Using importance performance analysis (IPA), this study assesses the catering component of courses presented by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CE at UP). CE at UP is a teaching company that offers certificate courses to post-graduate individuals in diverse fields of study. The catering component of CE at UP is outsourced to on-campus foodservice providers. Very little research has been done on the services offered by this institution with regard to its catering component that highlights the significance of hospitality management as a field of expertise. CE at UP is concerned about its catering component as it consistently receives the lowest evaluation scores during standard course evaluations.
Data was collected by using an exploratory mixed methodology consisting of both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The catering attributes for the IPA were obtained by conducting an unstructured one-to-one interview with the operations manager of CE at UP and focus groups with course delegates. The 357 questionnaires completed by course delegates were analysed using the IPA. Descriptive analysis, including simple frequencies, mean ratings and standard deviations, used data related to the respondents’ demographic profiles and their catering attributes. Exploratory factor analysis with VARIMAX rotation was also applied. The IPA procedure was applied and the mean ratings of the catering attributes were plotted on the IPA grid. Cross-hairs (vertical and horizontal axis) were calculated to separate the derived catering attributes into the four IPA quadrants. Cluster analysis was applied to determine the demographic profile of the course delegates.
For CE at UP to benefit, focusing more on these attributes will lead to better service provision: buffet variety, provision of parking facilities, catering for a variety of cultures, catering for special diets, beverage variety, and professional service. The IPA assessed which catering attributes were considered the most important, and how the company had performed on each of these. Interpreting the results from the IPA has enabled CE at UP to assess its current agreement with the foodservice provider and given the company more knowledge about how to manage the catering component more effectively. It has thus retained existing customers as well as securing new customers, which is good for its future business development. The delegates’ experience of the catering component plays a vital role in overall customer satisfaction, which, in turn, influences the success and performance of CE at UP as a company.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2015.