Marketing in tourism

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Methodology

Research Approach

There are two research approaches to conducting an investigation which are determined by the purpose of each study, and these are the inductive and deductive approach.
According to Dew (2007), a deductive approach draws on previous understandings of an as-pect of the world, and from that understanding a hypothesis is developed and tested. If the hypothesis is supported, the prior theoretical understanding is maintained, and if not then the understanding is modified. It represents the most common view of the nature of the relation-ship between theory and research (Bryman & Bell, 2003). In contrast, in the case of an induc-tive approach, prior theories and attempts to build up an understanding of the world from the data are set aside. As Elo and Kynga (2007) explain, if there is not enough knowledge about the phenomenon or if this knowledge is fragmented, the inductive approach is recommended. Furthermore, an approach based on inductive data moves from the specific to the general, so that particular instances are observed and then combined into a larger whole or general state-ment.
For this research topic, the authors of this paper apply a deductive approach to follow the purpose of this study as existing theory is being critiqued and analyzed. The study at hand is an exploratory study aimed at understanding the relation between experience economy and marketing strategies in the tourism industry. The authors analyze what theory holds on the re-search topic and then compare it against the practice, interviewing ‗experts‘ in the subjects– the travel agencies. Since the experience economy is a recent phenomenon in the academic literature, the authors wanted to take the research to the next level by confronting the theory with the practice. Therefore, the deductive approach deemed to be as the most suitable one.

Research Type: Qualitative

Research may be categorized in two distinct types: qualitative and quantitative. Amaratunga et al. (2002) explain that qualitative research concentrates on words and observations to ex-press reality and attempts to describe people in natural situations. For example, a qualitative study should be used to investigate the reasons for human behaviour, to discover the underly-ing motives and desires of individuals. On the other hand, the quantitative approach grows out of a strong academic tradition that places considerable trust in numbers that represent opinions or concepts, it‘s aim is to measure quantity or amount. Since the experience econ-omy and its‘ marketing implications is a topic hardly discussed in the academic literature, the authors wanted to analyze what has been said on this matter so far and investigate what are the reason behind the rise of experience economy in Europe. Therefore, the authors focused on an in depth literature review as a secondary research tool and looked at the data from the World Value Survey and interpreted with verbal description it to understand the link between society‘s beliefs and values and the impact it has on experience economy.
According to Patton (1990), qualitative methods permit studying certain issues of interest in depth and detail having quite limited sizes of samples. Quantitative methods are intended to measure the reaction of a person to a limited set of questions with a strong influence on num-bers and survey research; this facilitates the comparison and statistical aggregation of the data. From this perspective, the qualitative approach was more relevant as the authors aimed at talking to travel agencies representatives to analyze and draw conclusions based on the in-formation gained from interviewing a relatively small amount of the experts in the Swedish tourism industry.
Due to the nature of this study, the authors of this paper follow a qualitative approach to fulfil the purpose of this investigation. An exploratory approach is deemed most appropriate as the research involves better understanding of implications of the experience economy for the tourism industry in Sweden, and the marketing implications derived from such. The choice of the method is also supported by the tool for data gathering, semi-structured interviews. Furthermore, it is the nature of the problem and purpose that make a qualitative approach more suitable and will broaden author’s understanding more than a quantitative approach would do. The authors are, however, fully aware that in comparison to the quantitative re-search, a qualitative study usually does not allow generalizing the research results. Thus the authors do not have intention of making generalisations.

Research Strategy

The research strategy used in any study is predominantly defined by the purpose of the re-search. According to Saunders et al. (2007), there are three main types of purposes of re-search: exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory. An exploratory study is used to examine a particular phenomenon or a problem, seek for new insights afterwards assessing it from a new perspective. The purpose of descriptive research is to give an accurate description of persons, events, and situations (Saunders et al., 2007), while explanatory studies are mainly focused on studying a problem with the purpose of establishing causal relationships between variables.
The purpose of this research is explorative. On the one hand, it aims to confront findings from literature review with reality. On the other hand, it is designed to identify issues and problems that have not been deeply researched and studied in literature yet. The goal this ex-ploratory research at hand is to provide significant insight to the topic, even if it is not gener-alizable to the population at large. Judging from Saunders et al. (2007), an exploratory tech-nique can give a clearer understanding of the chosen problem and this goes in line with the purpose of the study, and what the authors want to learn from it.

