The purposes of this dissertation are to demonstrate how the motivational theories in travel and tourism can be used as a foundation for research into ceasing participation in organized leisure activities, and to discuss methodological implications that emerge from such an approach. The research problem is the identification of three motivational factors that mostly influence the choice of leisure activity in the Lebanese tourism sector. The dissertation will rely heavily on literature review and primary research that used university students and a focus group of industry professionals in Lebanon.
The theoretical background of this study is structured according to Iso-Ahola’s motivational theory. Iso-Ahola’s theory asserts that personal escape, personal seeking, interpersonal escape, and interpersonal seeking motivate tourism and recreation. This dissertation operationalizes and empirically tests Iso-Ahola’s theory for similar tourism and recreation experiences. The motivation dimensions are monitored using scenario-based data for sporting events, beaches, amusement parks, and natural parks. The first investigation used confirmatory factor analysis to explore the efficacy of six competing motivational structures.
Three of these competing models achieved superior and similar fit statistics, with one model incorporating the most parsimonious structure. This model gave equal and direct salience to each of the four motivations. The second investigation examined the differences in motivation levels for tourism and recreation experiences. Tourism experiences exhibited higher levels of motivation, particularly for the personal seeking and personal escape dimensions. The third investigation found no relationship between the number of recent domestic and international vacations and tourism motivations among the subjects.
Chapter I Introduction
This dissertation seeks to explore the rationale for, and difficulties of operationalizing, the measurement of tourists’ satisfaction with their experiences in particular destinations. It suggests that the on-going systematic measurement of satisfaction with destinations is a valuable exercise that will have tangible benefits, but acknowledges the difficulties of doing this in a meaningful manner. The principal argument presented is that the measurement of tourists’ satisfaction with a particular destination involves more than simply measuring the level of satisfaction with the services delivered by individual enterprises. There needs to be a much broader, more encompassing means of measuring satisfaction, one that relates closely to the motivations which tourists have for visiting the destination in the first place.
The tourism industry consists of a number of different sectors including the travel, hospitality and visitor services sector. Within each of these sectors there are a number of individual enterprises that provide a range of services to people who are traveling away from their home environment. This travel could be for a variety of reasons including for pleasure, to visit friends and relatives, to work on a short term basis, to attend conferences, to participate in business activities, or any of a number of specific reasons.
While the industry distinguishes between the various groups according to their purpose for travel, convention has it that all these short-term travelers are defined as ‘tourists” Likewise, the industry distinguishes between various ‘markets’ according to their place of origin (international, domestic, intra-state, interstate, etc). These distinctions are not relevant to this paper which is concerned with all these forms of tourism.
Tourists visit destinations and engage in various activities while there. These destinations can be classified in various ways and at various scales of analysis. For example, Lebanon could be regarded as a destination for international visitors while Beirut could be one for people from northern Lebanon. At a different scale, a city or even a region could be regarded as a destination. This paper is concerned with all these levels. It is not concerned with individual enterprises which exist within certain destinations. As noted below, there appears to be adequate analysis of tourism satisfaction at the individual enterprise level.
What is missing is a broader view that looks at the way tourists respond to the totality of their experiences in a particular destination irrespective of the particular activities that they engage in. I am going to provide an explanation of the Lebanese tourism economy because this market is the model that this dissertation uses as the benchmark for testing Iso-Ahola’s motivational theory. I have chosen this country due to its reputation of being the jewel of the Middle East and one of the most desired destinations in the region. The understanding of the characteristics of this market will play a critical role in laying the foundations for the research and would allow to increase the integrity and reliability of this research.
Moreover, the market is highly concentrated and the geographic area is small; this aspect would play a paramount role in diminishing sources of error; and in case of their occurrence it would be easier to isolate and rectify. In addition, being my home country; I view studying this market as a personal passion which would allow me to present with a high “motivational” level. I will start by providing a review of the state of Lebanese tourism and highlight the trends, review precious research findings, and pinpoint the market characteristics.
Tourism in the Lebanese Economy
Over the last decade the tourism industry has emerged as a significant sector of the Lebanese economy generating approximately $5 billion in income, employing 1 in 9 Lebanese and contributing about $1.5 billion in export earnings.
While approximately 55% of tourism activity involves domestic travel, the fastest growing sector is in-bound travel. This has been increasing significantly over the last decade with Lebanon receiving 1.1 million visits in 2004. Despite the recent downturn in the economies of major source countries, and the unstable political landscape visitor arrivals to Lebanon are expected to grow at an average annual rate of between 5.7 and 7.8 per cent to reach between 1.4 and 1.7 million visitors in 2010.
