Dimensions and drivers of national park experiences: A longitudinal study of independent visitors
Self archived versionfinal draft
MetadataShow full item record
CitationSorakunnas, Esko. (2020). Dimensions and drivers of national park experiences: A longitudinal study of independent visitors. Journal of outdoor recreation and tourism, 31, 100311. 10.1016/j.jort.2020.100311.
This study explored the dimensions and drivers of national park experiences from the 1970s to the 2010s. It uncovered the multidimensional structure of the park experiences of independent visitors and investigated the evolution of these experiences in a changing world.
Park visits were examined through the lens of experiential consumption considering parks as experiential contexts. This qualitative investigation was conducted in one Finnish national park using its guest books to provide the study's empirical material. The sampled 200 narratives revealed 25 dimensions of experience that formed five distinct groups: Nature, Physical accomplishments, Personal sphere, Infrastructure and Social interaction. These themes and their dimensions highlighted the contextual nature of experiences as well as the subjectivity of visitors' responses. The longitudinal investigation indicated that experiences have retained their core composition from the 1970s to the present day despite considerable material, societal and technological developments.
Due to the emergent and context-dependent nature of park experiences, Carú and Cova's bipolar experience continuum model (2007b) was developed into an Experience Triangle Model by also including the context as a driver of experiences. This new triangular model is compatible with experiential contexts that are neither consumer- nor company-driven. For park visitors, this context-dependence entails that visitors may anticipate experiences on a general level, but their ability to predict and actively contribute to precise experiences is limited. Likewise, context-driven settings limit companies' ability to design and manage customer experiences.
• This experiential approach provides new insights and impetus for park management by shifting focus from the setting attributes, the visitors’ activities, and socio-economics to the personal experiences of visitors
• Awareness of the multidimensionality of park experiences facilitates catering to diverse visitor segments
• Understanding the context-driven nature of park experiences emphasizes conservation of the natural environment
• Temporal stability of visitor experiences recommends caution in park development
• Proof of the feasibility of guest books and their potential for visitor-oriented park management