Data Collection and Data Analysis

According to Chandler (1998), there are two main forms of methodology: data gathering and
data analysis. There are two types of data collection: primary and secondary data. Primary data is data collected specifically for the research project being undertaken. Zikmund (2002) also defines primary data as data gathered and assembled specifically for the research project at hand. In case of this study, face to face interviews and the self administrated questionnaire shall be considered as the primary data. Literature review, however, demonstrated the secon-dary data gathered for this thesis. As a result, data collection (data gathering) in this study in-cludes secondary and primary data usage. The data analysis includes content analysis and discourse analysis, among others.

Primary Data Collection

Every method to conduct a research has its unique assignation and used appropriately can lead to sufficient results. Therefore, it is crucial to choose most suitable data collection method. Due to the fact that the research approach is inductive and the purpose and nature of study explorative, interviews and questionnaires are chosen as tool for primary data gather-ing. According to Saunders et al. (2007), interviews are recommended when it is important to understand the reasons for the attitudes and opinions. In this research, interviews along with questionnaires are designed to give perspective to why certain marketing strategies are used by travel companies in Sweden, resulting in tying these motives to the concepts of the experi-ence economy.
Since a qualitative approach is flexible as mentioned before, it enables researcher to directly follow up any unclear points that might occur after a respondent gives an answer (Marshall & Rossman, 2006). Secondly, researcher can always get back to certain questions to face the is-sues that have emerged in the course of interview (Bryman & Bell, 2007). Thirdly, it is flexi-ble in the aspect of analysis of the data (Marshall & Rossman, 2006), which is of great impor-tance to this study since the interviews are unique. By this it is meant that there is no fixed way to analyze the findings.
As accuracy in this type of research is of great significance, it is important to mention that use of interviewing techniques reduces possible misunderstandings because the interviewer can assure that all the questions are clear to respondents, and that they understand what they are asked. In this way, biases associated with respondent‘s misunderstandings or misinterpreta-tions of questions are reduced (Bryman & Bell, 2007). On the other hand, the questionnaire distributed by e-mail does not provide such an opportunity to explain in detail every question asked to the respondents. Therefore, for instance, in the questionnaire the authors did not in-clude a question about experience economy itself, since they felt that asking about a phe-nomenon the majority of people is not aware of, could serve as a source of biased answer.
Interviews provide rich, detailed answers that allow in-depth study of a phenomenon. As the nature of the study is mostly explorative and the authors of the thesis aim at studying the phenomenon, conducting interviews is an appropriate data gathering method. During the course of the data gathering process, however, the authors needed to be flexible and (due to travel agencies‘ small willingness to participate in the face to face interviews), use structured self-administrated questionnaire as a research tool too. This type of interview is typically used for descriptive or explanatory type of research. Being aware of that, the authors would like to stress that the character of this research is more exploratory even if the information gained from the questionnaires in more descriptive than the data obtained from the face to face interviews.

Company and Interviewee Selection

The entire group of people, things or events of interest, which the researcher is interested to investigate, is called population (Sekaran, 2000). The authors of this research were interested in interviewing the individuals in charge of marketing in travel agencies in Sweden. The au-thors believed that only interviews with respondents experienced in the field of research could assure quality findings and validity to the study. As a result, specifically the directors of marketing were contacted and therefore interviewed. This was a result of the following data collection method:
• Research of international companies operating in the country of Sweden
• Contacting the companies via e-mail in order to provide recipients with an explana-tion of the purpose of the study and attachment with the interview questions
• Once companies have demonstrated willingness to participate in the research and proved to be valid to the research study, authors were calling people nominated to be respondents to arrange a meeting
It is also important to justify the choice of Sweden as a case study country. Firstly, at the time of conducting the study the authors reside in Sweden, which makes it the most convenient country for conducting the empirical study. Secondly, and more importantly, the authors con-sider Sweden to be a front-runner when it comes to experience economy countries.
The experience economy varies from country to country. Bille and Lorenzen (2008, cited in Bille 2010) give three indicators that are important to be taken into account when analyzing what drives and characterizes growth and development in the experience economy:
• A general increase in income and welfare
• The technological development
• The increasing globalization and internationalization
Sweden is a country that encompasses all three of these characteristics. Firstly, it is a high-income economy. According to the information from the World Development Indicators da-tabase (World Bank, 2009); Sweden is the 9th of the top 10 economies based on Gross Na-tional Income per capita. Secondly, the Information and Communication Technology Devel-opment Index (IDI) — a ranking released in 2009 by United Nations, puts Sweden on the top of the most advanced nations list when it comes to information and communication technolo-gy. IDI compared developments in 154 countries worldwide over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007 using indicators such as households with a computer, the number of Internet us-ers and computer literacy levels. Thirdly, Sweden is an export-oriented market economy. As specified by Näringslivets Ekonomifakta AB (2010), more than half of everything manufac-tured in Sweden is exported, which indicates the economy‘s internationalization level. Fur-thermore, Jakobsson (2007) argues that ―Sweden is one of the countries in which the trend towards increased globalization of recent years has been strongest‖.
Another indicator of the experience economy in a given country is its culture. The World Value Survey Association (2010) mapped the values of seven countries, as demonstrated in Figure 4. Major areas of human concern, such as religion, politics, economics, and social life were depicted in two major dimensions of cross-cultural variation: rational-secular values and self-expression values. Moving from left to right reflects the shift from rational-secular val-ues to self-expression values. Sweden is nearest to the self-expression values pole. This means that the Swedish society values well-being, self-expression and quality of life, leaving the traditional emphasis on economic and psychical security behind. Hence, Sweden can be considered as a front-runner among experience economies.
However, the authors do not want to the take for granted the theories suggesting that expe-rience economy is a phenomenon that can be observed only in the wealthy countries. There-fore, change in the attitudes and values shall be analyzed for four European economies. These include two wealthy nations, Sweden and Great Britain; one transition economy, Poland; and lastly, one of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova (World Bank, 2010).Resulting from the exploration of attitudes and values of these particular nations, the authors plan to contri-bute to the research on the experience economy phenomenon in Europe.

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Data collection restraints

When it came to accessing the primary data and attracting Swedish travel agencies to inter-view, it was found that overall, they were generally unresponsive and unwilling to be of as-sistance. Following the authors‘ numerous requests via telephone and e-mail, more often than not the lack of willingness to participate was attributed to the fact that the companies lacked the time to meet face-to-face. They also claimed that there were too many similar re-quests from other researchers to fairly distribute the information everyone needed. Unfortunately around the time of data collection, the Icelandic volcanic ash disaster took place which disrupted every company associated with travel services. That was for sure the biggest im-pediment to the research, as the companies understandably needed to be focused on re-organizing after the multiple disturbances caused by the ash.

