14 CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY AND MARKETING IN TOURISM, HOSPITALITY, AND EVENTS – Contributions by P. Monica Chien

Since I was an undergraduate student, I have been fascinated by different facets of consumer behaviour and how people make consumption decisions. During my PhD, I received multi-disciplinary training in marketing, psychology, and management, and investigated how consumers evaluate brands based on their sponsorship portfolios as marketing communication strategies. Working with a team of inspiring collaborators, I am fortunate to be able to combine knowledge gained through my PhD training, industry experience in tourism and hospitality, and my passion in travelling into various interdisciplinary research programs. As a consumer behaviour researcher, I focus on the psychological mechanisms underlying consumer information processing and its downstream consequences on judgment, behavioural change and decision-making in the contexts of tourism, marketing, and sport. My work is informed by theories in cognitive and social psychology, as well as complementary concepts in marketing, management and advertising research.

Tourism-induced disruptions and intergroup interactions

One of my major research focuses is the effect of disruptions brought by (over)tourism. The issues under investigation are crucial and timely, as destinations worldwide have reported growing tension at individual, community, and institutional levels and struggle with change to social fabric. Intergroup interactions in tourism can be complex, given these often involve the meeting of people from different countries with varied cultural backgrounds, values, and norms of conduct. In particular, tourists may not always put on their best behaviour when on holiday as they feel they have earned the “license to sin” (De Witt Huberts, Evers, & De Ridder, 2012). Tourists’ self-justification for indulgence as self-reward (Mukhopadhyay & Johar, 2009) can make them engage in – knowingly or unknowingly – rule-breaking behaviours, such as littering, queue jumping, or alcohol-fuelled misconduct. Because these behaviours violate either generic or local norms of conduct, they can create disturbance to the community, irritate residents, negatively affect other tourists’ enjoyment, and even embarrass the tourists’ compatriots, leading to inter- or intra-group conflict between residents and tourists, as well as among tourists (Chien & Ritchie, 2018).

 

News story with the headline 'Badly behaved Aussies in Bali warned they could be sent home' and photos of people drinking and running.
Image 1. News reports on tourist misbehaviour have become commonplace.
A person taking a photo of graffiti which reads 'tourist go home'
Image 2. Popular destinations have seen an increased tension between residents and tourists.

My projects involve the development of a theoretical framework to understand the intergroup dynamics in international tourism and hospitality contexts. It explains how residents as well as tourists construe tourist misbehaviours and appraise intergroup conflicts. The framework also ascertains the impacts of destination and situational factors such as issue severity and message framing by the media. The empirical studies reveal intergroup friction over a range of deviant tourist behaviours and intergroup conflicts, and identify resident responses towards the misbehaving tourists, other tourists, and tourism development. The investigation also extends to service encounter settings, and examines conditions under which hospitality employees respond negatively to treatments by tourists that are perceived to be unfair, intentional, or even just a legitimate action. The research outcomes have implications for tourist and community well-being, quality of life, and policy formulation to ensure the sustainable development and competitiveness of tourist destinations.

Deviant behaviours in sport

This seminal work represents one of the first to systematically investigate the impacts of deviant behaviours in sport, or “scandals”, on associated stakeholders, through the identification of relevant psychological processes that explain fans’ responses to deviance by the teams and their players (e.g., Chien, Kelly, & Weeks, 2016; Kelly, Weeks, & Chien 2019; Sun, Chien, & Weeks, 2021). Drawing on theories from social psychology such as social identity complexity, this line of research explains the complex responses often displayed by sport fans upon exposure to negative publicity associated with athlete transgressions. The findings contribute to the evolving literature of sport scandal effects and theory building of intergroup dynamics towards deviant behaviours. The findings offered sport codes, sport teams, and corporate sponsors evidence-based recommendation to manage sport scandals.

 

A photo of cyclist Lance Armstrong
Image 3. Sport fans and sponsors may evaluate athlete transgressions differently.

