Feasibility of operating a theme restaurant in Shanghai China

Feasibility of operating a theme restaurant in Shanghai China
A case study on assessment of impact of making atmosphere of studying and living abroad

Chapter one: Introduction

The growth of the China’s open market economy from its traditional economy has stimulated foreign investment into the China market. Penetration of the China market is not easy due to its cultural background hence drive for many multinational companies to utilize centered localization strategies in order to gain from the growing open market economy. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games played a great role to market China as a tourism destination. The winning of China’s Olympic and Paralympics Games helped to expose China’s economic, political, social and cultural landscape (Zhou, 2008; Yaxiong & Zhao, 2007; Xianpeng & Jianshe, 2010).

The government of People’s Republic of China took the leading role to promote and encourage educational tie-ups with reputable universities across the globe. The primary goal of governments to promote alliances with universities was to develop university graduates who were positioned to manage multinational corporations that were operating in China (Shanghai podcasting, 2010). The People’s Republic of China hoped developing local human capital could have contributed to China’s economic growth. The educational alliances amongst universities resulted into increased inbound student exchange programs. The opening up of universities has made company managers and senior company executives to enroll in MBA programs in tertiary institutions. China has now a greater population of oversea students who are studying in china.

The Britain Nottingham University was the first to set up a physical campus in Ningbo in September 2004. This was followed by Jiao University in Shanghai that partnered with university of British Columbia to offer international MBA programs. That paved way for other universities like the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s school of business administration that launched EMBA in Beijing to provide training opportunities for the Motorola Mobile Phone Company staff to strengthen its operations in China. The primary focus of the investing in the studies was to build social networks in the leading Chinese universities with leading universities that are enrolling foreign students like the Beijing Language and Cultural Center, Fodan, Peking and Tsinghua. This has increased the number of foreign students thus creating a market for establishment of theme restaurant.

1.2 Definition of a theme restaurant 

A theme restaurant (Zhang, 2010) is a eating or drinking outlet whose core competence for strategic market positioning is built around a particular sport, lifestyle trends, a specific historical era for example, the china’s cultural revolution of 1966-1976, exploring a specific genre of music or art or promoting industry’s personality or celebrity like the Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan or Hwang Jwang lee subject to a particular theme like the martial arts or war. A theme restaurant is designed to appeal and bring about a theatrical fashion hence great emphasis on the restaurant’s theme in terms of decoration and memorabilia.

In theme restaurant, the theme is the centre of restaurants marketing and strategic positioning (McKenzie, 2010). The theme on which the concept of the restaurant is built on influences the architecture of the restaurant, the cutlery, food menu, background music that is played and general atmosphere that the restaurants externally portrays.

1.3 The market of a theme restaurant

The theme of the restaurant determines the market segments that the restaurant targets (Bitner, 1990:74-5). The market of a theme restaurant declines depending on the potential of the theme restaurant to maintain the theme of the restaurant on top of its positioning to provide necessary customer service, maintaining quality of food and linked activities that demonstrate alignment to the theme. Significance of the music played also contributes to the attraction ability of the restaurant (Bitner, 1994).

1.4 Statement of the problem

Many theme restaurants are on the decline because their business strategic objectives have been eroded by innovation process to gain competitive advantage and align business to compete with standard restaurants (Barbieni, 2005:52-53). The rate of failure subject to competitive drive for market share is high than standard restaurants. This is due to inability of the theme restaurants to maintain its targeted customer base or failure of the restaurant to live up to the promise of the theme (Petkus, 2004:53-55; Groonroos, 1981:237-238). The theme restaurants in the long-term may realize low customer frequency based on the theme. The strategic positioning of theme restaurants should be based on mechanisms for managing the aspect of ‘low frequency’ (West, 1997:72-76).

Many business operators in theme restaurants don’t realize the core competence of a theme restaurant (West, 1997:87-91). Theme restaurants resulted from economic need to gain a competitive edge in a highly competitive restaurant industry (Kiefer, 2002:5-7). In a geographical position with low density of restaurants and where targeted customers have limited awareness on the value of the theme, or lack disposable incomes, the success rate of a theme restaurant would be infinitesimal (Spang, 2000:17-9). Theme restaurants succeed in high density restaurant areas where differentiation strategy plays a great role in increasing customer base (Brady & Crown, 2001:35-38). The market positioning of a theme restaurant should stimulate repeat business which in turn stimulates referral trends that add value to the business through widened customer base.

Market strategies for a theme restaurant should result into a business model (Parasuraman et al, 1991:41-5) that caters for non-themed restaurants markets. The initial marketing of the theme restaurant, subject to ‘curiosity seeking attitude’ (Buttle, 1996) should maintain the customer, create a dining experience that not only complements customers search for ‘non-food attributes’ but meets customers satisfaction and belonging.

