Market Segmentation in Tourism: An Operational Assessment Framework

  • Vicky Katsoni
  • Maria Giaoutzi
  • Peter Nijkamp


Distribution channels are the paths by which tourism organizations can execute the communication and sales of their products and services. To varying degrees, all tourism product suppliers depend on these channels for the distribution of their products. Tourism destination organizations and individual businesses often find themselves making decisions concerning the development and distribution of their products, without having a full understanding of how the channel operators perceive and react to these strategic actions. If the proper distribution channels are developed, they can go a long way towards determining the patterns of destination use, penetrating target markets, and creating economic impact, as it is important to have an awareness of, and access to, effective distribution intermediaries. The specific objectives of this study were to compare the importance that international and domestic tourists attribute to various forms of information, both at tourism destinations and in the pre – trip context, and to carry out an analysis of their information sourcing behaviour, based on internal and external information sources, including the use of the Internet. Research in the province of Arcadia, in the form of a longitudinal study, offers an appreciation of not only what channels of distribution might best match the needs of a particular tourism destination, but also what product development and marketing actions would help the channel operators to draw visitors to it.


Distribution Channel Information Search Tourism Destination Trip Purpose Tourism Product 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alba J, Hutchinson JW (1987) Dimensions of consumer expertise. J Consum Res 13(4):411–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andereck KL, Caldwell LL (1994) Variable selection in tourism market segmentation models. J Travel Res 33(2):40–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assael H (1984) Consumer behavior and marketing action. Kent, BostonGoogle Scholar
  4. Baloglu S (1999) A path analytic model of visitation intention involving information sources, socio-psychological motivations, and destination image. J Travel Tour Mark 8(3):81–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bettman JR (1979) An information processing theory of choice. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  6. Bettman JR, Sujan M (1987) Research in consumer information processing. In: Houston MJ (ed) Review of marketing. American Marketing Association, Chicago, pp 197–235Google Scholar
  7. Bieger T, Laesser C (2002) Market segmentation by motivation. J Travel Res 41(1):68–76Google Scholar
  8. Bieger T, Laesser C (2004) Information sources for travel decisions: toward a source process model. J Travel Res 42(2):357–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bitner J, Booms BH (1982) Trends in travel and tourism marketing: the changing structure of distribution channels. J Travel Res 20(4):39–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bonn MA, Furr HL, Hausman A (2001) Using internet technology to request travel information and purchase travel services: a comparison of X’ers, boomers and mature market segments visiting Florida. In: Mazanec JA, Crouch GI, Brent JR, Woodside AG (eds) Consumer, psychology of tourism, hospitality and leisure, vol 2. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Brucks M (1985) The effects of product class knowledge on information search behavior. J Consum Res 12(1):1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buhalis D (2000a) Marketing the competitive destination of the future. Tour Manage 21:97–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Buhalis D (2000b) Relationships in the distribution channels of tourism: conflicts between hoteliers and tour operators in the Mediterranean region. Int J Hosp Tour Adm 1(1):113–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buhalis D, Law R (2008) Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet – the state of eTourism research. Tour Manage 29:609–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Buhalis D, Zoge M (2007) The strategic impact of the internet on the tourism industry. In: Information and communication technologies in tourism 2007, Proceedings of the international conference in Ljubljana, Springer eBookGoogle Scholar
  16. Calantone RJ, Mazenec JA (1991) Marketing management and tourism. Ann Tour Res 18:101–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cha S, McCleary KW, Uysal M (1995) Travel motivations of Japanese overseas travellers: a factor-cluster segmentation approach. J Travel Res 34(2):33–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Correia A (2002) How do tourists choose? Tourism 50(1):21–29Google Scholar
