The Effects of Different Aspects of Tourism Services on Travelers' Quality of Life: Model Validation, Refinement, and Extension
Neal, Janet Davis
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Numerous satisfaction studies have been conducted in both tourism and marketing which have examined various aspects of travelers and/or consumers. Quality of life satisfaction studies look beyond the types of satisfaction experiences that endure for only a short time to those that "spill over" into individuals' life domains thus enhancing their overall life satisfaction. Many research studies in the discipline of marketing have revealed that the overall quality of life of consumers may be affected by the marketing efforts of organizations for all of the marketing mix elements. Although it logically follows that the marketing endeavors of tourism organizations would likely have the same impact on their consumers (i.e., travelers), little research has been done to date to determine the validity of this premise. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of leisure tourism on the traveler's quality of life. A model and measurement instrument which help to explain the role of satisfaction with leisure tourism services and experiences in satisfaction with leisure life and overall life were designed for use in this study. The model was based on the hierarchy of life satisfaction model and speculated that overall life satisfaction is derived from satisfaction with the major life domains (e.g., leisure life). Lasting satisfaction or dissatisfaction experienced within the leisure life domain spills up vertically to the most superordinate domain (life in general), thus affecting the overall life satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the traveler. Both the model and the measurement instrument were validated, refined, and extended in this study. A survey of 815 consumers of travel/tourism services who reside in Southwest Virginia was conducted. Structural Equation Modeling (i.e., LISREL) analysis was performed to test the goodness of fit of the model. The results indicated a good model fit. That is, no revisions to the hypothesized model were needed, thus confirming the belief leisure travel does contribute to travelers' overall quality of life satisfaction. Additional analyses were conducted to test the moderating effects of personality type, length of stay, and type of trip on select relationships in the model. Differences of effects for some of the relationships in the model were identified for length of stay and type of trip, but not for the traveler's personality type. Among the key findings of this work are the establishment of those factors which contribute to the overall life satisfaction of travelers, the validation of a measurement instrument which could be used periodically by industry experts to gauge the "health" of the industry in its contribution to the overall life satisfaction of tourism consumers, and the revelation that the length of stay moderates several of the relationships in the model, thus suggesting differences in the way the various identified components influence the overall life satisfaction of short-term versus long-term visitors.