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ATTRIBUTS oF ToURIST DESTINATIoN AS DETERMINANTS oF ToURIST PERCEIVED VALUE


IRENA PANDZA BAJS UNIVERSITy oF ZAGREB, CRoATIA

Abstract The perception of value is governed by perceived quality and perceived costs, but also by product and service attributes. From the whole set of different attributes customer evaluates only a few of them, so it is important to define which attributes are the significant for customers perception. The problem of defining the most important attributes lies in the extreme subjectivity of the concept of perceived value and the fact that every consumer has in mind a different set of attributes by which evaluates the product or service. Conducting the research on how customers perceive the value of firms offer and which attributes are the relevant for most customers, could be the most significant research in the process of creating competitive advantages of companies. Tourist destination is a specific product composed of complexes of different attributes offered to tourists. The main research question is which attributes of tourist destination are the most important for the tourists perception and how they will evaluate the destination in comparison with other visited destinations. Customers perception is intangible construct and difficult to define, so it is important to conduct qualitative research to determine which attributes of tourist destination are the most important for tourists perception

one of benefits received by buying or using the product or service (functional, emotional, social) and another of sacrifices (price, time, effort, risk, convenience) made by consumer (Cronin et al., 2000). According to Bolton and Drew (11) perceived benefits are mostly based on perceived quality of product or service. The benefits component, or what a consumer receives from the purchase, would include the perceived quality and other psychological benefits (zeithaml, 1988). The quality is a fundamental element in perception of perceived value and it is the most difficult thing for competitors to imitate. Also, the affective benefits (Best, 17., pp. 101; Sanchez et al., 200; zeithaml, 1988) can be extremely important when assessing value. Affective dimension of value (Roig et al., 200) includes emotional and social benefits that consumers perceive in the process of purchase and during the use of products or services. The sacrifices component is formed by monetary and non-monetary prices, i.e. money, time, energy, effort etc. Concerning the price it is important to stress that monetary price can be seen as part of benefits, when the price is high consumers could assume that the quality is also high. Zeithaml (1988) emphases that some consumers perceive the value when the price is low, while other perceive value when the balance between quality and price exists. It is important to emphasize that not all benefits and costs can affect the perception of value because they are not equally important for all consumers. Some benefits and costs are very important and discussed in detail, while others are perceived as peripheral and less important and have less impact on evaluation process. Zeithaml (1988) concluded that customers evaluate only a few attributes of the total set of different product

Introduction
according to various authors (eg, zeithaml, 1988; oliver, 1; McDougal and Levesque, 2000; Snoj et al., 2004; roig et al., 2006; SanchezFernandez et al., 200; etc.) perceived value of product or service is a trade-off between benefits and sacrifices. This traditional definition of value as a cognitive trade-off explain the perceived value as a construct configured by two parts,

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attributes which they perceive to be a reliable sign of quality. The perception of customer is influenced by many factors, including the different experience of different nations, regions and different people.

Perceived value of tourist destination


The growing competition among international destinations emphasizes the concepts of quality and value as important factors that can make destination more attractive for tourists. quality and value are the concepts that provide insights on how to rejuvenate products and the way they are viewed by customers. Some of destination marketing organizations have highlighted the quality and value as critical objectives for revitalizing their flagging tourism industries (Murphy et al., 2000). quality is seen as foundation for the marketing of services and the value is viewed as combination of the destinations perceived quality and associated prices which tourist will summarize as the value received (Murphy et al., 2000). Creating the perception of the destinations value is not an easy mission, since this concept is complex and intangible (zeithaml, 1988). it is necessary to understand the correlation between destination attributes and tourist perception of quality and value, in order to determine which of these attributes have the greatest significance for perception. Some researchers (Murphy et al., 2000) point out that the perception of destination quality stems directly from the services that tourists receive during their stay. However, more acceptable is thinking that the services and the dimensions of the environment shape the destination quality and value perceived by tourists. Murphy and Pritchard (17, according Murphy et al., 2000) claim that perceived value of the destination is affected by both services infrastructure and destination environments. After the tourists experience the other tourist destinations, their perception of quality and overall perception of specific destination will have the most influence to revisit the destination again and recommend it to others (Kozak and Remmington, 1). Indirectly or directly, tourists make the comparisons between the attributes, attractions and service quality among different destinations (Laws, 15), and based on that create the value of individual destination.

