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Theme factors that drive the tourist customer experience

Jonas Karlsen Åstrøm (Faculty of Economics and Organizational Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Elverum, Norway)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




This study aims to investigate the factors that drive the tourist customer experience around theming. Theming is considered vital to creating a memorable customer impression.


The cruise industry was chosen as the empirical setting. A total of 328 cruise travelers returned valid questionnaires during a cruise in March 2010. The questionnaire was developed based on a conceptual model of components (name, employee interaction, lighting, design and music) hypothesized to contribute to a themed cruise environment.


Name, employee interaction and lighting were found to be the most important drivers for the customer experience. Theming was less reliant on design and music.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited to one narrow context. Further research on other ships, itineraries and cruise lines should clarify whether factors affecting theme perception are the same across the cruise industry.

Practical implications

Cruise industry decision makers should consider the naming of spaces, lighting and employee interaction when designing themed experiences.


Theming has received little attention in the research literature. This study is a unique contribution to our understanding of this particular field.



Åstrøm, J.K. (2017), "Theme factors that drive the tourist customer experience", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 125-141.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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