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Tourist experience expectations:

questionnaire development and text


narrative analysis
Chieh-Wen Sheng and Ming-Chia Chen

Chieh-Wen Sheng is based Abstract


in the Commerce Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a questionnaire on tourist experience expectations,
Technology & Management and to conduct a qualitative study to analyze the factors and related texts of the questionnaire.
Department, Chihlee
Design/methodology/approach – A content analysis on travel diaries written by museum tourists was
Institute of Technology, conducted to develop a questionnaire of tourist experience expectations (TEE). The survey results were
Taipei, Taiwan. analyzed by factor analysis.
Ming-Chia Chen is based in
Findings – The tourism experience expectations include five factors: experience expectations of
the Hospitality easiness and fun; cultural entertainment; personal identification; historical reminiscences; and
Management Department, escapism. In addition to these factors, this study reorganized the travel diaries to extract representative
Ming-Dao University, texts for narrative analysis, in order to develop the situational factors of tourist experiences.
Changhua, Taiwan.
Research limitations/implications – This study only investigated museum tourists in Taiwan, and thus
the scope for wider application of the results is limited.
Practical implications – The study findings revealed that during a trip, appropriate situational factors –
including satisfying tourists’ curiosity and intimate locations or events that trigger tourists’ active
participation – resulted in pleasant experiences for the tourists and could possibly lead to future
experience expectations.
Originality/value – The paper explores museum tourists’ experience expectations in Taiwan.
Keywords Taiwan, Tourism management, Tourism research, Experience, Narratives, Museums, Diaries,
Tourist experience expectation, Museum tourists, Content analysis, Narrative analysis
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
The number of travelers in the world is increasing year by year. According to the United
Nations World Tourism Organization, in 2008, the number of tourists was up to 800 million
person/times, and by 2020, there will be 1.6 billion person/times (Nunes and Spelman,
2008). Thus, tourism studies, which sociologists neglect, have attracted attention in recent
years (Cohen, 2008; Larsen, 2007). As traveling is a social activity that involves various
dimensions, related studies may take different perspectives, while research subjects or
targets include tourists, organizations (e.g. travel agencies), institutions, systems, and
cultures (Larsen and Mossberg, 2007). Research on tourists mainly concerns tourist
experiences, including the causes and effects of the processes, both before and after the
trip (Ryan, 2002; Weaver et al., 2007; Hertzman et al., 2008).
Regarding the topic of tourist experiences, the research has taken different perspectives,
including the marketing perspective of Mossberg (2007), the psychological perspective of
Larsen (2007), the sociological perspective of Cohen (2008), and the edutainment
Part of this research was perspective of Hertzman et al. (2008), which all indicate the same view of the dynamic and
presented at the 2010 MCU
Tourism Conference and in the interactive nature of tourist experiences (Ek et al., 2008).
journal Tourism Management.

DOI 10.1108/17506181311301390 VOL. 7 NO. 1 2013, pp. 93-104, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1750-6182 j INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CULTURE, TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY RESEARCH j PAGE 93
Larsen (2007) indicated the interactive nature of tourist experiences, and suggested that
interactions between tourists and travel systems include three stages:
1. before the trip;
2. processes during the trip; and
3. after the trip.
In the planning stage before the trip, tourists anticipate possible events through
expectations, while during the processes tourists will have different perceptions of events,
and after the trip they will have memories. These three factors (expectations, perceptions,
and memories) connect the entire processes of the trip, which then creates the tourist
experience, and may even influence other tourists’ expectations for the same or different
types of trips.
Although Larsen’s (2007) study was undertaken from a psychological perspective, the
discussion was limited to psychological concepts, and did not construct models or empirical
data. Thus, he suggested that future studies should include more sociological views and
complete the research using empirical data. Therefore, based on Larsen’s statements, this
study attempts to bring other perspectives, such as marketing, into the discussion, and
emphasize the importance of tourist experience expectations. The study involves
developing a questionnaire on tourist experience expectations, and conducting a
qualitative study to analyze the factors and related texts of the questionnaire.

2. Literature review
2.1 Tourist experiences
Although tourist studies have been long neglected by sociologists, there are more recent
studies in this field (Cohen, 2008). In the past, tourist studies focused on Western tourists;
however, with the rise of globalization, types of tourists have become more diverse, with
more non-Western tourists, and even post-tourists or postmodern tourists. For postmodern
tourists, travel is not only a local trip, but may be a virtual tour on computers or a
drive-through through the windows of buses. They tend to identify with local cultures, and
may not visit high-class cultural areas as they believe that they can experience the pleasure
of travel by experiencing local life.
With the changing compositions of tourists, the contents of tourism experiences change.
Larsen and Mossberg (2007) indicate that experiences are subjective and personalized
processes, and are related to social cultures and varied systems. Therefore, studies of
tourist experiences should be based on flexible and diverse multi-discipline perspectives,
such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, or marketing, and could even be
interdisciplinary.
O’Dell (2007) agreed that tourist studies have been neglected, and should focus on multiple
perspectives. He also suggested that there are various types of tourists who travel for
different purposes, such as leisure, returning to home towns, or immigration. Past research
has rarely distinguished the differences among such tourists, and differentiating between
the types of experiences will be difficult. O’Dell indicates that in postmodern society, tourists
are no longer mere receivers, observers, or interpreters of the trip; instead, they are active
experientialists, and may even assume the role of meaningful creators and actors. Thus,
tourism researchers should conduct their studies at tourist sites, ‘‘be there’’ and be close to
tourists in order to participate in activities rather than observing from a distance.
Tourists’ experiences can be divided into active and passive experiences based on tourists’
degree of involvement. Joseph and Gilmore (1998) suggested that both experiences are
possible. Active experiences include educational or escapist experiences, as people
actively participate and are involved in traveling situations, and can even create various
experiences in the process. Passive experiences include esthetic and entertainment
experiences. Joseph and Gilmore (1998) indicated that active and passive experiences can
exist concurrently; in other words, there is an interaction between tourists and the tourism

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system. When tourists receive materials that are ‘‘provided’’ they can actively participate,
forming experiences in the process.
Larsen (2007) indicates that tourist experiences are a kind of accumulated psychological
phenomenon, as seen from the perspective of psychology, which includes expectations
before the trip, perceptions during the trip, and memories after the trip. The three factors
accumulate and create tourists’ overall feelings toward the trip. Moreover, Larsen indicated
that expectations, perceptions, and memories form a kind of circulating process. In other
words, after the trip, tourists’ experiences are generated upon expectations, perceptions,
and memories, and would influence their expectations for the next trip.

2.2 Tourist experience expectations


Larsen (2007) suggests that complete tourist experiences should include expectations,
perceptions, and memories, which is consistent with the multi-phasic nature of experience
proposed by Borrie and Roggenbuck (2001). However, studies of tourist experiences
remain limited to tourist experiences of perception, including various experiences of specific
events or daily life during the trip. For instance, Mossberg (2007) divides tourist experiences
into peak experiences and daily experiences. ‘‘Peak experiences’’ refers to processes
significantly different from daily lives, such as bungee jumping; while ‘‘daily experiences’’
refers to food, housing, transportation, etc. Mossberg (2007) also proposed an interactive
structure, which indicates that tourist experiences are the outcome of the interactions
between peak experiences and daily experiences.
In order to avoid being mixed with the scope of past research, this study agreed with the
view of Mossberg (2007), and indicated that the tourist experiences should be limited to
experiences of the trip. Expectations before the trip are a kind of cause (‘‘tourist experience
expectations’’), while memories after the trip can be regarded as the influences of tourist
experiences (‘‘tourist experience memories’’). This paper focuses on tourist experience
expectations.
Tourist experience expectations are the output between tourists and tourism systems before
the trip. Different kinds of interaction occur; for example, tourist brochures or virtual
experiences can result in tourist experience expectations, as well as different advertising
effects, which in turn influence tourists’ actual traveling decisions (Chiou et al., 2008). In
addition, tourist experience expectations can influence tourists’ perceptions during the trip,
memories of the trip, and loyalty to the location (Larsen, 2007).
Larsen (2007) suggests that part of tourist experience expectations is related to personal
traits and states, and part is associated with personal expectations for future trips. Tourists’
expectations for future trips are usually related to their imagery, which are their expectations
for and impressions of the destination, which will influence their tourism considerations and
cognition (Birgit, 2001). When the locations are special or involve some activities, tourists’
imagery would be more significant. They can be associated with tourists’ expectations of
future trips and become the main parts of tourist experience expectations.
Many past research works have indicated that tourists’ imagery, or selection of and
expectation for tourism purposes and events, is influenced by past behaviors and
experiences (Joseph and Gilmore, 1998; Larsen, 2007; Weaver et al., 2007). On the other
hand, tourist experience expectations or preferences for tourism will be affected by personal
traits and states, such as demography (Sheng et al., 2008a) or lifestyle (Sheng et al., 2008b).
In addition, with the prevalence of the internet, tourists can actively collect online information
in advance and create experience expectations even before visiting a destination.
According to Pollster’s (2007) survey on the use of blogs, tourism blogs are among the blogs
that are browsed most frequently, which demonstrates that many people construct their
experience expectations before trips.
Most recent studies of tourist experience expectations are based on conceptual discussions,
while empirical research has focused only on specific tourism imagery, and has not included
complete tourist experience expectations. In addition, the questionnaires are mostly based
on theoretical frameworks, rather than tourists’ opinions. Tourists are passively included in

