Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Influencing Tourist Behaviour through Relationships Marketing

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Influencing Tourist Behaviour through Relationships Marketing

Article excerpt

Tourist behavior

Swarbrooke and Horner (1999) investigate the tourist behavior and the decisional process undergone by the tourist. Analyzing the way tourists obtain, consume and dispose of product and/or services is a useful tool in order to better design the offer. This process has to occur not only before the vacation, but also during and after the tourist was in holiday.

Generally, companies pay more attention to their clients before purchasing products, in order to convince them to buy. In this context, there is common interest in clients' motivations and determinants for buying travel packages (Swarbrooke and Horner 1999). The processes a tourist undergoes after purchasing and consuming the "services" is increasingly more important, and companies should pay more attention to these aspects. The rate of the return of the tourists to buy another package depends on their previous experiences related with that company.

Understanding the behavior of clients is extremely important to ensure quality. As Berry et al (1991) debate, there is a close relationship between quality of the service provided and the inputs into the marketing strategy. One of these inputs is related to the characteristics, needs, desires and behavior of clients. The authors stress the importance of pre-sale efforts of delivering quality, pointing out the increased effectiveness of the marketing and business processes. We consider that equal attention should be paid to pre-sales relationships. These could be properly designed only by taking into account the complex personality of the client.

The investigation of the tourist behavior is a complex process. It has to take into account also various relations with and attitudes regarding other tourism agents, the environment, the local community, as well as other parties, which could be involved (e.g. the government or mass media). But mainly the tourist behavior is influenced by the motives and different determinants, some of them permanent, others circumstantial, some known by the tourist, others unacknowledged.

Different studies and researches analyzing tourist behavior show that the rational decisional process is a myth. This fact complicates the way clients/ tourists can be influenced. One of the main conditions in order to succeed in shaping tourists thoughts and reactions is to better know the organization's clients through continuous research and communication. In order to make things easier, Swarbrook and Horner (1999) have developed more models which highlight the decisional process, as well as the main weaknesses.

Even if the decisional process is not very clear and it varies a lot from tourist to tourist, some tendencies are obvious. For instance cultural tourism as well as ecotourism have more appeal to the public. Everyone is more concerned with the sustainability of the tourism. Another increasingly more important issue for tourists, who tend to be more informed and experienced, is the authenticity and sincerity of the parties involved, or at least the perceived ones. All these factors influence the marketing activity of any organization involved.

Not only tourism companies can influence the tourist behavior. Some of the factors are in the tourist's every-day environment (e.g. family, friends, mass media), while others are active during holidays (e.g. local communities, personnel at the destination). For instance Currie points out that a tourist might act differently in the home environment compared to being on vacation (Currie, 1997). Expectations also influence the behavior and the purchasing attitude. Gnoth (1997) analyzes the relationships between the two (see also Gnoth et al, 2000). He also implies the impact on satisfaction levels (Gnoth, 1997).

A tourist company has limited possibilities of influence, but is can careful design its offer so as to limit the potential negative occurrences at the destination. For instance it can develop good relationships with its destination partners, so as its tourists to be privileged and specially taken care of. …

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