  19. Crompton J (1992) Structure of vacation destination choice sets. Ann Tour Res 19(2):420–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crotts JC (1998) Consumer decision-making and prepurchase information search. In: Pizam A, Mansfeld Y (eds) Consumer behavior in travel and tourism. Haworth, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Dawar N (1993) A cross-cultural study of interpersonal information seeking and giving behaviour (Working paper no 93/01). INSEAD, FontainebleauGoogle Scholar
  22. Duke CR, Persia MA (1993) Effects of distribution channel level on tour purchasing attributes and information sources. J Travel Tour Mark 2(2/3):37–55Google Scholar
  23. Etzel MJ, Wahlers RG (1985) The use of requested promotional material by pleasure travelers. J Travel Res 23(4):2–6Google Scholar
  24. Fodness D, Murray B (1997) Tourist information search. Ann Tour Res 24(3):503–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frochot I (2005) A benefit segmentation of tourists in rural areas: a Scottish perspective. Tour Manage 26:335–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gee CY, Makens JC, Choy DJL (1989) The travel industry, 2nd edn. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Gitelson RJ, Kerstetter DL (1990) The relationship between socio-demographic variables, benefit sought and subsequent vacation behavior: a case study. J Travel Res 28(3):24–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gretzel U, Fesenmaier DR, O’Leary JT (2006) Searching for the future: challenges facing destination marketing organizations. J Travel Res 45(2):116–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gursoy D, McLeary KW (2003) An integrative model of tourists’ information search behavior. Ann Tour Res 31(2):353–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Haukeland JV (1995) Tourism marketing through the distribution channel. Tour Rev 2:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Havitz ME, Dimanche F (1990) Propositions for guiding the empirical testing of the involvement construct in recreational and tourist context. Leis Sci 12(2):24–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hawkins DI, Best RJ, Coney KA (1998) Consumer behaviour; building marketing strategy. McGraw Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Hirschman E, Wallendorf M (1982) Motives underlying marketing information acquisition and knowledge transfer. J Advert 11(3):25–31Google Scholar
  34. Hoc J (1988) The cognitive psychology of planning. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Holloway JC, Plant RW (1988) Marketing for tourism. Pitman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. Hsieh S, O’Leary JT (1993) Communication channels to segment pleasure travelers. J Travel Tour Mark 2(2–3):57–75Google Scholar
  37. Hsieh S, O’Leary JT, Morrison AM (1992) Segmenting the international travel market by activity. Tour Manage 13(2):209–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hsu T, Tsai Y, Wu H (2009) The preference analysis for tourist choice of destination: a case study of Taiwan. Tour Manage 30:288–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hugstad P, Taylor JW (1987) The effects of social class and perceived risk on consumer information search. J Serv Mark 1(1):47–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jun HS, Vogt AC, Mackay JK (2007) Relationships between travel information search and travel product purchase in pretrip contexts. J Travel Res 45(3):266–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kastenholz E, Davis D, Paul G (1999) Segmenting tourism in rural areas: the case of North and Central Portugal. J Travel Res 37:353–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Katsoni V (2011) Policies for tourism development: marketing management and new technologies. Ph.D. thesis (in Greek). Panteion University, AthensGoogle Scholar
  43. Katsoni V (2011b) The role of ICTs in regional tourist development. Reg Sci Inq J 3(2):95–113Google Scholar
  44. Kim H, Cheng K, O’Leary JT (2007) Understanding participation patterns and trends in tourism cultural attractions. Tour Manage 28:366–371Google Scholar
  45. Kotler P (1998) Marketing management: analysis, planning, implementation, and control, 9th edn. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  46. Lambert DM (1998) Information economics research: points of departure. Inf Econ Policy 10(3):325–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lee M, Cunningham LF (2001) A cost/benefit approach to understanding service loyalty. J Serv Mark 15(2):113–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Leiper N (1990) Tourist attraction systems. Ann Tour Res 17(3):367–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lepp A, Gibson H (2008) Sensation seeking and tourism: tourist role, perception of risk and destination choice. Tour Manage 29:32–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lovelock CH, Wright C (1999) Principles of service marketing and management. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  51. Lutz RJ, Reilly PJ (1973) An exploration of the effects of perceived social and performance risk on consumer information acquisition. In: Ward S, Wright P (eds) Advances in consumer research, vol 1. Association for Consumer Research, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  52. Madrigal R, Kahle LR (1994) Predicting vacation activity preferences on the basis of value-system segmentation. J Travel Res 33(3):22–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mansfeld Y (1992) From motivation to actual travel. Ann Tour Res 19(2):399–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. March R, Woodside A (2005) Testing theory of planned versus realized behavior. Ann Tour Res 32(4):905–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mazanec J (1992) Classifying tourists into market segments: a neural network approach. J Travel Tour Mark 1(1):39–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Michie DA, Sullivan GL (1990) The role(s) of the international travel agent in the travel decision process of client families. J Travel Res 29(2):30–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Middleton VT (1994) Marketing in travel and tourism, 2nd edn. Bath Press, AvonGoogle Scholar
  58. Mitra K, Reiss MC, Capella LM (1999) An examination of perceived risk, information search and behavioral intentions in search, experience and credence services. J Serv Mark 13(3):208–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mo C, Havitz M, Howard D (1994) Segmenting travel markets with the international tourism role (ITR) scale. J Travel Res 33(2):24–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Morrison AM (1996) Hospitality and travel marketing, 2nd edn. Delmar, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  61. Morrison AM, Hsieh S, O’Leary JT (1994) Segmenting the Australian domestic travel market by holiday activity participation. J Tour Stud 5(1):39–56Google Scholar
  62. Moscardo G, Morrison AM, Pearce PL, Lang CT, O’Leary JT (1996) Understanding vacation destination choice through travel motivation and activities. J Vacat Mark 2(2):109–122Google Scholar
  63. Moutinho L (1987) Consumer behavior in tourism. Eur J Mark 21(10):5–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Murray KB (1991) A test of services marketing theory: consumer information acquisition activities. J Mark 55(1):10–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Normann R (1996) Service management: strategy and leadership in service business, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  66. Opperman M (1999) Predicting destination choice – a discussion of destination loyalty. J Vacat Mark 5(1):51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pan B, Fesenmaier D (2003) Travel information search on the internet: a preliminary analysis. In: Frew A, Hitz M, O’Connor P (eds) Information and communication technology in tourism 2003: the proceedings of the international conference of ENTER 2003, Helsinki, 29–31 Jan 2003Google Scholar
  68. Pearce GD, Schott C (2005) Tourism distribution channels: the visitors’ perspective. J Travel Res 44(2):50–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Perdue RR (1985) Segmenting state information inquirers by timing of destination decision and previous experience. J Travel Res 5:830–835Google Scholar
  70. Peter JP, Olson JC (1996) Consumer behavior and marketing strategy, 4th edn. Richard D. Irwin, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  71. Peterson RA, Merino MC (2003) Consumer information search behavior and the internet. Psychol Mark 20(2):99–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Porter ME (1985) Competitive advantage. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  73. Prentice RC, Witt SF, Hamer C (1998) Tourism as experience: the case of heritage parks. Ann Tour Res 25(1):1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ramkissoon H, Uysal M, Brown K (2011) Relationship between destination image and behavioral intentions of tourists to consume cultural attractions. J Hosp Mark Manage 20(5):575–595Google Scholar
  75. Ryan C (1991) Tourism and marketing-a symbolic relationship? Tour Manage 12(2):101–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schiffmann LG (1972) Perceived risk in new product trial by elderly consumers. J Mark Res 9(1):106–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schmidt JB, Spreng RA (1996) A proposed model of external consumer information search. J Acad Mark Sci 24(3):246–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Schonland AM, Williams R (1996) Using the internet for travel and tourism survey research: experiences from the net traveler survey. J Travel Res 35(4):81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Schul P, Crompton JL (1983) Search behavior of international vacationers: search and travel product purchase in pretrip contexts. J Travel Res 45:266–274Google Scholar