The relative importance of destination components in the development of tourist perception of different tourists segments is a prerequisite to the development and implementation of successful marketing and marketing strategy. Some studies indicate that controllable and uncontrollable destination attributes such as the natural environment, the culture, the climate and other general features (e.g. the cleanliness of the beach, access to attractions, availability of activities, facilities and entertainment) might be a prime determinants of tourist value and satisfaction (yuksel, 2001). others point out that perception does not come only from the beautiful scenery and destinations, but also from the behavior of encounters, their efficiency and kindness. quality of services provided to tourists, the responsibility of staff providing these services and the efficiency of solving queries and problems also contributes to the tourist perception of destination value and their satisfaction. Studies have also shown that the prices for services and the relationship between prices and the resulting benefits may become important factors in tourist perception (Pizem et al., 1978; Tribe and Snaith, 1998).

Attributes of tourist destination


Hu and Ritchie (13) conceptualized the tourism destination as a package of tourism facilities and services, which like any other consumer product, is composed of a number of multi-dimensional attributes. A tourists destination experience, however, is not solely derived from the consumption of various travel services (Cohen, 17) because tourists expect the particular experience from the environmental setting itself, as well as from the service infrastructure that supports their visit. research conducted by Mo, Howard & Havitz (1993) showed that the destinations environment was the primary factor (e.g. social and culture features) while the destinations service infrastructure the secondary factor (e.g. transportation, food and accommodation) in creating the expectations and perception of the destination product. Dimensions of destination can be classified into two main groups, primary and secondary (Kozak and Remmington, 1). The primary group is consisted of nature, culture, technology and other elements of destination environment, while the secondary includes specific features

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developed for tourism such as hotels, transport, entertainment, etc. These two groups together contribute to the overall attractiveness of tourist destinations. Each of these dimensions consists of a number of attributes that shape which more or less influence on tourist perception tourists about the destination. Natural elements destinations include features like a site or facility, natural resources such as landforms, flora and fauna, or physical conditions as the weather. Social elements such as the friendliness of local people, the language spoken, family structures, occupations, urban layout are the attributes of destination which form the part of environment. The level of use or lack of infrastructure and technology in a destination are developmental factors that can affect the visitors trip experience. The economic conditions as a currency, market development and prices are attributes of the destination product that can influence traveler experiences and thoughts about a destination. Culture is another important factor that shapes the tourists perception. Authentic local culture, history and traditions can provide a framework for enriching the experience of a tourist destination. Political dimension, which includes political stability, foreign policy, human rights can also affect the perception of tourists and their behavior. Government control, responsiveness to tourism, the attitude towards tourists (e.g. visa application, the specific entry conditions) can also affect the destination environment that visitors experience (Murphy et al, 2000). on the other side of tourism services, their quality and diversity, represent an important aspect of destinations product and may have a crucial role in assess experience destinations by tourists. Besides the destination environment, the quality of tourist infrastructure - accommodation, cuisine, transportation infrastructure, shopping, tourist attractions, recreational and entertainment facilities, are important for tourists. In accordance with that the perception of tourist destination

is defined through experience of destination environment and service infrastructure. In the last 30 years a significant number of studies analyzed the dimensions of a tourist destination and its attributes in order to identify which attributes have the greatest importance to tourist perception. based on their results (Hong-bumm, 1998; Murphy et al., 2000; Pike, 200) it can be made the classification the most important dimensions and attributes of destinations (Table 1). Based on the above investigations, from a large number of attributes it can be extracted the most important: the attraction of the natural environment, climate, safety, cultural heritage, quality of accommodation, costs, shopping, friendliness of people, facilities for recreation, nightlife and entertainment. Thus, the most important are natural environment, political stability and economic environment and all aspects of tourism services. Also, it is important to emphasize that the significance of destination dimensions and attributes could be changed during the time and depends on the reasons for travel. So, evaluation of destination and their attributes depends on tourists motives. Motives could vary, but the most important could be reduced to 10 main: to relax to enjoy the good weather to entertain to forget everyday problems to introduce new locations to visit historic sites to experience the adventure to be in accordance with the nature of to be active to play sports

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Table 1. The most important attributes of tourist destination

Source: Hong-bumm (1998), Murphy et al.(2000), Pike (2009)

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qualitative research of destination attributes


