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Tourist Engagement: Conceptualization, Scale Development and Empirical Validation

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Title: Tourist Engagement: Conceptualization, Scale Development and Empirical Validation
Author: huang, shuyue
Department: School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management
Program: Management
Advisor: Choi, Hwan-Suk Chris
Abstract: This thesis continues the recent discussion on the conceptualization, scale development and empirical studies of engagement for a better understanding of customer experience, especially in the context of tourism. This study aims to answer a variety of questions raised by the engagement studies in consumer behavior, including the lack of (1) systematic scholarly inquiry on engagement definition and scope, (2) consensus regarding its dimensionality, and (3) understanding of engagement’s effect on assessing, predicting and enhancing customer loyalty, as well as its interaction with various existing loyalty antecedents. This study conceptualizes tourist engagement (TE) as a psychological state that occurs by virtue of interactive, co-creative tourist experiences with a focal agent/object (people/attraction/ activities/encounters) in focal travel experience relationships. By using the three steps of item generation, scale purification, and scale validation, this study develops a four-dimensional, second-order, 16-item measurement model of TE scale, including social interaction, interaction with employees, relatedness, and activity related tourist engagement (with two sub-dimensions, immersed involvement and novelty-seeking). This scale demonstrates sufficient psychometric properties on uni-dimensionality, reliability, and validity; the predictive validity test presents a significant effect of TE on behavioral intention, explaining for 35.4% its variance. Moreover, this study delineates and empirically validates TE’s role in capturing the quality of tourist experience, focusing on its relationship with perceived service quality, perceived value, satisfaction, and behavioral intention. Despite the insignificant direct effect between TE and behavioral intention in an integrated model, TE does exert the largest total effect on behavioral intention compared to the other three predictors. Also, results show that by improving the engaging experience, tourist perception on service quality, value, and overall satisfaction can be significantly enhanced. Meanwhile, a variety of data collection methods (in-depth interviews, focus groups, Amazon Mechanical Turk survey, and online panel) and analytical techniques (exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and MANOVA) were used. This study presents the first endeavor to develop a marketing tool of engagement to measure the quality of travel experience. It contributes to research on engagement studies, tourist experience and destination service management.
Date: 2017-09
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada