Tourism has developed into one of the biggest industries in the past few years. According to Lai & Vinh (2012), growth rate in the tourism industry has exceeded that of other industries. In addition, the tourism sectors of many countries are proving to be the driving forces behind regional development. Successful tourism can raise the number of tourists visiting a particular destination, infrastructure, income employment opportunities and government revenues. The approaches used to attract tourists to a given destination determine the level of success of the tourism sector to which the destination belongs. Undoubtedly, destination image has an effect on a tourist’s destination choice. Also, a positive destination image will lead to desirable outcomes such as repeat visit intention and satisfaction (Chen & Tsai, 2007). Research on this topic reveals that there is an interrelationship between satisfaction, image, perceived value and loyalty. Research suggests that image may lead to direct or indirect effects on the level of customer satisfaction. Undoubtedly, there is a great need to study tourist behavior. This helps in the design of tourist packages, accommodation planning, trip experience and promotional activities. Tourist destinations and travel companies realize that behavioral studies on tourists are important because they provide insights into what should be done to encourage positive behavioral intentions such as revisits and recommendations for others to visit. Evaluative factors such as perceived value, satisfaction, quality etc are important components of these researches. This is because they have a bearing on the tourism industry. This essay examines the effect of image and evaluative factors on the behavioral intentions of tourists, while examining factors such as perceived value, satisfaction, quality and destination image.
A review on literature on behavior suggests presence of relationships among satisfaction, perceived value, destination image, and loyalty. Most of this literature suggests both direct and indirect value-based effects on tourist satisfaction (Lai, Griffin, & Babin, 2009). Destination images have been found to have indirect and direct effects on customer loyalty. According to Lee et al. (2007), tourist satisfaction is the result of interaction between the tourist’s destination experience and the tourist expectation about the particular destination. Satisfaction is an important component in the planning of marketable tourism products and services. Tourism satisfaction is a physiological outcome, which is derived from exercise (Lee et al., 2007). It is crucial to successful destination marketing because it influences the tourist’s choice of destination, the consumption of products and services.
Tourist satisfaction has been a major topic for more than 5 decades as is evidenced by the high number of researches on this subject. It is obvious that if the product or service offered does not fulfill the expectation, dissatisfaction occurs. This means that if gratification is the result when tourists pre-travel expectations and post-travel experiences, then there is satisfaction. On the other hand, if the comparison results in displeasure, dissatisfaction is present. Xia et al., (2010) linked tourist satisfaction to tourist expectation and perceived value. Tourist satisfaction is expressed through a number of behaviors, collectively known as behavioral intentions. If a tourist is satisfied with an experience had when travelling o a destination or while at the destination, they are likely to have a high likelihood of revisiting or they are likely to recommend other people to visit. This is extremely important for tourism and travel companies. On the other hand, dissatisfaction is expressed through tourist complaints. Tourist satisfaction is also referred to as overall satisfaction, which is the degree of overall contentment or pleasure felt by the tourist, which results from the trip experience’s ability to fulfill the desires, needs and expectations of the visitor in the trip. Several studies have identified a satisfactory travel experience as the main precursor of revisit intention.
Before people visit a given place, they create an image and some expectations informed by previous experience, press reports, word of mouth, common beliefs and advertising. According to Chen & Tsai (2007), destination image is the individual’s mental perception of feelings, knowledge (beliefs), feelings and overall view of a given destination. Destination image is the tourist’s subjective perception on the destination reality. An individual with a greater destination image perceives higher on site experience, which leads to higher satisfaction and this makes behavioral intention more positive (Chen & Tsai, 2007). It is the series of impressions regarding a particular destination. Destination image is made up of several attributes that may be divided into controllable and uncontrollable traits. Controllable traits include destination product, price, promotion and place. Uncontrollable ones include personal characteristics, environmental attributes (historical attractions, infrastructure, facilities and accommodation and landscapes) and service attributes. Destination image plays important roles in influencing tourist behaviors: (1) influence decision-making and destination choice (2) condition the after-decision-making tendencies including evaluation (satisfaction), participation and future decision to visit (future behavioral intentions). Tourism managers may use the attributes of destination image to manipulate would-be tourists. Destination image is developed from information gathered for a long time in relation to a destination.
Destination image and satisfaction have been expressed by Chen & Tsai (2007) as important variables which influence the behavioral intention of visitors. This study reveals that destination image affects behavioral intentions in direct and indirect ways. Destination image may be determined by a number of factors. A familiarity with a given destination influences the image and perception that visitors have with regards to a destination. Experience at a given destination ma modify the initial image that one had of that particular destination. This information suggests a correlation between destination image and tourist satisfaction after an experience of tourism services and products.
Understanding why people choose holiday destinations is important for tourism marketers and planners (Xia et al., 2010). Behavioral intention is defined as the visitor’s judgment on their likeness to recommend others to visit the destination or revisit the destination. Factors like subjective norms and perceived behavioral control may influence how tourists choose their destinations and future behavioral intentions. Determinants of behavioral intentions may be personal or influenced by others. In the area of tourism, behavioral intention is more often referred to as tourists’ behavioral intention (TBI). In modern marketing, TBI, especially the rourists’ revisit intention play a crucial role in the establishment of tourist destination. Positive TBI is regarded as tourist loyalty and it elicits good word of mouth referral.
Perceived value is the overall appraisal by the visitor, of the value of the trip, which is based on the visitor’s assessment of the benefits received and costs incurred. This is a branding and marketing concept that states that the success of a given product is largely dependent on whether customers consider that it can fulfill their needs. This phrase underlines the fact that after a product or service has been developed and branded, the customers are the ones who ultimately decide how to react and interpret marketing messages. Perceived value is a construct that is subjective and that differs between cultures and between customers and at varying times. It is a dynamic variable which is held before the moment of purchase of a good or service. There is a perceived value experienced after a product or service has been purchased. However, this is rarely studies. Tourists’ perceived value is related to satisfaction, trust and loyalty and consequently affects customer behavior. In tourism research, scales have been formulated for the measurement of perceived value. These scales are usually based on dimensions such as quality, monetary price, reputation and emotional response.
Trip quality is the tourist’s overall assessment of the service delivery standards in the trip experience. This may include the handling of transport arrangement, booking activities, food and dining, accommodation, mode of transport, level of safety and comfort during travel etc. Tourists value the quality of their trip to a destination. Trip quality greatly influences the behavioral intentions of the tourist because it determines whether the tourist will revisit the destination or recommend others to do so. Tourists prefer smooth and unproblematic travel arrangements where most of the work and planning is performed for them. The general level of comfort and safety while travelling also influences the tourists’ propensity to travel to a given destination. In addition, the level of satisfaction is contingent on the experience that tourists have in the process of travelling to their destination.
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