Importance of service elements among Chinese gamblers visiting Macau
Wan, Penny Yim King
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Casino gaming is a common form of entertainment in many countries, and the casino gaming industry worldwide is expanding at a rapid pace (Lee et al., 2006). Macau is one of the main locations of the gaming industry in East/Southeast Asia, and is a key part of the economy in Macau. The gaming industry accounted for 83 percent of tax revenue in 2010 (Macau FSB 2011), and also accounted for 14 about percent of Macau’s total employment (Macau DSEC 2008). However, while the industry is thriving, it is a very competitive environment, and individual casinos need to understand their well to attract customers.We specifically examined the importance of various service elements among casino goers visiting Macau from Hong Kong and mainland China. This sort of information is critical in making decisions about details of the marketing mix for various segments (e.g., Wind & Bell 2007). Rϋck & Mende (2008) recommend more extensive use of segmentation analysis in the tourism industry. In this spirit, here we examine importance by home of the visitor (HK, China), marital status, and age, although this is only the preliminary step toward more detailed segmentation analysis.Respondents were asked about what attributes were important in their decision to visit one casino over another. The twenty attributes were mostly taken from Shoemaker and Zemke (2005), with slight adaptation and a few additional questions to reflect Macao’s unique situation. For example, one question asks about the transportation link between Macau’s ferry port or the border gate to different casinos. Questions used a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (highly unimportant) to 5 (highly important). The questionnaire was designed in Chinese, and tested in a small pilot of eight casino players to check the relevance and clarity of the questions. On average, respondents took 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire and reported no problems understanding it, so that no changes were required. The main survey was administered in July 2010 in face-to-face interviews with Chinese gamblers through convenience sampling outside ten large casinos. Twenty University of Macau students who were fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin conducted the interviews. The researchers provided training and on-site demonstration of conducting the interview, and supervised the fieldwork. A total of 371 completed questionnaires were collected, 168 Hong Kong Chinese, and 203 mainland Chinese. (There were also 29 Taiwanese, but this sub-sample was too small for meaningful analysis as a separate segment, and the data on Taiwanese casino goers is not used here.)Factor analysis of these importance ratings yielded six factors accounting for about 58 percent of variance. These six factors are noted in Table 1, in which the 20 questions are organized by the factors on which they loaded. On an overall basis, then, the importance scores are not highly useful in distinguishing what customers want or do not care about much. Every question has a mean indicating some degree of importance significantly above the mid-point of the scale. However, MANOVA shows that the three variables describing characteristics of casino visitors (‘where from’, age, marital status, and their two-way interactions) do differ strongly on some of the dimensions. In particular, f5 employee interaction shows up as being strongly influenced by all three of the characteristics (although by marital status only in interactions with ‘where from’ and age).We focus on employee interaction here, since it is one of the most clear examples of distinct differences among our respondents. Employee interaction is much more important to visitors from mainland China than from Hong Kong, and to the oldest visitors. This importance does not differ much by marital status among mainland Chinese, but among Hong Kong visitors, married visitors think it is significantly more important than do single visitors. Among mainland Chinese, the importance of employee interactions generally rises with age, although the youngest age category (18-27) also rates it more highly than some of the older categories. On the other hand, the overall trend, although erratic, is toward less importance as age increases among Hong Kong visitors.