Being a relatively new industry characterized by growth, the focus has been on marketing, visitor numbers, and length of stay, expenditure patterns and other measures of consumption. As the industry has begun to mature in the last five or so years; there has been an increasing interest in such things as quality of service, accreditation procedures, and measurement of client satisfaction. The issues discussed in this paper should be seen as part of this maturation process in which the industry is looking to achieve long-term sustainable growth that generates benefits for the industry, the clients and the community as a whole.
Methodology of Research
Collecting data in marketing research often involves several different strategies, such as interviewing and analyzing documents (Merriam, 1998). Using multiple sources of information is useful in our research since we have doubts that a single source of information will provide a complete and comprehensive understanding of the research problem, so in our research we use multiple sources of information. Basically, there are two forms of data: primary and secondary data. While writing the dissertation, I will use several different sources when collecting data in order to increase the validity of the collected data.
Secondary data is the data that has been previously collected and published. The secondary data used in the beginning of our research, originated from various sources. In the preparatory period, we have started by studying literature related to relationship tourism marketing, tourism buying and motivational behavior and motivational marketing concepts in order to get deeper insight into and understanding of the researched area.
The other sources used for collection of our secondary data were: newspaper and magazine articles, course materials, on-line sources (Internet databases) and tourism companies’ materials (internal and external).
The methodology used for primary research will be depicted at greater length in the third chapter.
Current Measurement of Tourist’s Satisfaction Levels
Despite the large body of literature available on satisfaction research in general, only a few academic studies have focused directly on customer satisfaction amongst tourists. Of these, an even more limited number have been undertaken in Lebanon. The major studies include Fick and Ritchie (1991), Reisinger and Waryszak (1994), Arnold and Price (1993), Crompton and Love (1995), Geva and Goldman (1991), Maddox (1985) and Ryan (1995). Because of the limited material available in the academic literature, a preliminary survey of organizations that may have investigated tourist satisfaction was undertaken.
Given the broad focus of the paper and the limited space, no attempt was made to look at individual tourism enterprises measuring the satisfaction level of clients as part of their on-going quality assurance program. The most common example of this is the questionnaire that is left in individual hotel rooms. These vary from single response questions to sophisticated instruments designed to elicit quite detailed responses from guests.
Most of these are diagnostic in the sense that they are aimed at identifying specific measures that can be taken to improve the service. Some specifically enquire about customer’s perceptions of the service’s value for money. In some instances, particularly amongst 5 star hotel chains, these are used for benchmarking or as performance indicators.
Because of this decision to exclude individual enterprises, the preliminary survey focused on the following organizations:
- Academic departments of Lebanese universities
- State tourist offices
- Non-government tourist industry organizations and associations
The search found a range of studies has been completed most of which are primarily data-gathering research exercises rather than conceptual studies. The prime studies are described in appendix I.
It is clear that some work has been done in this area by a smattering of agencies each of which approaches it from a quite different perspective. Despite acknowledgement of the potential value of the data, current efforts are not coordinated resulting in a lack of comparability that makes it impossible to identify trends and monitor changes in a systematic fashion. More importantly, the diversity of approaches demonstrates a need for substantial conceptual work on the nature of tourist satisfaction in general and the measurement of tourist satisfaction with destinations in particular. What is required is further exploration into the application of concepts and ideas drawn from the broader consumer literature to the specific challenge of measuring the satisfaction of tourists with particular destinations. This may require a quite different approach to that adopted for other services.
Why measure satisfaction at the level of the destination?
There are a number of reasons why it would be appropriate to look at extending the measurement of tourist satisfaction to the more global level of the tourist destination. It is critical to understand the underlying motivational factors in order to be able to get a clearer barometer for the measurement of satisfaction of tourists. Without pre-empting the nature of this measurement, these reasons include:
- Millions of dollars are spent each year on destination marketing by national and state tourism offices, airlines and regional tourism bodies. This includes detailed surveys of potential markets as well as extensive advertising and promotional campaigns in source countries. While there is considerable research into the impact of the promotional effort through awareness studies, tracking studies, etc, these all concentrate on the inputs (i.e. has the campaign reached its target audience?). What is missing is an understanding of the client’s reaction to the product offering, in particularly whether it meets the needs of the target market. This would become an integral part of the understanding what the market(s) is/are seeking.
- Peak organizations in the tourism industry recognize the need to encourage both new and repeat business. The latter can best be achieved by ensuring that our current offerings are satisfying the needs, expectations and desires of current tourists and their propensity to recommend the destination to others.
- The measure could become a barometer of the ‘health’ of the industry for strategic planning purposes.
- The tourism industry itself is grappling with the issue of service quality and recognizes that this is the key to long term success. At present its focus is on establishing accreditation mechanisms to ensure that individual firms conform to appropriate standards. Monitoring tourists’ satisfaction at the more global level would provide a valuable framework for this and enable comparison between the efforts of the individual enterprise and those of the industry as a whole.
- Government agencies are now recognizing the value of assessing the success of their programs in terms of outcomes rather than inputs. As Lebanese government agencies move in this direction the need for the systematic collection of the type of data proposed will increase. In the case of tourism, this is particularly relevant to national, state and regional tourism development bodies responsible for destination marketing. Using the level of satisfaction experienced by visitors to their destination as a measure of success would transfer the focus away from the efforts of the organization towards their achievements.
- Governments of all persuasions are looking critically at their financial commitments and questioning whether they should continue the traditionally high level of support. If the industry can demonstrate a relationship between the level of support and the satisfaction of visitors to their destination then the argument for continued support would be strengthened greatly. This would complement other measures such as visitor numbers, expenditure, etc.
- With an appropriate measurement instrument it could be possible for individual sectors of the industry to be compared with other sectors. In an industry where the success of the whole depends on the contribution of each part, this information will help to identify those sectors that need to improve.
- Recent developments in consumer protection have extended into the area of satisfaction. The 1993 European Union Directive on Travel has required member states to implement laws giving tourists the right to obtain compensation from packaged tour operators in the event that they are ‘dissatisfied’ with their holiday. This applies in all destinations, including Lebanon. The results of the proposed survey will help to focus the attention of the industry on this issue and provide data on how the industry is going and what needs to be improved.
- Perspectives on Measuring Tourists’ Satisfaction with a Destination
Measuring tourists’ satisfaction with a destination is conceptually different from measuring satisfaction at the transaction specific level. Moreover, it is contended that while satisfaction at the destination level is influenced by the various transactions that occur at that destination, an individual’s level of satisfaction is influenced by much broader, global factors, some of which are beyond the capacity of the tourism industry to affect. The purpose of this section is to outline some ideas that should be taken into account when developing a method to measure satisfaction at this relatively abstract level.
Johnson, Anderson et al., (1995) have distinguished between two different general conceptualizations of satisfaction: transaction-specific satisfaction and cumulative satisfaction. The former is concerned with “satisfaction as an individual, transaction-specific measure or evaluation of a particular product or service experience” (Johnson, Anderson et al. 1995).
Cumulative satisfaction, on the other hand, is “a cumulative, abstract construct that describes customer’s total consumption experience with a product or service” (Johnson, Anderson et al., 1995). As a customer’s overall evaluation of the purchase or consumption experience, cumulative satisfaction is the most relevant conceptualization when the focus is on the tourist’s evaluation of their overall experience at a destination. This is sometimes referred to as market-level satisfaction.
The literature suggests that satisfaction measurement must be treated differently at these two levels of abstraction. Moreover, when considering consumer satisfaction with their consumption experiences, a major distinction has been made between the consumption of goods and services (Lovelock, 1991).
Measures of satisfaction are not the same for these different consumption experiences, largely because of the role of the consumer in the service encounter. It could also be argued that tourism is a ‘special’ service in that, like recreation or education, it is largely self-produced (Williams, 1988). The individual plays a central role in determining the experiences achieved and the benefits derived.
The ‘special’ nature of tourism can be understood by adopting the behavioral perspective first developed within the recreation and leisure literature. This literature demonstrates the value of perceiving recreation as activity that creates experiences which, in turn, result in benefits for the individual (Driver and Tocher, 1970; Mannel and Iso-Ahola, 1987). This created a focus on the factors which determine the quality of those experiences and the benefits derived. Measurement of satisfaction has therefore involved an assessment of whether the experiences have resulted in the desired benefits sought by the individual. In his seminal paper (Wagar 1966) suggested that the quality of recreation experience depends upon how well desired outcomes are realized.
Satisfaction is therefore more a function of the needs and interests of the individual than the attributes and characteristics of the service provided. These ideas have gradually become the basis of the conceptualization of the tourist experience and informed much of the work about tourist motivations and expectations (Crompton and Love, 1995; Ryan, 1995). Therefore tourist experiences can be regarded as the result of an active endeavor by the individual to create a situation in which to achieve satisfaction. It is this active involvement of the individual in the creation of his or her personal experiences that needs to be acknowledged.
In a similar vein, the early recreation literature also recognized the implications of this approach for the assessment of recreation service quality. It was recognized that “the quality of the experiences can be influenced by input factors provided by managers . . . but to a considerable extent the quality of experiences depends upon choices made by recreationists and how they use the many factors of production” (Brown, 1988: 413). In other words, the satisfaction levels experienced by recreationists are recognized as being a function of a number of different variables including those brought by the recreationist him/herself which are beyond the influence of the service provider.
Drawing on the consumer literature, it is too easy to assume that the outcomes of the tourist activity are solely the creation of the tourist operators/industry. However, it is perhaps more enlightening to adopt a ‘transactional perspective’ outlined in the recreation literature. Here, the tourist “actively creates the recreation(tourist) experience, through a transaction with the physical and social setting, including what the recreationist (tourist) brings to the process in terms of history, perceptions, companions, skills, equipment, identities, hopes and dreams” (Williams, 1988). With this perspective, more emphasis is placed on the behavior of the individual and their role in creating the experience. Not all the responsibility for creating high levels of satisfaction rests with the service deliverer.
