18 TOURIST JOURNEYS AND A LIFE PURPOSE SEEKING TRIP – Contributions by Beatriz Casais
I am Beatriz, a marketing professor and researcher at University of Minho, in Portugal. I am a woman who has always been looking for insightful knowledge and life experiences to understand the world and guide my own decisions, with independence and critical thinking. I am very intuitive and impulsive at the same time, resilient and optimistic.
In a certain morning I woke up and realised that my life had changed completely since the previous day and all the life plannings I had made before would not make sense anymore. In a restarting process of my life, I became a wanderlust, escaping whenever I could to meet new places, new cultures and new people, to learn from the travel experience and try to find a life purpose for myself, integrating the gifts and the learning moments I had received. This process included the experience of both travelling with friends to develop my social skills and activate friendship, and investing in solo-travelling moments to explore big cities or rural towns, living like a local and sharing experiences with other tourists, staying at Peer-to-Peer (P2P) accommodation. I also entered into pilgrimage experiences, hikes and bike journeys in a slow tourism process of deceleration of work stress and anxiety of career achievements.
As a woman, I had to face all the social pressures associated with the expectations of female roles in society; as a researcher, I felt the academic pressure to fulfil career expectations of publishing fast and in high impact journals; as a tourist, I tried to be a researcher with the female concerns of feeling safe on my own and get the required information about the offering conditions of destinations and hospitality services in order to get a memorable experience.
The care I gave to those who have been part of my wanderlust journey and the rewards and learnings I received made me a better person and contributed to my life purpose seeking trip, inspiring my research in the field of tourism.
The information I needed for preparing my tourist journey inspired my research about the digital information source to help booking decisions, and the importance of online reviews to influence tourist behaviours. In this topic, I have researched accessible tourism, which is also particularly important for senior tourists and the attraction of tourists with disabilities. The digital information is particularly relevant for the new digital tourist who plan trips online and use digital devices in the whole touristic journey.
My traveling experience also inspired the research of tourist-to-tourist interaction both during the journey experience as in the online environment, with the co-creation process of reviews, with outcomes in tourism innovation and place branding. Also, as a person aware of the importance of place and destination branding, I have also been researching the role of internal stakeholders, such as residents and local community, into the co-creation process of an emotional place branding to achieve place attachment and intention to revisits.
My research considers the importance of information source to help booking decisions (Coromina & Camprubí, 2016), particularly about accessible conditions for tourists with disabilities (Cassia et al., 2020). My contribution to this topic considers the analysis of the conditions of Porto destination as an accessible destination with the observation method and the comparison of such conditions with the content analysis of destination websites. I found that there is a gap between the conditions provided and the information that is disclosed in destinations websites, maybe due to a lack of importance given to such information and the fact that some conditions are provided not as a marketing strategy for the accessible tourism segment, but to fulfil regulation requirements (Casais & Castro, 2021).
Also considering the importance of information sources, I have analysed the importance of mobile apps in destinations and the most important features in this context (Martins & Casais, 2020), with interesting finding regarding the importance of usability the value of content for the tourist journey. I have also analysed the importance of online reviews to influence tourist behaviours. This is a topic with extensive research (Öğüt & Onur Taş, 2012), but my contribution focuses on this phenomenon in the restaurant context, and the particular contribution of photos as user generated contents that help the choice of other customers. The study analyses the different importance given to reviews in the owned websites of restaurants, in social media and sites for reviews, as tripadvisor, which are not mediated by businesses (Oliveira & Casais, 2019). The analysis of reviews has also been part of my research in the context of P2P accommodation. I have dedicated attention to the guest-host interaction through online reviews and how the information provided by guests is incorporated by hosts in incremental tourism innovation (Casais et al., 2020). This mentioned paper is a contribution to the role of online reviews in tourism co-creation (Zhang et al., 2021).
