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Do Tourism Providers Know their Visitors?
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Do Tourism Providers Know their Visitors?

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The paper was awarded with the Best Full Paper Award and 500€ prize at the 2008 CHME Conference (Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Conference, Glasgow, 2008). ...

The paper was awarded with the Best Full Paper Award and 500€ prize at the 2008 CHME Conference (Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Conference, Glasgow, 2008).

Abstract
Even the sticking out positivists researchers (Grönroos, 2001; Gummesson, 1994, 2001, 2006; Iacobucci & Ostrom 1999; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000, 2004) recognize the insufficiencies of traditional services research methodology and claim that the dominant models of service quality’s measurement have failed to conceive the customers’ perspective (Schembri & Sandberg, 2002). Whereas the customer is considered to be the focal point at contemporary Marketing and Services Marketing area, customer’s perspective is claimed to be missing from the dominant theory (Grönroos, 1993, 2006a). This article explores the potential for a modified gap analysis to serve as an alternative marketing tool. A research framework is constructed and tested using data produced by two survey efforts (tourists and tourism services providers) in a heritage destination.

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  • Nice paper Georgia. please can I access full article? I am doing PhD and would love to have some more insights!! please emailk me at zephaniah.kambele(at)gmail.com
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Do Tourism Providers Know their Visitors? Do Tourism Providers Know their Visitors? Document Transcript

  • Do Tourism Providers Know their Visitors? An Investigation of Tourism Experience at a Destination Georgia Zouni, PhD Candidate of Tourism Marketing, Department of Business Administration, University of Piraeus, Greece Contact details: 80, Karaoli & Dimitriou St. 185 34 Piraeus, Greece Tel: 30 210 4142000 Fax No.: 30 210 4142328 e-mail: gzouni@unipi.gr Athanassios Kouremenos, Professor of Marketing, Department of Business Administration, University of Piraeus, Greece Contact details: 80, Karaoli & Dimitriou St. 185 34 Piraeus, Greece Tel: 30 210 4142000 Fax No.: 30 210 4142328 e-mail: akour@unipi.gr Abstract Even the sticking out positivists researchers (Grönroos, 2001; Gummesson, 1994, 2001, 2006; Iacobucci & Ostrom 1999; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000, 2004) recognize the insufficiencies of traditional services research methodology and claim that the dominant models of service quality’s measurement have failed to conceive the customers’ prospective (Schembri & Sandberg, 2002). Whereas the customer is considered to be the focal point at contemporary Marketing and Services Marketing area, customer’s perspective is claimed to be missing from the dominant theory (Grönroos, 1993, 2006a). This article explores the potential for a modified gap analysis to serve as an alternative marketing tool. A research framework is constructed and tested using data produced by two survey efforts (tourists and tourism services providers) in a heritage destination. The purpose of the present study is to provide in favour of this gap as an effective marketing tool for a better understanding of customer’s prospective. Keywords: Tourism Marketing, destination experience, gap analysis, marketing research, heritage
  • Do Service Providers Know their Visitors? An Investigation of Tourism Experience at a Destination 1. Introduction The main objective of this study is the investigation of the gap/ distance between the evaluated experience of tourists and providers’ estimation of this evaluation. The implicit assumption of this investigation is that the possession of spherical knowledge of visitors’ perceptions is essential for the effective participation of local factors (main destination stakeholders) in the successful operation, the sustainability, and the long-term viability of tourist destination. Destination competitiveness can be improved through precise matching of evaluations between the most direct involved parts of destination, tourists (that represent the demand of tourism) and tourism professionals (that represent tourism supply). This paper is organised as follows. Firstly, it examines some recent literature and discusses both, the theoretical concept of destination experience and its measurement. Then, it describes the sample and measures employed in the empirical study. It is followed by the reporting of the empirical research results. Finally, it concludes by identifying certain implications. 