Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Segmenting the Travel Market Based on the Tourists' Need for Novelty: Insights and Implications for Mediterranean Destinations

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Segmenting the Travel Market Based on the Tourists' Need for Novelty: Insights and Implications for Mediterranean Destinations

Article excerpt


The Mediterranean region--which is defined as the geographical area comprising 22 countries that share the common characteristic of bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including European (e.g., Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece), North African (e.g., Morocco, Tunisia), and Middle Eastern countries (e.g., Egypt, Turkey)--has emerged in the last decade as the world's leading tourist destination (Erbina, Garau, & Molina de Dios, 2010). Recent figures from the

World Travel Organization indicate that 52% of international travel occurs within this geographic region, with a total of 534 million international tourists having visited this region in 2013 (UNWTO, 2013). Subsequently, the Mediterranean region represents an information-rich geographic area that can reveal a great deal of information regarding tourist behavior and specific market segments that can be applied to other destinations (Assaker & Hallak, 2013).

Tourism researchers have often used psychographic information to identify and define market segments. The psychographic variable of 'novelty-seeking' is widely recognized as a critical factor in understanding travel behavior (Cohen, 1972; Bello & Etzel, 1985). Previous studies have considered novelty as one criterion in identifying specific market segments (e.g., Crompton, 1979; Petrick, 2002). Other studies have explored the effects of tourists travel-seeking tendencies on repeat visitation (e.g., Assaker et al., 2011; Jang & Feng, 2007).

This research explores the use of 'novelty seeking' as a way to segment the leisure travel market for Mediterranean destinations. Specifically, it uses cluster analysis to identify and profile particular segment groups of travelers to major Mediterranean sun-and-sand destinations based on their novelty-seeking behavior. The aim is to examine whether travelers' novelty-seeking behavior affects their likelihood to return to the destination. After identifying the segments based on the novelty-seeking behavior, the present study examines differences in segments regarding revisit intention using analysis of variance (ANOVA). This will validate the proposed clusters and examine their criterion/external validity (Aldenderfer & Bashfield, 1984).

Previous studies focusing on tourists' novelty-seeking have focused on a single country, a single destination, or an individual activity (Bello & Etzel, 1985; Petrick, 2002; Chang & Chiang, 2006; Sangpikul, 2008; Kim, Kim, Park, & Guo, 2008) and have thus reached conclusions specific to a particular destination or activity (Weaver et al., 2009). Therefore, the present study is unique in that it uses multiple international destinations within the Mediterranean region as reference points to validate the segments and their corresponding behavior.

Thus, the study presents a cluster analysis approach and describes its usefulness in segmenting and profiling travelers according to their novelty-seeking behavior. By doing so, it contributes to our understanding of specific groups of travelers that could be assumed to be based on novelty-seeking behavior, as well as the demographics and characteristics of travelers who actively seek novelty when they travel compared to those who do not. This research expands on the body of knowledge examining the complex relationships between novelty-seeking and revisit behavior It examines the extent to which groups of tourists with different levels of novelty seeking tendencies also demonstrate varying intentions to revisit a destination. From a practical perspective, the findings will provide valuable information to policymakers and destination managers of Mediterranean sun-and-sand destinations in market segmentation strategies and building customer loyalty.

Novelty seekers

An important psychological concept in the marketing literature relevant to consumer behavior is the need for variety (Chen & Paliwoda, 2004). …

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