The term ‘Do It Yourself’ in tourism refers to consumers booking individual aspects of their holiday directly with the producer, instead of using an external agent, such as Thomas Cook. In recent years, there has been a rise in the United Kingdom in the number of ‘DIY’ holidays from 57% in 2005 to 62. 3% in 2009 (Keynote, 2010) due to several significant driving factors influencing consumers’ behaviour. Examples of these external drivers are changes in technology, the Internet revolution for example, and changes in the economy.
For instance, due to the economic recession originating in 2007, people in the UK have seen decreases in their disposable income, from ?180 a week in December 2009 to ?172 in December 2010 (The Guardian, 2011) for the average family. We also have internal factors to incorporate into the reasoning behind the emerging trend. For example, we must consider the influence of socio-economic and motivational factors, which affect consumer’s behaviour towards tourism.
This emerging trend towards ‘DIY’ in tourism has implications on managing and marketing tourism. These implications include changes in the strategy of the tourism industry and how different producers have altered their marketing mix. In recent years, there has been significant development in the technology world, where consumers have the ability to access the continually evolving Internet through different mediums and at a faster rate.
Nearly all computers now have the capability to connect to the Internet, and henceforth, producers of tourism products are utilising the Internet as an alternative distribution channel to sell their products, instead of using a tour operator. This allows consumers to book directly with their producer, whether it is cheap flights with EasyJet, or a hotel in Bangkok. This saves both consumers and producers money as they cut out the cost of an intermediary. Furthermore, the smart phone is a fundamental driver towards DIY in tourism.
More and more people are buying smart phones, such as the iPhone or a Blackberry, which can also access the Internet at a fast rate when you are on the move. This is reflected by statistics showing that by 2016, smart phones will account for 90. 8% of all handsets sold in the UK (PR Newswire, 2011). A smart phone allows a consumer to access the Internet to book holidays, download boarding passes and even share their experiences. Twitter is a popular social networking site through which people often ‘tweet’ their experiences, or ask others for their travelling experience (Guardian, 2011).
This is a driving factor towards DIY in tourism, as people spread positive and negative feedback on particular experiences, enabling others to learn and perhaps try that particular hotel or flight for themselves. Conversely, there is evidence to support a growing trend in demand for tour operators in recent years, as a direct or indirect result from the Internet revolution. For example, the online Chinese travel provider, Ctrip. com, recorded increases in sales for all aspects of travelling.
They saw rises in net revenue of 49% from 2005 to 2006, and are expecting a growth rate of 30%, year on year (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 644). Furthermore, although the Internet has made it progressively easier for consumers to book their own holidays, there is still a significant size of the market, which considers their time too valuable, and can afford to pay tour operators to organise and book each individual aspect of their holiday for them. The economy is another key driving factor behind the emerging trend towards DIY in tourism.
Over recent years we have seen a sharp decline in spending on holidays, due to the worldwide, economic recession; for example in North America, only 21% are planning to go on holiday over Christmas, compared to 28% last December (Travel Agent Central, Dooley, 2011). Therefore, we may see increasing trends in spontaneous holidays, as consumers book with budget airlines, instead of tour operators, or consumers may even stay within the confines of their own country. Therefore consumers will look to book aspects of their holiday separately and of their own accord.
For instance, when consumers travel within their own country, the market for tour operators is very small, as consumers often use their own mode of transport and therefore only need to book their accommodation. These external drivers, technology and the economy, have profound effects on consumer behaviour and their choices towards purchasing tourism products. Many people consider holidays as an essential need whether they are in need of a different cultural experience or have physical motivators, such as hose related to the refreshment of body and mind, as reflected by McIntosh, Goelder and Ritchie’s theory of motivation in tourism (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 47). Henceforth, consumers will look to indulge in some sort of tourism product, but in the midst of the recession and the Internet revolution, consumers have more choice but a reduced budget. 61% of British people cut back on their holiday spending budget due to the recession in 2009 (tourism society, 2009).
Because of this, we have seen rises in demand for DIY holidays, rather than booking through intermediaries, where there is an added cost for the ‘middle man’. Easyjet reported to have seen an increase in the number of seats sold per flight during the recession, from 87% in August 2007 to 91% in August 2008 (Guardian, 2008), compared to Thomas Cook’s sales dropping due to fierce competition exposed through the Internet (theglobeandmail, 2011). Schmoll’s (1977) model of the travel decision process illustrates well, the determinants of demand for tourism.
The model is based on Howard-Sheth (1969) and Nicosia (1966) models of consumer behaviour (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 57), where Schmoll has built his model based on fundamental factors influencing consumer behaviour, such as travel stimuli and time and cost restraints. The first stage of the model entails the travel stimuli, which are predominantly compromised by promotional activity. The execution of promotional activity for tourism producers has evolved dramatically in recent years due to the shift in technology.
For example, many producers are indulging in rich media and uploading advertising videos onto the Internet, in particular the website ‘YouTube’, where anyone with Internet access can view this video and see what this tourism producer has to offer. This is a very effective method to access the consumer market without using an intermediary, as more than half of all travel arrangements are done online, 3 in 4 Internet users watch videos online, and a video has the ability to reflect the travel experience more effectively than any other promotional activity (Authentic Holiday Films, nd).
Furthermore, through rich media, a consumer is more likely to acquire the meant perception of the tourism product. Perception is an important factor when marketing a tourism product, whereby a consumer creates an attitude towards a product, which is hard to reverse if the attitude is negative. Stage two of Schmoll’s model centralises itself around the customers needs and what their expectations are. In other words, what are their motivational factors?
