Crafting customer experience through cultural theming: A case of a cultural themed hotel in China

Xin Liu, Purdue University


Themed hotels are emerging in the market, and adopting cultural theme is among the popular choices. It caters to customer needs for personal and memorable hotel experience in the experience economy. Theming is a means to transform service into unique experience (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, 2002). A holistic perspective is required to manage the cultural themed hotel experience in the dynamic process. However, issues related to customer experience management in this setting have received limited research attention. The present research explores the processes of an abstract and intangible cultural theme being transformed into contextualized customer experiences in the cultural themed hotel setting. Qualitative case study was utilized as a research method to collect and analyze data gathered from a cultural themed hotel in Suzhou, China. A theoretical framework with six transformation patterns was developed to describe the systematic and dynamic managerial process. The identified patterns are outlined as tangibilization, symbolization, ritualization, dramatization, immersion and invigoration. Each pattern is associated with different level of customer involvement, and the integration of them covers issues of cultural elements being transformed to customer experience, employee internalization and constant innovation. Findings of this study theoretically contribute to customer experience management, cultural commoditization and theming literatures, and practically facilitate business practitioners in theme business or broader realms to manage customer experience with uniqueness.




MIAO, Purdue University.

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