2. Literature Review 2.1 Tourist Destination Experience Destinations are amalgams of tourism products, offering an integrated experience to consumers (Buhalis, 2000). Destination components have been the subject of the development of several typologies from researchers (Medlik & Middleton, 1973; Burkart & Medlik, 1981; Laws, 1995; Cooper et al. 1993; Gunn, 1988; Middleton, 1988; Buhalis, 2000). Matched with demand components they, both, generate tourist experience. Tourists consider destination as a brand name that is constituted by a collection of suppliers and services. During their interruptions “they consume” destinations as a comprehensive experience, without often realising that each element of product is produced and regulated by the individual institutions (Buhalis, 2000). The quality of experience involves not only the attributes provided by a supplier, but also attributes brought to the opportunity by the visitor or recreationist (Ryan, 1995). The quality of experience is a psychological outcome or emotional response. Satisfaction is measured by how well leisure activities are perceived to fulfil the basic needs and motives that stimulated the idea to participate in the activity (Crompton & Love, 1995, p.12). Tourists' overall experience is composed of numerous small encounters with a variety of tourism principals, such as taxi drivers, hoteliers, waiters, as well as elements of the local attractions such as museums, theatres, beaches, theme parks, etc. Their overall impression develops their image of a destination after their visit. It has long been recognised that the visitor experience is at the heart of the destination product (Clawson & Knetsch, 1966; Swarbrooke, 2002, Vitterso et al. 2000, Jennings & Nickerson 2006) and that company viability depends on recognising it and managing it accordingly (Richards, 1999). Despite that recognition, the majority of researchers agree that tourism experiences have, to a considerable extent, been under-researched (Larsen, 2007; Connell & Meyer, 2004). According to Buhalis (2000) there are few textbooks examining destination marketing (see Heath & Wall, 1992; Goodall & Ashworth, 1988; Gartrell, 1994; Pike, 2008) and even fewer illustrate destinations as an experience provider for tourists and locals (Ryan, 1997, 1991; Getz & Jamal, 1994; Korca, 1998; Lawson et al.,1998; Mason & Cheyne, 2000,
  • Andriotis, 2000, 2002) or other destination stakeholders (Martin et al. 1989; Sternquist Witter, 1985; Saleh & Ryan, 1991, Fyall et al. 2007). The present article attempts to contribute to the discussion on the tourist experience measurement in the context of a destination both conceptually and empirically. 2.2 Measurement of Destination Experience The measurement of destination experience adopts generally the assumptions and principles of the perceived service quality measurement, as proposed by services marketing literature. For instance, Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry’s (1985) expectation perception gap model (Duke & Persia, 1996), Oliver’s expectancy disconfirmation theory (Pizam & Milman, 1993), Sirgy’s congruity model (Chon & Olsen, 1991), performance-only model (Pizam et al., 1978) have all been used for measuring tourist satisfaction with specific tourist destinations. But these approaches have some limitations when applied in tourism destination research field. A measurement problem derives from destination product integration and complexity, when customer assessment and satisfaction cannot be achieved separately by independent businesses, but requires a whole network of providers within a destination. A holiday destination offers a complex chain of service experiences, which may include service encounters during organisation of the trip, distribution of travel information, transport, accommodation, catering, and various leisure activities. Most service providers are small and medium-sized tourism enterprises which have a wide range of strengths and weaknesses whilst they are also characterised by their independent nature (Buhalis & Cooper, 1998). Hence, the competitiveness of each player is often interrelated and almost indistinguishable from one another. Thus, destination marketers have to focus on the quality of the entire tourist experience, not only that of the core (accommodation and catering) service providers. Co-ordinating quality management among tourism and hospitality businesses is a challenge for most destinations with today’s increased competition. Moreover, many studies into the nature of holiday experiences are both positivistic and empirical in nature (Ryan, 2000). . Schembri and Sandberg (2002) note that predominantly, service quality researchers seek to objectively measure the quality of service perceived by consumers. However, while a consumer orientation is typically emphasised within an objective measurement of service quality, it fails to achieve a genuine understanding of what quality of service means to consumers. Ryan (2000, p. 119) argues that tourist experiences are essentially individualistic, although it is possible to discern consensual realities. The majority of services marketing scholars nowadays vote for an interpretative ontology in consumer research (see Gummesson 2001, Hirschman 1984; Hirschman & Holbrook 1992, Zimmerman & Szenberg 2000, Suddaby 2006). Moreover, many of them tend to use mixed models Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998) in customer research, i.e. customer value (Khalifa 2004, Payne & Holt 2001, Woodall 2003) and customer orientation research (Avlonitis & Gounaris 1997, Baker & Sinkula 1999). Indicative of this tendency is the fact that a distinguished body of academics tends to support that “…In the end, all research is interpretive, and all interpretation is a combination of the systematic and objective as well as the intuitive, emotional and subjective” (Gummesson 2006, p. 175) Another methodological problem steams from the nature of tourism phenomenon. Because the nature of travel is about pleasure, fun, and satisfaction and tourism experiences may be particularly prone to customers overrating their experiences, it is anticipated that the “gap” between costumer experiences and providers’ experiences would be positive (Vogt & Fesenmaier, 1995, p. 766). Stated in another way, it is hypothesized that tourists will rate the service delivery more favourably than providers’ rating of tourists experiences.
