Vol. 1 No. 20; December 2011
Classifying the Hotel Spa Tourist: A M ultidimensional Qualitative Approach Rami F. Tawil Philadelphia University Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences Department of Hotel and Tourism Management Jordan. Abstract There is a sense of uncertainty regarding the classification of spa tourists that makes forecasting problematic. A qualitative study was undertaken to provide a greater level of insight, this required developing a framework that was divided into three dimensions based on the destination facility choice process. Coding was used as an appropriate analytical tool that resulted in developing 10 types of spa tourists. The results were further funnelled and a 4 type broad typology was constructed, its significance lies in its consideration of the spa destination choice process as a whole, rather than a heavy emphasis being placed merely on reasons people visit spas, which has dominated many of the previous spa typologies.
Keywords: Spa, Spa Tourist, Qualitative Approach, Tourist Typology, Destination Choice, Tourist Behaviour, Health Tourism.
1. I ntroduction
The worldwide spa industry is worth in the region of US $40 billion and has grown at a phenomenal rate in the past ten years (Haden, 2007). The growth of health food, gyms and the investment in leisure facilities proves that consumers are looking for more than relaxation during a break or holiday; this is unsurprising given time is so precious to contemporary consumers (Lynch, one of the fastest growing leisure sectors, where societal trends and aspirations find instant reflection in the developments on both the demand and supply sides. The market is very fragmented, each segment catering for The current study aims to determine the nature and significance of spa-related tourism, and the characteristics and requirements of spa tourists in relation to the destination facility choice process. Understanding how people go about choosing a product such as a house or a travel destination has received substantial attention not only from consumer researchers, but also from tourism researchers who are interested in developing effective marketing and communication strategies (Baloglu, 1999; Litvin, Xu, and Kang, 2004). Insights into spa tourism were mainly provided through research into related domains. As the academic study of spa tourism has progressed, spas have begun receiving far more targeted attention. However, the classification of spa tourists is limited in terms of who they are and what motives and factors are behind their visit. Previous research into spa tourists has focused on their classification with regards to why they visit spas. It has largely concerned itself with the behaviours; attitudes and needs of people which make them decide to take a holiday or short break at a spa in particular. This research will attempt to broaden the depth of knowledge in the field of spa tourism by establishing a classification of spa tourists, it will be based not only on why people decide to use spas but also the factors which affect their choice of spa, thus incorporating the facilities and treatments on offer, and their spa holiday experience or feedbacks.
2. Theoretical Background
2.1 Definitions should not be what makes it such? Many believe that the word 'spa' is an acronym based on the Latin phrase -
health-giving prop concept of spa actually originated from the time of the Roman Empire when battle weary legionnaires tried to find a way to recover from their military wounds and ailments. 155
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Therefore suggesting that traditionally, water is not only inexplicably linked to the definition of spas, but that it is the water element, and Smith, 2000). Unlike the ESPA, the British Spas Federation (BSF) reviewed its definition with regard to widening its...