Product vs. Service
When trying to decide what to use as a product and what to have as a service, I looked around my new room that I just moved into. While only moving a couple blocks, there were several items that I purchased to prepare for the move, with one of them being a brand new mattress. My old bed was nice but fairly small, and I wanted to utilize the space in my now larger apartment. Therefore, my product that I will use is a mattress.
A mattress is all well and great to have when you’re at home, but what happens when you leave for a few days? Sure, you may have friends out of town or people who you can crash with, but odds are, you are going to stay at a hotel. And while the hotel offers many amenities and products, the stay itself could be considered a service. As someone who has worked in the industry, and at both full and partial service hotels, the stay is not all about the one physical product. Yes, the mattress is an ample part to the reason you stay at a hotel, but you also pay for a specific experience. It is why a person would stay at a Super 8 vs The Waldorf, based on the needs and recommendations of an individual. Therefore for a service, I would like to look at the industry of hotels, and the part they play in providing a service for their customer.
When looking at each of these items individually, we must ask ourselves to look not only at the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), but also the Eight Components of Integrated Service Management. The Components will help us to better analyze certain factors not included in the 4 P’s (time, strategic elements), while drawing up a better understanding as to though associated, the difference between Products and Services in the scenario of a mattress and a hotel.
The first component, Product Elements, states that Managers must select the features of both the core product(either a good or service)and the bundle of supplementary service elements surrounding it. In the case of the mattress, there will be an emphasis placed on what physical attributes a company can use to make the comfort and durability higher. As for the Hotel, the features are dependent on the type of service they wish to offer their guests. If the importance is on a budget, amenities like free breakfast and little shampoos go a long way, whereas a luxury brand will place emphasis on taking care of all your requests from the time you walk in until you leave.
The second, Place and Time, involves decisions on the place and time of delivery, as well as the methods and channels employed. In this sense, a mattress should have a sense of security from the moment that you purchase it, until you have gotten years of great sleep with it. Comfort, durability and quality should remain consistent throughout the time you own the product. For hotels, the time of delivery could be that moment from when you walk into the hotel until you checkout after your stay. During your stay, you expect your requests be completed in a timely manner, that you can come and go as you please without hassle, and that when necessary you have an employee able and willing to help you.
The third,foruth and fifth, Product, Productivity and Quality, and People, though seemingly different amount to the same idea of doing the most to the highest caliber with what you have. For a mattress, the product relies on having a durable quality and enjoyable sleep experience, while at the same time easily mass produced to lower upfront costs. The people who sell the product must be aware of how the mattress stands out, what differences you can expect from it, and to not be too pushy when making a sale. On the contrary, Hotels place emphasis on the quality of several different departments including the number of on site restaurants, to whether or not there is a pool and gym. The productivity comes from the staff, and the ability to help the guest as quickly as possible, and the finished product is the building itself with all of the goods offered inside. A long process of training and structure is placed on the staff to maintain high standards of excellence and the best possible experience at all times.
Promotion, Education and Physical Evidence enable both a product and service to “show what they’ve got.” While in many cases, “Never Judge a Book by its Cover” is a very true statement, this isn’t the case when dealing with either of this. If you saw a lumpy mattress or one that was promoted as a budget model, odds are even the cheapest person wouldn’t pick it. Why? The buyer has been educated on what is out there, is not satisfied with the physical appearance, and knows that other promotions for better mattresses are right around the corner. For Hotels, you wouldn’t dare sleep in a room known to have dirty sheets, let alone bed bugs. In this sense, through word of mouth just as well as many marketing campaigns, guests become educated on what to expect. The hotel’s website may read one way, but TripAdvisor maintains a different belief.
Price and other Costs of Service address the costs incurred by customers in obtaining benefits from the service product. For a mattress, it is an upfront cost of a specific amount, with the value of a good night’s rest maintaining the highest importance. For Hotels, the pricing is not as black and white, as you may choose to pay for a higher room with a view, 2 beds, or a luxury golden shower. Whatever the situation may be, the price reflects what like minded people feel the experience is worth, and attempt to give the customer their highest value potential.
Turning towards the importance of value, values and ethics, I agree that the fundamental nature of the three have a prominence in services rather than products. In the case of a Mattress and Hotels, a Mattress has an upfront cost and maintains usage through years. By looking at this, there’s a perceived value originally, but typically fades throughout the lifespan of the product. As for Hotels, value is extremely important, as a person renting a room for a duration of hours or a few short days wants the most for what they spend. A guest is paying for the experience, rather than the products inside the room or the lobby in the hotel. Not only this, but the staffing and environment must present itself as a welcoming experience, enabling the guest to relax and enjoy their time. The Value and Ethics of the staff, and the brand the hotel is promoting will determine if the reputation will keep the place in business for decades, or if it will shut down within months.