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Unit 4 Research Project Assignment - Cruise Ships
This Unit 4 Research Project Assignment Cruise Ships takes an inside look to the different types of entertainment provided in the hospitality industry, and in particular the entertainment provided on cruise ships. The author analyzes the impact of the entertainment on the overall experience of the passengers and how this will influence the future sales of cruises for a company. It will also present the research methods used by the author for data collection, the sampling techniques, data analysis and design techniques, the ethical issues of the research and recommendations and future areas for research process.
The topic of the research is: How important is the entertainment on cruise ships?
- To analyze the importance of entertainment for the overall guest experience on cruise ships.
- Study the concept of entertainment in hospitality industry.
- Identify the attributes which affect the entertainment in hospitality industry.
- Construct a framework to investigate the issue further.
- Explore the framework in the research context of entertainment in hospitality industry.
- Identify and suggest recommendations and conclusions for the study.
I have chosen this subject for my assignment, because I have worked on cruise ships for eight years, and I have found the entertainment provided there very interesting. Cruise ships companies offer a wide variety of entertainment for all ages, and that helps them attract so many passengers on board.
I think that this topic has not been explored by many researchers, and it will offer a very good support material when needed by future hospitality students. I believe this is a subject that offers a lot of material for studying because of its large scale. When speaking about entertainment provided on cruise ships, it starts from having special venues with special effects that offer quality image and sound, performers of top quality, innovation in technology used, spotless facilities to enjoy, people from all over the world, etc. All these factors make the cruise ships a never ending story to tell. This research will be very interesting for people that want to travel and tourism on cruise ships and want to know what to expect in terms of entertainment from these floating cities, and will also benefit the students that will research in the future about the same topic.
1. Study the concept of entertainment on cruise ships.
According to http://www.discoveralex.com, tourism is an individual or group activity which involves the motion from a place to another or from a country to another for performing a specific task, or it is a visit to a place or several places in the purpose of entertaining. As a part of the tourism industry, the cruise ships industry, is the fastest growing industry since the 1990’s, according to http://www.cruisemarketwatch.com, has an annual growth of 7% of passengers carried.
As defined by Clarke R.J. (2005), research is to carry out investigation to establish facts or to collect information on a topic. Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure or delight. (www.wikipedia.org). Entertainment is an important factor when people consider booking a cruise. They always look at all the aspects that a cruise company provides in terms of entertainment: facilities such as pools, spa, gym, theatre, cinema, bars, night clubs, casino, television channels, etc., before purchasing the cruise. The importance of entertainment activities on a cruise ship is very high, and all the cruise companies on the market try to attract the best performers on the market and have the latest technology in terms of equipment and devices that offer access to entertainment, in order to capture the attention of as many guests as possible and to make people come back to the same company.
In order to perform many of these entertainment acts, special venues have been designed to accommodate them. On any of the big cruise liners, that can carry 2000 plus passengers, there are venues such theatre, cinema, piano bar, even a street in the middle of the ship where different performers have their designated spaces for entertaining people, lounges with light and sound effects for magic acts, stand-up comedy and red carpet fashion shows. Known as floating resorts, the cruise ships took the guest hotel experience to a higher level, offering the facilities that most of the hotels have on land and giving the option for one of the best form of entertainment, land tours when reaching the ports of call on designated itinerary. To accommodate different categories of people, the entertainment on cruise ships have been designed accordingly. From the age of 2 to the age of 100, there is a form of entertainment that everybody can enjoy on these floating cities.
2. Identify the attributes which affect the entertainment on cruise ships.
Being an ever changing environment, a cruise ship can always modify the way of entertaining people, adapting to their needs and trying to satisfy all types of guests. When it comes about keeping the passengers busy on the cruise, all the major companies developed a daily activities newspaper, which is very important to keep people updated to the times and venues of different entertainment activities. Keeping the people entertained for the duration of their cruise became a high priority for all the important companies on the market, resulting in great investments for venues and performers. The entertainment is now so complex on these ships, that there is everything to enjoy for all categories of people and for all different tastes. The main attributes that influence the entertainment on cruise ships are:
- Innovation: every act of entertainment has to bring something new to the people in the audience to make it more interesting, because in the end it is something new that they haven’t seen before.
- Creativity: every performer will bring their own contribution to the entertainment act making it original.
- Captivation: the entertainment performance has to be interesting in order to captivate the attention of the public.
- Amazement: every act of entertainment has to have on their duration a few moments that will amaze the audience through their uniqueness.
- Amusement: last on the list but not the least important, an entertainment act has to create a good atmosphere and bring the smile on people’s faces. In the end entertainment is almost synonymous with laughter and good fun.
One of the main factors that have an impact on the entertainment on cruise ships is having proper venues and latest technology equipment that will create the perfect stage of business environment for performing quality acts. From the author experience, working on cruise ships, there are two main categories of entertainment that guests can enjoy on a vessel:
- Passengers talent show
- Production shows
- Stand-up comedy
- Ice rink shows
- Cooking demonstrations
- Fruit and vegetable carving
- Towel folding demonstration
- Street performances
All these forms of entertainment are designed to keep the passengers actively involved and to make sure they have a good time while on vacation. This will ensure future sales of cruises, the ship becoming a destination for all these kinds of entertainment and attracting people no matter which ports are visited. At the end of every cruise, passengers are asked to fill in questionnaires about their on board experience, and through their opinions the entertainment provided on the ships is evaluated and revised, and if necessary improvements will be made to please every single one of them.
Structure of the research
- Aim and objectives
- Justification of the topic
- Justification of the methodologies
- Sampling techniques
- Data analysis techniques
- Issues of the research
- Application of the research
- Investigation of the research
- Recommendations and conclusions.
Aim and objectives
Justification of the topic
Justification of Methodologies
Data analysis techniques
Issues of the research
Application of the research
Investigation of the research
Research methodology, according to Goddard and Melville (2004), refers to the system of methods used in the process of collecting information in a particular area of study or activity. In methodology, researcher uses different criteria for investigating the given research problem. Different sources use different methods for solving the problem. Two of the most important methods for data collection are: primary and secondary research. According to http://prosandconsofsecondaryresearch.blogspot.co.uk, secondary research can be described as the most common used method for data collection. It involves accessing information that was gathered from another originator or distributor of primary research. Secondary research includes collecting data from web sites, magazines articles, companies records, marketing research reports, etc.
- Very easy accessible, having the sources available on website design and development it is much easier to access all the information necessary from any primary research.
- Very cost effective, by getting valuable information for little or no cost.
- Clarification of research question, by using secondary research prior to primary research to clarify the research focus.
- Quality of research, as the researcher needs to take sufficient steps to critically evaluate the validity and reliability of the information provided.
- Not specific to researcher’s needs.
- Incomplete information, by not having access to the whole work of the primary researcher.
- Not timely, with the ever changing industries, an out of date research may have little or no relevance for the current market situation.
Primary research is the study of a subject through first hand observation and investigation, which involves analyzing a topic, conducting a survey or an interview, carrying out an experiment. Clarke R.J. (2005) Research Methodologies.
- Researcher is able to explore both qualitative and quantitative issues.
- The researcher controls the search to fit their needs.
- Enables the researcher to have a greater control over the way that the information gets collected.
- The decision on requirements such as goal, objectives, time frame and size of project, belongs to the researcher.
- Primary research can be very expensive in preparing and carrying out the research. Costs can come from preparing the papers for questionnaires and from conducting an experiment of some sort.
- The time necessary to undertake primary research is longer than acquiring data from secondary research. To be done properly, primary data collection requires the development and execution of a research plan.
- Even if offering information that could prove valuable, some research projects may not be within the reach of a researcher
- The research could be out of date by the time the research is finished.
When talking about primary research, we can identify two types of techniques for data collection: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data collection is based on the measurement of amount or quantity, and it is applicable to facts that can be expressed in terms of quantity. The greatest thing about it is that it produces quantifiable, reliable data that are usually generalizable to some larger population. Quantitative analysis allows researchers to test specific hypotheses, while qualitative research is more exploratory. The best method used to collect quantitative data is by using surveys or questionnaires.