Prior to conducting a quantitative research, it is necessary to conduct qualitative research to identify factors that influence on tourist perception of destination. qualitative research involves examining of tourists to found out how they perceive the value of tourist destinations. In order to reach understanding on how tourists create value of destination, it is necessary to use indepth interviews, group interviews or projective techniques. In this case, in-depth interview was chosen as the best technique since it is necessary to examine in detail the personal behaviors, attitudes and needs of examinee. Also, the subject of research is to understand the complex behavior and conditions for making decisions that are best explored through in-depth interviews. The main objectives of this research are: 1. Analyzing the process of creating the value of tourist destination in the minds of tourists and how they compare different destination 2. Identifying dimensions and attributes which are the most important to tourists in their perceptions of tourist destinations In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 respondents of different demographic characteristics - age, sex, education, income - in order to obtain the more complete and detailed understanding of attributes that influence their perception of value. Interviews were conducted in the period from 1st-15th July 2010. Respondents were between 22-5 years old.

According to most examinees travel destination is a unique combination of different attributes which can be divided into standard offer and a unique destination offers. Respondents believe that the standard offer can be compared between different destinations, such as accommodation, standard and quality accommodation, good cuisine, courtesy of employees, entertainment facilities - bars, clubs, buildings and facilities for recreation. on the other side, the unique offer is difficult or impossible to copy and provide a basis for attracting visitors. Specificity of destination is consisted of: culturalhistorical content, layout and architecture of the destination, scenery, specific local customs and traditions, and specific events that take place only at the destination. Expectations that the respondents had prior to arrival at the destination affect their perception of destination and experience. Examinees choose the destination by personal criteria and so the expectations are created by these criteria and according to information gathered prior to arrival (for the first visit) - pictures and images of accommodation destination on the web site, agreed price, activities that are thought to be found on the destination, the destination image to the public, word of mouth, etc. If experience does not meet the expectations that result in a low level of perceived value and dissatisfaction. The analysis of interviews resulted with the list of attributes that have strong influence on perception of destination value. Since there are a large number of attributes that may affect the evaluation of tourists the most important are classified in: quality of service infrastructure, natural and cultural environment, emotional, monetary and non-monetary dimensions.

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Table 2. Attributes which have strong impact on tourist perception

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Table 3. Attributes which dont have strong impact on tourist perception

Analysis of the respondents indicated that social value and some attributes of reputation are not relevant for the perception of tourists, followed by shopping quality. Also, as less important attributes can be identified: the size of destination, the prices of souvenirs and gifts, local transportation cost. In the next phase of research it should be developed the questionnaire based on destination attributes important for examinees perception.

development and implementation of successful marketing program of tourist destination.

References
Best, R.J. (17) Market-Based Management, Pretence Hall International, London Bolton, R.N., Drew, J.H. (11) A Muti-stage Model of Customers Assessment of service quality and Value, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 17, str. 375-384. Hong-bumm, k. (1998) Perceived attractiveness of Korean destinations, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 25 no. 2, pp. 340-361. Hu, y., Ritchie, J.R.B., (13) Measuring destination attractiveness: a contextual approach, Journal of Travel research, vol. 32, pp. 25-34. Kozak, M., Rimmington, M. (1) Measuring tourist destination competitiveness conceptual considerations and empirical findings, Hospitality Management, vol. 18, pp. 273-283. Laws, E. (15) Tourist destination management: issues, analysis and policies, London: Routledge

Conclusion
In marketing field, customer value was seen as base for each marketing activity in organization (Sanchez-Fernandez & iniesta-bonillo, 2006) and recognized as crucial weapon for attracting and keeping customers. Creating the tourist perception of destination value is no easy task, as these experiences tend to be complex and intangible (zeithaml, 1988). in order to investigate the perceived value of destination is needed to understand the links between a destinations attributes and perceptions of quality and value generated amongst different groups of visitors. The relative importance of destination attributes in the development of tourist perception of different tourists segments is a prerequisite to the

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Tribe, j., Snaith, T. (1998) From ServQUal to HoLSAT: holiday satisfaction in Varadero, Cuba, Tourism Management, vol. 19, no. 1, str. 25-34. yuksel, A., (2001) Managing customer satisfaction and retention: a case of tourist destination, Turkey, Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 7, pp. 153168. zeithaml, v. (1988) consumer perceptions of price, quality, and value: a means-end model and synthesis of evidence, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52, pp. 2-22.

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