A Dualistic Model of Tourism Seasonality

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dagnachew L. Senbeto and Alice H. Y. Hon of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “A dualistic model of tourism seasonality: Approach–Avoidance and Regulatory Focus Theories,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivations and innovations of this research .

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

Seasonality is a protracted issue of tourism, and it is the most researched tourism subject. Due to continual changes arise by seasonality, tourism organizations face up and downsize in the market. Managers, marketers, and policymakers pay attention to seasonality since it influences return on investment and business’s sustainability in general. However, seasonality in tourism has still been a less known phenomenon. Theoretical and conceptual developments regarding seasonality in tourism remain limited. Although some studies have been provided to expand our understanding of seasonal tourism trends, seasonal patterns, and tourists’ choices or behaviors, little is known about how tourists respond to various seasonality factors. Without that understanding, tourism managers cannot establish specific marketing plans to deal with the issues of seasonal variations. In accordance with that research gap, we suggest that seasonality in tourism is associated with a number of factors that influence tourists across off, peak, and shoulder season. Therefore, we stood to conceptualize and develop a dualistic model to
explain tourist reaction across seasonal variation by utilizing approach-avoidance and regulatory theories and examine marketing plans and strategies for targeting particular forms of tourism and purposes of travel, so that managers can cope with seasonal variations.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Existing studies focus on examining seasonality from the cause and impact approach and mostly based on case analysis specific to a particular area. Hence, tourism seasonality literature experience limited theoretical and conceptual development. In response to this, our study provides a fresh theoretical and conceptual approach to re-examine seasonality in tourism. To contribute to the literature on tourism seasonality, the purpose of this study is threefold. First, the study systematically evaluates the causes and impacts of seasonality in the tourism context. Second, the study examines the merits of approach–avoidance and regulatory focus theories for understanding seasonal variation in tourist behaviors. Third, the study develops a dualistic model to integrate approach–avoidance and regulatory focus theories in order to investigate the dimensions and factors that determine seasonal tourist variation. We categorized seasonality into fruition, structural, climate-based, and unforeseen factors, and that our dualistic model assessed these factors which create, accelerate, and/or prolong seasonal tourist flow. The model explains a number of circumstances in relation to seasonality such as crisis, school calendar, price, income and choice of destination as a signaling point contemplated with the above-mentioned factors. Practically, the dualistic model assists managers, marketers, and policymakers in their effort to cope with tourist demand in accordance with seasonal variations.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

We found out from our research that seasonality in tourism relates to economic, social, and environmental aspects, thus incoming researchers could investigate this topic from different approaches. First, empirical studies are crucial to further examine the dualistic model of approach–avoidance motivation and regulatory focus theory and ensure the validity and reliability of the four types of seasonal factors. Second, climate is currently a principal factor in seasonality, and it is likely to become more influential in the future. Seasonality is influenced by climate and weather-related variables that could determine managerial strategies and accelerate low-season demand. Moreover, the social and environmental aspects of seasonality should be examined to determine what positive and negative effects are associated with peak seasons and off seasons. Third, methodologies and advanced statistical analyses should also be given utmost consideration in method processes. The existing methodologies used are the coefficient of variation, the Gini coefficient, summary indices, correlation coefficients, panel data, and time series analysis. Future studies should be broadly applicable in analyzing seasonality in tourism in the context of market trends and management strategies. Lastly, existing seasonality studies have focused on tourists from developed countries or countries and regions located at high latitudes. Future researchers should pay more attention to tourists from developing countries and places with a variety of climates, such as tropical and desert environments, rural locations, and remote areas.

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Resident Attribution and Tourist Stereotypes

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Cathy H. C. Hsu and Nan Chen of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “Resident Attribution and Tourist Stereotypes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe their research and its significance.

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From 2003 to 2015, Hong Kong (HK) saw a more than five-fold increase in mainland Chinese tourist (MCT) arrivals. With a population of 7.3 million, HK residents had to share their limited living space with 59 million tourists, of whom 77% came from mainland China. The tension between HK residents and MCTs has increased substantially. The negative public opinion on MCTs reached its peak with a series of “anti-locust” protests in early 2014. Protesters staged satirical rallies to urge MCTs to go home. In 2015, HK saw the first decline (-2.97% compared to 2014) in over a decade in MCT arrivals. The ensuing Umbrella Movement has been regarded as a panoply of identity politics and civic passions, some of which was anti-China/Chinese.