Innovation process as a driver of strategic positioning should not be a driving element in theme restaurants (Newman et al, 2001:395-7). Failure of theme restaurants occurs when the theme restaurants seek ‘competitor’s analyses or core competencies of a competitor or their competitive strengths in order to take advantage of competitive opportunities which often lead into loss of legacy of the theme restaurant (Stiff et al, 199-203). Maintaining originality of the theme should form core pillars of strength for the theme restaurant. Theme restaurants ought to maintain their uniqueness, subject to theme, thus separate themselves from competitors (Jones, 2002:106). The pricing strategy should conform to the targeted market and should compare with the other standard restaurants. This easily helps to gain loyal customers who advertise the quality and nature of the business to their social networks. The employees should have relevant training to demonstrate the spirit of the theme restaurant (Rang & Ahmed, 1993:220-1)

1.5 Goals and objectives 

a. To determine mechanisms through which an academic theme restaurant could derive full participation of customer by creating an enabling environment that provides for visual, rational or emotional and psychological impact thus making it possible for customers to actively participate in nurturing the theme

b. To evaluate the impact of strengthening the theme of the academic theme restaurant though development of conceptive thoughts that bring about understanding and educates customers through participation marketing method

c. To determine dining experience that should form core competencies in an academic theme restaurant

d. To determine application of academic themes like ‘forced feeding’, ‘food counseling’ and nurturing health eating habits as a benchmark to reducing diseases like cardiovascular disorders that manifest themselves due to ‘lifestyle’ base eating habits

1.6 Hypothesis for testing

Hypothesis 1A: the quality of service and sustainability of the theme has a direct correlation with the interactive quality that the customer perceives thus reflecting on customer loyalty and repeat business

Alternative Hypothesis 1A: the dining experience subject to atmosphere has a direct correlation with the degree of customer’s interactive quality that is perceived thus possibility of a repeat business

Hypothesis 2A: the quality of service demonstrated by the employees determines customer’s perception of employee’s conformance with the theme thus reflecting on customer’s feasibility of theme restaurants capacity to communicate the theme through its employees

Alternative hypothesis 2A: the dining atmosphere subject to customers’ experience of a background customer’s simulated dining experience on a theme restaurant has a negative correlation with customer’s perceived interactive quality

1.7 Motivation for the study

The study is envisioned to stimulate development of economically viable theme restaurants that can survive against ‘low frequency element’ thus make the restaurant to break even. Thus the study will make theme restaurants to have an element of benchmarking that could be used to analyze the potential of the theme market to expand into other economically viable areas. The study will stimulate a academic theme restaurants to be set up that can tap the benefit of academic exchange programs by facilitating and creating social academic networks. This will make it possible for academic theme restaurants to have a pricing strategy that maximizes on the targeted customers ‘price resistance point’.

The study will highlight on the necessary products and media for promoting scholar theme restaurants including competitive advantage that should stabilize the theme restaurant from low frequency element. The study will result into setting up of education theme restaurants that have strategic developed profit targets for her products and drivers for competitive advantage like investing in retaining the young scholars who form the greatest population of the Chinese restaurant market. The studies will stimulate other theme restaurants in China to adopt a strategic positioning where they could assign correct menu ‘real market estate’ for every product on the food menu item-list that has high guest satisfaction thus improve on serving the identified legacy which a greater population of the target market demonstrate a greater following.

1.8 Theoretical framework on theme restaurants

Theme restaurants are characterized by specific themed décor that is a function of dining atmosphere that compliments the theme. The theme of the restaurant determines the concept on which the restaurant market penetration and strategic positioning are based on. It also influences the architectural design of the restaurant and the presentation of food including the behaviour that the staff demonstrates to their clientele. For instance, Behold hospitalis that uses medical care ware based on theme of dentistry, obstetrics and reanimation has ‘force feeding’ element in order to conform to aspect of treating customers as ‘mental patients.’

The customer entertainment is built on the theme (Shostalk, 1982:50-3) including music and drinks that are served in order to give support to the ‘feel’ that the theme should display. Attraction element of theme restaurant is founded on the theme (Bateson, 1985:52-58). Many theme restaurants have core competence of specializing on traditional element that depicts the historical theme. For ‘old west theme’ country western music could help add value to the theme. The volume of the music should be a form of ‘background music’ so that it doesn’t distract or distort conversation of the customers (Freid & Freid, 1995:43-4)

In designing a theme restaurant, emphasis lies on the costs of the décor that should be used to drive the expected theme as a core competence (Bitner, 1990:77-79). Thus menu items are a product of the designing element hence innovation and creative representation of the theme should be taken into account since the market and the target customers need to associate themselves with the dining experience that the design produces thus resulting into rational or emotional aspect of advertising (Poulson & Kale, 2004:270-272). For instance, for an ‘old west theme’, emphasis need be put on menu items like steaks, ribs and chops as well as pan breads that assist in complementing the theme. Drinks should be birch beer and root beer. The choice of the theme influences on complementary food that should be served subject to price and availability in the local market (Luxenberg, 1998).

