Sample Tourism Paper on Delineating Travel Motivations, Tourists’ Perceptions and Memorable Travel Experience: Sabah

Delineating Travel Motivations, Tourists’ Perceptions and Memorable Travel Experience

1. Introduction

1.1 Background of the study                  

The perception of most scholars is that the tourism industry has reached its peak of maturity since various market places are now saturated with more improved products and services in addition to the rising levels of competitions (Scarinci & Pearce, 2012). From a more clinical perspective, the changes in business processes and the rising levels of competition, for example, are some of the factors that drive tourism marketers to search the business environment in order to incorporate processes that will lead to improved travel motivations, tourists’ perceptions in addition to establishing memorable travel experiences (Pyo, Mihalik & Uysal, 2010). For instance, tourism marketers across the world are now engaging on digital marketing, providing free travelling services, and more improved accommodation services at relatively lower costs with the aims of creating positive business relationships with the service users (Pattakos, 2010).

From the studies conducted in the past, the tourism industry has continued to grow despite the many challenges the industry is facing. For example, a 2011 study conducted by the tourism community revealed that the Malaysia tourism sector contributes immensely to the country’s GDP, and a change in peoples’ perception through motivation and better travel experiences could possibly improve the country’s earning (Oh, Uysal & Weaver, 2005). Another study conducted by Open Doors Organization demonstrated the rising needs to identify the general travel pattern of individuals, and based on the identified experiences motivate the various segments of the market by ensuring service efficiency and effectiveness. The industry is expected to encounter a reduction in number of tourists following a fallout in travel experiences and poor motivational approaches (Khan, 2012). It is true that people travel from one region to another for various reasons. Among the yearly travellers and tourist groups are businesspersons who are known to control a greater portion of the economy, leisure travellers, and those under vocational training. With the numerous studies already focusing on the best approaches to incorporate the varying needs of individuals in the industry, tourism marketers and service providers must at all times remain innovative in order to motivate travellers, create a positive change in the perception of tourists, and improve personal experiences by ensuring prompt delivery of crucial services (Khan, 2012).

1.2 Problem statement

Just like in the case of other travel destinations across the world, previous studies have highlighted the challenges and barriers people encounter in their bid to travel to Sabah and its surrounding regions (LaTorre, 2011). Among these studies, only preliminary ones have been able to identify the travel needs, travel experiences and the reasons for motivating tourists, especially at such a time when Malaysia is experiencing higher competition following the changes in methods of service delivery and techniques of production.

From the discussions presented in our study background, it is noticeable that market travellers, especially those travelling for either business purposes or for pleasure hold considerable potentials, which can only be explored if there were some forms of motivation (Gasbarri & Tomaz, 2012). While focussing on the best entry approaches to improve the travel experience of travellers, it is equally important to understand the motivation aspects of tourists as a way of satisfying the travel needs and promoting appropriate tourism destinations. The highlighted facts bring us to the general understanding of the needs to motivate travellers, change the perceptions and travel experiences of individuals (Bazeley, 2007). This area of investigation is the main focus of this research, and will help tourism marketers to improve market operations by incorporating the needs a larger segment of the market without focusing on a specific group of travellers.

1.3 Research objectives and questions

  • determine the extent to which the information provided on travel destinations motivates the respondents, affect their perceptions and travel experiences?

The questions presented in this section will remain pivotal, especially for the purposes of determining the impact of motivation on travel perceptions and experiences of tourists travelling to Sabah.

1.4 Study needs

Travel motivation, and improving the perception of tourists are fundamental processes that affect tourism development. A motivational aspect that affects the behaviour of tourists influences the way people set goals for their respective tourism destinations as well as how some of these goals are reflected upon following the choices made and personal travel behaviour (Frew & Shaw, 2009). Otherwise stated, the improved tourism programs and the changes in business operations only link to the changing needs and experiences of tourists across the world. This means that tour operators, planners, and other tourists-related sectors must have better understanding of the real expectations, needs and travel objectives of individuals to an extent that the services provided reflect the market demands.

