Multilingual Skies: The Role of Language in Service Encounters - An Approach to the Airline Industry

Virginia Marin Sancho

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The purpose of the present thesis is to investigate the influence of language in service encounters to further identify the relationship between language and perceptions of service quality. The context of the study will be the aviation industry in Europe. Opinions of Spanish and Danish nationals have served to assess passengers’ language preferences when travelling and to value the general perceptions of the service provided by cabin crews. The objective of the research is to shorten the gap in the literature, to measure how the service is affected by language and to produce valuable managerial recommendations. Based on a thorough literature review and on the lack of research in how language influences service quality perceptions, the SERVQUAL model of service quality has been combined with some relevant language dimensions in the service setting onboard an aircraft. The integrated model aims to measure the dependency that language have on service quality. Furthermore, some demographical factors of passengers will be introduced in the model to determine further relationships with the proposed language dimensions. Data have been obtained through selected interviews and an online questionnaire targeted to the two nationalities in study. The methods used to analyze the data of the interviews consist on pattern matching based on categories; statistical tests have been used to measure the data gathered by the survey questionnaire. The quantitative analysis will focus on the relationship of the two main variables (language dimensions and service quality dimensions); moreover, differences between the two nationality groups will be tested. The results show a clear distinction between Spanish and Danish passengers. Spanish nationals have a higher native language attachment; on the contrary, Danish have better language ability and understanding of English. Perceptions of service quality are shaped accordingly. Suggestions to airliners managers are made based on these results. The research provides with a deeper understanding of how perceptions of service quality are affected by language in air travel. Moreover, the results of the study advocate for the acknowledgement of the role that language plays during the service encounter.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages88
SupervisorsJesper Clement