Inertia Stages and Tourists' Behavior: Moderator Effects of Zone of Tolerance, Switching Barriers and External Opportunities

Inertia Stages and Tourists' Behavior: Moderator Effects of Zone of Tolerance, Switching Barriers and External Opportunities

Zhiyong Li (School of Tourism, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China), Rui Cui (School of Tourism, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China), Li Li (School of Tourism, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China), Yingli Hu (School of Tourism, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China) and Ruwan Ranasinghe (Department of Management Sceinces, Faculty of Management, Uva Wellassa University, Badulla, Sri Lanka)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHMDA.2018010101

Abstract

This article integrates the concept of inertia into a tourism context to understand how repeat visitors act and make revisit decisions. Moderating effect of zone of tolerance (ZOT), switching barriers (SWI) and external opportunity (OPP) on the sequential development of inertial behavior was analyzed through 518 tourists. Findings confirm that cognitive inertia (COGI) and affective inertia (AFFI) are significantly and positively related to conative inertia (CONI), while conative inertia also has a direct effect on determining action inertia (ACTI). The tests of moderating effects of zone of tolerance, switching barriers and external opportunity on the sequential development of inertial behavior show these variables have a significant moderating effect on the sequential development of inertia, except for the relation between switching barriers and affective inertia acting together, and conative inertia. These findings provide valuable insights that enable one to understand tourists' revisit behaviors. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed, for the purpose of advancing tourism marketing discourse.
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Introduction

Generally, tourist attractions and destinations depend at least to some extent on the repeat visitor segment (Yuksel et al., 2010). Tourists’ revisit behavior has a significant impact on destination marketing efforts, and most researchers have focused on consumer satisfaction (Anderson & Srinivasan, 2003) and consumer loyalty (Ladhari et al., 2008) pertaining to the destination. Many scholars believe that once customers are satisfied with or loyal to the destination, they would readily tend to revisit (Oliver, 1999; Dick & Basu, 1994). However, customer retention based on satisfaction and loyalty is not certain (Ranaweera & Neely, 2003), while satisfied customers cannot always be counted on to revisit (Rust & Zahorik, 1993). In fact, loyalty is very difficult to achieve in reality (Oliver, 1999). Therefore, the present study argues that customers’ revisit behavior is primarily driven by inertia. Previous studies have confirmed that passive customers generally repeat the previous behavior (Dick & Basu, 1994) and prefer to maintain the status quo (Bawa, 1990). However, there is no significant linear relationship between inertia and customer retention (Ranaweera & Neely, 2003). The condition of inertia is unstable due to the relationship between inertia and customer retention and revisit intention being easily affected by the zone of tolerance (ZOT), switching barriers (SWI) and external opportunities (OPP).

Some scholars have confirmed that the zone of tolerance and inertia are relevant (Yap & Sweeney, 2007). Zone of tolerance has been considered as an important factor in determining inertia behavior (Johnston, 1995) and therefore zone of tolerance has been used to predict the level of inertia (O’Loughlin et al., 2004). Additionally, switching barriers also play an important role in the process of customers’ behavior in changing service providers (Jones et al., 2000). Hence, competitors can take advantage of switching barriers through persuasive messages, in order to entice customers away from their previous service provider. On the other hand, switching barriers also have a significant impact on customers’ revisit decision. Additionally, external opportunity has also been considered as a factor that influences customers’ revisit intention. If opportunities are more attractive, it will be easier to change the revisit decision of repeat visitors. However, there has been little research on the moderating effects of zone of tolerance, switching barriers and external opportunity on the different stages of inertia, and this underlines the need for further research on this discourse.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of modermoderating variables on the inertia development stages, specifically the moderation effects of zone of tolerance, switching barriers and opportunities on affective inertia (AFFI) and cognitive inertia (COGI) to conative inertia (CONI), and from conative inertia to action inertia (ACTI), bridging the above gap. Accordingly, the study focused on the following objectives to elucidate the thesis of inertia in the context of repetitive behavior of tourists; to examine the relationships between inertia stages; to examine the relationships between zone of tolerance and inertia stages; to examine the impact of switching barriers on the inertia stages; to examine the links between external attractive opportunities and inertia stages were. This paper is organized into five main sections with the purpose and issues highlighted in the first section, followed by literature review and hypothesis development in the second section. In the third section the research procedure is explained and in the fourth, analytical outcomes are discussed. In the final section the paper sums up by presenting the conclusions, implications and limitations, and directions for future research and practice.

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