From a psychological perspective, individual motivation results from a future intended activity that is potentially satisfying to a recognized group. In this research therefore, the needs and desires of tourists is the main focus and how travel motivations affects the perceptions and travel experiences of individual (Frew & Shaw, 2009). From a practical point of view, travel motivation influences travel motivation, and where the services provided are of higher quality, there will be a positive impact on peoples’ travel experiences. 

1.5 Scope of study

The study will take into account the interests of two tourist groups: individuals traveling for pleasure and those traveling for business or corporate functions (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). The decision to include only this group in the study followed the fact that vocational travellers and business traveller hold the bulk of Malaysian tourists and the industry seems to benefit more when there are improvements in the number of the mentioned categories of tourists (Falk & Storksdieck, 2010). The study will be conducted across the leading travel destinations across Sabah- Malaysia; a classification that is based on the number of tourists received each year as illustrated in the table below.

YearArrivals (Thousands)%  Growth to Current Year
2012941,76511.3
2011845,9106.3
2010795,95341.6
2009562,144-19.8
2008701,198-29.0
2007987,66031.5
2006750,923-1.3
2005761,094-3.9

 Source: Sabah Tourism Board (2013)

1.6 Limitation and significance of study

The study will focus on a more general group with diverse needs and travel desires, which may pose problems when it comes to categorization for improved analysis. Dealing with a larger group that has diverse needs may be costly in terms of finances and time (Bazeley, 2007). In order to meet the study objectives, the investigation will be conducted in two separate sessions with each session allocated a maximum of two hours. The two hours may be insufficient for the research to explore all the travel needs and motivating factors for the two groups. By allocating two hours without considering the number of participants, some of the participants are likely to be locked out of the study. This also adds to the fact that not all the participants will respond to the study questions within the time allocated since the rate of response differ across individuals (Gasbarri & Tomaz, 2012).

The study will be purely based on the responses given by the participants and where the response will not be true account of individuals’ feelings and experiences, the study will be flawed. In collecting the responses, the researcher will conduct the study by meeting the target respondents and giving them the designed research questionnaires. The essence of giving out the questionnaires to the respondents is to enable the researcher gauge their individual responses in term of memorable travel experiences. To reach a wider audience (500 respondents), the researchers will issue the study questionnaires to the respondents at the gates of airports, hotels and other tourist attraction sites. One of the major objectives of the study is to understand the factors motivating people to engage in travel activities and how their perceptions can be influenced for the purposes of improving travel experiences. The study findings will help tourism developers and market operators to improve travel experiences of people alongside maintaining higher market growth for the tourism industry.

2.     Literature Review

2.1 Background and definitions

2.1.1 Background

From the stated objectives, it is clear that the main purpose of the study is to understand the essence of travel motivation, changes in peoples’ perception and travel experiences and how the three factors contribute to the development of the tourism industry. As one of the study methods widely defined in this study, this chapter of the proposal discuses travel motivations, travel perception and market experiences of tourists in relation to leisure market, travel constraints and some of the motivating factors.

Studies conducted in the field of tourism have revealed that motivation is a crucial factor for the tourism industry because service providers can only establish a sound market appraisal where there is motivation on the side of service consumers (Mohammad, Mohammad & Mat-Som, 2010). Based on the facts presented by most of these scholars, there is need to recognize travellers as distinct groups with diverse travel needs so that a more friendly consumer environment can be created in favour of their travel needs (Kassean & Gassita, 2013). While trying to meet the travel objectives of individuals, service providers should agree with the general notions that individuals’ incomes and educational levels compares across the markets, and therefore the services provided should be able to meet their travel budget and educational experiences (Hosany & Gilbert, 2009).

 The differences in income and travel experiences would mean that service providers must differentiate their products and services, locate the various market segments and deliver the services in a way that meets the expectations of consumers. While developing proper grounds for the study, the first factor to be considered, therefore, is that the market segment of travellers faces income constraints, which to a higher degree have impact on their desires to travel. However, despite the relatively lower income levels of majority of the population, people still have the interest and always create time to travel (Kassean & Gassita, 2013). This would therefore means that the perception, reception and travel experiences of individuals can highly improve if there were some form of motivation.

In tourism and hospitality industry, the significance of comprehensive and strategic marketing techniques cannot be underpinned (Kassean & Gassita, 2013). According to a previous study on air achieving air traveling comfort, the research ascertained that product differentiation was crucial in achieving a competitive market advantage over other airlines (Kassean & Gassita, 2013). A positive change in travellers perception can only be realised in practitioners in the field of tourism and hospitality were to develop strategic marketing tools that capture the travel needs of individuals (Kassean & Gassita, 2013.

One of the strategic marketing tools widely discussed by most scholars and academicians is destination branding (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). The focus in this marketing is to differentiate tourism destinations in order to achieve a more competitive market for the range of service offered in the industry. With the needs to incorporate destination branding as one of the marketing techniques, the service providers and travel marketers must understand the perceptions of individuals of a destination (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). The individuals’ perceptions can be understood in terms of tourism products, factor that motivate individuals to travel to specific destination and the kind of travel experiences gained from the selected locations.

Similarly, empirical findings from a study that aimed at investigating the influence travel motivations had on unforgettable travel experiences ascertained that the perceptions of tourists on products had a significant impact on individual travel experiences (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). Notably, in an industry so much maligned with intense competition, attracting and maintaining a loyal customer base is always to priority for firms that ventured into this market. To ensure that their customers remained satisfied with unforgettable travel experiences, the study asserted that the travel motivation was crucial in ensuring these (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). As a result, the firm has to ensure that their branding processes concentrated more on motivational factors necessary in increasing the clients’ positive perceptions and loyalty (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). A separate study affirmed that motivation was a crucial human character that when triggered resulted into tremendous results in terms of loyalty to the organization’s products (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010).

The same studies in its recommendation encouraged firms in develop and improve their products and service quality and terms of delivery. Consequently, the customers’ emotions will be triggered influencing their memorable travel experiences and subsequent loyalty to the firm (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010). Arguably, according to most study results, those organizations that concentrated on increasing the perceptions their customers had on their goods and services recorded higher profits.

 In airline industry, effective destination branding through the print and online media is crucial in igniting the clients’ desires and motivation to travel to such destinations. Notably, all the marketing efforts and strategies should aim at ensuring positive travel experiences through improved customers’ perceptions of the company’s services and products. A previous study further ascertained that appropriate destination branding was crucial in improving clients’ perceptions and a subsequent increase in travel motivation. The aim of any viable firm is to achieve a competitive advantage and to gain the confidence and loyalty of their clients (Quintal & Polczynski, 2010).                                     

2.1.2 Definitions

Perception- an inner drive to engage in a particular event or activity because of the defining positive attributes.

Motivation- an inner state of satisfaction, which energizes sustained behaviour among individuals and helps in achieving some of the set goals.

Travel motivation- fundamental set of desires and attitudes that compel an individual to act in a touristic goal orientated manner.

Destination branding- creating awareness through advertisements about a travel destination, tourism products and services offered.   

2.2 Theoretical under-spinning

Most studies conducted in the past have shown that leisure travel motivation of frequent tourists underpins five push factors and three important pull factors. The five push factors in this context include exploration of the general environment, self-evaluation, relaxation, enhanced family relationship and facilitation of social integration (Hosany & Gilbert, 2009). Even though there are limited links between the cases presented in the literatures and the need to create positive perceptions and experiences among travellers through travel motivation, the impact of travel motivation is clearly depicted from the literatures (McGehee, Loker-Murphy & Uysal, 1996). This means that motivation is a crucial element in the operation of hospitality industry, particularly with the needs to influence peoples’ behaviours to travel.