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such theoretical frameworks, and only in final investigations. Therefore, according to
historical/artistic tourism in the classifications of Sheng et al. (2008a), this study designed an
experience expectations questionnaire that can reflect the actual situations of on-site tourist
experiences, and truthfully record tourists’ opinions. This study investigates the factors of
tourist experience expectations, and conducts a narrative analysis on these factors.

3. Research method
3.1 Questionnaire development
No questionnaire relates directly to tourist experience expectations, while some
questionnaires focus on tourist experiences. These questionnaires measure tourists’
emotions, intelligence, and mindset, as well as the level of satisfaction and pleasure
obtained from these aspects, based on the five dimensions of the experience indicated by
Schmitt (1999), which are:
1. senses;
2. feelings;
3. actions;
4. thoughts; and
5. related aspects.
According to Schmitt’s view, this study attempted to identify tourists’ pleasant experiences,
and further design a questionnaire for tourist experience expectations. Experience
questionnaires adopted in past studies were mostly developed based on theories, and
validated upon investigation. Referring to the views of Joseph and Gilmore (1998), and
O’Dell (2007), this study considers tourists’ active involvement, and thus, a questionnaire
was designed with an approach more closely related to tourists and sites of activities. In
other words, this study develops a tourist-based expectations questionnaire through actual
tourists’ views, their experiences, and an on-site investigation.
Joseph and Gilmore (1998) suggest that an educational experience is a kind of active
participation, while an entertaining experience is relatively passive. If tourists could
experience both active and passive experiences, it would be the best experience.
Additionally, Hertzman et al. (2008) indicated that with the development of multimedia, the
differences among various types of museum trips, including historic museums, historical
theme parks, and life museums became less distinguishable. These trips involve the effects
of edutainment, and allow tourists to have both active and passive experiences. Moreover,
Sheng et al. (2008b) suggested that museum trips are typical historical/artistic trips. The
enhanced introduction of historical stories would expand the tourism market with multiple
interests (Sorensen, 1993).
Based on the above studies, museum trips usually relate to historical sites and tales, and can
attract tourists with multiple interests (Sorensen, 1993; Sheng et al., 2008b). In addition,
museum visitors are more likely to have both active and passive tourism experiences
(Joseph and Gilmore, 1998; Hertzman et al., 2008). As museum visitors and their visiting
experiences are diverse, this study selected museum tourists as subjects for further
investigation.
This study referred to the museum guidebook published by Lee (2005), and extracted
tourists’ feelings and experiences. The researcher then visited five museums, including the
Taiwan Museum located in the 228 Peace Park, the Museum of Drinking Water in Gongguan,
the National Museum of History on Nanhai Road, the Taipei Astronomical Museum in Shihlin,
and the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan, which collects well-known miniatures of the world.
After each visit, the researcher wrote personal diaries. In order to avoid subjective opinions
on the investigation, the researcher also invited five travelers who had visited those
museums alone or with companions to write travel diaries. The records then served as the
criteria for the design of the questionnaire.