  80. Shoemaker S (1989) Segmentation of the senior pleasure travel market. J Travel Res 28(3):14–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Shoemaker S (1994) Segmenting the U.S. travel market according to benefits realized. J Travel Res 33(3):8–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sigala M, Airey D, Jones P, Lockwood A (2004) ICT paradox lost? A stepwise DEA methodology to evaluate technology investments in tourism settings. J Travel Res 43(2):180–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Snepenger D, Snepenger M (1993) Information search by pleasure travelers. In: Kahn MA, Olsen MD, Var T (eds) Encyclopedia of hospitality and tourism. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp 830–835Google Scholar
  84. Snepenger D, Meged K, Snelling M, Worall K (1990) Information search strategies by destinative tourists. J Travel Res 29(1):13–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Soloman MR, Surprenant CF, Czepial JA, Gutman E (1985) A role theory perspective on dyadic interactions: the service encounter. J Mark 49:99–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Sorensen L (1993) The special-interest travel market. Cornell H R A Q 34:24–30Google Scholar
  87. Srinivasan N (1990) Pre-purchase external information search for information. In: Zeithaml VE (ed) Review of marketing. American Marketing Association, Chicago, pp 152–189Google Scholar
  88. Sung HH, Morrison MA, Hong G, O’Leary TJ (2001) The effects of household and trip characteristics on trip types: a consumer behavioral approach for segmenting the U.S. domestic leisure travel market. J Hosp Tour Res 23:25–46Google Scholar
  89. Teare R (1992) An exploration of the consumer decision process for hospitality services. In: Teare R, Moutinho L, Morgan N (eds) Managing and marketing services in the 1990s. Cassell Educational, London, pp 233–248Google Scholar
  90. Um S, Crompton J (1990) Attitude determinants in tourism destination choice. Ann Tour Res 17(3):432–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Uysal M, Fesenmaier DR (eds) (1993) Communications and channel systems in tourism marketing. Haworth, LondonGoogle Scholar
  92. Van Raaij WF (1986) Consumer research on tourism: mental and behavioural constructs. Ann Tour Res 13:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Vogt CA, Fesenmaier DR (1998) Expanding the functional information search model. Ann Tour Res 25(3):551–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Wight PA (1996) North American ecotourism markets: motivations, preferences, and destinations. J Travel Res 35(1):3–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wilkie WL, Dickson PR (1985) Shopping for appliances: consumers’ strategies and patterns of information search. Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  96. Woodside A, MacDonald R (1994) General system framework of customer choice processes of tourism services. In: Gasser R, Weiermair K (eds) Spoilt for choice. Decision making process and preference changes of tourists: intertemporal and intercountry perspectives. The proceedings of the institute of tourism and service economics international conference, KulturverlagGoogle Scholar
  97. Woodside A, Lysonski S (1989) A general model of traveler destination choice. J Travel Res 27(1):8–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Woodside AG, Ronkainen IA (1980) Vacation planning segments: self planning vs. users of motor clubs and travel agents. Ann Tour Res 7(3):385–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Xiang Z, Weber K, Fesenmaier DR (2008) Representation of the online tourism domain in search engines. J Travel Res 47(2):137–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Yuan S, McDonald C (1990) Motivational determinants of international pleasure time. J Travel Res 27(2):7–13Google Scholar
  101. Zins AH (2009) Deconstructing travel decision making and information search activities. In: Information and communication technologies in tourism 2009. Springer, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  102. Zins A, Teichmann K (2006) Source credibility in the tourist information search behaviour: comparing the pre- and post-consumption stage. In: TTRA 2006 annual conference proceedings. Travel and Tourism Research Association, DublinGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hospitality and Tourism ManagementSchool of Business and Economics, TEI of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Regional PlanningSchool of Rural and Surveying Engineering, National Technical University of AthensAthensGreece
  3. 3.Department of Spatial EconomicsVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations