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Tourism The Tourist As A Consumer Notes

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UNDERSTANDING THE TOURIST AS A CONSUMER

Introduction

At one level people may choose where they wish to travel to, so the patterns of tourism activity could be explained in terms of individual choice.

However, as individuals we do not have limitless choice and our actions are inevitably influenced by a combination of opportunities and constraints including available finance and time.

Just as there are inequalities in many countries in terms of education, employment, housing and income, so there are inequalities in tourism.

Argyle (1996) acknowledges the significance of gender. Age, social class, retirement, unemployment, social relationships, personality and socialisation in affecting leisure behaviour.

So while choice is an important factor in tourism decision making, individuals are rarely free to make those choices being constrained and influenced by personal and situational circumstances.

Motivation and Decision Making in Tourism

Mountinho (1987) argued that motivation is "a state of need, a condition that exerts a push on the individual towards certain types of action that are seen as likely to bring satisfaction".

In relation to tourism motivation is part of the consumption process and is stimulate by a complex mixture of economic, social, psychological, cultural, political, industry related and wider environmental influenced.

Understanding tourist motivation is important for two main reason: o

Planning considerations - all destinations require some form of planning and management and control of negative impacts, where it may be appropriate to divert tourists or particular activities away from vulnerable areas.

o

Economic considerations - growth and development of the tourism industry in a region or corporate growth are dependent on understanding consumer behaviour, particularly through market segmentation strategies.

The study of motivation is concerned with deeply rooted psychological needs and desires.

As Mill and Morrison (1992) argued "the key to understanding tourist motivation is to see vacation travel as a satisfier of needs and wants".

The decision making process in tourism is viewed in two ways by researchers. First it may be likened to the basic decision making process aligned with all product purchasers, where the consumer identifies a need, looks for information on the product, its cost and where it might be purchased, weighs up alternative products and suppliers, makes a choice, consumes and finally makes a judgement on the experience of that product which may then influence future purchasing decisions.

Imagery, advertising, word of mouth recommendation and peer pressure are just a few examples of more obvious influences.

The tourism decision making process if affected by personal, behavioural and destination specific qualities as well as the exogenous factors influencing demand.

Ryan (1997) claimed that these include: o

Social and personal interactions such as the needs of others with whom the individual is travelling. Whether there are children in the group, likely contact with service staff and host community.

o

Travel experience, expectation of delays, comfort and ease of travel to destination.

o

Destination specific factors such as the quality of the accommodation and facilities and historical or other interests which may act as a particular draw for tourists.

o

Personal factors such as self-confidence, personality, experience, lifestyle and life stage.

o

Behaviour patterns which may dictate an individual's propensity to experience new places and activities or to search for holiday information pre booking.

o

Responsive mechanisms, desire for authentic experiences social skills and feeling at ease in a strange environment.

Post-holiday all of these aspects will combine to influence future holiday choices.

However, some tourists make impulse decisions, many attracted to imminent departures at discounted cost. The internet has made such purchases even easier to obtain from the comfort of home.

As Patmore (1975) remarked "there are three broad constraints including desire, ability and mobility. Desire has to first be aroused".

The Tourist as a Consumer

A consumer is an individual who, through a process of decision making, obtains goods and services for personal consumption.

In basic terms such a process involves a purchase but in tourism the importance of experiencing a destination environment must also be recognised where the tourist becomes a consumer of place or culture as well as a purchaser of tourism products.

Changes have occurred in tourism activity since 1945. Tourism has evolved from a product led industry dominated by standardised and limited holiday choices where consumers were inexperienced as purchasers of the new tourism packages.

Through the latter part of the 20t century and into the new millennium. , as part of the growth of consumer culture, tourists have become more experienced, aware, discerning and demanding in relation to holiday experiences.

No longer are the basic sun, sea and sand holidays sufficient to meet the demands of the modern tourist, but a more individualised quality product, that the tourist is more ready to put together without the assistance of a travel agent, is emerging.

The contemporary tourism industry has had little choice but to become more consumers orientated to meet and where possible exceed the increasingly sophisticated needs of the market.

Hogg (2003) outlines the various changes that have occurred and paved the way for the new consumer in the 21st century and states that consumers have become more knowledgeable, demanding and thinking.

Middleton and Clarke (2001) argue that the risk of a more demanding tourism consumer has occurred globally over the last 20 years and has arisen due to a number of factors, some of which included: o

Increased affluence

o

Better education

o

More experience of travel including international travel

o

More culturally diverse travelling population

o

Greater exposure to the media and other forms of information

Tourist Motives

Demand for tourism is highly segmented and is distinguished through a number of different markets.

Swarbrooke and Horner (2001) indicate that in Europe, business travel may be worth up to $380 billion by 2009.

Each form of tourist travel has different motives.

Motives for travel are not the same as motivations but are useful categorisations of tourists whose main reason for travel is to participate in a particular niche interest.

Some of the major motives for travel include a desire to participate in one or more of a number of activities while on holiday such as: o

Culture/heritage

o

Sport

o

Events

o

Food and wine

o

Visiting friends and relatives

o

Business travel

o

Religious

o

Health related

o

Educational

Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches to Tourist Motivation

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs o

Maslow (1943) argued that our individual needs fall into five broad categories (psychological needs, safety needs, belonging and love needs, esteem needs and self-actualisation needs).

o

Maslow suggested that these five categories formed a hierarchy beginning with lower order physiological needs moving through to higher order selfactualisation needs.

o

This is based on the premise that each of the needs expressed in a category should be satisfied before the individual sought motivation for the next category of need.

o

It can be seen that once the basic human requirements of thirst and hunger have been met, the need for these to motivate the behaviour and actions of an individual may no longer apply.

o

At this point the individual may be motivated by higher order classification rising to self-actualisation.

o

Several tourism researchers have applied Maslow's model in the context of tourism motivation (Pearce and Caltabianco 1983 and Cooper 1998).

Push and Pull Factors o

Dann (1977) described push and pull factors. Push factors are those that propel a desire to travel and pull factors are those which influence which destination is selected.

o

Sharpley (1994) stated "the motivation to satisfy needs, combined with personal preference pushes the tourist into considering alternative products; the final choice depends on the pull of alternative holidays or destinations".

o

Gilbert (1991) acknowledges the push and pull factors influencing the tourism consumer decision process and suggests that the process has four distinct stages:

Effectors of demand - information about a destination will have been received by various means. The consumer will have developed their own ideas and perceptions about the destination and this perception may enhance or reduce the likelihood of a visit.

Roles and decision making - the role of the tourist as a consumer will influence the final choice of holiday.

Energisers of demand - these are the various forces, including motivation, which initiate the decision to visit an attraction or go on holiday at the outset.

Filters of demand - the decision to travel is heavily influenced by a series of demographic and socioeconomic constraints and opportunities. While there may be a strong push, demand is filtered through such constraining factors.

Dann's Perspectives on Tourism Motivation o

Tourism takes many forms and visiting friends and relatives or business travel may result from different motives or even be more related to the actual purpose of the visit than the needs and wants of the tourist.

o

Dann (1981) identified seven perspectives which provided a more in depth attempt to identify the principal elements of tourist motivation:

Travel as a response to what is lacking yet desired

Destination pull in response to motivational push

Motivation as fantasy

Motivation as classified purpose

Motivational typologies

Motivation and tourist experiences

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