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Understanding tourist motivation of members of the Couchsurfing hospitality exchange club

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Researchers and academics from every time period always turned a great interest to analysing touristic motivation. The subject is rather broad and complicated and the nature of the tourism product makes it even harder to explore. Tourists are very
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  Understanding tourist motivation of members of the Couchsurfinghospitality exchange club Sabina PanayevaSalzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austriaspanayeva.imte-m201!f"-salzburg.ac.at Abstract #esearc"ers and academics from every time period al$ays turned a great interest to analysing touristicmotivation. %"e sub&ect is rat"er broad and complicated and t"e nature of t"e tourism product ma'es it even"arder to e(plore. %ourists are very "eterogeneous and researc"ers suggest several typologies of tourists. )ac"type of tourist is motivated and influenced by various inner and outer factors and t"us, travel motives of eac"tourist group s"ould be studied separately. *or t"is study, +ouc"surfers are c"osen as t"e main group of interestto t"e researc"er. %"e purpose of t"is study is to analyse t"e main travel motives of t"e members of t"iscommunity. n order to obtain a broader and more detailed overvie$ of t"e selected group and a better analysisof its travel motives, mi(ed met"ods researc" is applied. %"e combination of intervie$s and uestionnaires provides an e(tensive amount of data for investigation. %"e results s"o$ t"at t"ere are a lot of factors andelements t"at influence t"e travel motives of +ouc"surfers. Keywords:  motivation tourist be"aviour "ospitality e(c"ange couc"surfing.  1IN!"#UCI"N Understanding tourist motivation is a topic t"at is ric" in "istory and discussion opportunities,yet full of met"odological c"allenges. %"e uestion /"y do people travel is considered aninadeuate one in bot" academic and applied senses 3Pearce, 20114. A crucial subset of t"eanalysis of tourist psyc"ology and motivation is t"e fact t"at people normally do not travel for only one reason 35cntos" 6 7oeldner, 18804 and probably, for t"e ma&ority of t"ose $"otravel, tourism is t"e result of a mi(ture of various motivating factors 3#obinson, 189:4.Pearce 320114 suggests t"at researc"ers can "ave a better understanding of t"is issue byimplementing a different approac". nstead of generalizing and as'ing $"y people travel, it is better to analyse $"y certain groups of people decide on concrete "oliday e(periences. %o beable to ans$er t"is uestion, it s"ould be ta'en into account t"at tourists t"emselves are not"omogenous it is crucial to define different types of tourists to be able to better identify andanalyse t"eir travel patterns 35cntos" 6 7oeldner, 18804. According to S$arbroo'e 6 ;orner 318884, t"ere is an interconnection bet$een consumer  be"aviour and motivators. %"ey claim t"at consumers are "ig"ly influenced by a range of internal and e(ternal motivators, and t"e nature of a tourism product affects consumer  be"aviour and t"e "oliday purc"asing process. %"e e(perience of buying a tourism product$ill strongly vary from t"e e(perience of obtaining a certain tangible good. %"e comple(ity and an interesting lin'age bet$een motivation and tourist be"aviour "avemotivated t"e aut"or to $rite t"e present 5aster<s t"esis. As $as mentioned previously, it isnot t"at easy to ans$er t"e uestion /"y do people travel. %"ere are various determinantsinfluencing tourist motivation and be"aviour and, again referring to Pearce 320114, eac"tourist group s"ould be analysed separately. *ollo$ing t"is statement, t"e aut"or "as c"osen arelatively ne$ group of travellers t"at is receiving more and more attention among academicresearc"ers in recent times. %ravel motivation and be"aviour is studied and