Hotel Online
News for the Hospitality Executive


advertisement


PolyU Study Finds Travelers Look to Guidebooks
for Information and Inspiration

18 February 2013 - The most important purpose of a travel guidebook, according to the School of Hotel and Tourism Management’s (SHTM) Dr Simon Wong and Gladys Liu, is to highlight functional information such as attractions, food and new experiences. In a recent study the researchers show that independent travellers in particular refer to guidebooks to find information that will help them plan their itineraries and travel more efficiently. The quality of the information is also important, and must be “accurate, concise, up-to-date and objective”. These findings will help to inform publishers of the features that travellers find most useful when purchasing a guidebook.

Because travel often involves visiting unknown destinations, travellers need to use guidebooks to help them make choices about their destinations and to plan their trips. Guidebooks provide descriptions of the destination and places of interest, details of accommodation, restaurants and activities, and factual information on the climate, currency and customs. In short they shape travellers’ expectations.

Guidebooks can also be used as reference sources during trips. While those travellers who book comprehensive package tours may not need to make further decisions once they have chosen their destination, the researchers observe that for independent travellers, “an ongoing process of travel decision making may be required”.

However, knowing which guidebook to choose is not always straightforward. The researchers explain that “there are hundreds if not thousands of travel guidebooks on the market”. Amongst these are many that focus on different aspects of the same destination. There is a broad division between those guidebooks that focus on the destination and those that develop a theme, which heavily influences the content. Some provide information on a particular country’s food, accommodation and transportation, whereas others focus on specific activities or facilities such as diving and spas.

The researchers thus set out to identify what travellers need from guidebooks, including differences among different groups of travellers, and to make recommendations to publishers about how they can tailor information to travellers’ different requirements.

The researchers conducted a two-part study to examine the use of guidebooks among Hong Kong residents. First, 15 people who had recently travelled by air for leisure purposes were interviewed about their use of guidebooks before and during their trips. The information thus generated helped to shape a questionnaire with which the researchers surveyed 402 Hong Kong residents who were planning leisure travel in the next 12 months. The respondents were asked about their reasons for using a guidebook and elements of their travel plans such as their intended destination and length of trip.

A majority of the respondents were female (56.5%) and most were aged between 18 and 35 (68.7%). Over half were university educated (59.7%), but the largest single group earned incomes of less than HK$5,000 per month (31.1%). A majority of the trips were to be to Japan, Taiwan or mainland China (59.2%) and most of the respondents intended taking either an all-inclusive package tour or a basic package tour (68.2%). A majority planned to travel with friends (59.6%) and almost all of the respondents indicated that they would travel without bringing children (90.7%).

In analysing the survey results, the researchers identified a range of needs that these travellers indicated they would have when using guidebooks. The respondents noted that “functional needs” or the “immediate and direct utilitarian necessities that must be fulfilled if the trip is to proceed successfully” were the most significant. “Itinerary improvement needs” or the necessity of acquiring “extra information for improving the trip”, were the second most important. Ranked third were “quality information needs”, referring to whether the information is accurate, objective and up-to-date.

One of the less important needs was “travel partners’ needs” – planning a trip according to the specific needs of travelling companions such as the elderly, children or the disabled. The least important set of needs was “sign needs”, such as advising others on vacation matters or answering other people’s questions.

The importance of some of the needs varied according to participants’ age, education level and income level. For instance, those aged between 26 and 45 were less concerned about aesthetic needs – the use of pictures to visualise a destination. The researchers suggest that this group is more concerned that “time is money” than with the imagination; they tend to have higher incomes and travel to escape from their busy lives and seek new experiences.

Differences also emerged between respondents in terms of their “destination, mode of travel, length of trip, number of prior visits to the destination, travel companions and number of children. For example, those who intended to stay longer at their destination tended to place more importance on their itinerary improvement needs. The researchers suggest that “the more time available at the destination, the more flexible and customised the itinerary can become”.

Those respondents with children focused more on special services and facilities and sought information about theme parks, zoos and aquariums. The older respondents tended to be more concerned about their travel partners’ needs than were younger respondents because, according to the researchers, “older people usually travel with their children or their spouse who may have special needs”.

In light of these findings, the researchers make a number of practical recommendations for guidebook publishers. They suggest that the focus should be on providing practical information that can be continuously updated. For instance, users would like information on the opening hours and entrance fees of attractions and how to get there. Information on new experiences would also attract those with higher incomes, who tend to plan more personalised and innovative trips.

As aesthetic and hedonic needs are important to Hong Kong travellers, particular attention should be paid to the content of communications, which might include “word selection, use of visuals and writing style”. Publishers should also remain independent, urged the researchers, because guidebooks that are produced in collaboration with travel organisations may be seen as untrustworthy and less credible.

Overall, the researchers suggest that travellers look to guidebooks to find functional information on a destination. However, differences in the priority given to different needs may vary. Apart from practical information, guidebooks can provide comprehensive information that offers “an insight into prospective experiences” and thus have the “capacity to inspire the traveller”.



About School of Hotel and Tourism Management
PolyU’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management is a world-leading provider of hospitality and tourism education. It was ranked No. 2 internationally among hotel and tourism schools based on research and scholarship, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research in November 2009.

With 65 academic staff drawing from 19 countries and regions, the School offers programmes at levels ranging from Higher Diploma to Ph.D. Currently a member of the UNWTO Knowledge Network, the School was bestowed the McCool Breakthrough Award in 2012 by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE) recognising its breakthrough in the form of its teaching and research hotel – Hotel ICON – the heart of the School’s innovative approach to hospitality and tourism education.


Contact:

Ms Pauline Ngan
Senior Marketing Manager
School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Telephone :  +852 3400-2634
E-mail: pauline.ngan@polyu.edu.hk
Website: www.polyu.edu.hk/htm
 

.

Receive Your Hospitality Industry Headlines via Email for Free! Subscribe Here

 
To Learn More About Your News Being Published on Hotel-Online Inquire Here

Also See: PolyU Extends Deadline for Tomorrow’s Guestrooms Competition; Entries May be Submitted Through February 22, 2013 / January 2013

PolyU Study Analyzes Cultural Factors Challenging Management of International Hotel Chains as they Expand in China and throughout Asia / January 2013

The School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) Launches Global Competition in an Effort to Shape Tomorrow’s Guestrooms / December 2012

Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee Appointed Professor of Practice (Wine) by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) / December 2012

PolyU Study Finds Brand Management and Reliability Valued in Upscale Chinese Hotels / September 2012

PolyU Wins Honor for Advancing Hospitality and Tourism Education; Receives McCool Breakthrough Award from the International Council of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education / August 2012

PolyU Wins First Prize in Global Student Competition at Seoul Youth MICE Challenge of the Korea MICE Expo 2012 / August 2012

PolyU Offers Ph.D. Scholarship and Executive-in-Residence Programme to Officials of UNWTO Member States / June 2012

PolyU's 11th Asia Pacific Forum for Graduate Students Research in Tourism and International Convention & Expo Summit 2012 Opens Today with More than 250 Delegates Attending / May 2012

PolyU to Host 11th Asia Pacific Forum for Graduate Students Research in Tourism and International Convention & Expo Summit 2012 / April 2012

Hong Kong Polytechnic University Releases Report on 2011 Tourist Satisfaction Index / October 2011

Hong Kong Polytechnic University Celebrates Opening of Hotel ICON, its Teaching and Research Hotel, with Design Conference and Gala Dinner / September 2011

262-room Hotel ICON opens in Hong Kong / June 2011

Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hosts International Forum on China Hotel Brand Development at Hotel ICON / June 2011

Professor Kaye Chon, of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Honoured by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation with the UNWTO Ulysses Prize / May 2011

Hong Kong Polytechnic University Opens its Samsung Digital Lab for Hospitality Technology and New Premises for its School of Hotel and Tourism Management / March 2011

PolyU Hosted Executive Development Programme in Hospitality for Senior Hospitality Managers, 2011 Hong Kong PolyU Winter School® / February 2011

The 2011 Hong Kong PolyU Winter School, an Executive Development Program for Senior Hotel Managers, Set for January 17-29, 2011 / October 2010

Hong Kong PolyU's School of Hotel and Tourism Management Organizes Five Day Advanced Hotel Management Program; Targets Hotel Senior Executives / November 2003

School of Hotel & Tourism Becomes Independent at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University / June 2004
.

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.OnlineSearch

Home | Welcome| Hospitality News |
Industry Resources

Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.