Operant Resources of Young Independent Travelers

Operant Resources of Young Independent Travelers

Ana Cláudia Campos (Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality, European University of Lisbon, Portugal & Research Centre for Tourism, Sustainability and Well-Being (CinTurs), University of Algarve, Portugal) and Sofia Almeida (Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality, European University of Lisbon, Portugal & Centre for Geographical Studies, IGOT, University of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3156-3.ch014
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Abstract

In this chapter, the construct of operant resource is explored in the context of young independent travel. The main purposes of the study are to analyze young travelers' perceptions about independent travel and operant resources that contribute the most to its success. A qualitative design was adopted, given the explorative nature of the research. Online semi-structured interviews were conducted to a sample of young travelers, using the snowball sampling procedure. Qualitative data analysis was conducted subsequently and main findings indicate that freedom, being in control, and authenticity are predominant feelings within this sample. They also show that most valued operant resources in the context of independent travel are informational and human. Conclusions drawn contribute to a better understanding of independent travel by youths and may help tourism businesses and destinations to strategically approach this market segment.
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Introduction

The S-D Logic proposed by Vargo and Lusch (2004, 2006, 2008, 2017) postulates a new approach to value creation, in which consumer participation is fundamental. In the experience economy, this importance is even more significant, because the consumption experience is phenomenologically and subjectively lived by the individual (Campos, Mendes, Valle & Scott, 2015; Mannell & Iso-Ahola, 1987; Ye, Tussyadiah & Fesenmaier, 2009), and depends on the application of the consumer’s operant resources. Value creation in this context is the effect of the consumer’s contribution to the creation of the experience and value the contextual appraisal of the lived experience (value-in-context, value-in-experience). Operant resources are the set of intangible resources of the various firm’s agents and levels that make value creation possible (Madhavaram & Hunt, 2008). From the consumer’s perspective, operant resources are considered the knowledge and diverse individual capabilities that influence their greater or lesser capacity to create the consumption experience (Prebensen, Vittersø & Dahl, 2013) and relate to others in interactive environments (Ramaswamy & Ozcan, 2018). The youth market is growing, and there is increasing interest in understanding this segment or sub-groups of it, which adopt an independent style of travel (Farahani & Sukmajati, 2011). Young travelers are known for their preference for independent travel, active participation, and adventure (WTO, 2008). They are also digital natives, hence skilled in the use of digital technologies, interfaces and devices (Starcevic & Konjikusic, 2018). Therefore, the application and development of skills for self-planning the trip and selecting itineraries and engaging activities at the destination are vital. As there is need to understand better the youth’s segment (Buffa, 2015; Cavagnaro, Staffieri & Postma, 2018; Hyde & Lawson, 2003), the primary purpose of this study is thus to explore the operant resources involved in the construction of their tourism experience when this experience takes place independently of the mass tourism supply chain and the consumer is this young independent traveler, who prefers to venture in the trip neglecting traditional, pre-organized tourism packages, circuits, and tours. A qualitative approach was adopted to achieve this explorative aim, and accordingly, semi-structured online interviews were conducted to a group of young independent travelers using a snowball sampling procedure. Findings from the study show that sense of freedom and sense of control are predominant in this group and that informational and human resources are the most valued.

The structure of this chapter is as follows: the theoretical sections address main topics related to youth tourism and thus reviews issues such as critical statistics, segment dimension, and interest from tourism associations worldwide. From the initial quantitative approach, the review continues briefly by addressing the characteristics of these consumers in terms of profiles, types, benefits sought, and key motivations. The theoretical part of the chapter ends by highlighting the resources of young travelers in the context of the S-D Logic framework and discourse. This study sheds light on the construct of the operant resource not only by introducing and explaining this concept but also it argus operant resources as a pertinent basis of the analysis of young travelers. This chapter presents and discusses the accomplished empirical research and clarifies its applied methodology. It continues by representing findings and finally concludes by highlighting key insights gained, its contribution and the limitations of the study.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Youth Market Segment: The segment of travelers aged between 16 to 29, as defined by the World Tourism Organization in 2008.

S-D Logic: Service dominant logic is a marketing theory developed by S. Vargo and R. Lusch in several works to explain the process of value creation through exchanges of services among actors of a system.

Operant Resource: The firm’s intangible resources which are applied to operand resources, usually understood as human knowledge, skills and competences. They are dynamic and constinuously evolving, thus at the basis of the firm’s competitive advantage.

Co-Creation: Creation of value supported by a collaborative process that connects participant actors of a system in interactive experiences to achieve common goals, which may include product idea, process design, or active consumption.

Independent Travel: Any trip organized by the individual without pre-booking or purchase of a package tour, or booked with a minimum of travel services, e.g. transportation or accommodation, before departure.

Operand Resource: The firm’s tanglible resources upon which an action is performed in order to create value or benefit, e.g. equipment, machinery, raw materials.

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