The 2011 report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization indicates the needs for destination branding in Malaysia following the continued expansion and diversification, which has enabled the industry to be considered one of the fastest and largest growing economic sectors. For example, the report revealed that Malaysian tourists grew from 25 million to 277 million between 1950 and 1980, and from 435 million to 675 million between 1990 and 2000 (Tukamushaba, 2013). These figures have changed over the past few decades indicating that the industry is expanding and merging with other service industries to ensure higher economic growth. The changes in business settings, means of service distribution and development of better experiences are some of the widely contributing factors that have led to the observed growth.

2.3 Hypotheses development

Motivation is a psychological factor that can only occur when there is an improved relationship between the service providers and users. Where there is no motivation to travel, there are negative perceptions and experiences developed by the travellers, which in most cases have negative impact on the performance of the industry (Tukamushaba, 2013). The hypotheses of this study are in line with the earlier mentioned objectives and study questions:

The study questions and hypothesis are related in the sense that while the questions try to investigate the effect of travel motivation on tourists’ perceptions and travel experiences, the hypotheses provide tentative answers to the above questions. In other words, the hypotheses are tentative responses to the study questions, and by proving their validity base on the data collected from the respondents, the research shall have met the study objectives.

On the side of hypothesis testing, the researcher will use the chi-square to test for independence. At 0.5 percent level of significance, the researcher will be able to establish if there is no difference between the three variables. That is to say the variables: motivations, perceptions and travel experiences are dependent (related). The hypotheses for the study are as illustrated below:

H0: there is no difference between travel motivation, travel perceptions and travel experiences among tourists travelling to Sabah.

H1: the information provided on travel destinations motivate the respondents, affect their perceptions and travel experiences.    

2.4 Theoretical framework

From a psychological point of view, there are complexities between travel motivation, perceptions, expectations and personal experiences of travellers. Positive motivation influences perceptions and ensures better travel experiences among travellers across social diversities (Ramchurjee, 2013). The interpretation of the key motivational factors according to studies conducted in the past are relevant to eight fundamental components; regeneration or recuperation, compensation or social integration, escape from danger, communication, generation of ideas, freedom of choice and self-determination, and self-actualization (Baird, 2013). All these perspectives are linked by the relationships developed by the industry motivators following the perceptions and experiences of travellers as illustrated in the diagram below.

Text Box: Traveller’s Motivation and Motivational Patterns
Escape and Relaxation 
Personal development 
Involvement with host site and people 
Recognition by others 
Improved Security 
A conceptual model for the link between motivation, perception and travel experiences

3. Methodology

3.1 unit of analysis

The research will focus mainly avid travellers who have the zeal to share their interests with other member of the society based on personal experiences across the industry (Jafari, Taheri & vom Lehn, 2013). The participants who will be include in the study must have attained the age of eighteen, and grouped on a five scale age bracket, for example those between the age 18 to 25 years old, 26 to 35 years, 36 to 45 years, 46 to 55 years, and 56 years & above.  The questionnaires for the study will be given to selected groups of travellers at the airport in five different shifts based on this classification. The respondents will be issued with study questionnaires to ascertain their level of satisfaction and motivation during their travels (Jafari, Taheri & vom Lehn, 2013). The first study groups will have approximately one hundred participants; sixty males and forty female travellers. The second and subsequent focus groups in the next study sessions will incorporate the remaining participants depending on the age and preferences of both male and female participants. This means that a total of 5 study units each with 100 participants will be convenient for the study. The focus groups in respective study sessions will be required to respond to the interview questions separately based on their travel experiences, family, friends’ or client’s travel experiences in relation to those factors that motivate them to travel to various destinations (Jafari, Taheri & vom Lehn, 2013). In general, the study units will be required to indicate in the questionnaire their gender, travel category, motivating factors, changes in perception and travel experiences.