  • Moreover, the new marketing thoughts (i.e. relationship marketing, the network approach, and the service-dominant logic) provide a different conceptualization of the whole tourism consumption experience. In these paradigms, the assumption is that customer defines quality (Gronroos 1993, Parasuraman et al. 1988, 1985, Buzzell & Gale 1987), so the assessment of the quality is based on the customer himself (Iacobucci & Ostrom 1999, Gummesson 2001, Clark et al. 2007). Edvardsson, Thomasson and Øvretveit (1994) note: “quality is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. It is the experience and expectations of the customer” (p. 1). This approach emphasises the reason why quality must be measured from the perspective of the customer (Edvardsson et al. 2005a, Zeithaml et al. 2006). This issue of customer’s perspective on measuring service quality and experience is discussed in the next paragraph. 2.3 Customer’s Perspective on Measuring Destination Experience In order to deliver consistently the quality of good service the destination management is required to view quality the way the customer does. Iacobucci and Ostrom (1999) point out relatively: “Up to the point that the research for the quality must reflect the market…we believe that the voice of the consumer is important” (p. 298). Schembri and Sandberg (2002) point that the dominant models of service quality’s measurement have failed to conceive the customers’ prospective as far as the quality of services is concerned. Whereas the customer is considered to be the focal point at contemporary Marketing and Marketing of services, an outstanding body of academics claim that service quality research does not sufficiently conceive the perceptions of customers for the quality of services (Edvardsson et al. 2005, Enquist et al. 2007, Bitner et al. 2006, Vargo & Lusch 2004). A tangible proof of the above finding is many prominent editors who evoke the traditional approach at the research of customers’ attitude (see, for example Gummesson, 1998, 2004, 2007; Grönroos, 2006a, 2006b; Lovelock and Gummesson, 2004; Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004; Edvardsson 2005). Hence, it is claimed that the alternative approaches at the research of service quality should be examined (Arnold and Fischer, 1994) and in particular towards the direction of the proposal of Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) that the organizations must aim to integrate the experience of the customer as a standard. Parasuraman et al. (1985) pioneered a conceptual model of “Gap Analysis” in service quality. One of the significant gaps is the difference between consumer expectations and management perceptions of consumer expectations. Within tourism industry though, the host must not only ask “what do I think the tourist needs” or “do I think the tourist enjoyed his/her visit to my community”, but also attempt to put himself/ herself in the position of the tourist and then attempt to answer those same questions (Petters & Waterman, 1982). These perspectives (i.e., the customer’s evaluation and the provider’s estimation of the customer’s evaluation) may be similar or different depending on the extent to which the service provider accurately understands the nature of the needs and wants of the parties involved. A pioneer academic attempt in services marketing of measuring service quality taking customer experience as a standard was the research of Brown and Swartz (1989) under the title “A Gap Analysis of Professional Service Quality”, who studied medical care services for the exploration of the customer evaluation and estimation of the supplier. Brown and Swartz (1989) put professionals to answer according to what they believed that customers would answer and afterwards they compared the results with the evaluation of visitors themselves for the experience of service. Apart from subjects that measure diagnostic practices, the grades of visitors were higher than the level that the doctors expected that customers would answer. Despite the recognition of this gap from many authors in service marketing (see Candido & Morris, 2000), only one study examined this gap ever since, doing this in tourism trade sector (Vogt & Fesenmaier, 1995). This document describes a study that measures the perceptions of
  • tourists and retailers for the levels of services in a tourism trade destination (shopping village). Vogt and Fesenmaier (1995) in their study found that service providers do not understand the level at which customers evaluate their experience and tend to underrate the customer experience, confirming thus Brown and Swartz’s (1989) research results. The purpose of this research is to examine to provide in favour of this gap as an effective marketing tool for a better understanding of customer’s prospective by empirically testing it in the context of a tourism destination experience. Recognizing the fact that tourist experiences are together individualistic and objective (Ryan, 2000), present study employs a mixed epistemological approach. Specifically, present study adopts the interpretive ontological assumptions that previous relevant studies only implied (Brown & Swartz, 1989; Vogt & Fesenmaier 1995), and employs the positivist methodological guidelines. According to this study’s ontological assumptions Whereas in the traditional rational research approach the research subject, which is quality of experience, is considered to be separated from the research object, which is the consumer, In the suggested interpretative approach the research subject (service quality), is considered to be indivisible from the research object (consumer). Moreover, this