Articles and Publications



  • Examines the evolution of image throughout the trip experience.•
  • Smartphone technology is used record images and perceptions.•
  • Image fluctuates during the trip experience.•
  • Arrival and departure scores have a strong impact on post trip evaluation.

The purpose of this study is to examine changes to tourists' image of a destination throughout a trip experience. Using Blackberry technology, a group of Canadian student travelers to Peru were asked to record images and experience about their trip during several key moments (pre-trip, upon arrival, half-way, departure, and post-trip). The results of this mixed methods study indicate that tourists' destination image is dynamic and continuously evolving throughout their trip, and various incidents during the trip could impact it. Of particular importance are the impressions made upon arrival and departure, as they are powerful determinants of post-trip images. Affective image appear to be rather haphazard during the trip whereas most respondents' cognitive image follows a specific pattern where the subjects go through an adjustment period at the beginning of the trip (resulting in lowered scores) but then rebound in a positive direction from that point. Further, post-trip cognitive scores tend to continue to rise significantly while affective scores tend to return to pre-trip levels.

Frash, R., Dipietro, R., Smith, W.W., & Luce, N. (2014).  Pay More for McLocal? Examining Motivators for Willingness to Pay for Local Food in a Chain Restaurant Setting.  Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management. 

The current study assessed guest perceptions regarding the use of local foods in U.S. chain or multi-unit restaurants. The study analyzed diners’ willingness to pay for local food, as well as perceived local food attributes that motivate the conduct. The attributes examined included food safety, environment, nutrition, community support, social responsibility, freshness and taste. The study data indicated that chain restaurant patrons are willing to pay more for menu items made with local foods. Social-Community and Fresh-Taste were the two strongest motivators of consumers’ willingness to pay more for local foods in chain restaurants. Market and scholarly implications are discussed.
Litvin, S.W., Pan, B., & Smith, W.W. (2013). Festivals, special events, and the 'rising tide'.  Iternational Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research. 7(2) 163-186.

Purpose - The accurate measure of the economic contribution of festivals and special events is a challenge. This paper uses a case study to demonstrate a previously un-captured economic contribution from increased hotel rates during the period of festival or event, the ‘rising tide’ effect.

Design/methodology/approach - This study uses a case study on Charleston's hotel occupancy changes, and how the changes coincide with the occurrence of festivals and events in the community, to demonstrate the increased tourism income due to rising accommodation prices during festival and events.

Findings - The study validates the increased tourism income due to rising accommodation prices during festival and events, which can provide a significant boost to the economy of a local community.

Practical implications - Festival organizations, as well as hoteliers and other beneficiaries of tourist spending during festivals and events, should note that how this additional contribution benefits them and their communities.

Originality/value - Many economic contributions of festivals/events overstate their values. The current study first demonstrates a previously un-captured economic contribution using a case study approach.

Litvin, S.W., Ferguson, A.C. & Smith,W.W. (2013). Too attractive for its own good? South of Broad, second-homes and resident attitudes. Tourism Management Perspectives. 7(July 2013) 89-98.

The research that follows ties together three topics of interest. These are gentrification, second/vacation-home impact on tourism destinations, and resident livability issues in a tourism dominated community. The study location is South of Broad, Charleston, SC, a historic corner of the city that has transitioned over the years from a traditional, upper-middle class neighborhood to what is today the most upscale part of town; but one heavily influenced by the second/vacation-home part-time residents that constitute a significant share of the area's homeowners. The paper considers, via a mixed-method research approach, how this tourism-oriented transition has affected the neighborhood and how it has been viewed by its residents. Describing the neighborhood's transition, the new term ‘aristophication’ is proposed.

Smith, W. W. Pitts, R. & Litvin S.W. (2013) Sedentary Behavior of the Nontravel Segment: A Research Note. Journal of Travel Research. 52(1) 131-136.

