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The application of generational theory to tourism consumer behavior: An American perspective


  • Li, Xiangping
  • Li, Xiang (Robert)
  • Hudson, Simon


The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes and behaviors of American international travelers using a generational analysis. Based on Woodside and Dubelaar (2002)'s theory of tourism consumption systems (TCS), five hypotheses were proposed regarding tourists' information source preferences, destination visitation history, future destination preferences, destination evaluation criteria, and travel activity preferences. The study utilized Chi-square and ANOVA tests to detect statistically significant differences among generations. Additionally, two perceptual mapping techniques (correspondence analysis and multidimensional scaling analysis) were employed to graphically discern the relationships between generations and the variables of interest. The results support all five hypotheses, revealing not only a number of significant differences among generations, but also some important similarities. The study provides important empirical support for the theory of TCS, whilst showing the value of generational analysis as a commonsense segmentation criterion in travel market research.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Xiangping & Li, Xiang (Robert) & Hudson, Simon, 2013. "The application of generational theory to tourism consumer behavior: An American perspective," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 147-164.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:touman:v:37:y:2013:i:c:p:147-164
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2013.01.015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roger Shepard, 1974. "Representation of structure in similarity data: Problems and prospects," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 39(4), pages 373-421, December.
    2. Xiang, Zheng & Gretzel, Ulrike, 2010. "Role of social media in online travel information search," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 179-188.
    3. Frank Busing & Patrick Groenen & Willem Heiser, 2005. "Avoiding degeneracy in multidimensional unfolding by penalizing on the coefficient of variation," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 71-98, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emil Juvan & Doris Gomezelj Omerzel & Maja Uran Maravic, 2017. "Tourist Behaviour: An Overview of Models to Date," MIC 2017: Managing the Global Economy; Proceedings of the Joint International Conference, Monastier di Treviso, Italy, 24–27 May 2017,, University of Primorska Press.
    2. Luis Manuel Ruiz-Gómez & Julio Navío-Marco & Luisa Fernanda Rodríguez-Hevía, 2018. "Dynamics of digital tourism’s consumers in the EU," Information Technology & Tourism, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 59-81, December.
    3. Timothy H. Reisenwitz & Jie G. Fowler, 2019. "Information Sources and the Tourism Decision-making Process: An Examination of Generation X and Generation Y Consumers," Global Business Review, International Management Institute, vol. 20(6), pages 1372-1392, December.
    4. AVRAM Emanuela & HAYDAM Norbert & NEGRICEA Iliuta Costel & EDU Tudor, 2019. "Measuring the intention to return to a foreign tourism destination in the cases of two age layers of Generation Y - a logistic regression-centred approach. Evidence from Romania and South Africa," European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Bucharest Economic Academy, issue 01, March.
    5. Magdalena Swart & Gerhard Roodt, 2015. "Market segmentation variables as moderators in the prediction of business tourist retention," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 9(3), pages 491-513, September.
    6. Molinillo, Sebastian & Liébana-Cabanillas, Francisco & Anaya-Sánchez, Rafael & Buhalis, Dimitrios, 2018. "DMO online platforms: Image and intention to visit," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 116-130.
    7. Norbert Haydam & Theodor Purcarea & Tudor Edu & Iliuta Costel Negricea, 2017. "Explaining Satisfaction at a Foreign Tourism Destination – an Intra-Generational Approach. Evidence within Generation Y from South Africa and Romania," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 19(45), pages 528-528, May.
    8. Japutra, Arnold & Kumar Roy, Sanjit & Pham, Tram-Anh N., 2021. "Relating brand anxiety, brand hatred and obsess: Moderating role of age and brand affection," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    9. Bernini, Cristina & Cracolici, Maria Francesca, 2015. "Demographic change, tourism expenditure and life cycle behaviour," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 191-205.
    10. Anneli Douglas & Berendien Lubbe & Adrene Rooyen, 2018. "Business travellers’ use of mobile travel applications: a generational analysis," Information Technology & Tourism, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 113-132, April.
    11. Pelau Corina & Chinie Alexandra Catalina, 2018. "Clusters of Tourism Consumers in Romania," Studia Universitatis „Vasile Goldis” Arad – Economics Series, Sciendo, vol. 28(1), pages 17-34, March.

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