To stand out in the hot spring tourism industry, customer satisfaction has become the crucial issue for competitiveness. A company cannot implement several customer satisfaction improvement practices altogether with limited resources. Researchers advocate that companies should evaluate the relationships among success factors and explore determinants for their improvement implementation. However, such a relationship evaluation has not yet been adequately performed. This paper intends to explore the determinants for improving hot spring customer satisfaction. Adopting grounded theory (GT) and using data collected from websites, Ctrip and Qunar, the first 12 key factors for customer satisfaction were identified. Then, their interrelationships were assessed by 15 experts, and interpretive structural modeling (ISM) was employed to analyze the interrelationships and the driving and dependence power among key factors. The results show that “Environment Quality”, “Special Resource”, “Convenience”, “Food”, Service Quality”, and “Facilities” were the decisive factors affecting customer satisfaction. The findings offer important implications for hot spring management and practice. The contribution of this study is using a novel approach to establish a hierarchical structural model for comprehensive understanding of factor relationships that influence hot spring tourists’ satisfaction and to explore decisive factors which can help hot spring practitioners to better plan and design effective improvement strategies to attract potential new consumers and retain their current consumers, especially with limited resources.
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