Nontravel behavior has been studied in some depth, with the intent generally to find ways to motivate the segment to travel. This research examined an aspect of nontravel behavior previously unexplored: their “at-home” behavior. The results are very informative and reflect a highly sedentary lifestyle. The nontravelerers were found to be far less active in their daily lives, both recreationally and culturally, than were those who traveled. This sedentary lifestyle, not before identified, is an important characteristic adding to the difficulty of motivating the nontravel segment to travel.

Smith, W.W. & Litvin, S.W. (2012). Sponsorship Change and the Ghost of Sponsorship Past. Event Management: An International Journal. 16(4) 335-339. 

One of the primary funding sources for various festival and event types is corporate sponsorship. These partnerships allow festivals to operate at a sufficient level while providing their corporate sponsors a variety of benefits. One of the key benefits (especially for larger sponsorships) is having the two brands (the corporate and the event's) become synonymous with each other in the mind of the consumer. The customer perceives a corporate entity supporting an event as sharing a common interest and thus the sponsorship can be used by sponsors as a tool to increase awareness and enhance image. What happens though when an event replaces a major sponsor with another? This case study examines participants' sponsor recall following such a change. Using 5 years of data, this case illustrates that changes in major sponsorship need to be strategically conducted in order to ensure that the incoming partner is not haunted by the ghost of the sponsor they have replaced.

Litvin, S.W., Smith, W.W. and Pitts, R. (2012). Travel and Leisure Activity Participation. Annals of Tourism Research. 39(2012) 2203-2219.

While tourism and leisure have traditionally been studied in their respective silos (Carr 2002), recent literature has begun to link the two. At the intersection of this cross-disciplinary research has been the question: Does travel predominantly present an opportunity for individuals to experience new activities, or is the norm for travelers to engage in the same activities as when at home? The findings strongly suggest that recreation providers in vacation destinations are correct in targeting those who are regular at-home participants in their activity – for those who enjoy an activity while at-home are those most likely to participate in the activity when on vacation. Moderating this suggestion, however, in synch with the recreational motivational theories of Iso-Ahola (1983), is the advice that activity providers ensure their promotional message is destination focused, for travelers, even heavy recreationalists, are primarily destination (versus activity) driven when deciding where to vacation. And while travelers often partake in their preferred at-home activities when away, they rarely select their destination based upon the activity.

Smith, W. W. Pitts, R. & Litvin S.W. (2012) Sedentary Behavior of the Nontravel Segment: A Research Note. Journal of Travel Research. 52(1) 131-136.

Basic marketing theory suggests as an effective market penetration strategy the attraction of category non-users, dubbed for tourism the non-traveler segment.  The issue of non-travel has attracted a good deal of recent interest in the tourism literature [see examples below], generally geared toward understanding the reasons behind the segment’s lack of travel in order to provide means of convincing these potential consumers to ‘get off the couch’ and travel.  The current study adds to our understanding of the segment.
Litvin, S.W., Smith, W.W., & Blackwell, C. (2012). Destination Marketing, Accommodation Taxes, and Mandated Tourism Promotional Expenditures: Maybe Time to Reconsider. Current Issues in Tourism. 15(4) 385-390.

Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) play an important role in the destination marketing matrix. As a rule, most of the funds that support the marketing efforts of these organisations come from a pool of state legislated accommodation tax funds that have been collected from visitors to the destination. This paper questions the mandated use of these tax revenues for destination marketing, noting that for many communities such expenditures may fail to represent their best usage.

Smith, W.W., Fralinger, E., & Litvin, S.W. (2011). Segmenting the USA Non-Travel Market.  Enlightening Tourism. 1(2) 137-151.

Tourism marketers focus on understanding the many different segments that comprise their visitors. Understanding these segments’ motivations for travel is important in order to motivate repeat visitation and to attract like-minded consumers to visit. But how about those who do not travel? This surprisingly large percentage of the population is a lost opportunity for the industry. The research that follows, based upon a very significant USA-based sample of non-travelers, suggests that non-travelers can be effectively segmented and targeted. Understanding these segments will better allow vacation marketers to craft their product and their message, hopefully bringing more travelers to the mix.

