Having considered the motivators and determinants of tourist behaviour in the previous two chapters, it is now time for us to look at the purchase decision-making process as a whole. Before that, we need to spend a little time looking at the characteristics of the product that tourists purchase. Tourism products are complex because they exist at two different levels:
- The package holiday which is a combination of the products of individual sectors such as accommodation, transport, destinations and visitor attractions
- the products of these individual sectors which can be sold as stand-alone products such as an air ticket or a theme park visit as part of a day trip. In this chapter, we focus on the former, as it is the product which distinguishes the tourism industry from other industries such as transport and the hotel industry. Tourism product and services Tourism products are largely services.
Marketing theorists have attempted to define services in relation to their intangibility and the fact that purchase of a service never results in the ownership of anything. They have attempted to clarify the differences between products and services by stating the characteristics of services:
- Intangibility – services have the characteristics of being intangible in that they cannot be seen, tasted or smelled before purchase. Tourism companies have tried to overcome this problem by offering the consumer videos of the holiday locations to make the experience seem more ‘real’. The use of advanced technology such as Virtual Reality is also predicted to overcome the problem.Despite these advances, the consumer still has to take considerable risks when choosing their tourism product because of the intangible nature.
- Inseparability – services have the characteristic of overlap between the production and performance of the service and the consumption of it. A service in its purest sense has the provider and customer face to face. This will influence consumer buying behaviour and mean that consumers may change their behaviour patterns, according to their experiences.