A tourist can be described as someone who has traveled for more than forty kilometers from their normal residence for reasons other than commuting to a place of work. This may be from one night up to one year (Hall, 2003). Current studies related to tourism experience have demonstrated it is either essentially spurious or apparent, an expansion of an estranged world, or as a solemn search for legitimacy, an attempt to run away from an otherwise estranged world. Since time in memorial, it has been argued that almost none of these views are generally valid rather, they base their judgments on issues that are not up to date. A more perceptive distinction between the five examples of tourist experiences has been proposed and are based upon a given place and the importance of any tourist experience in the entire world-view by the tourists, their connection to an apparent `center’ and the positioning of that center relative to the community or society in which the person or the tourist resides. It has been suggested that the ensuing continuum of varieties of tourist experience is equally more inclusive than other theoretical frameworks and has the capacity to reconcile and integrate the varying interpretations cropping up from initial studies. This essay aims at identifying and discussing the various concepts relating to the tourism experience. Moreover, it will examine how these concepts relate to, inform the development and practice of tourism system at an attraction level. It will do this by using examples drawn from the case study of Dream World.
For years now it has been shown that consumers develop and assume a certain coherent model of purchasing behavior. Whereby, they were seen to purchase things or even choose certain things over others giving more basis on reason (Holbrook, O’Shaughnessy and Bell, 1990). This assumption is normally concluded on the basis that before a consumer acquires anything, he must have a purpose, need, conscious, and eventually, he must have planned for acquiring that particular commodity. However, many people have disagreed with this assumption which is based on the cognitive rather than the experimental variants. They have deduced that the cognitive model of explaining consumer behavior is inadequate (Hoch and Loewenstein, 1991;) paving way for more explanatory and intriguing concepts of tourism experience As a result, the reactive view was born which sought to explain consumer behavior on an experimental basis (Holbrook et al., 1990). This view has its origins in the earlier work on motivational research and the renowned symbolic product imagery. Particularly, this view explains consumption behavior among consumers as being intent and meaningful whereby people acquire or purchase products on the basis of what they are able to do and the meanings they stand for especially what the consumer takes of that meaning. Hence, the recent emphasis put on an experimental basis of consuming goods and services by different literature materials.
In their works, Hirschman and Holbrook (1982) noted that goods and services rendered to people can be classified on the basis of the functions; they can either be utilitarian or hedonic. Consumers were also classified on the same basis whereby they were considered to be problem solvers or utilitarian and those that were merely seeking fun, sensual stimulation and enjoyment in the products they purchased; considered as hedonic. Moreover, they explained that utilitarian functions dwelled so much on what the product did to the consumer while the hedonic function captured the esthetic, ethereal and prejudiced consumption aspects. Most of the services such as tourism, leisure activities and games normally have a hedonic function associated with them while most of the basic goods and services like toothpaste are associated with the utilitarian meaning. Especially, utilitarian consumption aspects are considered to be preservative in nature. They compel those consumers involved to maintain their status quo. On the other hand, hedonic consumption aspects presented the experience of consumption and are widely regarded as the main contributing factors to tourism experience. Pine and Gilmore identified four concepts of experience (1982). These concepts were differentiated based on the basis of customer participation and levels of his or her involvement. These were; entertainment, education, escapism and esthetics. Entertainment and esthetics were based on passive participation whereby the consumer had no effect whatsoever on the experimental outcomes. On the other hand, education and escapism were based on active participation whereby the consumer did play a part in the experimental outcomes.
As mentioned in the lectures, the global tourism industry is one of the most competitive in the whole world and this has posed a very huge challenge to the marketers involved. The ability to attract many tourists is solely based on the experience created and adopted by the tourists. This particular tourism experience created is usually unique and is normally of high personal value to the tourists. Besides, tourists tend to look for experiences that are sensational and authentic therefore, tourist establishments must shape up and sell their experiences well to attract many tourists. The concepts mentioned earlier include:
Many people are motivated by the desire to learn new things and so are the tourists. Engaging in experience educationally increases ones knowledge about a product or service he wants to consume. As a result, he or she will go for the best quality when looking for any commodity or service. Pine and Gilmore’s (1998) model explained that education experience engages the consumer in active participation and as a result, he or she will be intrigued and the experience will appeal to his or her desire to want to learn something new. It is worth mentioning that educational experience is both active and absorptive in that it involves the active participation of the consumer. He or she will play a role in determining his or her experience in a given place. Nowadays, many tourist establishments provide their customers or the tourists with tourist guidelines and brochures indicating the animals, activities, and people to expect in a given tourist establishment (Schmitt 2003). Depending on how these brochures are appealing tourists may feel more attracted to a given place and that particular place will have more demand amongst tourists. It is also worth mentioning that the key motivating factor for visiting or touring a place is the need to educate oneself (Prentice 2004). The impression that each and every tourist is left with after visiting a given place should be; “I think I got something new”. Ultimately, this will create the desire to want to come more often to that particular place and hence the demand for that particular place. Cartwright and Baird (1999) came up with sources of educational values to the tourism experience: First is the craving to learn new cultures then, the new knowledge acquired from landmarks and finally the activity programs. Taking Dreamworld case for example; it has its own educational day which is usually fun-packed. During the educational day, it offers bilby talks which allow students to be involved in conservation efforts. It also has back of the house tour, wildlife or tiger career talk, marketing talks, OH & S talks, crocodile talks and hospitality talks. These talks serve to provide tourists with a product menu, market Dream World as the outright and ideal tourism destination, and promote the cultures of the indigenous people such as the Yugambeh.
The extent to which one is absorbed in a given activity is known as escapism (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Similarly, the extent to which one can be actively absorbed into any given activity depends so much on the degree of his active participation. As a result, he will be able to experience what the environment and living things in a particular surrounding have to offer. Tourism provides a wide variety of escapist experience; vacations and holidaying which enable people to escape from their daily routines which are tiresome at times. Emblematic examples of escapist experience are the theme parks, resorts and adventure lands. Most of the tourists visiting a given place are usually tired or even just bored with their respective areas of residence. They usually decide to go touring in order to gain new exposure and escape away from the daily routines in their respective areas of residence. Moreover, tourists normally look for ‘genuineness’ so as to recompense for their ‘tight’ lifestyles which require minimal rest with maximum work. As a result, tourists become willing to spend on journeys and tours across the world in search of more relaxing, authentic, and lavish experiences. Many tourist establishments usually seek to create luxurious accommodation and cruise life experiences so as to attract tourists who usually look for an escapist experience. The ability to create more exceptional escapist experiences leads to increase in the number of visiting tourists and with them, comes the benefits of foreign exchange and economic growth. In Dream World for example the escapist experience is provided by the theme rides, the animations, the tiger island, wildlife experience, and the big brother. The fascinating animals kept in zoos create some sort of enjoyment amongst the tourists. We also have the Log Rides, the Blue Lagoon and the mighty Thunder River Rapids which create an ambient environment and exceptional experience which makes one forget all about home, refresh his mind and relax
The wish of everyone is be entertained after a hard day’s work. Entertainment provides an ideal way of relaxing ones mind and refreshing ones spirits. Entertainment is considered by many scholars as one of the oldest concepts in tourism experience and is what the majority of the tourists are usually after. Some of the most common examples of entertainment include live concerts, music shows and many others. Particularly, entertainment has been considered a main component of the tourism experience (Hughes and Ben 1995) and very many tourists destinations nowadays concentrate on producing, quality and a variety of entertainment experiences. In doing so, they appeal to more tourists who end up touring that particular tourist establishment. Let us take Las Vegas for example; it is considered by many as the ideal entertainment hub in the whole world. Not only is it famous for its gambling activities which attract many tourists but also for live concerts which are dominant even during the day. Other examples of tourist entertainment centers include the cruise vacations and the likes of Dream World and Disney World. By entertaining the tourists, these tourists’ establishments appeal to more tourists. Moreover, they become the ideal destination to many tourists; it is the place almost each and every tourist will want to go. Increased demand for a particular tourist establishment translates into better foreign exchange and an improved economy. Therefore, entertainment schedules are usually carefully devised to appeal to and attract many children and adults who pose as tourists. Looking at the Dream World case for example; we find that it has forged an alliance with the Dream Works animation Inc which will create the animations of various favorite and world renowned characters. The entertainment spot built is a Dream Work Experience precinct that welcomes families from around the world to interact with their favorite animated characters. Moreover, it creates a quality entertainment experience for the tourists who come to visit. Dream World also stages live shows which appeals more to teens and children who are left with the desire to come again and experience the entertainment.
The interpretation a tourist will have of a place will determine to great extent if that place receives many visitors or not. The physical environment can be viewed in many different dimensions according to (Bitner1992); favorable conditions spatial design and workability; and indications, symbols and relics. Esthetics have been shown to have a desirable effect on the behaviors of various consumers, the type of decisions they make, the evaluation and the ratings they give to particular service associated with a particular tourist establishment. Basically, it gauges the level of tourist satisfaction with the services offered by a given tourist establishment. The physical environment associated with a given heritage also plays a very significant role in predetermining the attitudes of various tourists, their recommendation and the future relations the tourists develop with that particular tourist destination. It is worth mentioning that good relations and positive attitudes developed by tourists towards a particular tourist come in handy in times of stiff competitions amongst industry players. A good reputation earned by a particular tourist establishment will serve to attract more tourists and as a result earn more revenues for that particular establishment. More good reputation will give that particular tourist establishment an edge over fellow market players in the same industry. An example of esthetic experience is on board a modern ship for example the Freedom of the Seas. Such ships create both physical and social environment. Furthermore, they are equipped with state of the art pieces of art, Jacuzzis, a nice view of the ocean through state of the art balconies, swimming pools and even their own casinos. Such elements usually serve to promote a luxurious feeling amongst the passengers. Particularly, it invokes a sense of sophistication and a feeling of excitement among the passengers on board. As Kwortnik (2008: 292) noted; ambient environmental conditions, beautiful sceneries, the environmental layout, the facilities at a given tourist establishment and the decor all but influence the meaning given to a particular place by tourists which in turn influences the demand of that particular place by the tourists. For example, bursting at the seams of Dream World are exceptional family fun rides and attractions, cheeky photo spots such as the family photo of Shrek, bubbling bath and the babies of Shrek. Moreover there is Princess Fiona and Puss not to mention the land where tourists get to meet the legend warrior. There is also a haven known as Madagascar Madness which is pimped with themed rides, oodles and a beautiful view of chimps jumping on vines. All these serve to invoke excitement and a sense of sophistication amongst the tourists. They will always want to relate to such sceneries and will therefore come often to those particular places.
This essay has determined the various concepts associated with tourism experience. Furthermore it has identified ways in which such experiences influence the tourism system of a given place with emphasis on the case study of Dream World. From it, we will learn aspects of tourism that influence our lives and the various areas that can tapped in, exploited or even improved to attract more tourists.