Qualitative data collection is concerned with qualitative phenomenon relating to or involving quality or kind. For example when we are investigating the human behavior, why people do certain things, or act in certain ways. Qualitative research data collection methods are:
- Interviews are one to one discussions that can last from 15-20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much information is needed from the subject (Nykiel 2007). They provide accurate and in-depth information about the topic researched, and personalized data can be obtained.
- Focus groups are discussions that concentrate on a certain topic, having a trained person to conduct the meeting. According to Nykiel (2007), the person in charge encourages the flow of ideas from participants.
- Observation is the technique where the researcher observes the activity of people involved in the topic that is researched. Usually, for the benefit of the research, people should not know that they are being observed, so their behavior will not be influenced by that.
These methods take a lot of time to be applied, and data is usually collected from a smaller sample than in the case of quantitative methods, therefore this makes qualitative research more expensive. In the qualitative approach, the benefits are that the information is richer and has a deeper insight into the phenomenon under study. (Pauline V. Young, Scientific Social Surveys and Research, p.30). The technique the author will use in this research is qualitative, and interviews will be taken to collect data about the selected topic.
When conducting interviews about the entertainment provided on cruise ships the best way to capture fresh impressions is to go on the ship and interview the passengers. The main questions to be asked are:
- Which age category you belong to?
- 18-30 b) 30-45 c) 45-60 d) 60-75 e) 75 and over
- What is your gender?
- male b) female
- Which continent are you from?
- Europe b) Africa c) North America d) South America e) Asia
- How many times are you traveling on cruise ships every year?
- 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4 or more times
- Which is your favorite type of entertainment?
- active b) passive
- Do you find the entertainment provided on cruise ships being of high quality?
- strongly agree b) agree c) neither agree nor disagree d) disagree e) strongly disagree
- Did you like the variety of entertainment provided on cruise ships?
a) strongly agree b) agree c) neither agree nor disagree
d) disagree e) strongly disagree
- Would you book a cruise again to be able to witness more entertainment on board?
a) strongly agree b) agree c) neither agree nor disagree
d) disagree e) strongly disagree
Quantitative collection data techniques include: surveys and questionnaires. According to www.forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu, quantitative methods rely on numerical data which are useful in thinking about longer term developments. Advantages of using quantitative methods:
- It offers the possibility to handle the information in consistent and reproducible ways, combining figures, comparing data, etc. This confers a much greater precision than simply talking about increases or decreases in a graphic.
- It also makes possible the processing of the relevant data in systematic ways to produce trend extrapolations and other forecasts.
- It allows comparison of the scale of developments in various circumstances (e.g. estimates the number of people that need a certain product or service)
- The interpretation of results can be made in the form of tables, charts and graphics, which can communicate very efficiently with people under severe time-shortage and information-overload.
Disadvantages of the quantitative methods:
- Some factors that one tries to measure, such as social and political variables, cannot be represented numerically.
- Good quality data are often not available, or not sufficiently up-to-date, and the production of new data may be costly or very time-consuming.
- The lack of precision can give a misleading impression of the amount of knowledge really available about the topic in question.
- The quantifiable elements of a phenomenon should not be taken as being all of the phenomenon or even all of the most important features of a phenomenon, but often they are and the qualitative elements are disregarded.
Qualitative research data collection methods are: interviews, focus groups and observation. Advantages of the qualitative data collection techniques:
- It makes it easier to understand the target market, because the type of questions that are asked during the research begin with the word WHY,which is an open-ended question, and this fact allows to go into more details than other words such as WHEN, WHAT or HOW MUCH.
- It is a method that involves a low cost.
- It provides depth and detail, by looking deeper than analysis, ranks and counts, and recording attitudes, feelings and behaviors.
- Creates openness, by encouraging people to expand on their responses, which can open up new topic areas not considered initially.