With this in mind, (Crompton and Love, 1995) make a distinction between quality of opportunity and quality of experience.
“Quality of opportunity is defined as qualities of the attributes of a service that are under the control of a supplier. Evaluation is concerned with judgments about the performance of the leisure opportunity supplier. . . . In contrast, quality of experience involves not only the attributes provided by a supplier, but also attributes brought to the opportunity by the visitor or recreationist. . Quality of experience is a psychological outcome or emotional response. . Satisfaction is measured by how well leisure activities are perceived to fulfill the basic needs and motives that stimulated the idea to participate in the activity (Crompton and Love, 1995:12)”.
When the objective is to measure satisfaction with a holiday in a particular destination, it will be important to note this distinction and ensure that both aspects are included in the assessment. We have been reasonably good at assessing tourists’ perceptions of the quality of opportunity but largely ignored the question of quality of experience.
A further perspective that could be of relevance here is that of Herzberg (1966). While his work mainly focused on the workplace, his theory of motivation has relevance to the expenditure of discretionary time such as going on a holiday. Herzberg (1966) suggests that all aspects of an experience can be classified as either a motivational or a hygienic factor. Motivational factors are those that positively encourage people to do something. For example, a desire to make new friends may motivate people to go on an organized tour rather than travel alone. On the other hand, hygienic factors are those things which would not encourage one to travel, but their absence would discourage such travel.
A good example is the availability of clean drinking water. Having this available is unlikely to motivate someone to travel, while its absence could cause someone to not choose a particular destination. According to Roger James & Associates (1996) “the absence of motivational factors does not lead to ‘dissatisfaction’ but rather to ‘unsatisfaction’ a sense of emptiness rather than a sense of anger or disappointment. On the other hand, the absence of a hygienic factor will lead to dissatisfaction. The presence of such a factor will not lead to ‘satisfaction’ but rather to ‘satisficing’, that is, a passive (albeit benign) feeling” (Roger James & Associates, 1996 : 34).
If we adopt this framework it could be suggested that we have tended to focus on the hygienic factors which are represented by the measurement of how well the services (hotels, airports, travel companies, etc) are provided. These are important because without these being done well, the customer would be very dissatisfied. However, we have not also measured the motivational factors. These are akin to the experience factors – how well the destination facilitates the satisfaction of personal needs. The best way of ensuring that we are providing this is to understand the client’s needs, etc and to develop product that is relevant to these. In turn, this is linked to the benefits to be derived from the experience thus creating satisfaction.
The work by Arnold and Price (1993) confirms the role that needs and desires play in the consumer’s evaluation of a particular experience. They present very clear evidence that the satisfaction of participants in this recreational (or possibly tourist?) activity is related to the extent to which the experience enhances their individual cultural script and are “interpreted within the broader narrative context of the consumer’s life” (Arnould and Price, 1993). They suggest that “satisfaction with river rafting . . . does not seem to be embodied in attributes of the experience such as amounts of time spent freezing in wet clothes, uncomfortable toilet facilities, bad food or any summary index of specific attributes of the trip” (Arnould and Price, 1993).
These general thoughts appear to be in line with the fundamentals of the marketing concept most commonly described as “satisfying the needs and desires of the consumer” (Keith, 1960 :38) and the whole notion of benefit segmentation which suggests that purchases are selected on the basis of the benefits derived by consumers (Haley, 1968). It is also consistent with the recent work of Spreng and his associates which emphasizes the role that desires, as opposed to expectations, plays in determining satisfaction within the disconfirmation framework (Spreng, Mackenzie et al., 1996).
Space does not permit an exhaustive examination of the extensive literature outlining the various models used as the basis for measuring customer satisfaction and gauging the behavioral aspects (see Parasuraman, Zeithaml et al., 1994). However, a review of this literature has uncovered a model that could be developed to provide a satisfactory method of evaluating tourists’ satisfaction at the level of the destination and their motivational map. This model has been developed by Iso-Ahola and has become the basis of extensive work at the national and international level.
The index provided by the Iso-Ahola model provides a cumulative evaluation of a sector’s market offering coupled with individual evaluation of a specific transaction. Called the ‘Customer Satisfaction Index/Barometer’, it has been introduced in: Sweden, Germany and the United States of America (Fornell, Johnson et al, 1996). Taiwan and New Zealand are also in the process of introducing a similar national satisfaction indicator. While much work still needs to be done, the framework provided by Iso-Ahola model provides a good starting point. It should be possible to make the necessary changes required to produce a useful index that will contribute to the on-going development of this important industry.
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