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How Can We Understand the Tourists?. Tourists are the main characters in the tourism industry and the tourism industry exists to cater to their needs. Tourism businesses acknowledge the fact that their success depends also on how much they know and understand their tourists.

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Tourists are the main characters in the tourism industry and the tourism industry exists to cater to their needs.

Tourism businesses acknowledge the fact that their success depends also on how much they know and understand their tourists.


A professional understanding of the consumer is at the core of the successful business practice in the tourism industry.

(Goeldner and Ritchie, 2003)

A good grasp of who their tourists are would guide businesses in their operations, marketing and research, and development tasks.


Clearly, a study on the behavior of tourists is very vital to the tourism industry.

Understanding tourists require a background on psychology and consumer behavior.


Tourism businesses should be concerned with what motivates tourists, how they make decisions, what they think of the products they buy, how much they enjoy and learn during their holiday experiences, how they interact with the local people and environment and how they feel about their holidays.


Knowing why tourists travel is the most fundamental question among the study of tourists’ behavior.

Although it is the most basic question, knowing the wants and needs of tourists in traveling is a complicated task.

The wants and needs of tourists are often regarded as travel motivators.


Something that stimulates interest or causes a person to act in a certain way.

Needs and wants of tourists are seen as the driving force that causes an individual to travel. (Cook, 1999), simply explained travel motivation as the drive to travel.

This theory by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 work, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” explains that as humans meet basic needs, they seek to satisfy successively higher needs that occupy a set of hierarchy.


This pyramid of five levels represents human needs which Maslow further grouped into two as deficiency needs and growth needs.

Deficiency needs are related to physiological needs while growth needs are related to psychological needs.


The Maslow hierarchy of needs is an explanation of an individual’s behavior.

  • In tourism, every piece of information that would help the business owners, managers, and staff understand tourists’ behavior is important.

This hierarchy of needs is used in the tourism industry in several ways.

  • First, tourism experts also consider these different levels to be intrinsic factors that could drive a person to travel.

For example, an individual may join a cruise because of his/her need for friendship. One of the attractions of joining a cruise is the many opportunities it provides its of meeting new people.


The level of needs would provide tourism businesses a guide in understanding their travel market and thus advertise their products effectively.


A cruise liner would emphasize in their advertisement the chances of meeting people instead of traveling to new places.


Second, tourism businesses could come up with different facilities and services with features that attempt to address certain needs of tourists.


Tourism businesses also uses them as their competitive edge over others. The hierarchy of needs guides them in coming up with specific service that they know would be important to their clients. It may not be a main attraction but it may also enhance tourist experience.


For example, services that address needs of belonginess or esteem such as elite programs and frequent visitors program or simple tokens that make the guests realize that the tourism business knows them specifically.


This model is developed by Philip Pearce.

  • It attempts to explain individual behaviors on the basis of stages in a tourist life cycle which is said to be similar to an individual’s experience of work.

It is assumed that as the tourists become more experienced, they also become more proficient and effective.

  • It is somehow similar to Maslow hierarchy of needs because the model also explains that tourists ascend only to higher needs once lower needs for a tourist experience are fulfilled.

Relaxation and Bodily Needs

Need for basic services (food, space, toilet) for restoration and personal maintenance and repair


Need for excitement and safety (fun and thrill of rides, experience of unusual, out-of the-ordinary settings and different foods and people)


Need to build and extend personal relationships (tenderness, affection, joint fun, joint activities, altruism and being directly involved)

Self-Esteem and Development

Need to develop skills, knowledge and abilities (how others see a person and one’s desire to be competent, in control, respected and productive)


Need to feel peaceful, profoundly happy (magical as if transported to another world, spiritual and totally involved in the setting)


This model emphasizes that the choice of destination of a tourist is driven by two forces: push and pull.

  • The first force, push, pushes a tourist away (from home) and the second one, pull, is a region-specific lure that pulls a tourist towards a destination.

The push refers to a general desire to go and be somewhere else, without specifying where that may be.

  • These are the intangible, intrinsic desires of a tourist to go on vacation.
  • Pull, on the other hand, refers to the tangible characteristics or attributes of a destination that are primarily related to its perceived attractiveness.

This push-and-pull model was exemplified by Lundberg, in an advertisement directed towards potential tourists showing sunny beaches with sunbathers.