The study will be based on the general understanding that when people travel, they face both social and physical barriers like inaccessible facilities, unfriendly service providers, negative attitudes of employees and service providers. The investigation with therefore commence with questions concerning the conditions and experiences of travellers, the role of leisure in the lives of different tourist groups and motivational aspects of service providers.

3.2 Sampling technique

This study will apply convenience sampling, a non-probability sampling method given the fact that the participants can be accessed easily at the airport gates, tourist hotels and other tourist sites (Jafari, Taheri & vom Lehn, 2013). Even though the study area is predetermined, the sampling technique should be that which would allow the researcher to retrieve a representative data for the analysis. The researcher will apply convenience sampling so that the participants selected represent the interests of the larger population (Jafari, Taheri & vom Lehn, 2013). The responses will be purely based on individual respondent free will and volunteerism without being coerced or intimidated. The researchers will be in a position to obtain basic data and trends that regards the study. The questionnaire will also introduce the participants to the study outlining the purpose of the study and qualifications for one to be considered part of the participants since there will be no face-to-face interaction with the respondents.

3.3 Population and sample size

A total of 500 participants out of the possible population size will be supplied with the questionnaires so that their motivation aspects are identified. Convenient sapling techniques will be followed to select the respondents and the selected categories will be divided into five categories as already stated. As a preparation, the questionnaire will introduce the respondents the interview schedules, details of the study and the nature of questions they will be answering. All the 500 participants in this study will be issued with the standard questionnaires and will be encouraged to respond to them willingly.  

3.4 Sources of data

The researcher will incorporate both primary and secondary data and information from their respective source. For the primary data, the researcher will engage respondents through questionnaires and since there will be no face-to-face questioning the supplied questionnaires must have well-structured questions to facilitate response. Apart from the primary source, the researcher will also consider using secondary sources of data like journals, government publications and previous researches. The secondary sources like peer-reviewed articles will provide background information about the study, and allow the researcher to develop accurate model for the study. 

3. 5 Data collection method

The type of data required for the study will mean that the researcher engage in quantitative study in order to understand the needs of active travellers, and how policy changes in the tourism industry affect leisure travel motivation among the focus groups. An analysis of the relevant literatures will provide background information for the study since there is a general understanding that people have similar travel motivations; leisure or businesses. Through a quantitative study, it will be possible to collect and analyse data on people’s motivations, perceptions and travel experiences.  

A focus group method of study will be adopted because it will allow the researcher to determine the changes in behaviour of people and how such behavioural changes will affect individual decisions to travel. The structure of the questions will follow an open response format to facilitate response and increase the amount of information that can be collected from the participants within the time of study. Even though direct interviews would have been appropriate for the study, it will be necessary to engage in the participants in indirect questioning in order to provide the participants an opportunity to present their travel experiences, perceptions and travel motivations without being coerced.    

3.6 Data presentation

Tabulation will be the most appropriate method to capture the details of participants and any other important information. Tables with specific columns and rows will be used to summarize data and information collected from the participants because they are more efficient, easy to construct and to interpret. The information contained in the table will be based on how the participants will respond to the questionnaire provided. After the tabulation method, especially for the raw data, the analysis through the SPSS will mean that at some point graphs be drawn for the purposes on understanding the relationship between the variables.  

3.7 Data analysis techniques

With the two focus groups in mind, the researcher will initiate the analysis process through data categorization. After the identification and categorization stages, a quantitative research software like SPSS will be used to develop a regression model for the set of data collected. The researcher will later perform an investigative procedure of triangulation to ensure study validity and relation to the stated objectives. The main idea will be to determine the relationship between travel motivation, travel perception and memorable travel experience based on the data collected.

The researcher will focus on data triangulation, investigators triangulation and methodological triangulation since the forth form of triangulation (theoretical triangulation) will not have significant impact on the study outcomes. Investigator triangulation will assist the researcher to eliminate potential bias in data collection, reporting, categorization and data analysing so that the result of the study represents the views of the five focus groups.

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