The entrance should display the theme. The external and internal environment, landscaping of the compound should stress on the theme. Presence of the rest rooms should conform to the theme (Kale, 2009).

The waiting area for the customers should keep customers entertained hence sound compartments should be used (Crikszentmihalyi, 1980). The theme should be displayed on the waiting area, through décor, light food menu or music. The theme should keep customers entertained as they wait for tables. Fiddle music or country music or the choice that keep customers alert and expectant, should be played.

Review of the menu items should be conducted periodically. The menus that have low sales volume regardless of their costs should be scraped because they are slow moving inventories. Seasonal menu items should be added based on nature of celebration in order to keep customers and include diversity element that is secondary to the primary theme menu (Chen & Madrigal, 2007).

1.9 Outline of the dissertation

The rest of the dissertation is organized as follows. Chapter two looks into the literature review of theme restaurants. Chapter three provides the methodology of study that was utilized. Chapter four provides the results that were obtained. Chapter five provides discussion of the results while chapter six addresses conclusion based on the results and provides recommendations based on study outcomes.

Chapter 2: Literature review 

2.1.1 History of theme restaurants 

Theme restaurants began between 1910 and 1920 as a form of competitive advantage against standard restaurants (Lundberg, 1974). Some of earliest theme restaurants included Bernstein Fish grotto which operated in San Francisco in 1912 whose entrance have resemblance of a Nina a Columbus ship. The theme restaurants of 1910 and 1920s didn’t exploit the qualities of a theme restaurant (Kiefer, 2002:5-7). Los Angeles was then a center of theme restaurants and host to Ye Bull Pen Inn that began services in 1920 (Spang, 2000). Ye Bull Pen Inn had dining rooms that had been divided into stalls and walls and roofs that had incomplete panels. 1920’s theme restaurants were constructed to give feelings of prisons and ships.

The distinct feature amongst the theme restaurants was the themed internal ambience. The early theme restaurants were named after the founder in whom the design, inspiration and theme construct originated. For instance Victor Bergeron, founder of Trader Vics chain of Tiki restaurants and the Don the Beachomber, founder of Tiki chain established in 1934. These revolutionized theme restaurants as a function of dining experience and form of ‘escaping away from everyday life’ and developed framework that has characterize modern-day theme restaurants Lundberg, 1974). David Tallichet added the value of décor to the theme restaurants in 1960 with Proud Bird Restaurant that was located at Los Angeles Airport.

2.1.2 Qualities of the theme restaurants

The theme restaurants are characterized by internal and external décor that is a portrait of the theme (Zhang, 2010). The theme restaurants are based on a specific concept that determines the dining experience that customers should derive. The specific concept in many theme restaurants is historical like war, event that happened in the past in order to achieve the element of literature as a form of educating, informing and entertaining, thus result into ‘mirror of the society’ to reflect, associate thoughts and inspirations to historical events (Spang, 2000). Modern theme restaurants may involve the life of a celebrity in order to demonstrate moral or social perception of individuality.

Other theme restaurants are built on themes of famous historical icons that made a great mark in transforming the world like ‘Karl Marx’ (Running restaurants, 2009). The cutlery, dining sets, tables and sitting equipments should resonate with the theme like observed in the ‘das Klo’ (the toilet) restaurant. The employees and their dressing should cultivate the goals of the theme, and display the behavior that the theme restaurant puts forth (McKenzie, 2010).

2.1.3 Development of theme restaurants

The industrial revolution subject to technological advancement saw improved living standards subject to education. This saw theme restaurants taking a new shape, in order to compete with standard restaurant which gave way for strategic positioning. The revolution of the theme restaurants was catalyzed by science and technology in the food and beverage industry (Kiefer, 2002). The emergence of green revolution and green technology further enhanced strategic positioning of the theme restaurants thus paving way for the attention into the environment as an element worth considering.

This ushered an element of dining environment, atmosphere and personalization as aspects that should follow soot on food quality and satisfying need for the menu items. This developed into a dining culture and modern-day consumers interests lie in the dining procedures that have an effect of bringing out ‘spiritual fulfillment and fulfilling dining experience.’ This aspect has infiltrated all restaurants from regional flavors that serve menu items like Italian cuisine, Japan cuisine or Canada Cuisine, though many have varying themes but the binding concepts unify at the element of ‘enriching dining style and characteristics.’

Competitive advantage of different restaurants has resulted into low profit margins subject to frequency rates of customers (Grabmeier, 2010). Competitive theme restaurants have shifted their socio-centric competitiveness to individualistic attention where they satisfy the tastes of an individual customer hence fulfilling and promoting service quality and dining standards.