analysedt"roug"out t"e t"esis using t"e e(ample of +ouc"surfers. %"e travel community of +ouc"surfers is gro$ing significantly and t"e aut"or is interested in t"e main motives of  people &oining t"e community and using its service. Additionally, t"e aut"or investigates  $"et"er t"eir touristic be"aviour and travel "abits differ from ot"er touristic groups. it"int"e t"esis, different models on tourist motivation, typologies of tourists and tourist be"aviour are analysed and interpreted in order to define t"e main c"aracteristics of t"e users of t"e+ouc"surfing net$or' and t"eir travel motives. 1$1!esearch %uestions& methods and strategy n order to ac"ieve t"e determined ob&ectives, a comple( analysis of t"e follo$ing researc"uestion "as been combined=#esearc" >uestion= what are the main travel motives of the members of the Couchsurfing network?  *or a broader e(ploration of t"e researc" uestion, t"e follo$ing sub-uestion is set up=Sub->uestion= what characterises the travel behaviour of the members of the Couchsurfing network?  Additionally, for a deeper analysis of t"e present researc" topic, several assumptions arestated and tested $it"in t"e researc" paper. n order to ans$er t"e researc" uestions, t"e aut"or combines findings from an in-dept"t"eoretical revie$ and conducted empirical researc". 5i(ed met"ods researc" is appliedt"roug"out t"e t"esis. %"e t"eoretical part consists of analysing and discussing t$o interrelated frame$or's=consumer be"aviour and motivation. A t"eoretical analysis assists in creating a specific set of uestions addressed to t"e members of +ouc"surfing. ?ased on t"e findings from t"eualitative analysis, a compre"ensive uestionnaire is set up. %"e combination of 'no$ledge derived from t"e t"eoretical revie$, face-to-face intervie$s$it" +ouc"surfers and furt"er testing of t"e findings along $it" t"e application of t"euantitative researc" met"od "elp t"e aut"or to ans$er t"e set-up researc" uestions and ma'ea contribution to e(isting t"eories. '(I)!AU!) !)*I)+'$1Understanding tourist motivation @no$ing and understanding reasons and motivators to travel is an essential s'ill peopleinvolved in tourism industry must possess. %"e ans$ers to uestions, suc" as "o$ peoplec"oose $"ere to go on "oliday, $"y t"ey prefer one tourism agency over anot"er and $"yt"ey travel can "elp tourism entrepreneurs 'no$ t"eir customers better 3;ollo$ay et al., 20084. %o understand tourist motivation, it is important to define t"e term /motivation first.@ardes et al. 32011, p. 1024 define motivation as follo$s= 5otivation is a driving force t"atmoves or incites us to act and is t"e underlying basis of all be"aviour. ndividuals are drivento satisfy t"eir needs, $ants, and desires.< *or a better e(planation of tourist motivationt"eories, suc" as pus" and pull motivations, 5aslo$<s "ierarc"y of needs and leisure ladder model $ere developed by tourism and mar'eting researc"ers. According to +oo' et al.320104, t"e core of t"e t"eory of pus" and pull factors is t"at every tourist is pus"ed to travel by inner desires and needs and pulled by attractions and amenities t"at a destination offers.?ased on t"is, pus" factors motivate people to travel and pull factors are t"e ones t"at areconsidered $"en a destination to visit needs to be c"osen. A simple e(ample for t"is t"eory$ill be t"e desire of a tourist to escape t"e daily routine. %"is desire serves as a pus" factor.%"e destination $"ic" offers t"e most opportunities to satisfy t"is need is attracting, in ot"er $ords, pulling a tourist to travel t"ere. Bne of t"e most commonly used t"eories, not only inmar'eting and ot"er business studies, but also in tourism, is t"e t"eory of "ierarc"y of needs,suggested by Abra"am 5aslo$ in t"e 18C0s to D0s.  Bnce developed for t"e field of clinical psyc"ology, t"e model, t"an's to its simplicity, gaineda lot of attention from ot"er fields 3;udson, 18884. According to 5aslo$, t"ere are t$o broadcategories of needs= lo$er-order and "ig"er-order needs 3+oo' et al., 20104. 5aslo$ statedt"at, $it"out satisfying t"e lo$est needs, a person cannot satisfy needs of t"e upper level3;udson, 18884. As soon as eac" level of needs is satisfied, t"e ne(t levels of needs are on t"eagenda. Application of t"is model to t"e tourism industry is a rat"er comple( process, sincetravellers may be striving for t"e satisfaction of more t"an one need along a customer<s &ourney 3+oo' et al., 20104 and some of t"e tourists are eit"er una$are of t"eir needs and$ays for t"eir fulfilment or do not $ant to openly admit t"em 3;ollo$ay et al., 20084. Astandard e(ample for t"is case $ill be a tourist travelling abroad to a specific destination ismotivated by a desire to impress neig"bours and, by doing so, obtain a certain status in t"eneig"bour"ood 3ibid.4. S$arbroo'e 6 ;orner also believe t"at different motivators vary bet$een different mar'et segments. t is assumed t"at youngsters li'e to "ave "olidays full of activities, $"ereas elderly tourists tend to c"oose destinations offering sig"tseeing possibilities. %"e more educated tourist is, t"e more it is important for "imE"er to "avenature-Eculture-based vacations. %ourists $it" "ig" income prefer e(citing and educational"olidays, $"ic" provide t"em $it" t"e opportunity to learn about indigenous culture andlifestyle. +onversely, lo$er income earners perceive a "oliday as a c"ance to escape fromroutine life and $"ile being on vacation $ant to be involved in activities increasing t"eir self-confidence. %"e aut"ors also stress t"e impact gender, national and cultural differences "ave on one<smotivation. %"ey also try to lin' motivators to different types of tourism product due to t"efact t"at mar'eters s"are a common belief t"at some motivators are firmly related to tourism products. '$'+hat is Couchsurfing all about, %"e +ouc"surfing.com pro&ect $as started in 200C by passionate travellers +asey *enton,Faniel ;offer, Sebastian Ge %uan and Geonardo ?assani da Silveira and no$adays it is aglobal net$or' encompassing 10 million travellers, adventure see'ers and lifelong learners allover t"e $orld. %"e idea of creating suc" an online community of "ospitality e(c"angeappeared after sending emails to a group of students in celand. Fevelopers believed t"at people in every corner of t"e $orld $ould not mind s"aring t"eir "omes $it" strangers. %"eyclaim t"at strangers are t"e friends $"ic" one "as not yet met 3+ouc"surfing nternational,201D4. ?ials'i 6 ?ators'i 320104 describe +ouc"surfing 3+S4 as a community of individualsusing t"e free service of t"e +S online net$or' to stay at one of t"e net$or' member<s"ouses. t is an online "ospitality e(c"ange net$or' of $orld$ide travellers $"o offer eac"ot"er a free stay at t"eir "omes 35olz, 20114. %"e developers and +ouc"Surfers imagine t"attravel can ma'e a better $orld and connections enric" travel. %ravel t"e $orld<, rediscover your city< and become a "ost< are 'ey mottos of t"e +S net$or'. +S lets people HtIravel li'ea local, stay in someone<s "ome and e(perience t"e $orld in a $ay money cannot buy<3+ouc"surfing nternational, 201D4. As 5olz 320114 $rites, t"e favourite motto of all +ouc"surfers t is not &ust about t"efurnitureJ< serves as a reminder t"at interpersonal meetings and contacts s"ould dominate over t"e location or amenities offered by a "ost. +S is not simply about a couc" it "elps membersof t"e community to learn to live $it" one anot"er. %"e +S online net$or' demonstrates "o$ people can use ne$ tec"nologies to s"ape up t"eir social lives and it is about t"e $aystrangers arrange suc" issues as difference, intimacy, po$er and control $"en t"ey meetonline and vis-K-vis. %"ese temporal and spatial encounters of t"e /strange produce s"iftingintersections of mobility, pro(imity and distance. %"e ideology of +S also brings t"e limits  and opportunities of t"e economies of e(c"ange and needs for aut"entic e(periences intouestion. t