Cleanliness is a key determinant of service quality, and robot cleaners are increasingly being deployed in tourism venues to reduce cleaning costs and increase efficiency. However, how robot deployment might alter tourists' perceptions of a venue's cleanliness remains unexplored. Building upon the person-environment fit theory, we propose that consumers' evaluations of robot cleaners are contingent on the fit between robots and the cleaning environment. We supplement two experiments with text analysis to show that deploying robot (vs. human) cleaners in a hotel/airport dilutes consumers' perceptions of the venue's cleanliness. Consumers generally perceive robot cleaners to be less competent than humans and thus expect a venue serviced by robot cleaners to be less clean. However, when the cleaning task is considered to be disgusting or disruptive, consumers view robot cleaners as more competent. These findings have important managerial implications for whether and how to deploy robot cleaners in tourism settings.
|Early online date||7 Jul 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2022|