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Writing travel diaries is a critical incident technique (CIT) by which the researcher or
participants treated the experiences of the visits as events. According to the experience
framework of Schmitt (1999), they described their senses, feelings, actions, thoughts, and
related aspects, shown as follows in event A1:
The building is Baroque style, characterized by four elegant large stone pillars at the gate and a
unique dome, which can be recognized from a distance. With specially modeled street lights at
the entrance and heavy steel door, the museum harmonizes with the classic locomotive engine,
gun platform, and monumental archway of a nearby park (Taiwan Museum).

In addition to collecting travel diaries, the researcher also referred to Lee’s (2005) book on
museum visits in Australia, and selected paragraphs describe experiences during tourism
processes, after eliminating paragraphs on travel information. The sentences were
reorganized into events, and content analysis was conducted to design the questionnaire for
tourist experience expectations.
This study extracted the theme of each event, collected data that meet the definition of
tourist experiences and express similar thoughts, and express those ideas through
complete sentences. An event may include one or several themes; however, if the themes of
different events were similar, only one was retained. Finally, there were 134 themes
developed, which according to degrees of theme similarities, are divided into 21 developed
and named categories.
After the primary categorization of themes, and upon inter-subjective principles, this study
invited three museum travelers – a member of a resort, a retired professional officer currently
teaching in school, and a writer – to assist with coding. The three travelers indicated their
agreement with the categorization of the themes. Upon coding, the inter-coder agreement
was 0.8, while the coding reliability was 0.92, indicating that the three coders shared similar
views on the categorization of sentences.
During coding, this study invited three coders to select zero to two representative themes
according to category descriptions of the categorized themes, and further selected
representative themes based on the agreement of at least two coders, and combined the
meaning of the categories to design 21 items for a Likert-type experience expectations
questionnaire. Table I provides formative examples of the questionnaire items.

3.2 Factor analysis


After designing the questionnaire, factor analysis was conducted. First, four museums – the
National Palace Museum in Taipei, the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum in Miaoli, the National
Science and Technology Museum in Kaohsiung, and the National Museum of Prehistory in

Table I Formative examples of items of tourist experience expectation questionnaire


Coders
Related to culture or well known Scores of inter-coder
Categories entertainment A B C agreement

Themes 1. Combine . . . behind the scenes of


movies £ W W 0
2. Nicole Kidman . . . familiar name . . .
the beauty resembles their gorgeous
faces . . . W A W 1
3. Connect with the background of a story A W A 1
4. Fairy tales are displayed in this area . . .
story . . . can be reflected A A A 1

Notes: W indicates agreement, £ indicates disagreement, A indicates agreement as well as the most
representative theme. When all coders agree, the inter-coder agreement is 1; otherwise, it is 0.
Combine the third and fourth sentences of the most representative theme, and the names of the
categories into item 3, ‘‘During the trip, I expect to experience familiar cultures or entertainment, such
as visiting children’s world or daily stories’’

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Taitung – were selected, and the visitors were investigated. Museums usually involve local life
and unique features, although Hertzman et al. (2008) suggested that edutainment differences
among different types of museums will gradually become insignificant. Thus, this study
included several types of museum, rather than demonstrating only the characteristics of
tourists in one area. Therefore, the museums investigated in this study have different
characteristics, are listed among the cultural trips recommended by the Tourism Bureau
(Touch Your Heart, Culture & Heritage) website, and are located in Northern, Central,
Southern, and Eastern Taiwan.
After selecting the museums, groups composed of two assistants were formed to conduct
questionnaire surveys by systematic sampling at the entrance to each museum. Surveys
were conducted on two weekends early in the summer vacation, as there are more varieties
of tourist types (i.e. individuals, school groups, family visitors, foreign visitors, and
backpackers) during the summer vacation. In addition, as suggested by Yeh and Lawrence
(1996), a minimum of 200 samples should be collected for factor analysis; this study
retrieved 425 valid samples.