In various popular tourism destinations around the world, anti-tourist sentiment has been expressed by residents whose lives have been inconvenienced to say the least. Over-tourism has become a popular discussion topic in the news and social media. Mainland Chinese outbound travelers have dominated the tourist arrival growth in many countries and become an important source market internationally. Along with the rapid increase in tourist numbers, reports of Chinese tourists’ lavish and sometimes unruly behaviors become the media headlines from time to time in many countries. The tourism research community has just begun to address all these unconventional phenomena. These events stimulated our curiosity in the host community’s stereotypes toward a dominant tourist group, aiming to develop counter-stereotype strategies through a comprehensive study of the generation, content, and consequence of tourist stereotypes.

This conceptual paper represents a first attempt to link attribution and stereotypes by identifying interactions between each step of the two cognitive processes, in the context of resident-tourist encounters. It pioneers in establishing conceptual links between a tourism phenomenon and the social psychology theoretical development, through a thorough literature review and the proposed conceptual framework of tourist stereotypes and resident attribution.

This paper also broadens the research paradigm of resident-tourist relationships. Attribution theory not only offers a special lens through which to peek the complex and dynamic resident-tourist relations, but also provides an opportunity to test a new framework through the integration of tourist stereotypes, thus leading tourism scholars toward greater theory development and testing. The comprehensive model proposed in this research can serve as a productive meta-theoretical framework – not only giving an account of existing knowledge in social psychology and tourism, but also generating fruitful research questions that can enhance our understanding. This comprehensive framework needs to be tested urgently using empirical data. The complex relationships among the variables in the model pointed out directions for future research and provided many potential opportunities.

In addition, attribution studies need to move out of the “social vacuum” psychological laboratory, entering the real and complicated social settings to be further developed. The complex and dynamic resident-tourist encounter settings could overcome the constraints imposed by laboratory experiments, and broaden the scope and depth of attributional research, to address the recognized deficiencies of attribution theory outlined in this paper.

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Financing Decisions and Performance of Italian SMEs in the Hotel Industry

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Marco Botta of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and the Università degli Studi dell’Insubria. Dr. Botta recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled “Financing Decisions and Performance of Italian SMEs in the Hotel Industry,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Botta reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

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The Global Financial Crisis that started in 2008 in the US and soon spread globally has highlighted how financial decisions can have a strong impact on the real economy. The way firms (and people as well) raise capital may produce important consequences on their future. The European debt crisis in 2011 showed how even governments cannot escape the consequences of bad financial decisions.

In this respect, hotel companies are extremely capital-intensive, needing to devote large amounts of funds to buy and furbish real estate properties where to run their hotel business. This implies that they often have to raise significant amounts of funds from external sources, as internal resources may not be sufficient to cover their investment needs. This may be particularly troublesome for small and medium companies (SMEs) that, in the Italian experience, tend to rely heavily on bank loans to cover their capital needs. This is what is known as a pecking-order type of behavior: firms first use internal resources, and then debt. Additional equity capital is used only as a last resort, and this may induce firms to constantly run high levels of debt.

My research shows how firms should instead adopt more sophisticated financial decisions: having a systematically higher-than-optimal level of debt induces firms to reduce their investments, as shown by the lower growth in assets, and this ultimately results in lower performance. On the other hand, firms using too little debt also experience a decrease in performance, due to a lower operating efficiency: the lack of pressure from mandatory debt repayments may produce a more “relaxed” atmosphere, so that hotel companies end up losing effectiveness in their ability to maximize revenues and keep costs under control.
Overall, my research shows how managers of hotel SMEs should target an optimal level of debt that should be achieved by balancing two contrasting effects. On the one hand, avoiding excessive levels of debt allows maintaining financial flexibility, so that a company is able to pursue investment opportunities whenever they become available. On the other hand, having a moderate amount of debt induces firms to operate more efficiently, likely because of the pressure of mandatory debt repayment and of the scrutiny of external debtholders who want to protect their investment.

From an academic perspective, the research sheds light on the long-standing debate on the existence of an optimal capital structure. My results show that Italian hotel SMEs do not appear particularly keen at targeting an optimal level of debt. Their behavior is instead mostly in line with the predictions of the pecking order theory: they used internal funds as their primary source of capital, and they prefer debt over equity when they need to raise new external funds. However, the relationship between capital structure and financial performance shows that firms indeed face an optimal level of debt, providing evidence in favor of the empirical validity of the trade-off theory of capital structure.

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Defining Marijuana Tourism

Dr. Lorraine L. Taylor of Fort Lewis College, Colorado, recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, which is entitled “Defining Marijuana Tourism.” We are pleased to welcome her as a contributor and excited to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. Below Dr. Taylor reveals the inspiration behind the research, as well as additional information not included in the final publication.

