As Photo 1 demonstrates, lot can be read into service encounters whether they be people with disability as consumers or as employees serving others. The servicescape's physical and sensory dimensions create enabling or disabling environments for consumers and employees alike. The servicescape may dominate a person's experience or be overcome by well-trained staff who welcome people with disability and seek solutions to environmental barriers. However, what are consumer reactions to being served by people with disability?
This study out of the USA explored several types of interactions in restaurants between customers and service staff with and without disabilities. The findings were relatively surprising and led to the conclusion that service staff with disabilities should be employed in restaurants that target families rather than business or romantic clientele. As this study suggests, it is not just whether you "are you being served?" but some groups of consumers may have a negative disposition towards people with disability in a service context.
|Photo 1: Service Encounters ©PhotoAbility 2014é|
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Consumers' perspectives on service staff with disabilities in the hospitality industry
Research limitations/implications – This study employed a convenient sample and the findings might be limited to the casual dining restaurant context. Future research should examine the relationship between purchase intention and perceived social responsibility, restaurant image, or specific disabilities.