Resident responses to mega-events

My work on the impact of mega-events as a mechanism for destination marketing has been centred on residents’ cognitive, affective, and behavioural responses to mega-event projects. For example, I co-developed a longitudinal study to evaluate the legacies of the 2012 Olympic Games from a non-host community perspective. The work extended the temporal and spatial evaluation of mega-event impacts, by investigating residents’ perceptions of event legacies at local, regional and national scales (Chien, Ritchie, Shipway, & Henderson, 2012; Ritchie, Chien, & Shipway, 2020; Shipway, Ritchie, & Chien, 2020). Through the lens of “social dilemma”, the project uncovered important influencers and provided a new perspective on an old discussion. The work also informed the development of conceptual foundations that can be used to examine the relative significance of personal and collective impacts and the ways these intersect to determine resident support (Smith, Ritchie, & Chien, 2018). More recently, against the backdrop of the mega-event development in Japan (i.e., 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympic Games, 2022 World Masters Games, and 2025 World Expo), my team and I investigated the impact of mega-event leveraging on host- and non-host cities, taking into consideration of regional revitalisation, tourist dispersal, and community wellbeing. The rare sequential occurrence of these mega-events provides a unique opportunity to understand their interlacing influences on resident responses in an Eastern culture context.

 

A news story with the headline 'Olympic white elephants? Rio's got a heard of them' and the sub-headline 'You don't have to look far to see the unfulfilled promises of South America's first Olympic Games
Image 4. The perceived impact of mega-events such as the Olympic Games is debatable.

Future Research

My research will continue to focus on how consumers (i.e., tourists, residents, sport fans, sponsors) assess intergroup interactions, deviant behaviours, and marketing communications in tourism, hospitality and events. Emerging research hints at the importance of better understanding consumer behaviour post COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., Kock, Nørfelt, Josiassen, Assaf, & Tsionas, 2020; Sembada & Kalantari, 2020), which also represents a central focus of my research agenda forward. Several investigations are currently underway to examine, for example, how a protracted period of restraints associated with lockdowns in many countries influences impulse buying behaviour and indulgent consumption in tourism (Karl, Chien, & Ong, 2021), how consumers’ pent-up travel demand underlies deviant or prosocial tourist behaviours, what interventions can be used to induce socially and environmentally sustainable tourist behaviour. Both laboratory and field experiments will be the main methods employed to examine these phenomena.

 

Written by P. Monica Chien, The University of Queensland, Australia

References

Chien, P. M., Kelly, S. J., & Weeks, C. S. (2016). Sport scandal and sponsorship decisions: Team identification matters. Journal of Sport Management, 30(5), 490-505.

Chien, P. M., & Ritchie, B. W. (2018). Understanding intergroup conflicts in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 72(C), 177-179.

Chien, P. M., Ritchie, B. W., Shipway, R., & Henderson, H. (2012). I am having a dilemma: Factors affecting resident support of event development in the community. Journal of Travel Research, 51(4), 451-463.

De Witt Huberts, J. C., Evers, C., & De Ridder, D. T. (2012). License to sin: Self‐licensing as a mechanism underlying hedonic consumption. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42(4), 490-496.

Karl, M., Chien, P. M., & Ong, F. (2020). Impulse buying behaviour in tourism: A new perspective. Annals of Tourism Research, 103136.

Kelly, S. J., Weeks, C. S., & Chien, P. M. (2018). There goes my hero again: sport scandal frequency and social identity driven response. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 26(1), 56-70.

Kock, F., Nørfelt, A., Josiassen, A., Assaf, A. G., & Tsionas, M. G. (2020). Understanding the COVID-19 tourist psyche: The evolutionary tourism paradigm. Annals of Tourism Research, 85, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2020.10305303053.

Mukhopadhyay, A., & Johar, G. V. (2009). Indulgence as self-reward for prior shopping restraint: A justification-based mechanism. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19(3), 334-345.

Ritchie, B. W., Chien, P. M., & Shipway, R. (2020). A Leg (acy) to stand on? A non-host resident perspective of the London 2012 Olympic legacies. Tourism Management, 77, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2019.104031.

Sembada, A. Y., & Kalantari, H. D. (2020). Biting the travel bullet: A motivated reasoning perspective on traveling during a pandemic. Annals of Tourism Research, 88, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.annals.2020.103040.

Smith, A., Ritchie, B. W., & Chien, P. M. (2018). Citizens’ attitudes towards mega-events: A new framework. Annals of Tourism Research, 74, 208-210.

Shipway, R., Ritchie, B. W., & Chien, P. M. (2020). Beyond the glamour: Resident perceptions of Olympic legacies and volunteering intentions. Leisure Studies, 39(2), 181-194.

Sun, W., Chien, P. M., & Weeks, C. S. (2021). Sport scandal and fan response: the importance of ambi-fans. European Sport Management Quarterly, 1-22.

 

 

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Women’s voices in tourism research by Antonia Correia and Sara Dolnicar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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