2.1.4 Limiting factors to success of theme restaurants

Interactive aspect of a theme restaurant should conform to theory of service encounter and quality element of the service (Ehow, 2010). This makes it possible to quantify and evaluate the effectiveness of interactive element as a driver for customer’s repeat business (Bitner et al, 1994). This aspect of interactive is not fully exploited in theme restaurant as a form of core competence. A variety of service encounters exists that that form the interactive service process (Taxe et al, 1998). For instance, customer dining experience should form the foundation of measuring service interactive process. This is because it affects sustainability of repeat business. The theme restaurant should keep on improving on her legacy of high customer satisfaction because expectations of a customer have a tendency of increasing as time increases (Beverly & Stefanie, 2003:7-9). through sustainable interactive quality, the customer-restaurant relationship is build on foundation of trust and faith since quality judgment that a customer gains at every quality service encounter forms customer’s next restaurant visit quality expectations (Jones, 2002:109-114).

Customer satisfaction surveys help to improve customer retention by identifying weaknesses in theme alignment that could affect customer retention. The restaurants should use critical incident programs to strengthen customer relationships. Bitner et al (1994) established that failures in quality services don’t cause customer dissatisfaction if there has been an existing customer-restaurant relationship that had been founded on quality services and products.

Theme restaurants should invest in training and development of employees and increase employee motivation so that the employees could transfer aspects of customer care to the customers. This is because employee customer responses have an effect of affecting customer satisfaction levels. According to Chiang and Huang (1994), interactive aspect that results into customer retention is a function of four basic elements namely service content and service flow, characteristics of the customers and employee relationships towards customer retention, the characteristic element of restaurants culture and environmental and contextual factors. The aspect of restaurants culture, conforms to Hofstede definition the cultural element affects displayed attitudes, processes of interactive ness realization and behavioral changes that influence degree or functionality of environmental and contextual factors.

Theme restaurants should ensure the quality of service is a subset of delivering customer connectedness, personnel satisfaction and contextual elements that define the theme of the restaurant. Theme restaurant should benefit from themes ‘moment of truth’ (CArlzon, 1987) subject to aligning restaurant management personnel and employees and employee-customer relationships that affect quality of customer retention thus quality of repeat business.

2.1.5 Theme restaurant rate of failure

The failure rate of theme restaurant is 57% (Grabmeier, 2010) which is below the standard restaurants failure rate of 61% in the third year. The rate of failure of standard restaurants is higher in the first year represented by a 26% compared to 22% for the theme restaurant (Bojanic, 2009). Failure rate after 3-5 years is 60% for theme restaurants while franchised restaurant failure rate is 57%. The franchised theme restaurants failure rate after five years is 70% compared to 57-60% of standard franchised restaurants. This should market stability of theme restaurants.

2.1.6 Theme restaurant employee treatment

Theme restaurants should demonstrate high standards of quality and service to employees since they transfer and represent the living ‘outcome’ of the theme (Ehow, 2010). The employees are important ingredient to the success of theme restaurants. The management should treat employees the way the management expects the employees to treat customers (Yohn, 2010). This helps to nurture spirit of team. The management should communicate the theme of the restaurant to the employees, expected employee standards that conform to the theme. Implementation of employee communication of theme and expectations helps to set goals and standards that define the restaurants vision, direction and values. The management should communicate clear responsibilities of employees. This ensures no overstepping of responsibilities can result. There should be procedures for addressing employee conflicts and personal problems. The restaurant management should construct an element of trust and respect thus build work-groups that are committed to responsibilities and are accountable for their success and failures (Parasuraman et al, 1990).

2.1.7 Restaurants staff development

Management should ensure employees have training and development programs meant to widen their talents and widen employee versatility on the theme thus improving the dining experience (Chiang & Huang, 1985:70-1). The employee should understand the core competencies of the restaurant; hence management ought to grow employees into ‘business partners.’ This makes employees to positively manage the variable and fixed operation costs. The profits gained should settle fixed costs of business operations. There should be mechanism for improving sales and cutting production costs thus making management of human capital a fundamental element in success of theme restaurants.

2.1.8 Restaurants sitting arrangements

Sitting arrangement is a fundamental element in determining how a theme host balances the flow of the customers into the dining room (Shostalk, 1982:59-60). The sitting arrangement should be a product of strategic employee workloads. The sitting arrangement ought to adhere to ‘order of entry into the restaurant’ based on whether they sit at the back or at the front. This depends on the theme of the restaurant. Staggered customer seating should be avoided. The primary reason is to ensure there is order in seating and reduce employee confusion (Woodruff, 1997:144). The restaurant should ensure customer’s wait stations be seated in such a way that no overloading of a particular waiter occurs. The restaurant should have seating allotment for every waiter-station since this improves seating process and improves efficiency of waiter service. In the event the seating capacity is full, the restaurant should have strategies meant to ensure customers don’t leave for other theme or standard restaurants (Hochschild, 1983). This helps in customer retention.

