Decision concerning the problem whether to travel or not to travel – Answered

Thus, it becomes all the more significant to understand the prime needs and wants of the tourists so as to be able to market to potential tourists i.e., to convert the ‘potential’ tourists into ‘actual’ tourists.

Why do people prefer to go for holidaying? Of the various factors instrumental in inspiring the people for the same, is the tourist motivation. A number of earlier studies emphasize that tourists usually travel to visit friends and relations (mainly social obligation), to understand and experience other cultures (seeking knowledge), or to enjoy landscapes and view scenery (relaxation and enjoying nature).

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However, such explanations provide very little understanding of tourist motivation especially for two reasons. One, the tourists themselves may not be fully alive to the underlying factors governing precisely their travel behaviour.

Quite often people are not conscious of the actual whys and wherefores while carrying out certain activities. And, even if these are known, the tourist may not like or be prepared to communicate the intrinsic rational or motivation backing a trip.

For instance, a great deal of tourism literature reveals that ‘status’ acts as the prime motivator, yet hardly any of the tourists would feel like acknowledging that the main reason for deciding to go an a holiday is that it will enable him to make an impression on friends and colleagues.

Two, much of the activity focuses on selling the product rather than doing with the requisites of the market. Therefore, the listing of the various reasons motivating and stimulating travel can, in fact, be a step forward towards determining a classification system capable of explaining and eventually predicting the tourist’s decision-making process.

Drawing on the tourism psychology and motivation, it is a simple truism that an individual normally travels for multiple reasons. For instance, if one travels to an area for business reasons, the occurrence of a cricket world cup, or some music concert, or an international trade fair in the same area or nearby can prove to be an added attraction and a reinforcement of the resolve to visit it.

Travel as a Satisfier of Needs/Wants:

Tourist motivation can be better understood from the viewpoint of travel as a means of satisfying needs and wants. Tourists do not undertake holidays simply to relax and making good time, to experience another culture, or to gather knowledge.

This is the hope and belief that the holidays will satisfy either wholly or partially, various needs and wants acting as the inherent motivator. This perspective of tourist motivations, may seem to be a partial one, is quite critical.

Primarily it is the difference between considering the nature of a destination from tourist viewpoint and considering it as a means for satisfying the needs and wants of tourists.

The above analogy is quite parallel to the difference between travel agents viewing themselves as sellers of airline seats and those viewing themselves as dealers in dreams.

Needs, Wants and Motives:

The difference between a need and a want is one of awareness. It is basically the job of the people dealing in marketing to translate needs into wants by apprising the individual of his/her need failings.

This is the consideration of the needs of an individual that initiates the description of the process. Whilst a person may like to go for satisfaction of need or needs, it is the intensity of the need that motivates him to take the requisite action in that context.

For instance, the activity related to undertaking a trip, purchase of a cruise, or seeking reservation of a room in some hotel by an individual may be a reflection of the expected satisfaction of some needs of which he/she is not even fully conscious.

A person needs love and affection, but wants to visit friends and relatives; needs esteem from others, but wants to purchase an airline ticket.

In situations like this and others, people can be enlightened through effective marketing (particular advertisements in holiday season) that buying of an air ticket to visit parents will result in feelings of love and affection for them, thereby facilitating the satisfaction of that need.

On the other hand, the suppliers of tourist plant have relatively little interest in a person’s needs than the way he/she seeks to satisfy the needs.

Motivation occurs only when an individual longs for satisfying a need and a motive implies action. Motivation theories suggest that a person continually go all out to bring about a homeostasis – a state of stability. And an individual’s homeostasis is thrown into disorder when he or she is made alive to a need imperfection.

Such an understanding leads to development of wants. For the individual to be motivated to satisfy a need, an objective must be there.

The individual ought to be aware of the means (product or service) and must be able to make out that investing in the same is going to help in satisfying the need. Then, and only then, will the individual be persuaded to purchase it.

Broadly motives may be of two types – specific and general. While a general motive would be the end objective per se, a specific motive would be a means to get to that general motive i.e., the end objective.

Even though there may be several means to achieve an end objective, it is up to the marketer to win over the potential buyer that the purchase of the one being sold by him is the most appropriate to satisfy the individual’s need.

And to the extent the marketer is successful in convincing the individual, he or she will be motivated to go for the product or service.

An individual’s behaviour is guided by a number of factors, with motives being just one of these. Moreover, it cannot even be described that an individual is motivated by only one motive at any one time. In fact, behaviour is not only an outcome of the interaction of various motives, with varying weight in different situations, but the interaction of motives with a number of socio-economic and psychographic factors as well.

Why Travel?

An individual’s needs – be it for safety, for belonging, and/or for anything of the type – can be satisfied by specifying different objectives or by taking specific actions. As to the question ‘what determines how an individual will seek to satisfy a need?’ let us move on the presumption that an individual will try to satisfy a particular need in a particular manner (say by taking a holiday) based upon three factors.

First, an objective will be determined if the individual is led to believe that the objective will satisfy his/her need; second, a specific action will be taken if the individual has learned that the same will satisfy the need; third, the decision concerning the specific action to the undertaken so as to satisfy a need must be taken within the restraints of the individual’s external environment (time, energy, or money, and other socio-cultural and psychographic factors) liable to discourage the option.

Tourist’s Learning Process:

A person will invest in a particular holiday package or trip if he has gathered that the purchase will help satisfy an important need. Of the various alternatives available, to determine which ones are most likely to satisfy a particular motive, the tourist evaluates the different options against a number of criteria deemed important to him.

The resulting disposition will have a definite bearing on the decision to purchase. This effect maybe positive or negative depending upon the degree of fit between motives and alternatives i.e., how well it is perceived that a preferred alternative will meet the motivation.

Travellers often have a perception about a few selected destinations as alternatives they may visit within a stipulated time period. However, the numbers of alternatives are variable depending upon the characteristics of the traveller.

Again, the travellers who have earlier visited destinations abroad normally have a larger number of destinations as alternatives to choose from in comparison to those who have not. Yet again, whether a destination will be included or not in the list of alternates depends to much extent upon the level of satisfaction provided by the destination earlier.

The level of satisfaction is, in fact, a function of one’s expectations of a locale and one’s observation of the actual location. Whenever the level of expectation is higher than the actual experience, the end result is going to be dissatisfaction to the individual.

That is, for an individual to be satisfied with a product, service, or seat, the level of actual experience must at least match or be greater than the level of expectation. Tourists, though not a popular strategy, can seek to reduce the psychological risk on a purchase by expecting less from the holiday.

Because an increase in expected level of satisfaction results in a reduced number of alternatives to be considered in the coming period. The higher the level of satisfaction experienced from a selected holiday obviously confirms a higher place for it in the priority list of alternatives as well as a reduction in the number of newer alternatives for consideration.

In view of this and the promise of a quality experience with a level of satisfaction to the holiday maker, the provisioning of quality, personalized service becomes significant in order to have a repeat visit of the vacationer.

The only exception being a particular vacationer with a great and strong need to learn and understand. In this peculiar case, it hardly matters how satisfied he or she is with a specific holiday as for such an individual, after an optimal utilization or by making the most of the limited resources in terms of time and money, there is very little chance of making a repeat visit.

The criteria used for bringing about a decision among the alternatives available acts as a bridge between the motives of an individual and the observed alternatives. Of the different alternatives in consonance with the inherent motives, a choice is made with the presumption that it will help the maximum in satisfying the need(s).

However, the criteria used to make out between alternatives are developed on the basis of past experience and the information gathered from the commercial and/or social environment.

An individual’s learning input in the form of past experience can be derived from earlier experiences of the same thing that is being considered or from having experienced something alike and comparable.

The factors (attraction, quality of service, facilities and amenities) explaining the satisfaction are, in fact, the criteria for deciding the next holiday. On the other hand, the experiences of similar situations most of the times lead to psychology of simplification the process of generalization that the experiences of similar situations are liable to be almost the same. Nevertheless, the process of generalization becomes simplistic with the number of experiences and thereby the firmness of the established decision criteria by an individual.

The individual arrives at a routine problem-solving process from an extensive problem-solving process through a confined problem-solving process. In the extensive problem-solving phase, the visitor/tourist has very little in the form of input i.e., experience and/or information from which to make a decision.

The need and thereby the quest for information is acute and intense with a very small number of corroborated decision criteria. No doubt, decision criteria are important but one may not be fully aware of the fact regarding their fulfillment by the alternatives available.

Further, the import and applicability of the decision criteria is by and large subject to experiences of certain holidays or destinations. And as one gain more and more of experience, becomes more assured and self-confident in determining decision criteria, the decision making becomes much easier.

The experiences and the generalization thereof are considered relatively more important than any relevant information acquired because any additional information is first evaluated with a view that it will support and reinforce the decision taken.

Such a course results in a routine problem-solving process warranting hardly any information and the decision is taken somewhat promptly in the light of established decision criteria.

The above said process related to movement from extensive problem solving to routine problem solving implies that generally people strive to keep up steadiness or consistency in their lives – referred to as the need for consistency.

Whilst a school of psychologists cleave to this attitude of life or philosophy. Drawing on the proposition they advocate that unsteadiness or inconsistency is the root cause of psychological or mental tension which one invariably seeks to avoid.

Another school argues the apposite in the sense that people experience change and uncertainty as highly satisfying – mentioned as the need for intricateness or complexity. Edward J. Mayo and Lance P. Jarvis (1981) in their publication the Psychology of Leisure Travel’ attempt to balance the two viewpoints.

