Independent travelers are those vacationers who have booked only a minimum of their transportation and accommodation arrangements prior to departure on the vacation. Independent travel is an important and growing sector of worldwide tourism. Choice of vacation itinerary for the independent vacation represents a complex series of decisions regarding purchase of multiple leisure and tourism services. This chapter builds and tests a model of independent traveler decision-making for choice of vacation itinerary. The research undertaken employs a two-phase, inductive–deductive case study design. In the deductive phase, the researcher interviewed 20 travel parties vacationing in New Zealand for the first time. The researcher interviewed respondents at both the beginning and the end of their New Zealand vacations. The study compares pre-vacation research and plans, and actual vacation behaviors, on a case-by-case basis. The study examines case study narratives and quantitative measures of crucial variables. The study tests two competing models of independent traveler decision-making, using a pattern-matching procedure. This embedded research design results in high multi-source, multi-method validity for the supported model. The model of the Independent Vacation as Evolving Itinerary suggests that much of the vacation itinerary experienced in independent travel is indeed unplanned, and that a desire to experience the unplanned is a key hedonic motive for independent travel. Rather than following a fixed itinerary, the itinerary of an independent vacation evolves as the vacation proceeds. The independent traveler takes advantage of serendipitous opportunities to experience a number of locations, attractions and activities that they had neither actively researched nor planned.
Hyde, K.F. (2008), "Independent Traveler Decision-Making", Woodside, A.G. (Ed.) Advances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research (Advances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 43-151. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1871-3173(08)02003-X
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