3.3 Narrative analysis


Lieblich et al. (1998) suggested that people are born with story-telling abilities, and through
narration, individuals can enter the inner world of narrators, and understand their thought
processes. Therefore, narrative analysis extended from a narratology theory is an
approach to analyze a story, the contents described, discourse, and presentation of the
story (Culler, 1981). This study aimed to guide individuals to narrate a story through
stimulation, such as films, biographies, pictures, or dialogue, and then analyze the
narration or presentation.
In narrative analysis ‘‘comparison’’ is a commonly used technique, as a comparison of the
principles of core factors can usually be extracted. For instance, when studying folk stories
in Russia, Propp (cited in Kao, 1987) compared the topics of the stories by narrative analysis
in order to extract the factors, and identify relationships and principles among the texts.
Regarding the focus of narrative analysis, Lieblich et al. (1998) defined two dimensions and
constructed a 2 £ 2 narrative analysis framework. The two dimensions are holistic versus
categorical and content versus form, and consist of four types of narrative analysis,
including holistic/content (to analyze holistic story content), holistic/form (to analyze holistic
story form), categorical/content (to analyze partial or fragmental story content after
categorization), and categorical/form (to analyze partial or fragmental story form after
categorization). However, Lieblich et al. (1998) also suggested that there are no significant
boundaries among these four types. Analysis in this study refers to categorical/content,
meaning further comparison and study categorization results, focused on content analysis,
factor analysis, and partial story content (e.g. paragraphs in travel books or related
experience diaries meeting categorization results).

4. Analysis of results
4.1 Results of factor analysis
After retrieving the questionnaires, this study conducted factor analysis on tourist
experience expectations according to principal components. Five factors with
eigenvalues . 1 were extracted. Taking the two items with the maximum factor loading in
each factor, this study named the factors as ‘‘expectations of easiness and fun’’,
‘‘expectations of cultural entertainment’’, ‘‘expectations of personal identification’’,
‘‘expectations of historical reminiscences’’, and ‘‘expectations of escapism’’. The
explained accumulated variance is 59.9 percent.
After factor analysis, this study conducted reliability analysis and examined the internal
consistency of the factors of tourist experience expectations using Cronbach’s a. The a of
experience expectations for easiness and fun is 0.81; the a of expectations for cultural
entertainment is 0.75; the a of expectations for personal identification is 0.78; the a of

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expectations for historical reminiscences is 0.63; and the a for experience expectations for
escapism is 0.75. Cronbach’s a values for all factors are approximately equal to, or above,
0.7, indicating a certain degree of reliability (Cuieford, 1965; Nunnally, 1978). The results and
naming of factor analysis are shown in Table II, and the complete questionnaire is shown in
the Appendix.

4.2 Results of narrative analysis


Regarding the five factors of tourism experience expectations, the researcher conducted
narrative analysis on parts of the events described by the participants of the questionnaire
development.
4.2.1 Factor 1: Expectations of easiness and fun.
I was strongly curious about ‘‘red bed’’. Since it is the lucky symbol of rich families, why don’t they
make it larger? As I observed, it is no larger than a double bed, and red bed is also called the
eight-legged bed, and at first I only found six legs, but I was not about to give up so I bent down, and
surprisingly, it did have eight legs! [. . .] I then wanted to take a rest. On the second and fourth floors,
there were places for afternoon tea, where the view out of the window was awesome. Downstairs
was a big pond of lotus, which I thought was a thoughtful facility for a museum, as it gives the visitors
places to rest with wonderful views (National Museum of History, events C8 and C13).

According to the diary above, this tourist’s curiosity can be regarded as an active
characteristic or passive inspiration from the scene. When the tourists are satisfied with the
information and answers, they will have feelings of interest. In addition, during the trip, a
proper resting space, including food areas, rest areas and adequate chairs will enhance
tourists’ sense of relaxation. Visual aspects and decorations, whether rest areas by natural
resources (e.g. wonderful views) or artificial arrangements (e.g. delicious snacks), will
significantly impress tourists.

