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norfolk

Hospitality and Tourism

Tourist Decision Making Processes

Report Segment: Decision Making

To get underneath the tourism sector, its worth starting with the businesses who benefit from, and hope to influence, tourist behaviour. One might begin with the hotels, B&Bs and self catering cottages spread out across the two counties. To this, one could add the eating establishments, the cafes, pubs, bistros and restaurants which have changed so much in the last decade – (who had heard of barista training before the 1990’s?) The changing fortunes of pubs is an obvious example of new paterns of behaviour – though not necessarily connected with tourism.

For the tourist, these two staples, accommodation and food & drink, are important to get right. Other than the warm welcome at reception, their visitor experience will be largely shaped by the comfort of the bedroom, and the availability of good food.

But even before one thinks about the business itself, there is the destination. This is not simply the county or tourism region (East Anglia for example). The destination needs to be viewed in terms of the tourists’ decision making process – and given the importance of short breaks, this suggests a level of decision making which involves “must haves” and then “additional interests”. The “must haves” can be stacked upon each other to illustrate their co-dependence, whereas the “additional interests” can be treated separately, each one an option to consider on its own.

Tourist Decision Making:

For the tourist, the destination is the all important decision making factor. Understanding how tourists make decisions can help businesses with their own decision making – especially in relation to marketing costs and the investment in training. For example there would be no good reason (other than altruism), for a business to join in an ambassadors scheme if the volume and level of trade was unlikely to be affected by staff having a greater knowledge about their local area.

If, however it could be shown that tourists behaviour changes and leads to repeat business, this may be worth considering, particularly since repeat visits may be more easily channelled toward off-peak times of the year.