2.1.9 Restaurants menu knowledge

The employee knowledge on menu plays a great role in determining the level of employees to provide quality services. This is because customers can be alerted through their internet social networks like Twitter or Facebook on the restaurants dietary restrictions (Ginley & Spur, 2004). Menu knowledge therefore is important in affecting the ‘up-selling’ of the menu items subject to theme of the restaurant (Ruggless, 2009:25). The employee menu knowledge motivates customers and nurtures customer retention because customers have tendency to develop confidence in knowledgeable and helpful waiters. The menu is the waiters’ sales product and its structure should form backbone of customer’s quality service. Employees should demonstrate knowledge of the menu items including nutritional value of ingredients. The employees should have access to the dining menu and its descriptions. This is important in informing the customers on nutritional value of the menu (Corrier et al, 2009)

2.2.0 Dining room decoration

The dining room decoration, floor and wall diagrams should communicate the theme and assist in delivering the dining room service. This should be a product of assessment on waiter work station, number of tables and position points for ease access by the restaurants service staff (Pine & Gilmore, 2008:23). Scheduling of shifts should achieve the balance of work load in order to match demand for dining room customers. This helps to motivate staff and thus better employee-customer relationships. The decoration should conform to restaurants theme thus determination of dining room temperature; lighting and music volume should be taken into considerations (Hsieh, 2009).

2.2.1 Marketing to students

Marketing of a restaurant to students is task that should take care of students’ impatience and students crave for discounts and free samples. The marketing should be a product of intelligence and passion in order to reduce student’s critic viewpoint on the marketing strategy and arouse consumption passion for the students (Petkus, 2004:54). Students demonstrate an aspect termed as ‘laid-back attitude’ interpreted in hospitality industry as ‘consumption laziness’. This is based on the fact that students have high tendency to ignore marketing strategies or marketing promotions into their direction. Thus marketing to students should stimulate culture of consumption and reduce inability of students to give in to advertising (Kale, 2009). The marketing should be associated with possibilities of ‘money voucher’ handouts or draws for prizes or any aspect that motivates participation of student through expected gain. The restaurant could provide work opportunities to the students by targeting them in their classes or halls of residence (Lenderman, 2006).

In the modern-day society, many students have Facebook or Twitter accounts or participate in social networking. This could be utilized to penetrate the student’s market. Students Facebook or Twitter marketing makes students to pay attention to its economic value thus restaurants unique opportunity for market domination (Schultz & Yang, 1999:275).

The success of an academic theme restaurant derives value from developed connections with student academic societies, students’ sports clubs thus forming platform for marketing to students (Rosen, 1994). Student associations like AIESEC have higher potential market for academic theme restaurants. The restaurants could improve its student market penetration by sponsoring student sports teams thus increase restaurants brand awareness (Kroc & Robert, 1997). The academic theme restaurant should not only provide high quality food but should have a strong entertaining experience on top of the dining experience that should have academic background (Hogan, 1997). The restaurants should realize competitive advantage by providing an environment where principal factors for competitive advantage are accounted for like food quality, service quality, dining atmosphere and novelty and how they influence on the return intent (Catherine & Lain, 2009). A students theme restaurant should ‘stick to the knitting’ by maintaining the theme of the restaurant and sustainable quality of food and service (Payne et al, 2008:84-88). The price of the food should be friendly to students since students are very sensitive to prices. The quality of the food should give students value for the money as a function of quality of food, quality of service and taste of food (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). The dining experience should provide comfort. The marketing strategy for the student’s restaurant should target financial position of the student subject to economic position of the students, offering discounts and free samples at appropriate time in order to maintain scenario of low frequency. The menu items should be product of nutritional value of the food. The landscaping, interior and exterior décor should conform to student’s expectation on environmental conservation else criticism develops (Ruggless, 2009). The restaurant should demonstrate high quality attitudes that breed student relatedness, fairness in service due to impatience of students, understanding of the students, generosity between the management and students as employees who are on part-time basis and supplier network who might have links with students unions. Students prioritize on convenience hence location of the restaurant should be in up-market and with ease access (Anderson & Matsa, 2007). The students are prone to taking their friends or classmates for outings hence the restaurants strategic customer Management should incorporate the theme of dating element into their general décor. The location should have access to students’ residences. The restaurant should provide drinks and beverages and cater for non-drinkers and drinking student fraternity. The restaurant should provide services like table service, take-away and delivery services.