The interaction in tourism is a key point for co-creation or co-destruction. My research also contributed to the perception of the tourist-to-tourist interaction in pilgrimage context. I analysed the motivations to go on pilgrimage following the previous state of the art (Amaro et al., 2018). Considering the heterogeneity of such motivations and the perspective of the importance of customer-to customer interaction in experiential tourism (Nicholls, 2020) , my analysis focused on pilgrim-to-pilgrim interaction and how the different motivations of purist and non-purists lead to a cocreation of the experience or a co-destruction of such experience because of conflicts among pilgrims with different motivations (Casais & Sousa, 2020).
The process of co-creation has been in the centre of my research in tourism, as mentioned before. I have analysed this construct from the perspective of the contribution given by stakeholders’ interaction and the effects in place branding and place attachment. Residents and local community are seen as key actors in the creation of a place brand and in the ambassadorship of such place brand to tourists (Casais & Monteiro, 2019). An emotional place brand is also a driver of place attachment both for residents and tourists (Casais & Poço, 2021).
In brief, my experience as a women wanderlust allowed me to analyse the importance of digital technologies for tourism marketing, particularly to create value to the tourist experience from the search moment to the touchpoints during the tourism experience. My contribution focuses also in the importance of such digital marketing techniques to the process of value co-creation, which should be promoted with a variety of stakeholders, both among residents and tourist-to-tourist interaction.
Written by Beatriz Casais, CICS.NOVA.UMinho, University of Minho, School of Economics and Management, Portugal
This work is financed by national funds through FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., within the scope of the project «UIDB/04647/2020» of CICS.NOVA– Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences of Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Amaro, S., Antunes, A., & Henriques, C. (2018). A closer look at Santiago de Compostela’s pilgrims through the lens of motivations. Tourism Management, 64, 271–280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.09.007
Casais, B., & Castro, C. (2021). Online communication of accessibility conditions in touristic spots: the design–communication gap in Porto destination. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 12(2), 196–209. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-07-2019-0096
Casais, B., Fernandes, J., & Sarmento, M. (2020). Tourism innovation through relationship marketing and value co-creation: A study on peer-to-peer online platforms for sharing accommodation. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 42, 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhtm.2019.11.010
Casais, B., & Monteiro, P. (2019). Residents’ involvement in city brand co-creation and their perceptions of city brand identity: a case study in Porto. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 15(4), 229–237. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-019-00132-8
Casais, B., & Poço, T. (2021). Emotional branding of a city for inciting resident and visitor place attachment. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-021-00231-5
Casais, B., & Sousa, B. (2020). Heterogeneity of motivations and conflicts in pilgrim-to-pilgrim interaction: A research on the way of Saint James. Tourism Management Perspectives, 36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2020.100748
Cassia, F., Castellani, P., Rossato, C., & Baccarani, C. (2020). Finding a way towards high-quality, accessible tourism: the role of digital ecosystems. The TQM Journal, 33(1), 205–221. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-03-2020-0062
Coromina, L., & Camprubí, R. (2016). Analysis of tourism information sources using a Mokken Scale perspective. Tourism Management, 56, 75–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2016.03.025
Martins, A. M., & Casais, B. (2020). Determinants for Value Creation in Mobile Apps Within the Tourist Experience (pp. 212–230). https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-1947-9.ch013
Nicholls, R. (2020). What goes on between customers? A cross-industry study of customer-to-customer interaction (CCI). Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 30(2), 123–147. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTP-05-2019-0112
Öğüt, H., & Onur Taş, B. K. (2012). The influence of internet customer reviews on the online sales and prices in hotel industry. The Service Industries Journal, 32(2), 197–214. https://doi.org/10.1080/02642069.2010.529436
Oliveira, B., & Casais, B. (2019). The importance of user-generated photos in restaurant selection. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 10(1), 2–14. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-11-2017-0130
Zhang, P., Meng, F., & So, K. K. F. (2021). Cocreation Experience in Peer-to-Peer Accommodations: Conceptualization and Scale Development. Journal of Travel Research, 60(6), 1333–1351. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287520938873