|General programme, activity sheet|
||Thursday 24 October, 2013 12:30 to 12:50
The Tourist Experience: A Conceptual FrameworkSpeaker: Natalia Tur, Universitat de les Illes Balears
Authors: Natalia Tur, Javier Rey-Maquieira, Vicente Ramos
Nowadays, many tourist destinations around the world are facing several competitiveness problems. In this context, seeking for alternative strategies which allow the design of new competitive advantages becomes essential. To overcome this need, the creation of tourist experiences currently performs as an interesting and innovative strategy for many destinations, especially for those facing maturity. Considering the academic sphere, the experiential concept becomes one of the major trends followed by tourism economics’ current research. But, what is exactly a tourist experience? Which specific attributes distinguish tourist experiences from traditional tourism goods and services?
Along the last decades, many authors from different fields have attempted to provide a generic concept for the experience. However, the major part of contributions resulted in partial definitions, describing only isolated attributes of the experience (Abrahams 1986; Denzin 1992; Arnould and Price 1993; Edgall’s et al 1997; Gupta and Vajic 1999; Schmitt’s 1999; Pine and Gilmore 1999; Lewis and Chambers 2000; Mossberg 2007; Oh et al 2007; Ray 2008). Few have tried to depict an integrated conceptual framework considering all the different dimensions of the experience. The same happens for the specific case of the tourism industry, where the available definitions of the tourist experience are even more limited (Uriely 2005; Andersson 2007; Titz 2007; Lashley 2008). Thus, due to the intangibility of the related concepts, there seems to be an important shortcoming regarding the definition of the tourist experience and the construction of an integrated model. A complete definition considering all the attributes of the tourist experience is still missing. These shortcomings become the departure point of our research.
Keeping this limitation in mind, our main purpose is to extend each attribute’s comprehension and to collect them all into a unique conceptual model for the tourist experience, able to be measured in empirical terms. Building a conceptual framework for the tourist experience requires a previous detailed assessment of the existing knowledge, so each of the attributes we discuss is studied applying a theoretical methodology of analysis. In that sense, enriching prior contributions about each attribute with new and innovative findings becomes essential to provide an integrated definition for the tourist experience.
The key arguments provided along the research are sustained on a direct comparison between the tourist experience and traditional tourism goods and services. A list of different economic distinctions is suggested and the main attributes of the tourist experience are deeply analyzed. The direct comparison becomes a very useful tool to understand which attributes of the tourist experience explain the source of new value and becomes a pioneering contribution into the tourism and hospitality field. Due to its special peculiarities, the tourist experience is recognized as a distinct economic offering inside the tourism market, able to add new value to the production chain by means of upper levels of differentiation. Among the different peculiarities detected, the idea of co-production is specially highlighted. Rather than being produced by a single supplier, tourist experiences are based on the incorporation of individual’s subjectivity inside the production process. The incorporation of tourists’ perceptions as well as their own senses, emotions and prior state of mind relative to consumption allow the co-production of each single tourist experience. Pine and Gilmore (1999) suggest that no two equal experiences exist, since any good or service can be turned into a unique experience by means of enriching the core product with each individual’s subjectivity, achieving upper levels of differentiation and creating a new source of value. The incorporation of the more irrational side of consumers, the one governed by emotions and feelings, constitutes an important challenge for the existing literature.
Once each of the attributes of the tourists experience has been separately recognized, we are able to provide a complete definition for the concept. In addition, we provide an integrated conceptual framework for the tourist experience. Individual’s perceptions regarding the environment, social interactions and the core product are coupled with his/her own psychic loading (Tofler, 1970) to conform each single tourist experience. It must be noticed that the applicability of this conceptual model goes beyond the theoretical contributions, since it also allows its measurement in empirical terms. Thus, the contributions of this research go beyond the tourism economics field, since relevant results could also be obtained in the Management/Marketing field. In that sense, many tourism firms currently believe in experience staging as a very useful tool to improve their competitiveness through upper levels of satisfaction.
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Andersson, T.D. 2007. "The tourist in the experience economy." Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism 7(1):46-58.
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Session 2 – Tourism experiences
Place: Room SB03