Smith, W.W. & Smith, S.L.J. (2011). The Use of Rank-Order Data in Segmentation Analysis - The Case of Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. Journal of Vacation Marketing. 17(2).105-114.

A topic of interest to many marketers and researchers is how potential visitors select a destination. Although numerous models have been developed, this line of research is still under-developed. This article illustrates an innovative approach to decision-based segmentation based on Unidimensional Sequence Alignment (USA). This tool was developed in molecular biology to compare genetic structures among different organisms. The basic logic behind USA is that the sequence of a series of entities/events reveals essential information about the identity of the sample being studied. In the case of this study, the sequence refers to the order in which potential visitors considered various criteria regarding potential destinations. Similar sequences of decisions indicate similar segments of potential visitors. Using data from a web-based survey of people who had requested tourism information from Bruce County, Ontario, Canada, the study demonstrates the potential of USA as well as areas for further development.

Smith, W.W., Litvin, S.A. & Canberg A. (2010). Setting Parameters: Operational Budget Size and Allocation of Resources. International Journal of Event and Festival Management. 1(3) 238-243.

This note provides useful benchmarks for festival organizers and their management stakeholders. The key intent of this research, however, was to determine how festivals allocated their funds among various expense categories. Respondents were asked to specify the percentages of their expense budgets allocated to each of the following categories: 1) Marketing; 2) Administrative; 3) Entertainment; and 4) Operations. It was found that ‘smaller’ festivals spend a significantly greater proportion of their budgets on marketing (23%) and a far smaller share on administrative expenditures (5%) than do their ‘larger’ counterparts that spend only 15% on marketing and triple the ‘smaller’ festival’s administrative costs (15%). The differences related to their spending for entertainment (35% versus 28%) and operations (36% versus 41%) are not as dramatic in relation to their proportion of total spending. The data herein suggest that size plays an important role when it comes to such allocations. ‘Smaller’ festivals are required to, or perhaps elect to, spend a larger percentage of their resources on marketing their event. Conversely, ‘larger’ festivals find they must spend more for administration, likely given the human resources needed to plan for these larger events.

Nadav, S.A., Smith, W.W., & Canberg A. (2010). Examining Corporate Sponsorship of Charitable Events in the Greater Charleston Area. Event Management: An International Journal. 14(3) 239-250.

Despite an increasing trend of businesses using event sponsorship as a marketing strategy and tool to enhance corporate image, limited research is available to understand the basis for businesses’ decision-making regarding event sponsorship and the subsequent evaluation of the value of that sponsorship. The purpose of this study is to develop an event sponsorship decision-making model based on how companies in the greater Charleston, South Carolina area choose and evaluate sponsorship of local charitable events. The findings in this study suggest that six primary factors influence event sponsorship decision-making: business policy, type of organization, event type, marketing strategy, projected outputs, and perceived value. The emphasis on each of these factors in the decision-making process was also influenced by the business’s orientation toward pure marketing or pure philanthropy. A strategy for approaching businesses regarding event sponsorship for charitable events is suggested based on the findings in this study.

Eder, J., Smith, W.W., & Pitts, R. (2010). Exploring Factors Influencing Student Study Abroad Destination Choice. Journal of Teaching in Travel and Tourism. 10(3) 232-250.

This study applies qualitative analysis as a systematic tool for insight into factors influencing international students’ university choice. We also develop a structural model for further analysis and understanding of that choice. Qualitative analysis of data collected via online chat identifies motivational and constraining factors that influence foreign students’ decision to study in the U. S. The study applies and explicates a contemporary qualitative approach to the analysis of interview transcripts for the determination choice factors and their importance. Inductive analysis is used to postulate a model for international student destination choice based on the travel decision push and pull model. Three push factors (personal growth, language, and career) and three pull factors (college issues, physical geography, and U.S. culture) were determined to influence choice of country and institution. In addition, structural factors including visa issues, and cost issues were identified as constraints. Personal growth was the most important push factor and college issues the most important of the pull factors. Visa issues were the most important constraining structural factors.