Sample size

As explained by Zikmund (2002), sampling involves any procedure that uses a small number of items or that uses parts of the population to make a conclusion regarding the whole popula-tion. The reason for using a sample is that the population can be conformed of a big number of people or objects, what makes it impossible to collect data and test it (Sekaran, 2000). For the purpose of this study, two respondents participated in two interviews. Due to time re-straints and the lack of willingness of respondents to participate in interviews, the researchers later distributed questionnaires of the same topic to travel agencies via e-mail, and success-fully received 3 respondents‘ completed questionnaires. Punch (1998) argues that if the natu-re of the research questions requires a statistical representativeness of the sample in order to conduct a legitimate sample-to-population inference, this should be fulfilled. However, the reserach questions in this study make are of exploratory kind. The purpose is to gain more understanding and knowledge on the experience economy and its marketing emplicatilons. Genetralization of the reserach findings is not intended.
Figure 5 illustrates the thought process that has led the authors to choose a self-selection sampling techinque for the primary data collection.
As explained by Saunders et al. (2007, p.233), self-selection sampling occurs when resear-chers allow each case, usually individuals, to identify their desire to take part in the research. Firstly, researchers need to publicize their need for cases, either by advertising through ap-propriate media or by asking them to take part. Secondly, the researchers collect data from those who respond.
When designing the study, the authors were planning to interview face to face as many travel agencies as possible. This is was due to the logic that the more participants taking part in the study, the more knowledge on the topic at hand can be gained. Becasue of the lack of wil-lingness to participate in the study, described earlier in the restraints section, the authors needed to adapt and try to appeal to companies when contacting them for the second or third time (the companies were contacted firstly by e-mail, then by telephone, and lastly by e-mail with a short questionnaire attached). The number of participants is not the ideal, originally planned set-up for the study. However, the authors believe that the quality of the data gained from the face to face interviews and later on from the questionnaires is high enough to draw relevant conclusions. Considering the exploratory purpose of this study, it is also of great im-portance that the companies vary from each other; for instance, in this case whether they are considered a luxury travel company, or more of a high-street one. Having gathered the data the authors found that the luxury or high-street status has an impact on the importance a com-pany given to providing experience in their services. To conclude, the authors would like to emphasize that even though the sample used in this study is small, the consequences for the thesis are not major. Even though generalizations for the all travel agencies in Sweden cannot be drawn with such a small sample, the exploratory purpose of the study is fulfilled with the quality data that was gathered and analyzed.

Designing Interview Questions

As stated before, the researchers in total conducted two semi-structured interviews and re-ceived three completed questionnaires. Semi-structured interviews are useful for research that is primarily exploratory, such as the study at hand. Differing from a structured interview that is more standardized and predetermined, a semi-structured interview gives more flexibil-ity to the researchers and it allows the interviewee to build on their answers (Saunders et al., 2007). During each of the two interviews the researchers had a list of questions in prepara-tion. However, although the themes and topics remained the same for both, there were slight variations in the order of questions due to the differing flow of conversation. Also, due to the fact that semi-structured interviews were undertaken, a couple of questions were either added or omitted depending on the relevancy to the company and the context of the interview.
The two face-to-face interviews were both conducted in Stockholm, Sweden on the same day. Both of the interviewees of the companies were head of marketing, Janne Lundbladh and Momenul Islam, respectively. Both of the interviews lasted approximately an hour, were conducted entirely in the English language, and were conducted in an informal setting in the company offices of the interviewees. In addition, both interviews were audio recorded to en-sure upmost validity. Beforehand, the researchers read up on some background information of the companies and after a brief summary of the research topic, the questions were initiated from which the interviewee delivered insightful knowledge and opinions.
The list of interview questions (comprising twelve) used for both companies is included in the Appendix 2. Even if there were slight variations in the structure of the interview, the main purpose of the questions remained the same. The focus was on addressing the evolution of marketing from traditional practices to more of an experiential one, the main marketing tac-tics employed by the companies, and questioning whether the four realms of experience model is taken into consideration by the company.

Questionnaire

The researchers faced multiple obstacles in obtaining more than two face-to-face interviews, so therefore a questionnaire addressing the same topic were distributed to many Swedish companies. Out of at least fifty companies which were contacted, the researchers received answered and completed questionnaires from three companies who were willing to contribute to the study: Lime Travel, Lotus Travel, and Apollo. In contrast to the interviews which comprised twelve questions, the questionnaire was shorter and contained six questions. However, the questions with the topics deemed most important after the interviews, mainly questions surrounding marketing tactics related to the experience economy, were also in-cluded in the questionnaire and constructed in a way that mimicked the structure and organi-zation of the interview questions. The list of questions distributed via e-mail to the three companies is included in the Appendix 3.

