Editor's Pick - March 2023
Influence of sensory experiences on tourists’ emotions, destination memories, and loyalty
This study of the relationships between tourists’ sensory experiences, emotions, experience memories, and destination loyalty induced a sense of nostalgia for the good old pre-2020 days, when travel had fewer logistical barriers. In lieu of being able to jet-set overseas myself these days, I was more than willing to learn about what other people enjoy in their holiday expeditions.
Yang et al. conducted a survey of around 300 tourists who had visited Wuyi Mountain, which is a natural and cultural World Heritage Site in China. Their aim was to establish the internal mechanisms by which tourists’ sensory experiences affect their loyalty to the destination. Three main findings were obtained: First, sensory experiences had a direct, significant impact on loyalty. Second, sensory experiences positively affected loyalty by influencing memories of the tourism experience. Third, emotional experiences and travel experience memories influenced the path of sensory experiences to tourist loyalty.
Upon reading these results, I realized I was not the only one experiencing nostalgia in this setting! There was a clear mediating effect of tourists’ travel experience memories in the relationship between sensory experiences and destination loyalty. It made sense to me that positive memories would increase tourists’ loyalty to a destination, and that positive sensory feedback would have the same function. I, too, would choose to revisit a location that held such associations.
The authors assessed visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and haptic senses in the context of the tourist destination, though responses to the dimensions on this measure were summed to form a total score so it was not possible to examine the individual effects of each sense. I would be interested to see these data separated out by dimension in future works to allow for understanding of their different impacts (if any). The authors note this limitation as well. Regardless, I appreciated the memories of my own travel experiences that were unearthed by reading this paper, and looking at photos of Wuyi Mountain in pursuit of background research has been a pleasant way to pass the time this afternoon.
Sarah Krivan | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal