Greetings, I’m Dr. Ondrej Mitas. I teach in the National Field Project of the BSc Tourism. For the past three years, in this project, we have measured tourists’ emotions at various destinations in the Netherlands. While students always enjoy the topic, I sometimes get asked how emotions are relevant to the tourism industry and to tourism management. Here’s my explanation. I hope it gets you thinking about the National Field Project or your thesis, and I hope it helps the industry understand the value of this topic.
WHAT ARE EMOTIONS?
Emotions are brief, intense reactions to happenings in the outside world. The causes and outcomes of emotions are predictable. For example, finding success or fulfillment makes us feel joy, making us more creative and expressive. On the other hand, when something gets in our way, we become angry, and thus behave aggressively. Emotions are conscious and powerful. The travel industry uses emotional content in their marketing and product design, but the relevance of emotions is still under-appreciated.
WHY ARE EMOTIONS IMPORTANT?
Emotions are the way people evaluate the value of their experiences. Emotions evolved in humans as a kind of information––a way to judge whether something is good or bad and how to react to it (Greifeneder, Bless, & Pham, 2011). Therefore, behind every decision is an emotion. Because emotions are central to behavior and decision making, it is necessary to deal with emotions consciously and precisely in marketing, designing, and managing customers’holiday experiences.
Emotions fuel memory. Very few of the things that happen to us make it into long-term memory. Specifically, only episodes with strong emotional content are memorable (Baumeister, Vohs, DeWall, & Zhang, 2007). Because creating and reliving memories are major motivations for going on holiday (Pearce & Lee, 2005), strong positive emotional experiences are a must.
Emotions affect quality of life over the long term.Research shows that positive emotions broaden and build quality of life, including relationships, health, and life satisfaction (Fredrickson, 2004; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). Positive emotions in peoples’holidays suggest that a good holiday is also an essential part of quality of life (Mitas, 2012). When a holiday experience improves long-term quality of life, people are willing to pay. This includes effects ranging from spiritual transformations to the medical effects of good weather. More importantly, holidays have unusual potential to increase quality of life by deepening relationships with family and friends.
WHAT CAN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY DO with emotions?
Plan emotions. According to Shaw and Ivens (2002), planning emotions for each point of contact with customers is crucial for business performance. Because the causes of important positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and love are well known, it is not only possible, but necessary to design interactions to spark positive emotions throughout customers’experiences.
Measure emotions. In the past, the travel industry has focused on measuring behavioral outcomes such as intent to purchase, return, and recommend. These are important, but they are not a pure, direct measurement of how good, how valuable someone’s holiday was, because they are affected by intervening variables such as a person’s future plans and income. Emotions are, thus, the way to directly quantify how much a customer has enjoyed their holiday.
Focus on emotions as a mechanism of relevant outcomes. Emotions are a means to an end. Elements of holiday experiences predictably prompt certain emotions, and these emotions in turn predictably drive customers’ behaviors such as loyalty and recommendation. By designing and measuring emotions into holiday experiences, travel businesses gain control over the mechanism of the outcomes they desire.
Scientific journal publications on emotions with Bsc Tourism students
The Snap-Happy Tourist: The Effects of Photographing Behavior on Tourists’ Happiness
S Gillet, P Schmitz, O Mitas
Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research
Scientific conference papers on emotions with Bsc Tourism students
The effect of photography on tourists’ happiness
Wiegel, H., Mitas, O. & Luhrmann, J.
Travel and Tourism Research Association Europe, 2013
Scientific journal publications on emotions with colleagues
Changes in emotions and their interactions with personality in a vacation context
Y Lin, D Kerstetter, J Nawijn, O Mitas
Tourism Management 40, 416-424
Taking a “Peak” at Leisure Travelers’ Positive Emotions
O Mitas, C Yarnal, R Adams, N Ram
Leisure Sciences 34 (2), 115-135
How Do We Feel on Vacation? A Closer Look at How Emotions Change over the Course of a Trip
J Nawijn, O Mitas, Y Lin, D Kerstetter
Journal of Travel Research
Resident Attitudes to Tourism and Their Effect on Subjective Well-Being The Case of Palma de Mallorca
J Nawijn, O Mitas
Journal of Travel Research 51 (5), 531-541
Jokes build community: Mature tourists’ positive emotions
O Mitas, C Yarnal, G Chick
Annals of Tourism Research 39 (4), 1884-1905
“The Fun Begins Now!”: Broadening and Building Processes in Red Hat Society® Participation
O Mitas, XL Qian, C Yarnal, D Kerstetter
Journal of Leisure Research 43 (1), 30-55
Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., DeWall, C. N., & Zhang, L. (2007). How emotion shapes behavior: Feedback, anticipation, and reflection, rather than direct causation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(2), 167-203.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Philosophical Transactions-Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, 1367-1378.
Greifeneder, R., Bless, H., & Pham, M. T. (2011). When do people rely on affective and cognitive feelings in judgment? A review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 107-141.
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success?. Psychological bulletin, 131(6), 803.
Mitas, O. (2010). POSITIVE EMOTIONS IN MATURE ADULTS’LEISURE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES (Doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University).
Shaw, C., & Ivens, J. (2002). Building great customer experiences. Palgrave Macmillan