study employs the research methodology proposed by the quantitative approach. Quantitative research is the systematic scientific investigation of properties and phenomena and their relationships. So, this study adopts quantitative research techniques (survey) to gather data from the study populations. This paper reports the findings of this mixed method study conducted in accordance with both interpretative and positivist principles. In taking this alternative, a better understanding of the degree of service providers’ conceptualisation of service quality experienced by consumers in a tourism destination is aimed. Specifically, the gap investigated in this study can be schematized in the following equation: Gap = tourists experiences - providers perceptions of customer experiences 3. The Study 3.1 Study field Olympia is one of the most famous and visited destinations in Greece. Its cultural significance for Greeks and humanity in general stems from the fact that in this spot the ancient Olympic Games used to be held, a festivity which was not only important to this region but the rest of Greece and the entire world as well. Olympia is a small village of 1870 residents and covers a surface of 3.4 kilometres. The village of Olympia offers a variety of tourism services apart from historic and cultural attractions. 3.2 Research Methodology Primary data was obtained from tourists and service providers in Olympia in two separate survey efforts. 3.2.1 Sampling procedures
  • Tourist study population was determined using EUROSTAT and WTO guidelines for conducting and processing a visitor surveys in destinations. In detail, tourists’ sample was composed by national and international tourists, aged more than 15 years old, who visited Olympia and its Archaeological Site and Museum- the main historical attractions of the destination. On the other hand, tourism services provider population was determined using Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) approved by World Tourism Organisation. Specifically, services providers’ sample was obtained from lists of the local chamber of commerce. The list provided had problems of duplication among sampling units or inactive enterprises. Duplicate tracts were identified via field research of the researchers and were handled appropriately. In detail, from a list of 182 tourism providers the active list (minus duplications and inactive companies) is 112 tourism enterprises in the destination. These 112 companies comprised the providers sample frame for this study. Providers were defined as owners or managers of tourism services enterprises in the destination. Problems related with the sampling frame -missing data, clusters of elements and blank foreign elements as mentioned by Kish (1965) - were identified and treated. Homogeneity of the samples investigated was both assumed and tested in the first steps of the research. It was assumed because of the relatively harmonized views, experiences (if any) and knowledge of Olympia among tourists (foreign visitors) in the area. As far as the providers are concerned, because of the small area and population of the village, all providers of tourism services offered in this destination (attractions, hospitality, food and transport services, travel agencies’ services and tourism trade) have numerous chances in a tourist season to meet, serve and exchange info with the tourists and thus well formed and established opinions. In addition, Levine statistical tests of homogeneity of variance have been carried out in early stages of data analysis with excellent results. 3.2.2 Questionnaire design Performance-only approach provided the basis for the service evaluation task, due to limitations of disconfirmation approach (Churchill & Suprenant, 1982; Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Erevelles & Leavitt, 1992; Oliver, 1980; Bouman & Van Der Wiele, 1992; Carman, 1990; Athanassopoulos et al., 2005). Reasons for using performance only measure in this study steam from Kozak & Rimmington’s (2000) arguments concerning the respective merits of the expectations and perceptions approaches onto destination context. An eight-page structured questionnaire developed after extensive literature review, Delphi technique with experts, pre-testing and experimental techniques (double loop-template process). Study variables coincide with total consumption system variables proposed by Woodside and Dubelaar (2002, p. 120). Service evaluation items were intended to represent five service quality dimensions (i.e., tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, access). Some items were slightly modified as suggested by Parasuraman et al. (1988) and were followed by other researchers (Carman, 1990; Hamilton et al., 1988; MacKay & Crompton, 1990) to resemble the business operation under study. For the selection of the relevant destination attributes and dimensions the present study adopts Tribe and Snait (1998) proposed procedure.Questionnaire was translated in six languages (depicting the mix of tourist demand in the destination). 3.2.3 Measurement The measurement scales for this study were developed based on the literature review and relevant theories, previous empirical studies and results, and observations and experiences of the given phenomena. A symmetrical 5-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” was used to rate attributes of tourism services. Only in the case of satisfaction measurement an asymmetrical 4-scale was used since it is recognized that most respondents were likely to rate service satisfaction positively (Crompton et al. 1991). Reliability of this measurement instrument was tested and confirmed.
