The purpose of this paper is to explore the influence of the experience economy and co-creation concepts on guided tours (GTs) and to analyze the process of the on-site (co-)creation of experience between the service provider and the consumer taking into account the consumer perspective.
The objective of the study is fulfilled by reviewing the literature on experience economy and co-creation within a cultural heritage context and then using it to design appropriate research tools to collect empirical data through qualitative interviews within the context of a single case study. The Medieval Town of Rhodes (MTR), Greece, serves as the case in this study. In fact, this study analyzes primary data from 25 interviews with participants in GTs in the MTR.
The GT participant’s views of their GT experience were explored, and it was evaluated whether they fit any of the three generations of experience economy with an emphasis on co-creation of experience. The findings show that, in the MTR-GT services, the characteristics of mainly the first and second generation experience economies are found, while little emphasis is given to the third generation experience economy. Based on the empirical results, the RIF model (R: “Resources,” I: “Interactions,” F: “Feelings”) was created: this proposes that both the process of experience co-creation and optimal GT experiences are realized by providing participants with appropriate resources, multiple types of interactions and opportunities to generate positive and pleasant feelings. This model illustrates the intertwining, multi-dimensional facets of an optimal co-created GT experience that service providers and tour operators should provide to their customers.
The present study has several limitations that need to be mentioned. First, this research is a single case study; the MTR serves as the case, focusing on one cultural heritage service, GTs. This fact can put the study’s validity in question. Moreover, as the research is conducted by a single person, there is the risk of subjective bias. Another limitation is that this study is not a longitudinal one; the latter could lead to more accurate findings. The number and the nationality of participants constitute the 4th and final limitation of the research. More specifically, the sample is not perceived to be representative of the population nor generalizable, while visitors from more nationalities could have been interviewed. In relation to this, the judgmental sampling method was used because the population of the study could not be defined. This serves as the fifth limitation of the study.
Tour operators and tour guides can exploit the characteristics of GT activities included in the proposed RIF model. By incorporating these elements in GT experiences, the process of experience co-creation could be effectively supported. An optimal GT experience that incorporates intertwining and multi-dimensional facets could be provided. To begin with, the physical setting where the tour takes place must be well preserved, so that it can capture the attention of the participants. The route of the tour should not be exhausting but convenient for all participants and should include various landscapes. On the other hand, tour guides should provide interesting, relevant and cohesive information. Moreover, a tour guide needs to display charismatic behavior to gain the tour group’s trust and generate positive feelings impressing and immersing participants in the experience and encouraging in them a sense of togetherness. Within the context of the tour, tangible elements such as brochures and maps should be provided, allowing vistors to tailor the experience according to their needs and preferences. Furthermore, interaction between the guide and the tour group, as well as among the participants themselves, should be encouraged. In relation to this, the tour group could be divided into sub-groups according to common features such as age. The guides could also come up with a topic to be jointly discussed and participatory activities such as games could be organized. Finally, participants should have some freedom during the tour; time to explore the setting on their own or a visit to specific places on request.
The originality of the paper lies in the development of the RIF model, illustrating the on-site optimal experience within the context of GTs taking place in the MTR, the setting of the research. The construction of the RIF model was based on an investigation into actual GT participant’s perspectives on GTs.
Alexiou, M.-V. (2018), "Modeling guided tour participants’ experiences", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 257-276. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-10-2017-0104Download as .RIS
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