountoulaki, Paraskevi (2021) Antecedents of Relationship Quality from the Perspective of British and German Tour Operators and Cretan Hotels. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    There is limited research into the relationships between tour operators (TOs) and hoteliers from the contrasting perspectives of both sides of the dyad. Only a few studies in the tourism and marketing literature have examined the relationship quality (RQ) as a formative second-order variable, none of these have used the most common dimensions of trust, satisfaction and commitment. This study aims to model the complex antecedents of these RQ dimensions for relationships between British and German TOs and Cretan small-to-medium enterprise (SME) hoteliers; these relationship are explored from the perspectives of both business parties. Data was collected in two stages, with an initial qualitative phase, followed by a subsequent quantitative phase. The study’s qualitative component sought to identify those themes that are important predictors or dimensions of RQ for relationships between British and German TOs and Cretan small and medium-sized hotel organisations. In the first phase of the study, 26 interviews were conducted with various managers and business partners. Twelve were with British and German TOs, and 14 with Greek hoteliers. A thematic analysis revealed eleven key factors that influence RQ: information quality, trust, cooperation, relationship satisfaction, price, communication, customer satisfaction, service quality, commitment, customer relationship management, and mutual goals. The quantitative phase of this study then used those factors to develop two theoretical models of antecedents to RQ and its dimensions: one for Cretan hotel organisations and one for British and German TOs. These models were then tested on 252 SME hotel organisations and 144 British and German TOs in Crete using partial least squares structural equation modelling. The findings broadly support the hypothesised relationships proposed by the two RQ models but show genuine differences between the relationships when looking at essentially the same model from either the Hotelier or the TO perspective. This study makes several significant contributions to the field. Firstly, in this research, a complex model identifying antecedents of the key dimensions of RQ is explored from both sides of the relationship between hoteliers and TOs. Secondly, the examination of RQ as a formative second-order variable alongside its antecedents, as mediated by the formative dimensions of trust, satisfaction, and commitment, is a significant contribution to the tourism and marketing literature. Finally, a model for understanding the relationship dynamics between British and German TOs and Cretan SME hotel organisations is developed and tested, and this study furthers RQ theory both qualitatively, by identifying and adding new potential antecedents, and testing them quantitatively.

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