also breac"es standard ideals of global "ospitality. *urt"ermore, 5olz 320114 also states t"at for some members of t"e +S net$or', "ostingsomeone is a c"ance to meet people from different countries, due to t"e fact t"at t"ey lac' t"eaccess to global travel. ;ereafter, it is argued t"at net$or' "ospitality is about compoundreciprocity of mobility and immobility, online and offline interactions, brief but intensemeetings. n t"is conte(t, 5olz 320094 portrays "ospitality e(c"ange among members as are$ard in and of itself. S"e believes t"at "osting someone s"ould not be considered as anobligation but rat"er t"e continuation of t"e pleasures of travel. -.)/"#"("0 ?ryman 320124 suggests five different researc" types= e(perimental design, cross-sectionalEsurvey design, longitudinal design, case study design and comparative design. %ocomplete t"is t"esis, t"e cross-sectional researc" design is being used. %"e cross-sectional design, $"ic" is also often called a survey design, represents t"ecollection of data on more t"an one case and at a single point of time. %"e goal of cross-sectional researc" design is to collect bot" uantitative and ualitative data in connection $it"t$o or more variables 3?ryman, 20124. %"e main advantage of t"is researc" design is t"at it iscomparably easy and ine(pensive. t is also easier to analyse a large group of people duringone single session. ;o$ever, t"e main disadvantage "ere $ill be t"at it is not possible toobserve t"e c"anges in people over t"e time period 37oodfriend, n.d.4.n t"e present researc" paper, a mi(ed researc" met"od is used= deductive and inductivedesign. Feductive t"eory reflects t"e nature of t"e relations"ip bet$een e(isting t"eory andsocial researc". n ot"er $ords, t"e aut"or deduces a "ypot"esis on t"e basis of $"at is 'no$nabout a specific topic. Bn t"e contrary, t"e inductive approac" includes inference of t"eimplications of a researc"er<s findings for t"e t"eory 3?ryman, 20124. As Febora" 32014e(plains, deductive approac"es are mostly associated $it" uantitative researc", $"ereasinductive L $it" ualitative researc". Bne of t"e main attributes of mi(ed met"ods researc" ist"at t"e acuired uantitative and ualitative data s"ould be reciprocally illuminating. Aclassical $ay of combining bot" researc" met"ods applied in t"e present researc" is calledtriangulation, or as ?ryman 320124 also defines it L a greater validity. According to ?ryman320124, triangulation "elps to determine $"et"er findings of bot" researc" met"ods confirmeac" ot"er. +onseuently, t"e aut"or "as conducted personal intervie$s $it" +ouc"surfersand, based on t"e findings and discussions of t"e ualitative data, "as carried out a survey to be able to test $"et"er t"e results of bot" met"ods validate eac" ot"er. -$12ualitative research in practice *or a better understanding of +ouc"surfers< travel motives and a muc" closer loo' at t"eir  personal c"aracteristics, t"e aut"or decided to conduct face-to-face intervie$s $it" membersof t"e community. Since t"e e(periences of eac" of t"e intervie$ees are very uniue and t"eaut"or is interested in intervie$ees< points of vie$, semi-structured intervie$ing $as appliedt"roug"out t"e ualitative researc" study. *or t"e present t"esis, t"e aut"or "as prepared an intervie$ guide $it" 20 uestions, focusing primarily on suc" topics as one<s c"aracteristics from a touristic point of vie$, t"e main purpose to travel, and t"e main motives to become a member of t"e +S community. %"eamount and order of t"e uestions varied based on an intervie$ee<s e(perience and opinionabout a particular area of interest. Since t"e aut"or is not a member of t"e +S net$or', t"eintervie$ participants $ere reac"ed via separate social net$or' L namely, *aceboo'. Areuest to "elp find +ouc"surfers for a face-to-face intervie$ $as posted on t"e aut"or<s  *aceboo' profile and also in suc" discussion groups as +ouc"surfing Salzburg, )MS-+ouc"surfing and +ouc"surfing Mienna. After a fe$ "ours, t"e aut"or "ad received over 20messages from users ready to be intervie$ed. %"e participants from Salzburg $ere able tomeet $it" t"e aut"or and t"us, face-to face intervie$s $ere conducted. ;o$ever, t"e ma&orityof t"e intervie$ees are not srcinally from Salzburg or are currently living in ot"er countries.