2.2.2 Restaurants competitive strategy

Student’s market penetration should be driven by drive to reward students who demonstrate highest loyalty through scholarships and subsidies (Levinstain, 2003:228-229). The competitive advantage should be sustained through product identity, product quality as an element nutritional value and investment in novelty (Corrier et al, 2009). The employees should be motivated and nurturing of product sales attitude backed by innovative strategies and customer service options that are tailored to suit student market (Bateson, 1985:64-69). The cholesterol level of fats and healthiness of the menu should be stressed thus create an outlet for targeted customer destination. The restaurants should leave a lasting first impression (Johns & Kivela, n.d.) on students subject to high standards of service that are backed up by friendly dining atmosphere, computer internet access, efficiency in speed of service and employee knowledge on the menu. This should be fostered to encourage repeat business subject to options of delivery and take away services at competitive prices.

The marketing strategy should be a product of a structured market penetration based on the theme (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). This should be backed up by informing the target market on the pricing strategy, conformity of pricing strategy to the target market. The restaurant should provide customer loyalty programs by offering student’s loyalty cards. A marketing mix strategy should be adopted subject to use of print media as in local newspapers, magazines and student publications as well as advertisement in journals of the colleges and universities. Advertising should be carried out in broadcast media by making use of channels that students have more connectedness with (Addis & Huolbrook, 2001:53-56). This should be lined up such that it immediately follows special students interest grabbing shows. The advertisement should also be directed to the hotel guides in order to reach a greater percentage of international students who reside in them. A subscriber listing, as a form of direct mail advertising should be used and should demonstrates restaurants ability to deliver orders to student’s specified location (Drake et al, 2005).

The restaurant could reach its target student customer base through the social networking on the internet like Facebook and Twitter or publish publets on its menu and hours of operations and the market that it targets which could be distributed to students in their classes (Lovelock & Gumensson, 2004:21-23). The restaurant could an advance notice to the common print media read by the students and utilize student campaigns. The restaurant can have high customer representatives at its point of sale who have experience in handling students and utilize emotional advertising or rational advertising to reach a wider customer base (Lenderman, 2006). The restaurant should make use of student unions as marketing agents, word of mouth referral from satisfied customers with benefits that conform to ‘multi-level marketing’ scope by rewarding students for taking part in promoting the restaurant (George, 1990:64-66).

The menu for the restaurants should be consistently checked for quality (Parasuram et al, 1991:46). The suppliers’ products should conform to food and poison standards. The element of freshness of materials for preparing food should be a priority. The restaurant should have food cost and inventory control that is maintained daily by the management to ensure it penetrates and wins confidence of a volatile student market. The sanitation levels should be kept high as a measure towards student retention (Schultz & Yang, 199). Delivery services should be tailored to conform to take-away menus and storage equipments should be available to retain food quality and freshness. The restaurant should partner with universities and colleges to provide part-time employment opportunities to students (Landon & Smith, 1998:630-37). The restaurant should have long open hours to cater for students’ diversity in dining.

Academic theme restaurant is an innovative concept that seeks to tap the potential of students exchange market (Pitt, 2009) and foreign enrolment of students into China. The long-term strategic goals for the restaurant should be build on the hypothesis that the business would be economically viable through emphasis on quality, consistency and security provision to student clientele (Akaike, 1973). The security element revolves around provision of safe food that is not prone to food borne diseases thus create a brand name that should provide international students standards of catering that making academic theme restaurant a market leader of dining experience. The marketing strategies for future restaurant development should seek to have laptops with internet access so that students could complete their academic projects while dining. The walls should have network sockets for students to plug their laptops into a high broadband internet.

The restaurant may fail to break even hence should have framework through which it could partner with other financiers or sell the business to new management. The restaurant should have strategic framework for managing threats of new entrants who might need to tap the potential of academic theme restaurants (Minalopuolos & Demousis, 2001:425-28. The management should patent the menu and the trademark and be prepared fro chain competition that could result in future. If academic theme restaurant should realize its projections, subject to inflow of capital, in a period of say one year, it should seek to locate other outlets that have similar market features as Shanghai, for instance, Beijing. The academic theme restaurant should be managed to realize its long term goals and realize its forecast planning (McGinley & Spur, 2004).

Chapter Three: Methodology of the study

3.1 Variables of the study 

The study used factor analysis to determine success rate of setting up an academic theme restaurant in China. The variables that were utilized to collect the data for factor analysis included the environmental element which is a subset of variables like restaurant facilities, landscaping, sanitation levels, air quality, sound isolation of compartments, number of compartments, lighting levels; the skills and service personnel element which was a subset of variables like rich knowledge of the theme, working capacity development subject to willingness to offer help thus customer service orientation of theme, promptness of remedies, employee personal reactions when asked on theme and employee response ability. Other variables included personalization of the service, satisfaction demand of the physical product, consuming procedures, and customer attention transfer, customer context of theme, personnel context, and environmental alignment to them and fulfilling experience of the theme.

3.2 Study design

Figure 1 (Saunders et al, 2007) illustrates the study design that was employed.

