Essay: Tourism There Are Five Stages

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Tourism

There are five stages of the decision-making process for travel. The first is need recognition. During this stage, the consumer identifies a need that they must meet either for travel or specific needs in their travel. For example, the consumer may decide that summer has been too hot and they need to escape to a cooler climate. Information search is the second step. During this process, the consumer will gather their alternatives together by investigating not only the geographic locations but the attractions available, hotels and modes of travel. For example, escaping the heat could involve such diverse alternatives as visiting Canada, taking a cruise to Antarctica, or simply flying to a mountain resort town, depending on how much escape is required.

Once the information has been gathered, the consumer then evaluates the different alternatives. The consumer has a set of preferences for the trip, and it is by these preferences which a decision will be made. An Antarctic cruise may be too impractical, a local mountain escape may not be sufficient an escape. A trip to Canada could allow the consumer to visit the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The latter consideration is an external factor that tips the decision, on top of the internal factors that also pushed the consumer towards a Canadian trip. The purchase decision has been made, but includes specific decisions with respect to the mode of travel (airplane), the type of accommodation (bed and breakfast) and the length of trip (two weeks). After the purchase has been made, the consumer goes through a period of post-purchase behaviour. This behaviour could include buyer's remorse (the Vancouver trip is very expensive) or it could include a rush of enthusiasm (for example adding a week in California to the end of the trip).

2) I believe that lifestyle information is more helpful in explaining consumer behaviour than is demographics. This is because consumers today are far more segmented than they have been in past. We are only loosely subject to broad societal trends; rather, we are more often subject to microtrends. Access to media has allowed for a greater variety of voices to be disseminated, which in turn has allowed for a wide range of societal subgroups and subcultures to develop. Consumers of a certain demographic can differ wildly in how they live and how they spend their money (Michman et al., 2003).

Simultaneously, marketers have developed the ability to identify and track these narrower segments. Thus, we have a situation today where demographics are too vague to accurately describe modern consumers and where marketers have the ability to move beyond basic demographic profiling. This is especially true in travel where you may have one group of 20-somethings that seeks adventure travel of the highest order and another that prefers to vacation at the beach. The travel industry has begun to match the segmentation of consumer markets to the point where many destinations specialize only in certain forms of travel.

3) The airline industry has three main segments. The luxury segment is not price sensitive, but rather prefers the most comfortable means of travel. They may travel for business or pleasure, but in either case choose the most luxurious route. The sub-luxury segment of traveler has a fairly high degree of price sensitivity, but will choose to spend more for some luxury. The third segment is the budget traveler, for whom price is the most important variable. A potential fourth segment is comprised of travelers who are generally in the budget class, but prefer to have their airfare rolled into a package so that they need to make fewer decisions with respect to their travel.

For the luxury segment, customers should be targeted on the basis of the quality of hospitality onboard, at the airport, and throughout the entire process. These customers demand the finest and are willing to pay for it, so the targeting must reach consumers through the channels to which they are exposed. This includes media aimed at such consumers, and by encouraging word-of-mouth promotion as well.

For an airline to truly attract this market, it must position itself as a luxury provider. In recent years, this has meant benchmarking not just against other airlines, but against luxury hotels and restaurants as well (Turner, 2008). By doing this, the airline can measure up to the luxury customer's high standards of quality and service.

4) Technology has already had a strong impact on shifting the distribution channels in the hospitality and travel industries. The Internet has spurred this shift in two key ways. The first is through the dissemination of information. Consumers no longer rely on travel agents as their primary source of information, as they can access a wide range of sales pitches and consumer feedback online. The second way is through online selling. Booking engines have led the way, but other travel retailers are beginning to move online as well. This has occurred because consumers prefer that their travel research be linked directly with their travel purchase. The easier and shorter this connection, the better for the consumer. This trend will continue through the next five years, as consumers move more of their researching and purchasing of travel to the Internet.

5) A "push" promotion is one in which the marketer employs methods to push consumers into buying the product (Feinstein & Stefanelli, 2007). In the hospitality industry, one example of a push strategy would be an airline seat sale. Another example would be the bundling of transportation and accommodation. Such bundling encourages increased purchases through the travel provider. A third push strategy is the usage of reward miles. These are incentives for loyalty -- for more frequent and repeat purchases -- which is the hallmark of a push strategy.

6) The promotional mix includes advertising, sales promotions, public relations, direct marketing and personal selling (Stettner, 2009). Travel companies utilize all of these methods. Advertising is often conducted in newspapers, for example. This advertising often informs consumers about specific promotions that are in effect. The same travel company may also act as a source for industry information with the media, garnering the firm public relations benefit. The travel agency can combine these tactics with direct marketing tools, such as an email mailing list, and personal selling either at the office or over the phone with a customer service agent.

7) Hotels are faced with fluctuating demand over the course of the year, based on seasonality and special events. During high season, the main focus of the hotel is to maximize capacity -- unsold rooms at this time are inexcusable. This is the period to focus on maximizing revenue. The primary focus for the hotel during high season should therefore be to focus on promotion. The hotel must have its name in the public eye, so that travelers are drawn to this hotel over others. The hotel can also help to attract customers by having a superior product that gives them the edge when the consumer is conducting his or her evaluation.

During the low season, the hotel is not likely to be at capacity, but filling as many rooms as possible is essential to covering fixed costs. The two main methods of attracting visitors are through price and product. Guests expect discounts in low season, but they still have the same needs with respect to product quality, so the hotel can win guests by offering a superior product to their competitors. Promotions can help to fill rooms during low season as well -- for example special rewards for extended stays.

8) A tourist destination can determine what to promote in a couple of ways. The first method is through research into current purchasing habits -- why are people coming there now? For example, people will travel to Macau to visit the casinos. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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