Publication Details

Sophonsiri, V., O'Mahony, B. & Sillitoe, J. F. 2010, 'Towards a Model of Relationship Development for Hospitality Practice', International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Systems, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 64-79.


An emphasis on customer loyalty within the service sector has led to the development of the relationship marketing paradigm. Whilst relationships between buyers and sellers are complex, there are multiple models proffered by academics that contribute to an understanding of the determinants of relationship development. This article reviews previous studies explaining how developing customer loyalty was initially linked to customer satisfaction, but is now firmly focussed on developing relationships with customers. Through an examination of a series of relationship development models, the article identifies the antecedents of relationship development and discusses each in terms of its suitability for hospitality provision. It has been found that the Key Mediating Variable (KMV) model is the most appropriate model for a hospitality context, subject to the addition of a minor modification to reflect the importance of advocacy or positive word of mouth communication. The authors present a modified model of relationship development that is appropriate for the development of customer loyalty within the hospitality sector. This will assist academics and hospitality operators to understand the manner in which relationships are developed and how best to treat guests in order to achieve repeat business and to facilitate positive word of mouth communication.