Disadvantages of the qualitative data collection technique:
- Usually fewer people studied: Because the research focuses on a sample of the population, you can only gather the information that the small group provided, and assumptions cannot be made outside the scope of the sample.
- Because it does not allow for statistical data, it can be combined with another research
- Difficult to make systematic comparisons: for example, if people give different responses that are highly subjective.
- Dependent on skills of the researcher: particularly when conducting interviews, observation and focus groups.
Sample is a limited number of observations selected from a population on a systematic or random basis. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/statistical-sample.html#ixzz2i0QE8cGF
Retrieved from www.johnmccraess.ocdsb.ca. According to Babble, E. (2001), there are two main categories of sampling methods;
- Probability sampling, where each individual in the population is known and every one of them has a certain probability of being selected in the process of gathering the locusassignments.
As described on www.explorable.com, there are three main types of probability sampling techniques:
- Simple Random Sampling, is the easiest from the probability sampling techniques. The researcher needs to ensure that all the members of the population are included in the list and then randomly select the desired number of subjects. It can be as mechanical as picking strips of paper with names written on it from a hat while the researcher is blindfolded or it can be as easy as using a computer software to do the random selection.
- Stratified Random Sampling, is the technique where the subjects are initially separated into different classifications, like age, gender, nationality, economical status, etc. After that, the researcher randomly selects the final list of subjects from the different strata. It is important to note that all the strata must have no overlaps. Researchers usually use stratified random sampling if they want to study a particular subgroup within the population.
- Systematic Random Sampling, is a method where individuals or households are chosen at regular intervals from the sampling frame. For this method we randomly select a number to tell us where to start selecting individuals from the list. For example in a class of 50 students the number to start with is 2 and the frame interval is 5, so your chosen students will be 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, etc.
2. Non-probability sampling, where not all the members of the population have equal chances of being selected in the process of gathering the locusassignments. and the author can deliberately choose the persons to include in the sample.
The non-probability sampling technique will be the one used in our research, because it is relevant to the qualitative techniques of the methodology.
- Reliance on available subjects: this method uses subjects available at a certain point in time, such as stopping people on the street and ask them questions. It is very risky and comes with many cautions. The researcher must not generalize to a wider population, results that have been collected from a convenience sample.
- Purposive or judgmental sample: is the one that is selected based on the knowledge of the population and the purpose of the study. The researcher will choose the participants as a result of his personal judgment. He will include in the sample subjects that he believes are appropriate for the topic or representatives of the people with a particular interest. This method takes a small amount of time and is convenient and subjective because the researcher entirely selects the subjects based on his judgment.
- Snowball sample: is the research that involves a small sample of people at the beginning and they are asked for others that have the same characteristics. This will lead to the growth of the sample population and more information to be processed for the research.
- Quota sample: is specific for researches in which the selection of subjects is made into a sample on the basis of pre-specified characteristics so that the total sample has the same distribution of characteristics assumed to exist in the population that is studied. The researcher aims to represent the major characteristic of the population by sampling a proportional amount of each.
The most appropriate method for our research is the purposive or judgmental sampling, because in this way we can find people that have been on cruises and know about the entertainment provided there, and would be able to give the necessary information and knowledge for the research.
Data analysis is the process of interpreting, modeling, cleaning and transforming the data collected, with the purpose of discovering useful information. Analyzing this information will lead to suggesting conclusions and to supporting decision making.
There are multiple techniques used for data analysis, and they are mainly divided into two categories: quantitative, that deal with numerical data, and qualitative that deal with words.
- In grounded theory, data analysis has a well-defined process that begins with basic description and moves to conceptual ordering and then on to theorizing (Patton, 2002). Its focus is to obtain an abstract analytical schema of a phenomenon that related to a particular situation (Creswell, 1998).
- Content Analysis refers to a general set of techniques useful for analyzing and understanding collections of text. This method is only qualitative in development of categories. A chunk of data to be analyzed at a time, whether it is a line, a sentence, a phrase, a paragraph, must be identified. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/data-analysis-methods.html
- Discourse analysis is the method that usually involves video taping of events, so that they can be played over and over again for deeper analysis.
