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Consumer demand for sustainability benchmarks in tourism and hospitality

Asli D.A. Tasci (Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 20 November 2017

2306

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to measure the potential influence of sociodemographic characteristics on consumers’ stated importance for sustainability benchmarks for satisfaction, the importance of different areas for benchmarks and the importance of different organizations having benchmarks.

Design/methodology/approach

Quantitative methods with a structured survey was applied on an online survey platform called Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, or MTurk. A total of 417 completed surveys were collected from residents in the USA; however, missing values reduced the sample size to 410 and 411 for some variables. The data were analyzed using descriptives, frequencies, t-test and one-way ANOVA test using SPSS version 24.

Findings

The results revealed consumers’ short-term focus on self-related benefits, rather than long-term-oriented sustainability concerns, and thus a lack of awareness and demand for sustainability-related benchmarks. Only gender showed a strong explanatory power in explaining the demand for all benchmarks, including those related to sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted online with volunteer participants, regarding their general attitudes rather than a specific consumption experience. On-site studies of consumers of organizations applying or not applying sustainability benchmarks could enable the identification of fresh attitudes and opinions as consumers experience the products and services of the organizations.

Practical implications

Organizations advocating sustainability may need to step up in increasing consumer awareness and attention. None of the formal sustainability-related certificates were mentioned by respondents. The burden of this education should perhaps also be placed on the organizations providing these certificates; they may need to start following the marketing approach, investigating consumers when formulating and promoting these certificates.

Social implications

In light of the socially desirable tendencies of human beings, marketing communication messages that relate ethics and moral development to sustainable behavior may be more compelling for both suppliers and consumers. Consumers with different ethical views may require different motivation for demanding sustainability benchmarks.

Originality/value

Although much attention has been focused on sustainable development, and many standardization tools and benchmarks have been developed to ensure sustainable tourism and hospitality practices, there is a lack of attention concerning consumers’ awareness of, demand for and especially, consumer characteristics that determine their demand for such benchmarks. The current study is one of the few that fill this void in literature.

Keywords

Citation

D.A. Tasci, A. (2017), "Consumer demand for sustainability benchmarks in tourism and hospitality", Tourism Review, Vol. 72 No. 4, pp. 375-391. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-05-2017-0087

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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