Secondary Data Collection

Secondary data is used for a research project that was originally collected for some other pur-pose. Zikmund (2002) also defines it as data that has been previously collected for some pro-ject other than the one at hand and adds that, secondary sources can be found inside the com-pany, library or Internet, among others. To assure best results, both types of data are used in this research.
Unlike the issues with primary data collections, where the authors faced many obstacles in gathering interviews and questionnaires, a broader range of secondary data could be accessed. Although the experience economy is a recent phenomenon and is still somewhat lacking, the theoretical background and research could be found in reliable sources such as books, schol-arly journals, and reports.

ResearchValidity

Cronbach and Meehl (1955, Cited in Bisckman & Rog, 1998) define validity as the extent to which answers correspond to true values of what we are trying to describe or measure. Hence, in relation to interviews, validity refers to the ability of it to measure what is intended to measure (Saunders et al., 1997). Validity, in a qualitative research, is divided into three main parts: content, criterion-related and construct validity. Saunders et al. (2007) define con-tent validity as the extent to which the measurement device provides adequate coverage of the investigative questions. For the purpose of this research, the authors carefully chose the sec-ondary data- academic journals and books, as well as statistical secondary data. Criterion-related validity, sometimes known as predictive validity, is concerned with the ability of the measures (questions) to make accurate predictions. The questions were designed to confront findings on experience economy and marketing strategies from the secondary data, with the practice of tourist agencies in Sweden. The open questions enabled the authors to get the ex-pected answers, and to leave the room for respondents to share any additional information they have found relevant. Construct validity refers to the extent to which measurement ques-tions actually measure the presence of those constructs intended them to measure. Since validity is dependent on measurement, accurate measurement increases validity as well as reli-ability. The primary data gathered for the purpose of this study, enable the authors to deepen the knowledge on the impact experience economy has on the marketing strategies of the tour-ist agencies in Sweden. Hence, the questions asked by the authors were constructed well enough for the purpose of the study to be fulfilled with the answers received.
One important aspect of the interviews and questionnaires that could hinder validity, how-ever, is the fact that everything was conducted in English, which is not the mother tongue of any of the respondents, and it is the mother tongue of just one of the two researchers. On the other hand, all individuals are fluent in English. Therefore, the authors do not consider that this is a significant hindrance to the validity of the study.
Furthermore, the validity and reliability in this study have been ensured by:
• Designing questions to broaden understanding of the issues raised in the literature re-view
• Assuring relevance of the questions to the purpose of the study
• Pre-testing interview questions with colleagues at the university to assure they are clear to a potential respondent
• Contacting people from each company with appropriate knowledge to discuss subjects raised in the interviews
• Making clear the purpose of the study to its participants before conducting interviews
• Sending the questions to the respondent at the first stage of communication
• Taking interviews in an environment, where respondent was feeling comfortable; to assure privacy, confidentiality, and non-judgmental view
• Tape recording as the nest method to produce a trustworthy transcript
• Checking the consistency of the information

Table of Contents
1 Introduction
1.1. Background
1.2 Problem
1.3 Purpose
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Defining experience economy
2.2 Experience economy and attitudes, values, and beliefs
2.3 Marketing in tourism
2.4 Marketing implications for the hospitality industry
3 Methodology
3.1 Research Approach
3.2 Research Type: Qualitative
3.3 Research Strategy
3.4 Data Collection and Data Analysis
3.5 ResearchValidity
4 EmpiricalFindings
4.1 Company Profiles & the Findings
4.2 Focus on the Swedish tourist market
5 Data Analysis
5.1 Experience economy
5.2 Experimental marketing
5.3 Relationship management
6 Conclusions
7 References
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