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National Tourism Experiment Center


Tourism science, an important discipline of the management science system, shares some characteristics with management science. Just as management activities, tourist activities involve human activities, and tourists’ psychology and behaviors are associated with complicated, advanced brain functions and specific tourist scenarios, and thus neurosciences may be combined with the tourism research. Based on the neurosciences managementresearch, the issues concerning tourist consumption, travel decision making, tourist marketing, tourist service and management, etc. can be explored by neurosciences-related methods. The existing “tourism + neurosciences” research is carried out mainly by utilizing the eye tracking technology and the electroencephalography, and has yielded preliminary results. In respect of tourism promotion, by taking the online advertisements on domestic online tourism websites as the experimental materials, Zhang Qian (2014), by using the e-prime software and the eye tracking experimentation, delved into the influence of tourist network users’ visual search behaviors on the advertising effect from three aspects, i.e. advertisement type, advertisement dimensions and advertisement position. As for the auxiliary tourism product, Lin Yong, et al. (2015), by taking tourism network maps of different styles as the experimental materials and applying the eye tracking into the testees who are reading maps of different styles, summarized the point symbol improvement principle, which serve as the design basis for the tourism network map. As for the tourist destination perception, Li Ke et al. (2015) designed an experiment aiming at evaluating the quality of landscapes on tourism lines by using electroencephalographic equipment, and by comprehensively analyzing the attention value and result of questionnaire survey, they indicated that electroencephalographic data can objectively and truly reflect the testee’s aesthetic feelings about the landscapes on tourism lines and accordingly determine the optimal tourism line in a scenic area; Çağatan ThSkin et al. (2016) measured some potential tourists’ attention to and interest in the advertisements of two conflicting tourist destinations by means of the electroencephalography and eye tracking, and compared them with those of two non-conflicting tourist destinations. The result indicated that tourists might ignore a small amount of risks because of the desire to explore new destinations, although risk is an important factor affecting the tourism development of two conflicting tourist destinations.

The current neuroscientific research by the Tourism Experiment Research Team of Huaqiao University is mainly concentrated on:

(I)  Before traveling

In the first stage of traveling, the tourist’s behaviors mainly consist of travel motive and travel decision making.

1.  Travel motive. Travel motive is the internal power inducing and driving people’s traveling. The disposable income, spare time, living environment and tourism demand are the basic conditions leading to a travel motive. In this stage, the neuroscientific research method can be applied to analyze the internal cause and mechanism of travel motive generation from the microscopic perspective, and further detail and classify them. Moreover, we could study how to better stimulate the tourist’s travel motive, and which of tourist services, facilities, products, resources, etc. can better stimulate the motive.

2.  Travel decision making. Having basic conditions of travel, people start to have the desire to travel, entering the travel decision making stage. The neuroscientific method is applied to study two factors, i.e. social support and group support. It is required to discuss about how negative events affect the travel decision making from the perspectives of fluke psychology, degrees of hazard of events, etc.; and explore the influences on travel decision making based on such group support factors as online evaluation, advertising, and experience of relatives and friends.

(II)  During travel

The tourist’s behaviors in the second stage of travel consist of the tourist consumption and the tourist experience.

1.  Tourist consumption Tourist consumption generally refers to the tourist’s spending in food, accommodation, transportation, touring, shopping and recreation during travel. Specifically, the tourist’s consumption in food, accommodation, transportation and touring are basic consumption expenses, and their consumption in shopping and recreation are of non-basic type. It is well known that good shopping atmosphere and environment may arouse the customers’ desires, but deep exploration shall be carried out with cognitive neuroscientific technologies like eye tracking, and electroencephalography, in order to ascertain which of the decoration style, display mode, musical background and other factors leads to the purchase behavior.

2.  Tourist experience. Xie Yanjun (1999) put forward that “the tourist experience research lies in the heart of tourism research”, and further emphasized that “tourist experience is the hard core of tourism world”; Zou Tongqian (2004) also pointed out that “the nature of tourism is a kind of experience activity”. As individuals are different in faith, attitude, personal characteristics, etc., the results of their cognitive evaluation on stimulations from external environment are highly subjective, directly resulting in the sharp differences in their emotional experience. Different emotional reactions even occur in the same travel in terms of the subjective experience and situational participation shown. It is required to apply the cognitive neuroscientific method to research the tourist’s scenario memory, encoding and storage, in order to check the development effect of tourist experience. Researchers may design relevant experiments by use of the brain imaging or eye tracking technology, to examine the tourist’s learning and memory of the resources, services, facilities, products, etc. of tourist destinations, in order to provide guiding opinions on the travel experience at such destinations.

(III)  After travel

The tourist behavior in the third stage of travel refers to a tourist’s behavioral intention. A tourist’s behavioral intention is usually described as the tourist’s recommendation behavior and revisiting intention. Ultimately, the reason why the tourist’s behavioral intention is generated lies in their recognition of the tourist destination, covering tourist facilities, services, products, experience, attractions, etc. That is to say, travel induces the tourists’ positive feelings, and thus they experience such positive psychological states as happiness, surprise, delight and pride.In the environment experienced by the tourist, there are lots of important stimuli affecting the tourist’s emotional status, and only the high satisfaction towards a tourist destination other than which stimulus (stimuli) has inspired the tourist’s positive feelings can be known by using the traditional research method. With the neuroscientific research method like electroencephalography, the change of brain waves can be intuitively observed when the testee sees a stimulus; with the eye tracking technology, the route of sight line of the testee can be tracked, the frequency at which the testee observes a stimulus, the dwell time and so on can be observed, in order to accurately judge which aspect has won the tourist’s recognition. Based on the research results, some flexible measures should be taken to enhance the protection and publicity of tourist destinations, increase the tourist’s satisfaction and loyalty, and boost their positive development.

It is believed that with the constant development of “tourism + neurosciences”, it is bound to be applied more widely.

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