  • The general hypothesis of the study is: Ho there is no difference between tourists’ destination experience and providers’ estimate of tourists’ experience. T-tests and chi square tests were performed to evaluate the difference in means between tourists' and providers perceptions (Ho). 4. Analysis of findings A total of 268 usable questionnaires (response rate of 71%) were collected from tourists of destination over the course of two months. On the other hand, the service provider self- completion survey achieved a 76.5% response rate or 95 usable questionnaires. 4.1 Profile of tourists The majority of tourists that visit the study destination is British and French (1 out of 3 visitors), of both sexes, young people aged from 19 to 29 (32.5%), university graduates and postgraduates (50.4%) and of middle-up monthly income (1500-3000 euros). Destination providers hold a faulty perception of tourists’ demographic characteristics (except for tourists’ sex). We would detect a relative depreciation of visitors educational and income level in providers’ estimations. 4.2 Tourist Travel Patterns Most people travel in Ancient Olympia as pairs, while almost half of them (44.8%) have visited again the country, while a statistically important percentage of them (22.8%) have visited the destination. Half visitors have booked their travel via travel agencies, while a 40.3% of them have closed this travel alone. They planned their travel for a period of 1 to 6 months. Service providers seem to hold a relative precise knowledge of destination tourists’ travel patterns as their answers generally coincide with those of tourists. Gaps were detected in the case of
  • tourists’ travel party composition and that was one of the factors that influenced the decision of visit. Travel Patterns Tourists most Tourists Tourism Providers frequent answer (%) Ranking (%) Ranking Travel Party Composition Travel as a couple 31.3 1 14.7 2 Prior visit to Greece Yes 52.2 1 71.7 1 Prior visit to Olympia No 76.6 1 92.4 1 Days stayed at Olympia 1 to 2 days 56.7 1 83.2 1 Booking form Via travel agency 51.5 1 85.1 1 Trip planning period 1 to 6 months 30.3 1 70 1 Factors influencing decision to Word of mouth 21.3 1 17.3 4 travel 4.3 Tourist Behavior In The Destination Most visitors (75.4%) consider destination as only one of the main destinations visited during their stay in the country. They reached destination by tourist coach or with private car (same percentage 28%), while they intend to stay for 1 or 2 days (60%). The overwhelming majority of visitors (88.1%) visit the historical places and attractions of destination, consolidating the image of Olympia as a cultural tourist destination. The majority of service providers seem to hold a relative precise knowledge of tourists’ tourism behaviour at the destination such as in the case of travel patterns. Gaps had been detected in the case of destinations visited before, activities during the stay, degree of acquaintance with neighbouring destinations, future stay in the same lodging and finally, total expenses in destination. Tourists Behavior at Destination Tourists most Tourists Tourism frequent answer Providers (%) Ranking (%) Ranking Destination(s) before Various 28.9 1 6.3 5 Visit reason Historic attractions 51.3 1 53.7 1 Attractions visited during Archeological site 97.7 1 94.7 1 Activities during stay Visiting museums 26.1 1 21.9 2 Places near Olympia they know Andritsena traditional 30.1 1 33.6 1 village Places near Olympia they have Kaiafas thermal spa 22.5 1 10.8 4 visited Destinations after Olympia Peloponnese 33.9 1 40.7 1 Accommodation type Hotel 75.3 1 85 1 Nights stayed at accommodation 1 night 69.8 1 95.3 1 Future stay in the same lodging Yes 70.7 1 40.5 2 Type of food service experienced Restaurants 39.6 1 54.2 1 Tourist trade type Souvenirs 20.9 1 34.9 1 Total expenses at Olympia Over 150 euros 53.7 1 13.7 3 Average Daily expences 30- 60 ευρώ 37.5 1 45.9 1
  • Olympia’s ranking among 2nd in ranking 41.1 1 78.7 1 competitive heritage destinations 4.4 Assessment of Destination Services The most noticeable gap between visitors’ evaluations and service providers’ interpretation of these evaluations were about accommodation services of the destination. Gaps were also identified for half dimensions of attractions (access in the destination, access in attractions and attractions’ cleanliness), and tourist trade shops’ cleanliness (see appendix for detailed parathesis of statistical findings). 4.5 Satisfaction and Attitude towards destination Statistically significant difference of means found between the two samples with regard to total satisfaction from the attractions and the transport services in the destination. Concerning attitude matters, Tourists hold positive attitude towards destination and residents. Providers seem to hold a precise knowledge of tourists’ attitude except for price competitiveness of destination. Finally, Likely to return to Olympia considers the 23.2% of tourists and very likely a respectable 13.9% of them. Providers appear to bear knowledge on this intention. 5. Discussion Results point out that in a well established mature destination as Olympia, tourism service providers seem to hold an accurate knowledge of tourist behavioural and attitudinal aspects but hold a generally false estimation about tourist evaluation of tourism service performance (Table 1). Table 1 – Gaps identified Major Gaps Minor Gaps No Gaps Travel Patterns Travel behavior at destination Destination services assessment Satisfaction Attitude Loyalty
  • Demographic Profile In most cases, tourists consistently rated service performance higher than providers’ estimation of tourists’ evaluations, a finding similar to previous studies (Brown & Swartz, 1989; Vogt & Fesenmaier ,1995). Summarising, the research findings could be summarised below in three areas: (1) Accurate estimations; (2) Negatively biased perceptions (under-estimation) of tourists’ experience by service providers; and (3) Positively biased perceptions (over-estimation) of tourists’ experience by service provider. The good matches between tourists’ experience and managers’ perceptions are: (1) Tourism services providers of the destination seem to acquire a generally precise knowledge of their tourists’ travel patterns, their behaviour at the destination and their future intentions (of destination’s revisit and recommendation). (2) In terms of destination assessment, providers seem to know their customers’ ratings about food services, tourism trade (with the exception of shop’s cleanliness), and the intangible attributes of destination attractions (Figures 1 to 4). Figure 1 - Samples Perceptions of Attractions (5-point Likert scale) Samples Perceptions of Attractions 4.5 4 4.254.18 4.12 3.5 3.8 3.73 4.04 3 3.46 3.443.49 3.52 3.35 2.5 2 2.56 1.5 1 Tourists’ Assessment of 0.5 Destination Attractions 0 s ice ns Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ n s ns es on io tio rv io lin at cti ct Assessment of Destination ac Se n nd st i tra tra ttr pt rie de Attractions at at fa m lF of o o ro so st st ne lP st es es es on re ne in cc cc te rs nl on A In A Pe ea rs Cl Pe Quality Indicators Figure 2 - Samples Perceptions of Accommodation (5-point Likert scale)
  • Samples Perceptions of Accommodation 4.5 4 3.5 3.65 3.88 3 3.45 3.37 3.34 3.38 3.37 3.32 Tourists’ Assessment of Destination 2.5 2.8 2.93 2.93 2.78 Accommodation 2.68 2.68 2.6 2.54 2.51 2 2.11 2.42 2.42 2.4 2.25 Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ Assessment of 1.5 Destination Accommodation 1.56 1 1.35 0.5 0 E x c u r s io n s C le a n lin e s s a r r a n g e m e n ts F r ie n d lin e s s T ran s fer M e a ls f a c ilitie s a c c o m m o d a tio n Q u a lity o f C o m p e titiv e p ro g ram s P r o m p t S e r v ic e P ers o n n el F a c ilitie s E x tr a f a c ilitie s C o m fo rt o f s e r v ic e L o c a tio n o f s le e p in g P ers o n n el p r ic e Quality Indicators Figure 3 - Samples Perceptions of Food Services (5-point Likert scale) Samples Perceptions of Food Service 4 3.5 3 3.55 3.48 3.26 3.13 3.32 3.39 3.2 3.35 3.28 2.5 2.89 3.02 3.03 2 1.5 1 Tourists’ Assessment of 0.5 Destination Food Service 0 s s ice ty e ts es Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ es ri c rie uc in rv lin ep nl od va Se Assessment of Destination Food nd ea iv pr od pt rie Cl tit Service od m Fo lF pe ro fo m ne lP of Co on ne y rs li t on Pe ua rs Pe Q Quality Indicators
  • Figure 4 - Samples Perceptions of Tourism Trade (5-point Likert scale) Samples Perceptions of Tourism Trade 4.5 4 3.5 3.91 3.67 3.65 3.73 3.81 3 3.48 3.47 3.43 3.41 3.38 3.41 2.5 3.06 2 1.5 1 Tourists' Assessment of 0.5 Destination Tourism Trade 0 s ice s Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ e s ty es es ri c ct ri e in rv lin du ep Assessment of Destination nl Se va nd ro ea iv p pt ts rie Cl tit Tourism Trade uc of m lF pe ro od y m ne li t lP Pr Co ua on ne Q rs on Pe rs Pe Quality Indicators (3) No statistically significant difference of means found between the two samples with regard to the total satisfaction from the destination, accommodation, food services and tourism trade satisfaction (Figure 5). Figure 5 - Samples Perceptions of Satisfaction (4-point Likert scale) Samples Perceptions of Satisfaction 4 3.5 3.46 3 3.12 2.5 2.91 2.78 Tourists’ Satisfaction 2.66 2.6 2.48 2.47 2.5 2.57 2.49 2 2 Providers’ Estimate of Tourists’ 1.5 Satisfaction 1 0.5 0 de ns on ns s n ice tio io tra tio ti na at rv ta c i sm od tra or se ti es p m at ur od ns D m to m fo tra m co fro m m fro ac m fro fro n fro m n io n io fro n t io n ac t io ac io t isf t n ac ac t isf io ac t isf isf Sa t t isf ac Sa t t Sa Sa isf t Sa t Sa S atisfaction attributes