- Thematic analysis involves searching through data to identify any periodic patterns. This type of analysis tends to represent the reality by analyzing the text to extract a topic that is integrated into a higher order theme. In this method, the researcher does not need any knowledge about the theme because it is not guided by any preconceptions. However, in order to begin analysis the researcher must have some conceptual understanding to guide the insight process.
- Analytic Induction involves an event being studied and a hypothetical statement is developed of whatever happened. Now, other similar events are studied, and checked if they fit the hypothesis. If they don't, then the hypothesis needs to be revised. This process is started by first looking for exceptions in the derived hypothesis, and then, each of them is revised to suit all examples encountered. Eventually, hypotheses is developed that supports all the observed cases.
- SPSS - Statistical package for the social sciences, according to www.wikipedia.org, is a software package used for statistical analysis in social science. It is owned by IBM since 2009. It is a program used by survey companies, government, education researchers, marketing organizations, health researchers and many others.
The features of the base software are:
- Statistical analysis.
- Data management: case selection, file reshaping, creating derived data.
- Data documentation: metadata dictionary is stored in the data file.
The base software includes different statistics:
- Descriptive statistics
- Bivariate statistics
- Prediction for identifying groups
- Prediction for numerical outcomes
For our research, we will use thematic analysis data research, because we need to provide relevant information about the entertainment on cruise ships, and we have to capture people’s impressions and thoughts about this topic.
Ethics are defined as appropriate behavior according to society rules.( Baumhart 2010). It is very hard to establish what is ethical and unethical if there is no system of laws that will give a clear understanding of this fact. This system of laws has to be set by a legal institution. When doing a research, one has to follow a series of ethical issues related to anonymity, confidentiality and data protection act. Confidentiality refers to the fact that the researcher knows the participants information but agreed not to disclose any of it to a third party unless is a governmental institution. Anonymity is related to confidentiality, but taken to a more serious level. Here the researcher sometimes does not know the identity of the respondents because they decided so. In this case, the information provided is more important for the research, than the identity of the provider. Even if the researcher knows the identity of the respondent it is very important to keep it anonymous as both parties agreed prior to their discussion.
Data Protection Act 1998. In this case researchers have to be aware of the consequences of using people’s private information. The information is protected by law and any disclosure without participants agreement can be taken to court of justice. Validity is described as the degree to which a research study measures what it intends to measure. In other words, it indicates how real the research is. In quantitative research validity is more important than in qualitative research. There are two main types of validity, internal and external. Internal validity refers to the validity of the measurement and test itself, whereas external validity refers to the ability to generalize the findings to the target population. Both are very important in analyzing the appropriateness, meaningfulness and usefulness of a research study. Reliability is the extent to which an experiment, test, or any measuring procedure yields the same result on repeated trials. Reliability also shows that the right people are chosen for the research.
Generalisability is very important when theoretical claims of the researchers have to be generalized and when they want to describe population. Generalization is concerned with the application of research results to cases or situations beyond those examined in the study. (Collis and Hussey 2003). Generalisability is concerned with whether research findings can be generalized beyond the specific context in which the research was conducted. A study may be valid in one setting but not in another and in this instance the research results would not be generalisable. Whether or not generalization will be possible in each case is a product of the type of study, the research setting and specific characteristic of the study.
Findings and discussions
Interpretation of the interviews results
Out of 10 persons interviewed, the results were as follows:
- 30% of them were male and 70% were female.
- Respondents with the age between 18-30 years- 20%, 30-45 years- 50%, 45-60 years- 10%, 60-75 years- 20%, 75 years and over- 0%.
- The provenience of the respondents was as follows: Europe- 50%, Africa- 10%, North America 30%, South America- 0%, Asia- 10%.
- From 10 respondents, 40% are taking a cruise once a year, 40% are taking a cruise twice a year, 10% are taking a cruise three times a year, and 10% are taking a cruise four times a year.
- 70% of the respondents like active entertainment, where they are actively involved, and 30% of them like passive entertainment, where they are just watching somebody performing.
- When asked if they think the entertainment on the cruise ship was of high quality, 80% strongly agreed, 20% agreed, and none of them disagreed.
- Regarding if they liked the variety of entertainment on cruise ships, 50% strongly agreed, 40% agreed, 10% neither agreed nor disagreed, and none of them disagreed.
- When asked if they will book a cruise to witness more entertainment, 70% strongly agreed, 10% agreed, 0% neutral answers, and 20% disagreed.
It is essential for a research to have discussions about the findings of the topic and what needs to be done about it. The discussion will give the researcher the opportunity to revise its work and to compare the findings to other researchers in the same field. Also, if there are new things that have not been discovered before, the methodology for implementation will be discussed and the right method choose. Having the findings out as soon as possible will help the new researchers when they choose the same topic, to expand on it and will give a new perspective to their work.
The benefit of the research will be entirely for the cruise line companies and their passengers. It will show how the entertainment influences the people’s decision of booking another cruise in the future. It will provide important information about passengers experiences on board, their opinions and suggestions for improvement. The publicity that will be made for the cruise line companies through publishing the research, will bring them more passengers and more profit, which will be reinvested into new venues and new entertainment acts and equipment. This fact will benefit all the passengers that will buy cruises in the future. Another benefit of this research being made public will be the fact that cruise line companies will be known more and will attract customers for the business.
Recommendations for the future areas of future research
The subject of the research could be extended more by using different methods of research and by interviewing more people about their word based experience about the entertainment they have witness on the ships. These people can be from the inside of the business, employees, or from the outside, passengers. The people that are from the inside of the business, the employees, will give a different perspective to the research, because it will offer opinions from the point of view of the people that know different aspects behind the scene and can even offer information about the entertainers themselves, by knowing them personally. Because the competition between the cruise ship companies is very big, in the future there could be made a comparison between the top three companies in the world and the type of entertainment each of them provides. By doing that it will encourage all of them to keep their level high and find new and innovative ways of entertainment, all for the benefit of passengers.
Being a vast area to explore, the entertainment can be developed from almost every area of the business on the ship. So, the researchers are welcome to bring new aspects into the spotlight and find new sources of information about the topic. Even areas like dining rooms or bars, can offer entertainment that no one expects to find. I have witnessed dining room waiters doing all different kinds of magic tricks for their customers and bar staff making people laugh for hours. These are just few areas, but many more wait to be discovered.
Appropriate audience, appropriate media, writing style
The format of the research has to be kept to a simple one, easy understandable to the people that is addressed and to the people that take part to it. The formulation of the questions in interviews has to be simple, using basic words of the language that is used. Also, if the material resulted from the research is published in a magazine or in a book it has to use mostly non-philosophical language, so it will be easy readable and understandable to the large public. Usually, the research about a hospitality topic will be published into a related tourism and hospitality magazine, in a form of an article. If the topic is vast, then a book about it could be published. The best way to make the research popular at the moment is by using internet and social media. This is the fastest way and is accessible to people in every corner of the world.
The Unit 4 Research Project Assignment Cruise Ships work presents the author’s opinion about the entertainment provided on cruise ships and how important this aspect is for the future sales of cruises. It gives a clear description of different types of entertainment that can be found on these ships and how they interact with different categories of customers. It summarizes the methodology used for data collection, qualitative and quantitative techniques, advantages and disadvantages of the methodology used, the sampling techniques and their characteristics, data analysis techniques, findings and discussions, applications of the research results and the writing style and presentation of the material resulted in the media.
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John W. Creswell(1998), Research design, Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches, Second edition.
Nykiel R. (2007), Handbook of marketing research methodologies for hospitality and tourism, New York: Haworth Hospitality and Tourism Press.
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Pauline V. Young (2009), Scientific Social Surveys and Research, 4-th Edition, p.30, Phi Learning.
Wayne Goddard and Stuart Melville (2004), Research methodologies: An Introduction, Juta and Company Ltd, Jan 2004.
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