Table II Factor analysis results of tourist experience expectations


Factor Accumulated variance
Factors Number and content of items loading explained (percent)

Expectations of easiness and During the trip, I expect to be relaxed, such as taking my time
fun walking or visiting friendly environments 0.82 34.90
During the trip, I expect to find some interesting contrasts and
changes, such as seasonal changes, characteristics of cities and
countryside, and unique activities 0.74
Expectations of cultural During the trip, I expect to experience familiar cultures or
entertainment entertainment, such as visiting children’s world or daily stories 0.75 44.24
During the trip, I expect to experience physical objects (such as the
Forbidden City, Kinkakuji Temple, or Taipei 101) with local cultural
characteristics and varied images 0.66
Expectations of personal During the trip, I expect to be able to approach core characters
identification related to the topic, such as having a conversation or taking
pictures with the main characters after watching a performance 0.81 50.21
During the trip, I expect to be identified, such as traveling with
companions with similar interests 0.786
Expectations of historical During the trip, I expect to be close to the ‘‘legend’’ of my
reminiscences memories, or see a legendary character or scene, such as admirers
of Dr Sun Yat-sen visiting his old residence 0.81 55.14
During the trip, I expect to experience some historic content or
feelings, such as seeing environments of the time, set as old towns
and streets 0.80
Expectations of escapism During the trip, I expect to have fantasy experiences, such as
visiting the zoo in New York that has an area that resembles the
wilderness in Africa 0.82 59.89
During the trip, I expect to enjoy the fulfillment of hopes or visions,
such as visiting an unpolluted environment or an ideal new town
constructed by exiled criminals 0.81

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4.2.2 Factor 2: Expectations of cultural entertainment.
In a royal military parade of Britain, numbers of toy soldiers stand straight in the square [. . .] it
seems that I heard the orderly marching step [. . .] and loud martial music [. . .] I also saw
complete fairy tales displayed in one area [. . .] full of fantasy and surprises [. . .] the works reveal
culture through stories, which visitors could watch for hours [. . .] miniatures are attractive,
approachable,; they are so vivid, and have great stories [. . .] They are based upon the creators’
design, and show exquisite efforts. The visitors can be the characters of these stories (Miniatures
Museum of Taiwan, events F4, F15, and F17).

According to the diary above, even artificial installations, such as miniatures, can remain
vivid for tourists as long as the stories are appealing and familiar. Tourists are pleasantly
moved by different cultures, and the presentation of stories, including detail in visuals and
efforts, would also influence tourists’ experiences of culture and entertainment.
4.2.3 Factor 3: Expectations of personal identification.
I went with my friend [. . .] when I studied in the Taipei Municipal Shilin High School of Commerce, I
witnessed the construction of the Taipei Astronomical Museum. However, I had only ever passed
by and never visited. Thus, I felt intimately that it was time to visit [. . .] I saw an apparatus outside
of the entrance [. . .] My eyes followed the rolling balls. It resembled the decisions of life; when we
encounter two or more choices, we can only select one, and keep rolling (Taipei Astronomical
Museum, events I2 and I7).

According to the diary above, personal identification in a trip results in tourists’ feelings of
intimacy and even involvement. During the trip, there are many factors of personal
identification, including companions, location, and associations caused by tourists’
emotional states at the time.
4.2.4 Factor 4: Expectations of historical reminiscences.
The building was more than 90 years old and a Class III ancient monument. Although I was not
clear about the appraisal [. . .] it seemed well preserved. The walls were mottled; however, they
did not seem old. When I entered the park, I first saw the small waterwheel. I was extremely
curious about it, as such things are hardly seen in daily life, not even in the countryside. Besides
the waterwheel, there was old pump that was used to pump water in old times. I have only seen
such an old pump in my childhood, in the countryside. It was really nostalgic for me (The Museum
of Drinking Water, events B3, B4, and B16).
I saw very old furniture, from late Ching Dynasty to the Japanese Occupation Period. Interesting, and
some of the pieces still exist in my grandparents’ houses! For instance, there is a big stove in my
grandfather’s house, however, it no longer burns wood; instead, it is replaced by a hot plate. When I
was young and spent my Chinese New Year in the countryside, I would follow my father to collect
wood to make a fire. I had intimate feelings and memories when seeing that big stove! Besides the
stove, a long bench, where I am sitting to write this record, also exists in my grandfather’s house. My
father said that the bench was old, but solid (National Museum of History, event C8).

