GT 6.1 Marketing y comunicación en turismo

Luisa Andreu Simó (Universidad de Valencia)
Enrique Bigné Alcañiz (Universidad de Valencia)
Carmen Pérez Cabañero (Universidad de Valencia)

Tourist experience is often considered to be crucial because experience is at the heart of tourism. Tourists are temporarily affected by their travel experiences, but this effect diminishes over time until it vanishes altogether. Due to this complexity of the visiting experience, researchers have expended a great deal of effort to understand how tourist experience is formed, how visitors evaluate it and what its main consequences are (Ali, Amin and Cobanoglu, 2016). An experience happens when services are used to engage customers. This facilitates a memorable event (Pine and Gilmore, 1998). However, experiences should not be considered only as something memorable that have happened in the past. It is also necessary to consider the preparatory activities in which tourist visitors can engage before the experience occurs, such as checking websites or downloading apps, to mention only a few examples.

Research in marketing have analysed the role of brand experience on consumer behaviour and specifically, on customer satisfaction and loyalty (Brakus, Schmitt, & Lia Zarantonello 2009). However, there is a need for empirical studies that analyse the effects of brand experience on customer engagement. As suggested by Van Doorn et al. (2010), further research is needed to more exhaustively identify the antecedents of customer engagement behaviour.

A growing number of theoretical and empirical studies have examined co-creation in the context of tourism (see Campos et al., 2015 for a literature review). Empirical studies on co-creation experience are still scarce (Campos et al., 2017). Specifically, given the growing recognition of co-creation and customer participation in services (Dong & Sivakumar, 2017), there is need of empirical studies that integrates the role of co-creation and customer participation in the visitor experience, emotions and satisfaction. Taking into account the importance of customer participation, the aim of this study is to analyse an integrative framework analysing the influence of customer participation and co-creation on emotions, satisfaction, customer experience and customer engagement.

Survey data was collected in a Spanish-Mediterranean animal theme park, a combination of an amusement park and a zoo. This setting was selected as an ideal location for the aim of the study since these parks are generally associated with highly emotional experiences (McClung, 2000).  The animal park where the fieldwork was carried out was built under the concept of “zoo-immersion” that consists of introducing the visitors into the animals’ habitat and is achieved by using nature (rivers, ponds, streams and rocks) to separate visitors from the beasts. Inside this theme park, there are attractions for children and adults, shows, restaurants and shops. The variables in the theoretical model were measured using scales obtained from the literature review and therefore have been used in various previous studies

Research findings evidence that cocreation during visit influence customer satisfaction. Negative emotions influence negatively on customer experience. Positive emotions influence customer experience and customer satisfaction. Customer experience influence customer engagement.

Palabras clave: tourist experience, customer engagement, customer satisfaction, emotions, theme park