Smith, W.W. & Pan, B. (2009). Purchase Involvement of Travel Products and Segmentation of Student Travellers. Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research. 20(2). 331-343.

This study examined the dimensions of purchase involvement of undergraduate students while planning a reading week trip and the segmentation of student travellers based on those dimensions. A 27-item modified purchase involvement scale developed by Slama and Tashchian (1985: 72-82) measured the students’ attitudes towards purchasing their reading week trip. The results were analyzed using principle component analysis and cluster analysis. The principle component analysis revealed eight dimensions of involvement. Furthermore, typologies of reading week travellers were developed using cluster analysis. The findings from this study suggest that there are three groups of student travellers: nonchalant; modestly discerning; and shrewd shopper.

Zhang, L., Pan, B., Smith W.W., & Li, X. (2009). Travelers' Use of Online Reviews and Recommendations: A Qualitative Study. Information Technology &Tourism. (11)2 157-158.

Consumers are increasingly turning to online reviews and website recommendations to aid their purchasing on the Internet. The paper investigates the sources and formats of travel online reviews and recommendations, and examines the heuristics that the subjects use when making travel decisions based on these third-party opinions. The results of this study indicated that the subjects relied heavily on online reviews and recommendations to their make trip decisions. In addition, they utilized several heuristics when using these cues including the simple criteria stopping rule, credibility heuristic and consensus heuristic to make their decisions. The paper contributes to the current literature by examining travelers’ online information processing strategies and provides implications for practitioners.

Smith, W.W., Pan, B., Li, X., & Zhang, L. (2009). The Use of Geographic Skills in Dealing with the Foreignness of a Destination. Tourism Geographies. 11(3). 351-369.

In this study, 28 participants with little geographic knowledge of the destination were asked to plan a week-long trip to China online. The participants were asked to create a detailed seven day itinerary outline with activities or attractions they would like to participate in or visit, as well as restaurants in which they would like to dine. The participants were given a computer with Internet access to conduct an online search to complete this task. Interestingly, despite an overall lack of geographic knowledge about China, few employed geographic learning techniques during the experiment that would have led to increased ability to plan the trips successfully. Specifically, several participants did not use available mapping technology; they surrogated geographic knowledge for “geographic imaginations” and they delegated geographic learning to become dependent on recommendations from outside sources for their place knowledge. The results of this paper illustrate how participants’ use of their geographic knowledge and skills affected their trip decision-making. As a result of this research, recommendations to tourism marketers about how to address customers’ lack of geographic knowledge are provided.

Li, X., Pan, B., Zhang, L. and Smith, W.W. (2009). Online Information Search and Image Formation: Insights from a Mixed Method Study. Journal of Travel Research. 11(3). 351-369.

This study explores the potential effects of online information search on tourists’ destination image development. Specifically, the terms “baseline image” and “enhanced image” are proposed to distinguish the different stages of image development in tourists’ mind before and after active online information search. A mixed method study was designed, which asked college students to develop a one-week travel plan in China via online search. It was found that participants’ overall image and affective image about China experienced significant and positive changes after online search, while cognitive image remained the same. Nevertheless, when asked to describe their image changes, most participants reported changes on their cognitive beliefs about China. Further, the qualitative data evidenced the interaction between participants’ online information search process and image development.

Smith, W.W., Carmichael, B.A, Litvin, S.W., & Nadav, S.A.* (2009). Non-Travelers: The Flip Side of Motivation – Tourism Recreation Research. 34(1). 91-93.

