Influence of Tour Guiding Service Quality on Tourist Satisfaction in Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok County, Kenya
Gitonga, James Nguya
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The competitiveness of a destination is determined by the quality of services offered. Tour guides play an important role in meeting the perception and expectations of the tourists in a destination. Quality tour guiding services have ultimate effects on customer satisfaction with the services offered in a destination. There is limited research on tour guiding service quality and customer satisfaction in Kenya, thus the need to explore the influence of tour guiding service quality on the customer satisfaction in Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR), Narok County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were; to assess tour guiding competencies that influence quality guiding services; to determine the influence of core tour guiding service delivery aspects on customer satisfaction; to determine the effects of tour guides’ customer orientation on customer satisfaction; and to examine the moderating influence of the status of the sightseeing vehicles on the relationship between tour guiding service quality and customer satisfaction in MMNR. The study used a cross-sectional research design to evaluate the influence of tour guiding services on customer satisfaction. Primary data was collected from 311 tourists staying in camps and lodges in and around the MMNR and 10 Nairobi based tour operators. A questionnaire was used for the tourist respondents while an interview schedule was used for the tour operators. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis was used to analyse the data. Results indicate that tour guiding competencies significantly and positively influenced customer satisfaction. There was a high degree of correlation between tour guiding competencies and customer satisfaction (R=0.805) accounting for 76.4% of the relationship. Punctuality, keen sense of direction and enthusiasm being the most satisfying elements. Core service delivery aspects also significantly positively influenced customer satisfaction. There was a moderate correlation between delivery of core services (R=0.696) and tourist satisfaction, accounting for 48.4% of the relationship. Delivery of the promised service and knowledge of the destination being the most satisfying elements. Tour guide's orientation significantly negatively influenced customer satisfaction. Tour guide’s orientation (R=0.616) also produced a moderate correlation with tourist satisfaction accounting for 38.0% of the relationship. Pressure to buy extra excursions and soliciting for tips being the most unsatisfying elements. The moderating variable; status of sightseeing vehicle had a significant moderating influence on the relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction. It produced a moderate degree of correlation (R=0.644) accounting for 41.4% of the relationship between tour guiding service quality and tourist satisfaction. The study highlights the importance of tour guiding service quality to tourist satisfaction and recommends how the findings of this study will benefit tour operators and tour guides to improve the service quality of guiding services offered to the tourist. The government through the Ministry of tourism and wildlife will use the ideas generated to formulate and implement policies that will address tour guiding services in Kenya. The study findings will also contribute to the body of knowledge in the world of academia regarding tourism and tour guiding while also highlighting areas for further research.