According to the diaries above, history that relates to lives can trigger nostalgic feelings in
tourists, and all different types of museums can display some ‘‘nostalgic’’ things. However,
for foreign tourists, there are not usually any associations between old exhibits and their life
experiences. Then exhibits are only for reference, and may not necessarily result in feelings
of nostalgia.
4.2.5 Factor 5: Expectations of escapism. When I entered the museum there was a Western
atmosphere. Classic stairs and sculptured railings, an indoor courtyard with colorful glass,
ancient Western pillars standing on two sides of the stairway, with big marble tiles on the
ground, and walls seemingly made of granite, and black and white tiles on the second floor
[. . .] generally speaking, without looking at the surrounding exhibition doorplates, I had the
illusion of being in a time tunnel. It seemed that I was in a church of France or Italy during the
Renaissance of the 17th and 18th centuries, or perhaps royal buildings filled with the classic
Western air (Taiwan Museum, event A4).
According to the diary above, tourists tend to understand unreal or unrelated but attractive
events. They feel and recognize on-site feelings, which they do not reject, but accept as a
kind of ‘‘illusion’’. However, for tourists, ‘‘virtual and physical’’ and ‘‘passive and active’’ are

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alternates. In other words, tourists are ‘‘actively’’ willing to accept ‘‘virtual’’ pleasant feelings
as reality.

5. Conclusions and suggestions


5.1 Conclusions
Understanding tourist experiences may be difficult as experiences involve various elements
that co-exist, including emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, feelings of individuals,
as well as mixture of feelings (Shaw and Ivens, 2002). Many researches have interpreted
tourism experiences through an a priori framework, such as Schmitt’s (1999) framework, and
then by conducting an investigation. Besides Schmitt’s framework, this study adopted the
views of O’Dell et al. (2007), and included the subjectivity of tourists. The researcher treated
tourists’ travel diaries as subjects, and determined their concepts of impressive and
pleasant events by content analysis. Larsen (2007) suggested that pleasant experiences will
form the next expectations, and further construct a generalized questionnaire of tourist
experience expectations.
After designing the questionnaire, this study conducted a factor analysis and found that
tourism experience expectations include five factors:
1. experience expectations of easiness and fun;
2. cultural entertainment;
3. personal identification;
4. historical reminiscences; and
5. escapism.
In addition to these factors, this study reorganized travel diaries to extract representative
texts for narrative analysis in order to develop the situational factors of tourist experiences.
The findings revealed that during a trip, appropriate situational factors, including satisfying
tourists’ curiosity, and intimate locations or events that trigger tourists’ active participation,
resulted in pleasant experiences for tourists and could possibly lead to future experience
expectations (Larsen, 2007). The results of the above factor analysis and narrative analysis
are reorganized in Figure 1.

5.2 Research limitations


This study only investigated museum tourists in Taiwan, and thus the scope for application of
the results is limited. However, considering general applications of the findings, museum

Figure 1 Research conclusions

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tourists, as selected by this study, have diverse interests, come from different areas, and are
of types; thus, the results of this study can be properly applied to other types of tourists or
those in different areas.
The questionnaire on tourist experience expectations is also based on tourists’ pleasant
experiences. As a pleasant experience is a part of experience expectations for the next trip
of the same or a different type, any description in the travel diaries that did not portray an
experience, or a strange or even unpleasant experience, such as danger, fear, sorrow or
regret, was eliminated. However, such experiences can be expected on the part of tourists,
as they are different from daily life (Antónia et al., 2007; Mossberg, 2007). Therefore, future
studies can probe the expectations of special experiences for those tourists with special
interests (special interest tourism).

