Experience Economy Domains in Tourism: Extending the Knowledge and Understanding of Experiences

Experience Economy Domains in Tourism: Extending the Knowledge and Understanding of Experiences

Nelson de Matos, Julio Mendes, Manuela Guerreiro
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3156-3.ch009
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The experience economy captivated the attention of academia and industry managers regarding how to engage and create memorable experiences for customers. The extensive literature developments in recent decades reinforced the need for a timely review of how the main concepts of the experiential marketing construct apply to the tourism industry. This study presents a narrative literature review to provide an overview in an attempt to find common ground, identify potential gaps, and provide suggestions for academia and tourism managers. The chapter provides value by discussing the key topics within marketing and tourism.
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The global market in general and tourism in particular have changed regarding its dynamics and competition; with many new competitors entering in the market, the pressure increased for brands and tourism organisations (Brakus, Schmitt, & Zarantonello, 2009; Gertner, 2011; Pike, 2009; Qu, Kim, & Im, 2011). One of the answers managers have found in the past to face this pressure has been the use of experience marketing, as an instrument to improve customers’ engagement and consumption during experiences. However, the marketing experience theoretical framework reminds marketers and managers of the need to set a stage for consumers to be engaged and involved with the event (i.e., to play a passive and/or active role) while experiencing it, to generate greater satisfaction and long lasting memories (Ali, Hussain, & Ragavan, 2014; Assaker, Vinzi, & O’Connor, 2011; Hudson & Ritchie, 2009; Kim, Ritchie, & McCormick, 2012; Liljander & Strandvik, 1997; Manhas & Ramjit, 2013). In the same context, several authors have viewed emotions as a way to engage and involve consumers (Csikszentmihalyi & Lefevre, 1989; Johanson & Woods, 2008; Kim, 2012; Liljander & Strandvik, 1997; Yoo & MacInnis, 2005).

From this engagement and involvement, consumers will mentally form conceptions, ideas and narratives of the experiences before the actual consumption (e.g., holidays), as if they were at the setting enjoying it (Adams, 2004; Dann, 1996; Lu, Chi, & Liu, 2015). In effect, the seminal paper from Pine and Gilmore (1998) highlighted the need for organisations in general, and tourism in particular, to align their strategy and actions into delivering rich experiences that may contribute to memorable encounters and events (Tao, 2014). Tourism is one of the sectors that has been trying to develop this new economy by promoting images of unique holiday experience (deMatos, 2015).

Despite the previous studies, a clearer definition of the attributes of experience marketing and its domains in the tourism sector is still lacking, due to its characteristics being distinct from other sectors. In effect, despite tourism being a service industry (and services being different from goods, e.g., intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity and perishability; Wolak, Kalafatis, & Harris, 1998), tourism is all about the consumption of experiences that are “a distinct economic offering, as different from services as services are from goods” (Pine & Gilmore, 1998, p. 97). In this context, when tourists purchase an experience they are acquiring a set of intangible events in which the nature of the benefit is experiential, hedonic or even symbolic, with the intention of having richer experiences that may contribute to long lasting memories (e.g., Gohary, Pourazizi, Madani, & Chan, 2020). Therefore, to contribute to a common ground and understanding of experiences and their associated approaches, this study presents a systematic literature review of the concept. The purpose is to offer a timely and useful review that may help academics and industry practitioners to comprehend this complex and dynamic construct and to contribute to its adoption and implementation in the market.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experience Marketing: Individual based events planned by organisations aiming to engage (using the senses and emotions) individuals holistically (i.e., physically, and spiritually) to create memories.

Tourism Experience: Events, activities and interactions individuals engage outside their residence with organisations, environments, and other people that enable them to create, develop and enjoy personal narrative and memories.

Co-Creation: Creation of value by organisations and individual customers in a collaborative way to contribute to more individual experiences.

Experience: Personal and meaningful events or occurrences, outside the usual environment, which can be highly rewarding (physical and psychological) for an individual(s).

Memories: A mental impression retained from an experience.

Engagement: A behavioural response from an individual towards organisations’ (products or services) brands, establishing an emotional connection (commitment), during an experience(s).

Holistic: The whole or total experience which represents the sum of the various stimulus (parts), interactions and meanings that individuals experience during events (planned or not), interconnected from end-to-end.

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