Title

The influence of social interactions on tourist experience and tourist satisfaction: A study of group package tours in Vietnam

Author Identifiers

Vien Tran Truc Pham https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3528-4472

Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Sam HUANG

Second Advisor

Claire LAMBERT

Abstract

Owing to the nature of tourism services, in most cases tourists experience a tourism service in the presence of service personnel and fellow tourists. Scholars and practitioners have been interrogating the role of co-creation in providing tourists with a superior experience and increased tourist satisfaction. Within a group package tour (GPT), tourists appear to be active co-creators of their experience through tourist-to-tour guide interactions (TGIs) and tourist-to-tourist interactions (TTIs). TGIs and TTIs also seemingly play an important role in determining tourist satisfaction through tourist experience. However, very little research has examined the influence of TGIs and TTIs on tourist experience and tourist satisfaction.

The overall purpose of this study is to examine the influence of TGIs and TTIs on tourist experience and tourist satisfaction in GPTs. To do this, this study aims to (1) identify specific forms of TGIs and TTIs in GPTs and explore factors influencing TGIs and TTIs, (2) investigate the importance and performance of forms of TGIs and TTIs, and (3) examine how TGIs and TTIs influence tourist experience and tourist satisfaction in GPTs. The characteristics of GPTs in Vietnam provided an ideal research context for addressing these research objectives. A sequential mixed-method approach consisting of two research stages was adopted in the research design. The qualitative study involved participant observations in three GPTs and thirty-three qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted to achieve the first research objective and thus help develop the questionnaire used in the quantitative study. The quantitative study employed a questionaire survey as the main method of data collection and examined the influence of TGIs and TTIs on tourist experience and tourist satisfaction.

The qualitative study found that ten forms of TGIs and eight forms of TTIs commonly occurred in the GPTs in Vietnam. Most of the TGI forms were service-oriented interactions while most of the TTI forms were social-oriented interactions. These forms of TGIs and TTIs were allocated to the four quadrants of an importance-performance analysis matrix through an importance-performance analysis using the quantitative data, which identified managerial implications for tour operators, tour businesses and tour guides. The quantitative study found that the quality of TGIs positively influenced the four dimensions of tourist experience (i.e., learning, enjoyment, escape, aesthetics), but that the quantity of TGIs negatively influenced the four dimensions of tourist experience; both the quantity and quality of TTIs positively influenced the four dimensions of tourist experience. The quantity and quality of TGIs as well as the quantity and quality of TGIs significantly determined tourist satisfaction through the four dimensions of tourist experience.

This study (1) contributes to the literature on social interactions in tourism services by identifying forms of TGIs and TTIs and the factors influencing TGIs and TTIs in GPTs; (2) enriches and advances the literature on co-creation of tourist experience from the tourist perspective by examining the role of tourists in co-creating their experience through TGIs and TTIs and by investigating the role of social interactions in making tourist experience; and (3) provides a broader understanding of tourist satisfaction in the context of GPTs through its attempts to investigate the role of TGIs and TTIs in determining tourist satisfaction through tourist experience. The study results offer invaluable practical insights and directions for tour operators, tour guides and other tour businesses to improve relevant tourism management practices.

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