Food is good for you (and the planet): Balancing service quality and sustainability in hospitality

  • Rossella Baratta
  • Francesca Simeoni
Keywords: environmental sustainability; hospitality; local food; service quality; customers’ behavioral intentions; willingness to pay


Purpose of the paper: Although environmental awareness is growing among hospitality customers, some environmental initiatives may lower personal comfort and overall service quality; therefore, hospitality managers need to find a balance between service quality and environmental preservation. The aim of the research is twofold: first, to investigate whether various environmentally sustainable practices affect customers’ behavioral intentions differently, and second, to investigate if customers display more positive intentions toward a specific practice that is supposed to enhance overall service quality (i.e. serving local food).

Methodology: The empirical research is conducted through an online survey of 237 respondents. Respondents were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert scale the extent to which different sustainable practices affect their hotel selection process, their expected satisfaction during the stay, and their willingness to pay a higher price.

Results: Results show that all environmentally sustainable practices positively influence the hotel selection process and expected satisfaction, though to differing extents, but that few practices positively influence customers’ willingness to pay a higher price. Local food is the initiative that stimulates the most positive behavioral intentions across all the dimensions.

Research limitations: The study addresses almost only Italian respondents and, at the moment, examines behavioral intentions rather than actual behaviors.

Originality of the paper: The study supports the idea that environmental sustainability is a multidimensional concept, and that different practices have different effects on customers’ intentions. It adds to current knowledge that initiatives such as serving local food, which are also considered to enhance service quality and are connected to personal health, can produce a significantly more positive impact.


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