Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Technological University Dublin, September 2015.


This study provides an interpretivist exploration of customer usage and experiences of self-service technologies (SSTs) in the tourism sector. Tourism customers are increasingly using a wide range of SSTs, for example, to make reservations online and use self-check-in and „bag and tag‟ facilities at airports. While SST research to date has provided insights into the factors affecting customer SST adoption decisions, the aim of this study is to explore customers‟ perspectives on their usage and experiences of SSTs in the tourism sector. This interpretivist study employs a two-stage qualitative methodology of short qualitative interviews with 133 participants at an international airport, followed by 32 in-depth interviews with SST users in the tourism sector. Seven motivations for SST usage are identified in this research. Whilst motivations such as convenience and access to lower prices have received some research attention, three new motivations emerge in this research, namely forced usage, eco-friendliness and empathy for other customers. In addition, customer experiences of SSTs are explored through the lens of the value-in-experience concept. This approach illustrates whether SST usage creates value for the customer (e.g. a sense of accomplishment) or destroys value (e.g. a perception of lack of control over the SST encounter).

Using the theoretical lens of Service-Dominant Logic, an analysis of SST experiences indicates that customers undertake a variety of SST roles, such as that of convenience seeker, motivated worker, enforced worker and judge. Some of these roles indicate that customers are often required to use SSTs by the tourism provider, and may not be given other options (e.g. personal encounter with employees). Similarly, customers often assume the role of partial employee, by working on behalf of the tourism provider, to assist other customers who experience SST difficulties. Therefore, it is asserted that from the user‟s point of view, SST usage is often imposed upon customers, as opposed to being offered as an option, thus challenging the traditional customer-centricity of the marketing paradigm, as proposed by the Service-Dominant Logic. A key contribution of this study is the development and examination of a model of SST usage, which illustrates the complex, nuanced and often contradictory nature of a customer‟s usage and experiences. This model may facilitate marketers, managers and policy makers in planning strategic service interventions to enhance value creation in SST usage and ensure successful implementation of SSTs in the tourism sector and the wider services sector.


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Tourism Commons