  • In comparison with tourists’ stated experience, providers under-perceived the following: (1) Destination providers hold a wrong estimate of tourists’ demographic characteristics (except for tourists’ sex), depreciating visitors’ educational and income level. (2) In terms of destination assessment, providers seem to underestimate most of their customers’ ratings about destination services. Specifically, all aspects of accommodation services, and most of destination attractions (except for personnel prompt service delivery), food service (except for food variety and competitive price) and tourism trade (except for product variety and personnel friendliness) were underestimated by destination services providers in relation to tourists’ evaluations. (3) Tourism service providers underestimate tourists’ satisfaction from destination and from the most of the destination service offerings (see, Appendix). (4) Providers underestimate the fact that tourists answered that found the destination better than expected. Finally, there were four areas of over-perception by service providers: (1) Tourist rate attractions’ personnel prompt service delivery, food variety and competitive price, and tourism trade product variety and shop personnel friendliness were less than what providers expected it to be for them. (2) Tourism service providers overestimate satisfaction from tourism trade of destination. (4) Providers overestimate almost all aspects of tourist’s attitude towards destination and residents as they rate them higher than stated by tourists themselves. They also overestimate future recommendations by tourists. In order to investigate the perceptions of the providers and give reasons for the existence of the particular gaps, it is necessary to adopt an epistemological frame that derives from social theories and embraces qualitative issues as well tourism theories. Some of the reasons are: Stereotypes about destination tourists’ characteristic: Olympia is a mature heritage destination and providers bear some established stereotypes about destination tourists’ characteristics. Social constructivism privileges the view that reality is socially constructed and puts great emphasis on contextual issues, such as the social conditions in the particular destination, the role of social institutions (government, education etc) and the specific historical and cultural context of the destination (Fairclough, 1992) The execution therefore of much more comprehensive and in-depth research is critical to informing the development and communication of marketing strategies for the particular destination. Future research that deals with all the aforesaid qualitative issues can complement this study and maximize the effectiveness of marketing strategies adopted as a powerful combination of quantitative and qualitative research output. Senior management contact with tourists: In order to gain first-hand knowledge of tourists' perceptions constant interaction between managers and tourists is required. Some past studies (Coyle & Dale, 1993; Zeithaml et al, 1990) have suggested that managers traditionally have the least contact with guests and do not get the opportunity to experience first-hand what their guests want. In fact, the great majority of tourism professionals in Olympia are also contact personnel due to the fact that most of the tourism enterprises in destination are middle-market enterprises (MME). 6. Conclusion and Implications A destination is a buddle of services and products and providers across these services and products have conflicting and overall wrong impressions of the views and evaluations of their visitors. This Gap analysis is critical because it may prove to be an extremely useful tool for management to identify the service problems or service fail points in the tourism industry in destination. In other words, assessment of Gap helps us to know whether management has clear
  • perceptions of what tourists experience the destination. Surveying both visitors and providers, as part of a gap analysis, on a regular basis is an excellent way for a destination to be able to reach each target market with a ‘comprehensive range of offerings’ and to propose and ‘integrated solution’ to customer needs and wants (Buhalis, 2000). Such an approach to is also in line with the notion of “co-creation marketing” that involves both the marketer and the customer interacting in all aspects of the design, production, and consumption of the service (Sheth et al,. 2000). Because in co-creation marketing co-operation and communication are very important, it is essential for the reality perceptions of both parties to be amply synchronized.
