Research Output
Hybrid Servicescapes in Tourism and Hospitality
  Despite being 30 years since the publication of Bitner’s (1992) seminal article, the servicescape concept remains central to the marketing and management of tourism and hospitality environments. While undoubtedly, the fundamental premise remains the same - that the physical, sensory and ambient conditions influence both the customer and employee experience and their associated behaviours. However, there have been significant adaptions and enhancements to the model to incorporate technological innovations that are embedded within contemporary tourism and hospitality environments (Rosenbaum & Massiah, 2011; Pizam & Tasci, 2019). The reconfiguring of physical service spaces is particularly relevant in the post-Covid landscape where tangible elements of physical evidence are interwoven with digital touchpoints, virtual experiences and smart automated technology.

There is a growing recognition that there is a gradual reconfiguring of the physical and virtual domain within service experiences. As such, there is a greater need to consider hybridisation within the servicescape to incorporate both the tangible and digital elements. While there has been research into e-servicescapes that make use of online platforms (Harris & Goode, 2010; Tankovic & Benazic, 2018), much of these focus on internet-enabled devices such as external webpages and smartphones (Lee, 2018; Allmér, 2020). In tourism and hospitality settings, there are alternative digital touchpoints and technologies embedded as a central component of the visitor/guest experience including: holograms; robotics; smart surfaces; audio and touch-controlled devices; and autonomous systems.

Significant opportunities exist for hybrid servicescapes particularly through the lens of co-creation. Co-creative practices including active dialogue, engagement, personalisation and customer control can be facilitated by the physical evidence within the servicescape in tourism and hospitality venues (Nilsson & Ballantyne, 2014). As social spaces, tourism and hospitality environments bring together customers, employees and indeed other customers within fixed locations (Line & Hanks, 2019). However, increasingly technology can be seen as another ‘actor’ within the space and act to enhance co-creative opportunities if well designed and managed (Roy et al., 2019). Conversely, there are potential challenges associated with the hybridisation of the servicescape. The extent to which visitors or guests can actively personalise the experience through technological platforms is debated. Similarly, fundamental functions within the servicescape such as way finding, visitor management and accessibility may need to be revisited within the context of hybrid experiential spaces where technology can and continue to replace tangible evidence. This chapter seeks to explore the emerging concept of the hybrid servicescape in a range of tourism and hospitality environments to consider the opportunities and the potential challenges for practitioners in managing and marketing hybridised experiential spaces.

  • Date:

    28 October 2023

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Urquhart, E. (in press). Hybrid Servicescapes in Tourism and Hospitality. In N. Stylos, R. Rahimi, & P. Robinson (Eds.), Contemporary Marketing Management for Tourism and Hospitality. Palgrave Macmillan


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