5.3 Research suggestions


Ek et al. (2008) suggested that tourist experiences are a kind of dynamic framework, where
tourists are active performers and producers. Thus, this study adopted tourists’
perspectives, and developed a tourist experience expectation questionnaire according to
the emotional states and events recorded by tourists. It is expected that the questionnaire
can serve as a useful tool for future studies, in order to better understand tourist expectations
before a trip, and even probe into the relationships among perceptions during the trip,
memories after the trip, and tourism experience expectations (Larsen, 2007).
From the perspective of marketing, tourist experiences reflect all consumption experiences,
and any gaps between tourist expectations and the perceived results of their feelings are
regarded as quality issues. According to the findings of this study, the expectations for
tourism experiences of tourists, particularly museum tourists, include easiness and fun,
cultural entertainment, personal identification, historical reminiscences, and escapism; thus,
these five factors during the trip will enhance tourists’ degree of satisfaction.
Finally, since this study found that some situational factors (including events during the trip,
intimate locations, or tourists’ active participation) would influence tourists’ feelings of pleasant
experiences, future studies can further probe into these factors. For instance, if tourists’
curiosity is satisfied, will their tourism intention be enhanced? What are the activities that trigger
tourists’ imagination? How can tourists be made more active? What are the incentives to
encourage tourists to participate with companions? How about the effects? Such future studies
could certainly result in useful suggestions for tourists or the tourism industry.

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Appendix: Questionnaire of tourist experience expectation


Description: attention, the more multiple your expectations are (expectation for varied
experiences), the more you can spend (time or money) on your trips.
1. During the trip, I expect to have positive life feelings, such as recognizing passion or
people’s serious attitudes.
2. During the trip, I expect to experience physical objects (such as the Forbidden City,
Kinkakuji Temple and Taipei 101) with local cultural characteristics and have varied
imaginations.

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3. During the trip, I expect to experience familiar cultures or entertainment, such as visiting
children’s world or daily stories.
4. During the trip, I expect to be reminded of some experiences related to ‘‘myself’’, such
as watching palmardrama in foreign countries.
5. During the trip, I expect to absorb important or correct knowledge and researches, such
as visiting science exhibitions or museums.
6. During the trip, I expect to find some interesting contrast and change, such as seasonal
change, characteristics of cities and countryside, or unique activities.
7. During the trip, I expect to be relaxed, such as taking my time walking or visiting friendly
environment.
8. During the trip, I expect to perceive local characteristics or exotic culture, such as
visiting local customs and performance.
9. During the trip, I expect to be close to the ‘‘legend’’ in my mind or see the legendary
character and scene, such as people who admire Dr Sun Yat-sen visiting his old
residence.
10. During the trip, I expect to experience some historic content or feelings, such as seeing
the environment at the time or old towns and streets.
11. During the trip, I expect to apprehend things, such as recognizing allusions.
12. During the trip, I expect to have dream experiences, such as visiting the zoo in New York
that resembles the wilderness in Africa.
13. During the trip, I expect to have hope or vision, such as visiting the unpolluted
environment or an ideal new town constructed by exiled criminals.
14. During the trip, I expect to collect many meaningful souvenirs and keep the memory,
such as keeping characteristic ticket stubs or exquisite local hand-made products.
15. During the trip, I expect to have the fun and a sense of achievement by participating in
making or interaction, such as DIY of local specialties or DIY of some instruments.
16. In the trip, I expect to have rich shopping feeling, such as participating in luxurious trip
with fun, food and shopping.
17. In the trip, I expect to see strange people and things, such as the smallest objects in the
world or the characters in Kim’s Record.
18. During the trip, I expect to be identified, such as traveling with companions with similar
interests.
19. During the trip, I expect to be close to core characters related to subjects, such as
having conversations or taking pictures with the main character after watching the
performance.
20. During the trip, I expect to have consistent experiences, such as a hot spring trip with
hot spring health food and a Disneyland trip with theme hotels.
21. During the trip, I expect to have mournful and even pitiful experiences, such as visiting
the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan.

Corresponding author
Chieh-Wen Sheng can be contacted at: cwsheng.ivan@msa.hinet.net

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