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  • Appendix Assessment of Destination Services Services Attributes 1** 2** 3** 4** 5** Mean SD (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Attractions Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Attractions Access to destination 2.4 11.5 9.9 56.0 20.2 3.80 .970 Access to attractions 1.6 .8 9.6 60.6 27.5 4.12 .731 Cleanliness of attractions .8 3.2 12.4 58.2 25.3 4.04 .761 Interest of attractions 1.2 1.6 10.9 43.1 43.1 4.25 .807 Personnel Prompt Service 6.9 8.9 30.4 40.9 13.0 3.44 1.049 Personnel Friendliness 4.6 7.9 33.3 39.6 14.6 3.52 .989 Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Attractions Access to destination 6.7 8.9 18.9 63.3 2.2 3.46 .938 Access to attractions 5.4 19.6 71.7 3.3 3.73 .613 Cleanliness of attractions 18.0 34.8 25.8 15.7 5.6 2.56 1.128 Interest of attractions 1.1 14.1 50.0 34.8 4.18 .710 Personnel Prompt Service 3.2 9.7 24.7 59.1 3.2 3.49 .842 Personnel Friendliness 3.2 15.1 28.0 50.5 3.2 3.35 .893 Accommodation Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Accommodation Location of accommodation 0.7 8.2 40.1 27.2 23.8 3.65 .956 Cleanliness 7.4 8.7 30.9 37.6 15.4 3.45 1.087 Comfort of sleeping arrangements 7.7 18.2 17.5 42.7 14.0 3.37 1.161 Meals 8.8 24.5 12.7 31.4 22.5 3.34 1.309 Facilities 12.5 28.6 19.6 32.1 7.1 2.93 1.183 Extra facilities 19.4 29.0 16.1 24.7 10.8 2.78 1.309 Transfer facilities 18.6 44.2 16.3 18.6 2.3 2.42 1.074 Excursions programs 22.5 37.5 22.5 10.0 7.5 2.42 1.174 Personnel Prompt Service 4.4 28.1 12.3 36.0 19.3 3.38 1.208 Quality of service 6.3 5.6 44.4 31.7 11.9 3.37 .986 Personnel Friendliness 3.8 2.3 28.5 32.3 33.1 3.88 1.024 Competitive price 7.2 28.0 9.6 36.0 19.2 3.32 1.267 Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Accommodation Location of accommodation 10.0 27.5 35.0 27.5 2.80 .966 Cleanliness 2.4 26.8 46.3 24.4 2.93 .787 Comfort of sleeping arrangements 46.3 39.0 14.6 2.68 .722 Meals 9.8 36.6 29.3 24.4 2.68 .960 Facilities 14.6 36.6 31.7 17.1 2.51 .952 Extra facilities 36.8 28.9 21.1 13.2 2.11 1.060 Transfer facilities 62.5 21.9 12.5 3.1 1.56 .840 Excursions programs 76.5 14.7 5.9 2.9 1.35 .734 Personnel Prompt Service 20.0 45.0 10.0 25.0 2.40 1.081 Quality of service 22.5 37.5 32.5 7.5 2.25 .899
  • Personnel Friendliness 10.0 45.0 22.5 20.0 2.5 2.60 1.008 Competitive price 7.7 46.2 30.8 15.4 2.54 .854 Food Service Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Food Service Cleanliness 8.2 25.3 38.7 24.7 3.1 2.89 .973 Quality of food products 3.1 6.8 52.1 37.0 1.0 3.26 .734 Food variety 2.0 16.5 33.5 43.5 4.5 3.32 .873 Competitive price 7.0 22.4 38.8 24.4 7.5 3.03 1.024 Personnel Prompt Service 3.1 4.7 29.5 59.1 3.6 3.55 .776 Personnel Friendliness 1.0 10.4 35.2 46.1 7.3 3.48 .817 Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Food Service Cleanliness 10.6 22.3 28.7 30.9 7.4 3.02 1.126 Quality of food products 8.6 19.4 31.2 32.3 8.6 3.13 1.096 Food variety 13.0 38.0 45.7 3.3 3.39 .755 Competitive price 6.4 19.1 33.0 30.9 10.6 3.20 1.073 Personnel Prompt Service 9.6 9.6 30.9 36.2 13.8 3.35 1.133 Personnel Friendliness 8.5 10.6 34.0 38.3 8.5 3.28 1.051 Tourism Trade Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Tourism Trade Cleanliness .5 .5 18.5 68.7 11.8 3.91 .599 Quality of products 1.0 6.0 42.5 45.0 5.5 3.48 .736 Competitive price .5 6.7 47.6 40.0 5.2 3.43 .717 Products variety 14.8 37.3 43.1 4.8 3.38 .794 Personnel Prompt Service 2.0 3.5 28.2 57.9 8.4 3.67 .761 Personnel Friendliness 2.5 4.4 21.7 60.6 10.8 3.73 .809 Providers’ Evaluation of Tourists’ Assessment of Destination Tourism Trade Cleanliness 2.2 32.3 26.9 34.4 4.3 3.06 .965 Quality of products 1.1 7.4 38.3 50.0 3.2 3.47 .729 Competitive price 4.3 55.3 35.1 5.3 3.41 .663 Products variety 1.1 10.5 37.9 47.4 3.2 3.41 .765 Personnel Prompt Service 1.1 1.1 31.2 65.6 1.1 3.65 .583 Personnel Friendliness 1.1 1.1 15.4 80.2 2.2 3.81 .536