2JHTR07_Covers.pdfWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

As the first state to sell legal recreational marijuana in 2014, there were many unanswered questions. Within the tourism industry, destinations were unsure how marijuana would impact the visitor experience. While there are certainly many questions to be answered, this study sought to better understand the marijuana tourists, their characteristics, behavior, and motivations.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

Compared to other tourism research I have completed, this study had a very high response rate from participants. Very few people refused to participate, and rather wanted to contribute to the understanding of marijuana tourism.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Researchers in Colorado had the privilege of being first movers with studying marijuana tourism, though it is critical that data is collected in other geographical locations to validate the findings.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

This project determined that the target market of marijuana tourists is heterogenous. A follow-up study will be conducted to dig deeper into the nuances of different niche segments within the market.

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Marketing for Tourism, Hospitality & Events

SAGE Publishing would like to highlight one of the newer textbooks that provides a foundation of basic marketing principles applied to global tourism. The book, Marketing for Tourism, Hospitality & Events, is co-authored by Simon Hudson of the University of South Carolina and Louise Hudson who is an Independent Researcher.80886_9781473926646

The book is complimented by a companion website featuring a range of tools and resources for lecturers and students, including PowerPoint slides, an instructor manual, a test bank of multiple choice questions, and author-curated video links to make the examples in each chapter come to life. Below is a featured video supplement where David Edelman explains how companies can now shape the consumer decision journey:

Click here to preview the book, as well as view other content topics and resources.

Interested in other tourism topics? Click below to view SAGE’s journals that publish the latest research in the field:

Journal of Travel Research
Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research
Journal of Service Research
Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

How Couples Approach Making Travel Decisions

“Which hotel looks nicer for the better price? Where should we eat? What excursions did the concierge recommend?” These are all questions couples ask each other when planning a vacation, and when plans change during the trip. For some couples, the decision time on where to eat can take longer than others, and the even bigger decision is where to travel in the first place. So how are couples approaching the decision process, and is there a gender correlation between who makes what decision? I.e. when to travel, budget on the hotel, the bus tour to sign up for.

A recent study entitled “Exploring the Length and Complexity of Couples Travel Decision Making“, published  in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, observes the patterns of how couples decide on the much anticipated annual travel plans. This article is co-authored by Wayne W. Smith, Robert E. Pitts, Steve W. Litvin, and Deepti Agrawal, and is currently free to read for a limited time. The abstract for their article is below:

A quasi-experiment is used to examine the dynamics of the shared decision-making process by cqxb_58_2.cover.pngobserving couples in real time as they make decisions about an overnight stay at a luxury resort. Observations and video recordings of the decision processes of 24 couples were coded and analyzed. The time to final decision, number, and type of tactics used were found to vary with couples’ length of experience with one another. Observation indicated that couples with greater travel experience together relied on “predealing” based on their experience together to avoid conflict, while less-experienced couples’ decisions were more likely to yield winners and losers. These findings and those related to the use of persuasive tactics by members of the couple dyads provide the basis for specific recommendations for marketing travel products.

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A Theory of Lodging: Exploring Hotel Guest Behavior

Traveling is generally looked forward to by most, and when planning where to stay, we rely on reviews from past hotel guests. Does the hotel have consistently clean rooms? A lobby bar to meet up with my coworkers? A pool, spa, or gym? Regardless of our questions, they are approached through a mentality of short-term requirements; that is, we don’t have to reference our list of “deal breakers” like when purchasing a home.

Editor Chris Roberts of DePaul University recently published a study in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research presenting the habits and perspectives of traveler decisions entitled “A Theory of Lodging: Exploring Hotel Guest Behavior,” co-authored by Dr. Linda Shea. Below, Roberts explains the inspiration for this study:

What inspired you to be int4643862699_f8d70fef26_zerested in this topic? The field of hospitality is often classified as an applied field as it appears to lack theory of its own.  Instead, theories from other related fields are used in hospitality research.  However, the authors are asking the hospitality research academy to engage in a discussion about lodging.  Is there a theory that explains human behavior when staying in a hotel?  It appears that many humans behave differently when they are at home versus when staying overnight in a hotel.  The purpose of this paper is to stimulate thought among hospitality researchers to explore this idea.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? We are not declaring there is a distinctive theory of lodging; however, the difference in behavior is observable, suggesting there may be something to explore.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice? Interested researchers are encouraged to attend the ICHRIE Conference to be held July 23-25, 2017 in Baltimore, MD, USA.  An opportunity to explore this will be available.  Please join us as we wrestle with this idea of a theory of lodging.

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Hotel lobby photo attributed to fhotels (CC).