As a matter of fact, they are of the opinion that people differ in tolerance of psychological tension. On the one hand, inordinate or undue repetition or consistency can result in apathy or even monotony and the ensuing tension can exceed the optimum -level one can handle. In order to relieve the tension or bring it at the most to the optimum level, he/she is expected to bring in some complexity in life.

However, in the process, tension level is liable to again cross the optimum for him, an unduly complex situation. This can be well exemplified by the fact that a person, who has been a regular visitor to a particular holiday, will either change the holiday or the route to reach the holiday or at least the mode of accessibility i.e., transport.

Likewise, on the other hand, excessive involvement or complexity can also be a cause of a tension level unbearable by a person. In order to lessen the tension level, the person will certainly like to introduce some degree of consistency into the experience.

The person experiencing a high degree of consistency in routine life may be keen on making it good by seeking holidays, which offer change and vice-versa. A tourist in a different unfamiliar surrounding may find uncommon or little known language and culture (complexity) and so may need to make up for this by staying in a hotel providing familiar services or by enjoying the attractiveness of the place of his choice (consistency).

Briefly, a person will opt to purchase a holiday if he/she feels that it will satisfy the need or needs or if he has perceived that a holiday will meet the need(s) under the pressure of external factors such as time, money, and social influence.

The person also discerns of the alternative means of satisfying his/her needs from personal experience, from experiences of same or similar situations, and from information acquired from the commercial and/or social environment.

The alternatives weighed are coupled with the person’s motives by a set of decision criteria or guidelines, which form the basis of arriving at a decision among the alternatives.

Further, the number of alternatives gets reduced with the formation of sound decision criteria favouring a particular purchase resulting from the awareness of a person that a specific purchase is most suited to the satisfaction of a particular need or needs.

Furthermore, given the framework, there is every probability or good chance that a particular motive will lead to an inclination to go for a particular product, service, or experience.

The Motivation for Travelling/Tourism:

Motivation pinpoints first the purpose of the visit or travel. Although there are a number of identified heads of purpose, but with differing characteristics. The most accepted of these are:

i. Holiday – rest and relaxation including visits to friends and relatives, generally referred to as VFR;

ii. Business – including meetings, conferences and conventions, etc.

iii. Other- including health, study, sports, religious pilgrimages, etc.

Taking from the differing characteristics of each category of purpose, it becomes not only significant but also relevant to distinguish between each category of purpose. For example, the business travel is likely to be different from holiday travel in the sense that in the former, the person has little discretion as to the choice of destination, duration of stay and the timing of the trip i.e., season.

These are, rather have to be, oftenly fixed up at short notice and for relatively brief period of time. However, this class of people, in the absence of economic constraints to undermine the travel plans as the travel bill is to be funded by the company, demands much in terms of tourism plant such as availability of customary regular transport, efficient service and good facilities at the destination. That is, business travel is relatively price elastic.

On the contrary, for the majority, holiday travel is highly price elastic. In this case, low travel costs are generally instrumental in two ways; one, in buoying up an increase in the number of holiday travellers; two, in stimulating other vacationers to redirect their destinations.

Such travellers are willing to put off their travel or make reservations well in advance for their travel requirements if it implies a sizable reduction in travel costs. Hence, the need for identifying the rationale why a particular type of holiday or destination is chosen.

Though it is advocated that there should be different destinations for different markets/people, yet most of the times different markets instead of being in search of different destinations, seek different attributes in the same destination.

For instance, a ski resort may be opted because of its cracking slopes and sporting facilities, owing to its climate, curative qualities, or healthy mountain air, or on account of the social life it holds out to skiers and non-skiers alike.

Tourists with no or Constrained Choice:

It may seem to be a very interesting situation in which the individual goes for the product or service without any specific preference or choice of his own. By the same token, there may be people with little or hardly any choice in determining their holiday/destination.

This is most relevant in case of business travel and with the VFR market, as for the former where to go implies where the business is most centered and for the latter where to stay with friends and relatives means going to places where they live.

In the latter case, however, there is little element of choice i.e., between a holiday in another place using paid—for accommodation and staying with family or friends. While the choice to a certain degree is held back by economy pressure but this may be of little weight set against the desire or need to renew and refresh relationship and social contacts.

Further, the budgetary class may also fall in the same category i.e., having little choice of destination as money and/or time delimit the range of alternatives. Nevertheless, the elemental time and money constraints act differently for different people.

The pensioners and the people belonging to middle class or below and leading a passive old-age life may have no time constraint; it is the economy factor that forces them to a low-cost holiday.

On the contrary, a business executive or a person belonging to upper level of income spectrum may have no money constraint but has very little time at his disposal, which again curtails the range of alternatives. Thus, for most of the people, this is the combination of forces of time and money that imposes the ‘optimum’ range of alternative destinations available.

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