This current research revisits a paper by Haukeland (1990) on the important issue of non-travel motivation that has remained primarily unexplored since that original article was developed. The purpose of this paper was to take the recommendations for future research that were originally proposed by Haukeland, expands the research and tests the theory he originally developed using a qualitative approach. The finding contained within this paper validates his work and illustrates the importance of building upon past research.

Zhang, L., Smith, W.W. & McDowell, W.C. (2009). Examining Digital Piracy: Self-Control Punishment and Self-efficacy. Information Resource Management Journal. 22(4). 24-44.

Digital piracy is a persistent and pervasive problem for society. Based on both the general theory of crime and deterrence theory, this study investigates the role of self-control, perceived severity of punishment and perceived certainty of punishment in predicting digital piracy behavior as well as self-efficacy. The results of the study show that risk-taking and punishment certainty are strong predictors of digital piracy behavior. Self-efficacy is also significantly related to punishment certainty and digital piracy behavior. Implications of the study for research and practice are discussed.

Dodds, R., Leung, M. & Smith, W.W. (2008). Assessing Awareness of Carbon Offsetting by Travellers and Travel Agents. Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research 19(1). 135-149.

This paper focuses on the need to increase awareness of climate change and aviation carbon offsetting in the travel and tourism industry. The paper first examines the relationship between travel and tourism operations and climate change, specifically in regards to the impact of air travel. Then, recent research is presented, in which awareness of carbon offsetting in the travel and tourism industry was investigated, using two groups: travel agents and travelers in Toronto, Canada. The study, using frequencies and cluster analysis, addressed the level of awareness of carbon offsetting, opinions on where the responsibility of environmental protection should be placed, travelers’ willingness to partake in carbon offsetting programs, and initiatives to increase awareness. The results of the study indicated a lack of awareness of carbon offsetting. In addition, with regards to the question of where to place the responsibility for offsetting, either with the travel industry or the government, there are two specific groups – intrinsically motivated vs. extrinsically motivated.

Huynh, N.T., Hall, B., Doherty, S. & Smith, W.W. (2008). Interpreting urban space through cognitive map sketching and sequence analysis. The Canadian Geographer. 52(2). 222-240.

Traditionally, analysis of sketch maps of urban areas has focused on the interpretation of hand-drawn renditions of features that are most familiar to individuals. Few researchers have investigated the sequence that sketchers use to identify features on the urban landscape and how these features are linked together to form a coherent ‘picture’ of an area. This article builds upon previous research by exploring the sequential pattern of sketch map creation. Two research questions are proposed, namely, can a repetitive sequential order in element inclusion be identified for different individuals sketching the same urban environment? If so what features are mapped in which order to create the sketchers’ image of the city? Findings suggest that three distinct groups of cognitive maps exist, namely, sequential, spatial and hybrid, and that the map elements of each group are organized in a distinctive manner with paths and landmarks as principal elements. It is suggested that insights into this process provide more substance to understanding how individuals interpret and structure urban space and use this information to navigate both known and new environments.

Pan, B., Li, X., Zhang, L. & Smith W.W. (2007). An Exploratory Study on the Satisfaction and Barriers of Online Trip Planning to China: American College Students’ Experience. Journal of Hospitality and Leisure Marketing 16(1-2), 203-226.

The Internet is one of the major information sources for trip planning. However, sometimes it can be difficult to use, especially for planning a trip to a novel destination with a different culture. Using mixed methods which are comprised of process tracing, think aloud protocol, and clickstream analysis, this research explores the usability problems and barriers when American college students' are planning trips to China online. The results illustrate that American students had a frustrating planning experience. While some of the problems are technical or functional in nature, more than half of the problems encountered were due to cultural barriers. As the dominant information portal most American students used, induces bias in travel information space and is not a suitable tool for trip planning to China.

Smith, W.W., Carmichael, B.A., & Batovasky, N.* (2007). Understanding the Potential Impact on the Image of Canada as a Weekend Travel Destination as a Result of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Passport Requirements. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. 23(2) 113-126.

