|dc.description.abstract||Identifying customers' perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular service is an important step in the process of providing good service quality. This insight will allow managers to prioritize and allocate resources necessary for continued success or remediation. The purpose of this research was to identify skiers' and snowboarders perceptions of ski resort quality in Hakuba, Japan. Since the early 1990s there has been a steady decline in visitation at Japanese ski resorts. The reduction in numbers has been attributed to mostly an aging ski population and an unstable economy over recent years. As a result, many of Japan's ski resorts have closed, and the ones that have managed to stay in business are looking for ways to maintain or increase participation rates. One way to improve business is to better understand the current clients’ opinions on service quality. This was done by using a survey to undertake an importance performance measurement.
Heterogeneity of the sample was taken into account by segmenting skiers and snowboarders by levels of recreation specialization. Specialization was used as it has demonstrated empirically to be a key variable which affects preferences and levels of satisfaction in recreational activities.
Surveys were distributed at the Happo-One ski resort in Hakuba, Japan, asking participants to rank various attributes (services and infrastructure) according to perceptions of importance and satisfaction with company performance in this area. Data were then analysed using the importance-performance analysis (IPA). The respondents were divided into specialization groups using a cluster analysis method. The cluster analysis was preferred over an additive approach, as it accounts the unique contribution of different dimensions.
The results show that Happo-One is predominantly a skier resort with a smaller proportion of mostly “low” specialized snowboarders. The use of the IPA was an effective method to identify the resort’s strengths and weaknesses. Overall, the resort performed the best in the area of lessons, and results indicated that priorities for change included restaurants,
slopes services and slope characteristics. The areas of accommodations, equipment rentals, shops, and tourist information services were all considered areas of low priority for attention.
While there were some similarities between the skier and snowboarder results, more of the attributes for the snowboarders were located below the acceptable level of satisfaction with performance. Compared to the skier group, more issues need to be addressed for the snowboarders, in order to increase satisfaction. Understanding of data was enhanced by segmenting skiers and snowboarders by levels of specialization. Respondents who were lower in specialization were less satisfied overall, indicating Happo-One is more conducive for higher specialized participants.
This research demonstrated that skiers and snowboarders have different requirements that should be taken into account by managers of ski resorts. Furthermore, segmenting by recreation specialization was found to be a useful strategy in understanding the differing perceptions within both skier and snowboarder groups. This study showed that IPA is an effective and efficient approach to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of ski resorts and in prioritising areas of needed further research.||