Surprise as an Experiential Marketing Tool to Generate

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Surprise as an Experiential Marketing Tool to Generate Customer Delight in Hospitality :

Surprise as an Experiential Marketing Tool to Generate Customer Delight in Hospitality Soma Sinha Roy Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

The Emotion of Surprise:

The Emotion of Surprise Surprise is neutral and positive emotion that is elicited by unexpected phenomenon or what is known as schema discrepancy. Surprise occurs when : Unexpected – denotes vague and not well-defined expectations about product/service Misexpected – denotes precise expectations about product/service that do not occur

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Although the emotion of surprise itself is neutral , it is often followed by another emotion that colors it either Positively : surprise ---> joy Negatively : surprise ---> anger Literature supports the notion that positive surprise leads higher satisfaction (often termed as delight) and repurchasing intentions.

Models of Surprise:

Models of Surprise Attribution Model of Surprise Expectancy-Disconfirmation Model of Surprise

Attribution Model of Surprise:

Attribution Model of Surprise Valence/Importance of event Disconfirmation of expectancy Attribution Attribution to Surprise Search Luck Attribution to Other sufficient Other factors cognitive / noncognitive causes

Expectancy-Disconfirmation Model:

Expectancy-Disconfirmation Model Valence/importance of event; effortfulness of Of search; available time, access to time, access to Information etc ---  perceived cost and benefits of causal search Disconfirmation of Surprise Attribution Attribution to Expectancy Search luck Noncognitive causes Attribution to other Factors


Experience Pine and Gilmore (1999) assert that marketplace is to be understood as a theatrical stage in which consumer experience is the core element. Prahlad and Ramaswamy (2003) suggest that the core competency of a company lie in the co-creation of “experience spaces” where customers develop experiences to suit their needs and level of involvement. For successful experiential marketing the result should be “ something extremely significant and unforgettable for the consumer immersed into the experience”.

Hospitality :

Hospitality Oxford English Dictionary (2002) defines hospitality as “friendly and generous reception of guests or strangers” Chambers English Dictionary(2001) defines it as “entertaining strangers and guests kindly and without reward” Lashley (2000) states “hospitality requires the guest to feel that the host is being hospitable through feelings of generosity, a desire to please and a genuine regard for the guest as an individual”

Hospitality as an Experience:

Hospitality as an Experience Marketers may increase the value of their offering by adding a “memorable experience” Consumption and decision-making processes are largely related to hedonic and emotional aspects because consumption experiences are often directed toward the pursuit of fantasies, feeling and fun. The five main senses can be used as a reference point to influence sensorial stimulation

Surprise Marketing in Hospitality:

Surprise Marketing in Hospitality Hospitality businesses should design their guest experiences to include ‘lots of little surprises’ or ‘sparkling moments’ using ideas and creativity of their staff to stimulate and excite guest. The creative ideas are unlikely to come from guests. In truly hospitable environment guests look for something special that gives surprise and delight. Innovations are more likely to be host-led and depends upon the creativity of the staff performers. The staffs need to interpret the needs of the guests in unusual and exciting ways that create memorable experiences that encourage guests to return and generate positive word-of-mouth

Points to consider:

Points to consider Rational marketing has been replaced by emotional marketing. Customers are more interested in bundle of experiences rather than functional utility of the products Surprise is a popular customer retention strategy Positive surprise generates word-of-mouth but elevates customer expectations If the expectations are not properly anticipated it creates disgust/despair One act of surprise at a particular point of time will definitely cease to have an impact upon repetition. Therefore surprise requires creativity Surprise should not involve big investments



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