On April 5th, 2005 the US Departments of State and Homeland Security announced the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) which will require Americans traveling to Canada to present a passport for re-entry into the USA. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that this legislation (for the years 2005-2008) will result in a loss of nearly 7.7 million trips and cost the Canadian tourism industry approximately $1.6 billion in lost revenues. The purpose of this study was to investigate how this change in legislation will affect southwestern Pennsylvania residents’ perceptions and image of Canada and their propensity to visit Canada. A series of three focus groups designed to measure these impressions was conducted. The results indicate that successful mitigation strategy could reverse potential image issues as a result of the USA legislation.

Smith, W.W. & Carmichael B. (2007). Domestic Business Travel in Canada with a Focus on the Female Market. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. 21(1). 217-226.

Female business travel is an understudied phenomenon. However, in the year 2000 women took over 5.8 million domestic business trips in Canada alone. Using data from the 2000 Canadian Travel Survey, the findings of this study indicate that female domestic business travelers are quite different than their male counterparts. Female domestic business travelers tend to be younger, unmarried and do more ‘outside’ activities while traveling. In a further examination of women and business travel using a cluster analysis, it was found that three types of women business travelers exist: ‘mixing business and pleasure’ (34%), a ‘directed’ business traveler (19%) and the ‘frequent’ business traveler (44%). These results indicate that women business travelers are more likely to extend their trip and engage in more touristic activities while traveling for business purposes.

Smith, W.W. (2007). Social desirability bias and exit survey responses: The case of a First Nations campground in central Ontario Canada. Tourism Management. 28(2007): 917-919.

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a case in which social desirability bias may have affected exit survey results. In this case, an exit survey of visitors to a First Nations (or aboriginal) campground, the results varied according to who collected the data (two aboriginal or First Nations research assistant versus a Caucasian researcher or mailbox). Overall, those who delivered the results to the First Nations research assistants provided answers that were more favorable than those delivered to the Caucasian researcher or mailbox. Many of results were found to be overly positive especially in regards to questions related to staff performance. The results of this study indicate that tourism researchers must be wary of data collection procedures (especially when attempting to measure cross culturally). Finally, this paper examines methods to counter act situations, which may produce social desirability bias.

Carmichael, B., Smith, W.W. & Cannally, C. (2006). Playing, Watching, and Participating: Identifying the Role of Sport in Canadian Domestic Travel. Tourism Review International 10(4). 217-226.

The purpose of this article is to investigate and analyze the characteristics of domestic tourists in Canada who either participated in sports or attended sporting events. Secondary data analysis using a subset of the 2000 Canadian Travel Survey (CTS) person trip file was used in this study. These data were analyzed in an exploratory attempt to test out a conceptualization of sport tourism and develop a typology of sport-related tourists based on their activities profiles. Cluster analysis revealed four types of sport-related tourists: the “Focused Sport Tourist,” the “VFR Sport Tourist,” the “Urban Vacationist,” and the “Outdoor Vacationist.” These groups were found to be diverse in relation to their demographic, activity, and trip characteristic profiles. However, there is significant overlap between the group characteristics when they are applied to the conceptual model.

Smith, W. W. & Carmichael, B. (2006). Canadian Seasonality and Domestic Travel Patterns: Regularities and Dislocations as a Result of the Events of 9/11. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. 19 (2/3). 63-78.

On September 11th, 2001 the North American tourism environment changed dramatically as a result of the terrorist events that occurred in New York and Washington D.C. As Canadians watched the events of 9/11 unfold south of the border, the shift in their travel patterns was almost immediate. Using secondary data analysis from the Canadian domestic travel survey, this study reveals the changes in travel behavior that occurred in overall trip characteristics and for different demographic market segments post-September 11. Comparisons are made between actual and expected travel patterns. These findings have implications for disaster recovery marketing strategies in general.