%"ose +ouc"surfers $ere contacted via S'ype and conversations $it" t"em $ere recorded$it" a "elp of t"e i*ree S'ype #ecorder soft$are for furt"er transcription and analysis of data.10 female and 10 male +ouc"Surfers ranging from 20 to 2N in age $ere intervie$ed.ntervie$ees are from t"e follo$ing countries= Argentina, Azerbai&an, ?razil, +zec" #epublic3(24, #omania 3(24, *rance 3(24, 7ermany 3(24, taly 3(4, Poland, #ussia 3(24, Serbia,%ur'ey, and t"e United @ingdom. Among t"em, 10 are currently employed, C are students and: are currently unemployed. %"e level of e(perience $it" +S is very diverse= from "aving "ostedEsurfed only once to a"aving travelled e(clusively as a +ouc"surfing guest. *reuency of travel is also noticeablydiverse. Some of t"e intervie$ees said t"ey travelled as often as possible and some of t"emonly "ave t"e c"ance to go abroad once a year. %"e ma&ority mentioned t"at t"ey "ave never "ad a travel companion. Oust a fe$ claimed to travel $it" a travelling partner or $it" friends.*or a more detailed loo' at t"e intervie$ results, and better organization and interpretation of ualitative data, t"e aut"or used Mivo 11 soft$are. %"e soft$are facilitates a better visualization of data, $"ic" "elps a researc"er not to miss any important point from t"eualitative data. %"e main areas for discussion are called nodes= Couchsurfers describethemselves; purpose of travel; motivation to become a Couchsurfer; benefits from being connected to the CouchSurfing community; expectations from a host; expectations from a guest  . 5ost of t"e intervie$ees said t"at t"ey tried to travel in t"e c"eapest $ay possible anddid not associate t"emselves $it" typical tourists. Furing intervie$ sessions, +ouc"surfers$ere as'ed to define t"eir purpose of travel. it" t"e "elp of t"e soft$are Mivo 11, t"eaut"or created a $ord cloud to display t"e most freuent ans$ers to t"e uestion. As t"e $ordfreuency uery suggested, +ouc"surfers< main purpose of travel $as to see ne$ people and places. +ulture and traditions $ere also of great interest to +ouc"surfers. %"e most commonmotive e(pressed by intervie$ees is to get to 'no$ people. +ouc"surfers "ig"ly appreciatet"e fact t"at t"ey can meet and get to 'no$ locals during t"eir travels. Anot"er topic t"at $asc"osen for analysing t"is p"enomenon is /benefits of being connected $it" t"e +S net$or'.Analysis of intervie$ results supported a statement t"at t"e main benefit +ouc"surfers derivefrom "aving a profile on t"e net$or' is t"at t"ey get to 'no$ local people and meet ne$friends. Ans$ers from t"e intervie$ees regarding t"eir e(pectations from guests are verydiverse, t"us t"e $ord freuency test $as not applied "ere. )ac" +ouc"surfer "as "isE"er o$ninterests and e(periences and c"ooses a guest accordingly. -$'2uantitative research in practice n order to obtain uantitative data, t"e aut"or created an online uestionnaire, $"ic" $as sentto +ouc"surfers via *aceboo', personal email addresses and, $it" a "elp of some+ouc"surfers, $as placed on forums and discussion groups directly on t"e +S net$or'. %"eonline application GimeSurvey facilitated t"e collection of responses to t"e survey. %"euestions in t"e survey $ere based on t"eory findings and intervie$ discussions. n total, 222responses $ere collected. ?5 SPSS Statistics 20 $as used to analyse and interpret t"efindings from t"e online survey. %o vie$ sample c"aracteristics and analyse obvious travel"abits of +ouc"surfers, descriptive statistics are applied. Analysis of t"e findings "as led tot"e setting up of t"e follo$ing propositions=
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