Motivation is an ever-evolving concept, especially as the economic climate and technology world change. If we examine Stanley Plog’s (1974) theory of motivation, Plog categorises travellers into two different groups. The ‘psychocentric’ type, those who are conservative in their travels patterns and travel to ‘safe’ and commercialised destinations, and there are the ‘allocentric’ type, those who are more adventurous and motivated to discover new parts of the world (Cooper et al, 2009, p. 47).
We have seen an increased trend towards the ‘allocentric’ traveller, particularly with the increased, online promotional activity from tourist producers. This trend is predominantly observed in the experienced travellers market, as they are able to choose from more destinations, which are not dominated by tour operators, where there is an authentic experience. This is reflected through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where experienced travellers have ‘inductive or arousal-seeking motives’ (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 5), and are looking to achieve self-actualisation, whereby their travelling needs are fulfilled by their experiences, such experiences which tour operators may not be able to fulfil, and hence these travellers create their own itinerary based on their preferences. In stage three of Schmoll’s model, it talks about the traveller’s confidence in the tourism product and the provider. Consumers tend to have more confidence when booking a holiday with established and reputable tour operating brands, such as Thomas Cook, as you are protected from any cancellations or otherwise from the tourist producers.
In particular, with tightening travelling budgets due to the economic recession, some consumers prefer to spend more money, but be protected against losses with tour operators, whereas, consumers are subject to a significant amount of time and risk to claim their money back if there are any problems if they have booked directly with the tourist producers. This trend opposes the hypothesis. Although Schmoll’s model provides an accurate and complete outline of the travel decision process, there are some weaknesses. The model is not dynamic as there is no feedback loop, and no thought towards onsumers’ attitude towards the producer’s promotional activity (Cooper et al, 2009, p. 57). To further the argument against the hypothesis of the essay, I have stated that due to the economic climate, consumers prefer to book DIY holidays, as they cut the cost of the intermediary. However, tour operators have significant buying power in many commercialised tourist resorts, and therefore have the bargaining power to provide consumers with a cheaper holiday option than one if they booked it themselves (Cooper et al, 2009, p. 96). What’s more, due to tour operators buying holiday packages in bulk from the producers, frequently these packages will not all sell at full price, and tour operators will significantly decrease the price for consumers, as the holiday dates come around. For example, Internet sites such as ‘lastminte. com’ excel due to their low cost deals, providing customers with cheap, package holidays. From this overall trend towards DIY in tourism, there are implications for managing and marketing tourism.
A significant change is how tourism producers address their marketing mix; defined as the Product, Price, Promotion and Place of the tourist activity. For example, it is evident that low cost airlines, such as EasyJet have grown substantially over the past 15 years, due to this new demand across Europe and the world for low cost flight travel. In 2007, EasyJet’s passenger inventory rose by 13% in one year alone (Forbes, 2007). EasyJet were one of the pioneers to attack this market, and they have built a strong brand image, surrounding their bright orange logo, and their cheap airlines tickets.
Its tangible features are informal, with no tickets or seat allocations, and you book online, minimising EasyJet’s costs. The price represents a fair value for the service, allowing consumers to interpret the product they are buying is not a luxury way or flying, but customers are at their destination for the price of a ‘pair of jeans’ (EasyJet, nd). We can also identify implications on the strategy of the tourism industry. With the rising trend towards DIY in tourism, as described earlier, many tourism operators need to re-evaluate their strategy by using the “SWOT nalysis” whereby they analyse their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) facing the organisation (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 563). From this, they can create their objectives using the SMART acronym, where they set out their intentions but within an acceptable risk limit (Cooper et al, 2008, p. 564). For example, Hotelplan, UK, which includes tour operating brands Inghams and Esprit, have dropped some of their skiing destinations, in favour for others, due to cost and safer snow conditions.
This tour operator has faced a decline over recent years due to the recession, but due to new ski packages, they have received increase demand for new, innovative destinations such as Russia, where skiers can enjoy the new ski slopes being prepared for the 2014 Winter Olympics (Daily Mail, 2011). Furthermore, the tour operator Crystal Ski have created new Ski Plus packages which are sensitively priced, allowing consumers with small budgets to benefit from all-inclusive packages which are value for money (Daily Mail, 2011). These examples of new strategies have come about due to the trend towards DIY in tourism.
Another implication from this increasing trend in DIY in tourism, is the increasing interest for travellers towards the experience economy. Consumers want to spend less and less money on products and services, such as flights and accommodation, and more money and time on experiences. For example, we can see the more ‘travelled’ tourist seeking the more unusual authentic experience, rather than the commercialised package holiday, as outlined by Nordin (2005) in his social aspect of his tourism decision making process model.
As the essay draws to a close, it is evident to see a relative decline in demand for package holidays in proportion to the demand for DIY holidays. The key reasons lie with the changing technological and economic environment and how they affect consumer’s behaviour towards their purchasing decision. For example, the development in technology has allowed more producers an alternative distribution channel to sell their products to the consumer without an intermediary, and the Internet revolution has allowed more competition within the tourism industry, affecting tourism producers marketing mix and strategy.
A key issue also having an affect on the tourism industry, in particular for the UK, is the depreciation of the Pound to the Euro in recent years. This increases the cost of UK tourists travelling to Europe and henceforth and encouraged many to stay within the UK. This supports the trend to DIY in tourism, as many domestic travellers seek the comfort and convenience of the comprehensive rail network the UK has to offer with more than 2500 stations across the UK (Britain by Rail, nd).
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