Figure 1: the study design

Amended figure 1, Research Design, Saunders et al, 2007

The study commenced with a development of a theoretical framework for the study which involved empirical analysis on theme restaurants and construction of structure analysis. This was followed by application of Kaiser-Meyer Olkin (KMO) model and Bartlett Sphere Test (BST) measures for validity and reliability of sampling technique, convenience sampling, and how factor analysis that formed variables for the study could be applied for every construct for data analysis. This was followed by analysis of literature review of theme restaurants, origin of theme restaurants and qualities that resulted into emergence of theme restaurants. Based on information derived on theme restaurants, their applications on academic theme restaurants were reviewed and a questionnaire developed to help to pin down impacts and success rate of an academic theme restaurants and qualities that should drive its economic success. Data analysis was carried out and conclusion made based on the outcome of the results.

3.3 Study approach

The study relied on inductive and exploratory approaches. Exploratory approach was introduced to help in clarifying aspects that characterize awareness of OG to the host city subject to economic position of the city with respect to tourism and economic tools that drive tourism industry (Saunders et al, 2007). Through exploratory approach, it was possible to adopt an equivalence of a pilot study objectives (Gummesson, 1988) hence creating potential for future studies based on the recommendations that the study realized. Exploratory nature of the study made it possible to develop questionnaires and formulate testable hypothesis thus providing foundation for understanding new knowledge on effects of creating awareness on OG for the Beijing.

3.4 Study setting 

The study utilized multi-settings to determine success rate of an academic theme restaurant in China meant to cater increased diversity of students following foreign student enrolment into Chinese universities and increased efficiency of student academic exchange programs. Employees working in fifteen theme restaurant namely Shanghai Pie Company, Just grapes, Lost heaven Yunnan folk Cuisine, Hooters China, Bulldog Shanghai, Moonlit Shnaghai Night, Taipei Toilet, Time Barbecue, Bebek Bengel 3, Ye Shanghai, Lacite, Cinecitta, Klong Bar and Grand Shanghai were involved. Student in different universities on student exchange programs and foreign students attending universities in China were used as respondents.

3.5 Research instruments

The study used structured questionnaires to determine opportunities, threats, weaknesses and strengths of setting up academic theme restaurants in Shanghai, china. The structured questionnaires were presented to student respondents on the day of interview (Rudolf and Kruse, 2002:12). The study employed questionnaires because questionnaires are easy to analyze by using any statistical software. Due to higher population that the study sought, questionaiires seemed more cost effective compared to face-to-face interviews (Bachrack and Scoble, 1967). Questionnaires were used because written questionnaires have an effect of decreasing possibility of interviewer bias subject to question uniformity (Jahoda, et al., 1962). The use of structured questionnaires was chosen because questionnaires don’t involve any interviewing hence there were no opportunities of verbal or visual clues that could have influenced a respondent to answer in a particular way (Creswell, 1998). Previous research work has established that interviewer voice inflections and mannerisms can result into biased responses (Franzen and Lazersfeld, 1945) hence written questionnaires are not subject to bias responses because there is no interviewer.

3.6 Reliability of the questionnaires

Reliability refers to consistency element of the statistical measure that consistency of the data elements collected that form basis for inference. The property of reliability of data was utilized to determine change and variation of the data. The reliability consistency was sustained through test-retest reliability (Bryman, 1998) which was achieved through repetition of the questionnaires under same conditions but under a different population sample. The scale reliability was realized by ensuring questions meant to measure the sustainability of academic theme restaurant in Shanghai, China, subject to dependent and independent variables of the study were structured to measure the same characteristic element (Judd et al, 1991).
Validity of the questionnaires

The property of Validity was realized through measurement of specific study dependent and independent variables which were realized through face validity where question were used to measure the validity of model construct, content validity hence ensuring all aspects of construct were accounted for. The property of criterion validity or predictive validity was realized through ensuring Likert scores predicted specific study criterion and concurrent validity by ensuring study results of new questionnaires were consistent with results of established measures (Saunders et al, 2007).

3.7 Questionnaire validation of the model

The questionnaire conformed to the dependent and independent variables of the study hence it was possible to infer different variables of the study. This was structured such that the results that would be obtained after data collection would be consistent with the study model (McGovern, 2004). Tests runs were carried out to determine if the data collected supported the study model and ensure the questionnaire required no re-designing. The study model had been assessed by using three statistical processes namely principal component analysis, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. This helped to determine if the questionnaires were able to measure the expected study outcomes (Saunders et al, 2007).

The Likert scale values
The study will use a five point Likert scale whose elements had the following numerical values.
i. strongly disagree
ii. disagree
iii. neutral
iv. agree
v. strongly agree

3.8 The Study sample 

The study was designed to achieve 40,000 respondents but final respondents were 36,000 thus a 90% turnout hence demonstrating high data reliability. The study sample was achieved by using convenience sampling (Bryman & Bell, 2003) subject to respondents’ accessibility and need to optimize on reducing expenses and time taken to complete the study.

