Consuming experience - Reconsidering the Nature of Tourists’ Experiences

by Uli Knobloch

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: tourist experience; tourism experience; memorable experience; wellbeing; experiential marketing; hedonia; eudaimonia
Record ID: 1307871
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5558


Experiential marketing and the quest to create memorable and extraordinary customer experiences have become central to tourism, an industry concerned with experiential products. However, the theory of experiential marketing is underdeveloped and compounded by a lack of knowledge regarding what makes experiences memorable. Limitations also include methodological limitations in past research, and inattention to the subjective and personal nature of experiences. Thus practical applications of experiential marketing ideas are problematic and their usefulness may be questioned. This thesis addressed these issues through three studies, and extends the field of experiential marketing by informing understanding of the nature of customer experience. Study one addressed a fundamental methodological limitation in past research. Specifically, it explored how the terms used to understand experiences, namely: “memorable,” “extraordinary,” “special” and “peak” have limited understanding because they have been poorly defined, used interchangeably, and the nature of the experience to which they refer varies widely. In-depth interviews with tourists investigated the nature of their experiences and the perceptions that defined them, in relation to the terms used by researchers. Findings showed respondents associated different meanings with each term, and that types of experiences stand out for respondents for different reasons. The multidimensional nature of experiences and the importance of emotional aspects need to be acknowledged. Findings from this paper were presented at the Australian & New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference 2013, and have recently been published in Tourism Analysis. Study two explored the dimensions that make experiences stand out in tourists’ minds, building on study one by corroborating the significance of emotional aspects and extending and complementing past research that has focused on cognitive aspects of travellers’ experiences. Emotions were at the core of tourist experiences, but not all were characterised by hedonic enjoyment. Concepts from positive psychology were applied in the context of tourist experiences and linked them to broader concepts of eudaimonic well-being and quality of life. Findings from this study were presented at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2014 and developed into a full journal paper currently under review at Annals of Tourism Research. Study three extended study one and two and focused on the subjective nature of tourists’ experiences, with regards to emotions, meanings and personal outcomes, and their link to hedonia and eudaimonia. The study focused on the significance of eudaimonia by investigating tourists’ experiences of the same activity in three consumption contexts. Tourism providers’ understanding of their customers’ experiences were also examined. The study revealed the influence and importance of consumption context as well as substantial differences in personal outcomes, many of which were more meaningful and profound than managers realised. The…