  • The advertisement promotes a specific location and generates a push force that attempts to pry potential tourists out of their homes.

Another way of understanding tourists is knowing how they decide on tourism product/services and destinations.

  • Their decision-making process would provide tourism businesses insights to effective marketing and advertising, techniques to effectively reach their target markets.
schmoll model
Schmoll Model
  • This emphasize four successive fields which he believed exert influences on the decision of tourists.
    • Travel Stimuli
    • Personal and social determinants
    • External variables
    • Characteristics and features of the service

(refer to figure 7. page 24)

travel stimuli
Travel Stimuli
  • These comprises external stimuli that can awaken an individual’s desire or need to travel in the form of promotional stimulation, personal and trade recommendation
  • Examples: advertising and promotion, travel literature, suggestions, reports from other travelers, travel trade suggestions and recommendations.
personal and social determinants
Personal and Social Determinants
  • These determine customer goals in the form of travel desires and expectations and the objective and subjective risks thought to be connected with travel.
  • Examples: socio-economic status, personality features, social influences and aspirations, attitudes and values, motivations, desires, needs and expectations.
external variables
External Variables
  • These involve the prospective traveler’s confidence in the service provider, destination image, past experience and cost and time constraints.
  • Examples: confidence in travel trade intermediary, destination service, previous travel experience, assessment of objectives, subjective risks, constraints in time, cost, etc.
characteristics and features of the service
Characteristics and Features of the Service
  • These also have a bearing on the decision and its outcome.
  • Examples: cost/value relations, attractions/amenities offered, range of travel opportunities, quality/quantity of travel information, type of arrangement offered.
similar to the schmoll model matheison and wall model also identifies four interrellated factors
Similar to the Schmoll model, Matheison and Wall model also identifies four interrellated factors:
  • Tourist profile

Age, education, income, attitude, previous experience and motivations.

  • Travel awareness

Image of destinations’ facilities and services which is based upon the credibility of the source.

  • Destination resources and characteristics

Attractions and features of the destination

  • Trip features

Distance, trip duration, and perceived risk of the area visited

five stage model of decision making by matheison and wall
Five-Stage Model of Decision-Making by Matheison and Wall

Felt need/

Travel Desire


Collection and

Evaluation by image

Travel decision

(choice between


Travel preparations

And travel experience

Travel satisfaction

Outcome and evaluation


Hansal and Eislt (2004) provided a simple explanation of the decision-making process of tourists. This process is divided into two phases which are described as:


Planning phase – where travelers decide on the basic parameters concerning their trip. Decisions in this phase are made at home, usually over a significant amount of time prior to the trip. Sometimes initial decisions are subjected to modification or completely revamped.


Modification phase – during which details are decided. This phase covers modifications made during the trip. Examples are choices of specific sites that were advertised in brochures that travelers obtained from tourist information centers or decision to stay at a hotel whose services are announced on a billboard.


Models describing tourist decision-making process would make a long-list. They have basically the same purpose and that is to guide the tourism industry in understanding how tourists get motivated in traveling, what things influence or discourage them to travel, and where they information, and purchase their selected product.

In short, these models have two fundamental roles: to identify factors that influence the decision-making of the tourists and to enumerate the stages of their decision-making

tourist typologies
Tourist Typologies
  • Refer to classifications of tourists based on their behavior.
  • Over the years, the number of tourist typologies has grown. It is an indicator of how marketers have relied on understanding their consumers through their behavior.
  • These typologies serve as guide to tourism business owners as to what products, services and facilities should be sold to certain tourists having the same behavior.

Marketers and planners as well as managers of tourism businesses consider these typologies to guide their marketing, planning, and development and management functions.


Several tourist typology models were developed by tourism experts and scholars. Some of the more popular models include the following:

    • Plog’s Psychocentric-Allocentric Model
    • Cohen’s Tourist Typology
    • Global Travel Survey
    • Pearce’s Travelers Category
plog s psychocentri allocentric model
Plog’s Psychocentri-Allocentric Model
  • Stanley Plog classifed tourists along a continuum with allocentrics on one end and psychocentrics on the other end.
  • Generally, allocentrics seeks adventure while psychocentrics seek the comfort of familiar surroundings in their tourism experiences.
cohen s tourist typology
Cohen’s Tourist Typology
  • Eric Cohen categorized tourist into four organized mass tourist, individual mass tourist, the explorer and the drifter. This is similar to Plog’s model wherein psychocentrics are further divided into organized and individualized and the allocentrics into explorers and drifters.
global travel survey
Global Travel Survey
  • This survey done in the United Kingdom in 2005 has a more general approach to classifying tourists into adventurers, worriers, dreamers, economizers and indulgers.
  • These are based on how tourists perceived traveling.
  • Are motivated to seek new experiences
  • Value diversity
  • Seek new activities, cultures and people
  • Are independent and in control
  • Travel plays a central role in their lives
  • Don’t need to be pampered
  • “I feel confident that I could find my way around a city that I have never visited before.” “I really hate traveling with a group of people, even if they’re people I know.”
  • Suffer considerable anxiety about traveling
  • Travel is relatively unimportant to them
  • Are not particularly adventurous
  • “Most traveling is too stressful for me.” “I worry a lot about home when I’m away.” “I have a fear of flying”.
  • Are fascinated by travel
  • Their own travel tends to be more mundane than might be expected give their travel ideas.
  • Their trips are oriented more toward relaxation than adventure.
  • Lack confidence in their ability to master the details of traveling
  • Anxious about the stresses of travel.
  • “I like I have to travel to enjoy life fully.” I like to be able to impress people by telling them about the interesting places I’ve visited.” “I really rely on maps and guidebooks when I travel to a new place.”
  • They travel primarily because they need a break, travel is not a central activity for them.
  • Seek value in travel
  • Their experience of travel does not add meaning to their lives
  • Their sense of adventure is low
  • “Traveling first-class is a waste of money, even if you can afford it.”
  • Like to be pampered
  • Their travel is not a central or important experience
  • Are generally willing to pay for a higher level of service when they travel
  • Do not find travel intimidating or stressful
  • “I don’t worry about how much things cost when I travel.” “It’s worth paying extra to get the special attention I want when I travel.”
pearce s travel category
Pearce’s Travel Category
  • Pearce developed 15 traveler categories based on major role-related behaviors.
    • Tourist - Explorer
    • Traveler - Missionary
    • Holidaymaker - Overseas student
    • Jetsetter - Anthropologist
    • Businessperson -Hippie
    • Migrant - International athlete
    • Conversationist - Overseas journalist

- Religious pilgrim


Takes photos, buys souvenirs, goes to famous places, stays briefly in one place, does not understand the local people.


Stays briefly in one place, experiments with local food, goes to famous places, takes photos, explores privately.


Takes photos, goes to famous places, is alienated from society, buys souvenirs, contributes to the visited economy.


Lives a life of luxury, is concerned with social status, seeks sensual pleasures, prefers interacting with people of his/her own kind.


Concerned with social status, contributes to the economy, does not take photos, prefers interacting with people of his/her own kind, goes to famous places.


Has language problems, prefers interacting with people of his/her own kind, does not understand the local people, does not live a life of luxury, does not exploit people.


Interested in the environment, does not buy souvenirs, does not exploit the local people, explores places privately, takes photos.


Explores places privately, is interested in the environment, takes physical risks, does not buy souvenirs, keenly observes the visited society.


Does not buy souvenirs, searches for the meaning of life, does not live a life of luxury, does not seek sensual pleasures, keenly observes the visited society.

overseas student
Overseas student

Experiments with local food, does not exploit the local people, takes photos, keenly observes the visited society, takes physical risks.


Keenly observes the visited society, explores places privately, is interested in the environment, does not buy souvenirs, takes photos.


Does not buy souvenirs, does not live a life of luxury, is not concerned with social status, does not take photos, does not contribute to the economy.

international athlete
International athlete

Not alienated from own society, does not exploit the local people, does not understand the local people, explores places privately, searches for the meaning of life.

overseas journalist
Overseas journalist

Takes photos, keenly observes the visited society, goes to famous places, takes physical risks, explores places privately

religious pilgrim
Religious pilgrim

Searches for the meaning of life, does not live a life of luxury, is not concerned with social status, does not exploit the local people, does not buy souvenirs.

market segmentation1
Market Segmentation
  • Market segmentation is similar to tourist typology.
  • It is another way of classifying tourists and understanding them.

Segmentation is a sort of grouping people with the same characteristics such as geographic, demographic, psychographic, and product-related characteristics.