The Study of Experience in a Tourism-transport Context: An Exploratory Study of the Influence of Culture on Experiences and the Satisfaction of Asian Tourists on the Oslo Ferry

Kristian Bergholt Buhl & Simon Præstegaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis aims to provide insights into how to attract and utilize the potential of Asian tourists seeing as this particular demographic is becoming increasingly lucrative considering their position as the highest daily spending regionally defined tourist group. The thesis will shed light on how to satisfy Asian tourists, that is to say, the qualifier of ‘satisfaction,’ has been found to be the best way to influence the buying decision positively, and increase attractiveness for other Asian tourists.
Therefore, we will investigate how to increase the individual and subjective value of
satisfaction of Asian tourists using the Oslo ferry operated by the Danish company DFDS, to inform an illustrative case study. This thesis investigates the phenomenon of Asian tourists’ satisfaction in a tourist-transport context employing a phenomenological approach using qualitative interviews of the management team at DFDS, Asian tour leaders, Asian guests,
as well as ancillary observational studies.
We have discovered that one of the factors that seem to increase satisfaction is the
successful fusion of experiential offers and current functional offers. Based on Pine and Gilmore’s framework, we found that experiential offers allow the tourists a chance to relax and indeed, immerse into the experience, thus, constituting a space in which to escape from the daily repetition of their lives. Hence, the experiential realms of escapism and estheticism were found to have significant influence on satisfaction.
Additionally, it was found that certain cultural traits influenced satisfaction with the
experience such as, that Asian tourists fall into the category of uncertainty avoiding, and have strong preferences for feelings of safety in a collective. According to Tan and Abu Bakar (2016), tourists from Asia will feel safer if they feel that their preferences for avoidance of confrontation, is respected. Thus, the level of perceived safety in social interactions will have a major impact on how much they are able to relax and thus allow for that key immersive experience, leading to an increase in satisfaction. This was found to be true, and
theoretical and practical recommendations will be given on how to satisfy such needs for Asian tourists. Moreover, the influential reach of uncertainty avoidance doesn’t only affect their perception of satisfaction, but also it plays a pivotal role in the actual buying decision.
Money and Crotts (2003) found that tourists with high levels of uncertainty avoidance will retrieve travel-information from non-marketer dominated sources. Meaning that their purchasing decision will be based on recommendations from peers, because such recommendations reduce perceived uncertainties. Hence, in relation to our case, the best 3
way to attract Asian tourists is by staging experiences in the realms of escapism and estheticism and respecting their preferences in social interaction to increase the experience satisfaction. In turn, this will foster positive buying decisions and willingness to recommend and attract even more Asian tourists.
Based on the results of the research, we found several factors and elements that could influence Asian tourists’ satisfaction, both for DFDS and experience providers in general.
Based on these findings, we have proposed practical recommendations on how to maintain and improve the satisfaction level among the Asian guests. The purpose of these suggestions was to show which experience dimensions were most important and highlight the importance of understanding, and accommodating to cultural differences.
The conclusions of the thesis indicate that by curating specific experiential dimensions based on cultural particularities, the subjective satisfaction increases per tourist, thus stimulating more positive recommendations among other Asian groups and catalyzing an increase in overall demand.
The thesis is considered to add to the knowledge on cultural differences influence on experience satisfaction, hence, contributing to existing literature on tourism experiences.
However, the necessity of future research is evident, since the findings and result of this thesis do not necessarily apply to all industries, yet, mainly to businesses in the tourism experience industry.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages246
SupervisorsTilde Heding