3.9 Method of collecting data

The data was collected by using structured questionnaires. The students were educated on the importance of the study, procedures and outcomes expected from the study before signing an informed consent for participation. Permission for using students as respondents was sought from the deans of studies of respective colleges and universities (Blurtit.com, 2009).

3.9.1 Ethical concerns

Informed consent as a legal doctrine in research that involves human subjects was satisfied through complying with ethical principles subject to maleficience thus protecting subjects from social, emotional or psychological harm, and autonomy thus freedom of voluntary participation. The students were informed on their right to leave the study at any of its phase or withdraw consent at anytime without reprisal (Gill and Johnson, 1997).

The collected data was presented by using frequency distribution tables and flow charts since tabulation of data is the best form of summarizing data thus assisting in data rank-ordering (HKU, 2009).

3.9.2 Method of data analysis
The data analysis was carried out by entering data that was collected into an excel database. This was followed by determination of mean, mean deviation, standards deviation, variance and T-distribution. The dichotomous variables were analyzed by employing fisher’s exact test. Chi square

[chi]2 was performed. The data analysis was achieved by entering the collected data into an excel database followed by calculation of mean, mean deviation, standard and mean deviation for the continuous parameters of the data. The dichotomous variables were analyzed by performing Fishers exact test for two outcomes. Student t-test was determined to compare continuous data variables. The data analysis assumed P<0.05 confidence interval for all comparative analysis (Judd et al, 1991).

3.9.3 Data validity and reliability

Data analysis was a product of validity and reliability (Bryman, 1998). This is because data credibility is important aspect in arriving at accurate results that can lead into informed conclusion (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2002). Accuracy of results affects the value of the study with regard to significance of carrying out the studies. Validity of the data ensured the results reflected the goals of carrying out the studies and thus contributing to accepting and rejecting of hypothesis (Saunders et al, 2007). The measures of dispersion that were calculated were subject to a correction term whose value was ±0.3.

3.9.4 Limitations of the study

Validity and reliability of the Likert scale measurement values
The analysis of reliability and validity of Likert scale measurement on students revealed that some students may opt not to use extreme choices on the Likert scale especially ‘strongly disagree’. The reliability of the results was not subject to cultural erosion since only 8% of the respondents were Chinese with greater population of the Chinese student being of Mandarin dialect. This meant possibility of the traditional culture of China affecting the study outcomes was minimal thus at 0.08 which was not significant (Likert, 1932).

3.9.5 Validity and reliability of the Questionnaires 

Validity and reliability tests analysis for the questionnaire model revealed that the questionnaires may fail to bring about positive results especially if the respondent has limited knowledge on design, value, structure and goals of academic theme restaurant. Chinese respondent could easily have been turned off by the questionnaires (Deutcher, 1956; Norton, 1930) but this was limited by using a low sample of Chinese. Cultural effects on questionnaires subject to the interviewer’s voice inflections and mannerisms were found to have potential to elicit bias responses hence studies use of cultural diversity element in determining eligible respondents for the study (Barath and Cannell, 1976). Although written surveys are not exposed to the disadvantage of response bias, it is not possible to probe the rationale of respondent‘s choice for a given value on the Likert scale. This phenomenon arises because questionnaires often lose ‘flavor of response’ subject to need of the respondent to qualify their responses (Walonick, 1993) but based on assumption that the study was using intelligent respondents, its effect was assumed to be minimal and by leaving a space where the respondent could add his comment. Questionnaires pose the threat of not being able to know who actually completed the questionnaire (Clausen and Ford, 1947; Scott, 1961). There is therefore risk that the expected respondent may not be the one who finally completes the questionnaire. This disadvantage was managed by rewarding students with a loyalty card for their partipation.

3.9.6 Validity and reliability of frequency distribution tables

Frequency distribution tables were found to exhibit characteristic traits of failing to provide enough information that can reveal the actual distribution of the data, moment of skewness and moment of kurtosis. There are possibilities that the data might have been amended to bring about symmetry of the thus ushering in a disadvantage of using extreme data values that affects validity and reliability degree unless there exists a written explanation on amendment that have been carried out. Frequency distribution tables sometimes cannot be used for analysis because they may fail to reveal key assumptions, causes, effects or patterns on the data set. Therefore key assumption, causes and patterns of the data sets should be provided.

3.9.7 Validity and reliability of standard error

It was revealed through validity and reliability testing that the coefficient of variability and mean standard error could have turned out to be a large value in the event the study used a small sample. A large mean standard error and coefficient of variability could have failed to realize the significance of carrying out the studies. The study was therefore designed to cover a large sample of 40,000 respendents so that the mean standard error and coefficient of variability could be infinitesimal (Likert, 1932).

 

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