An attendee behavioral model of convention and exhibition tourism

Ying Lu, Purdue University

Abstract

The fast growth of today's convention and exhibition industry is a testimony of the continuing importance of gathering for the human beings and the society. Despite the prevalent convention and exhibition activities worldwide, however, the knowledge remains lagging on why people congregate for these contemporary business events, how they view their attending experience, and how their perceptions of the events and the immediate environments affect satisfaction and future intention. The purpose of this research is to provide a deeper understanding of, and a holistic perspective on, the attendee behavior in the context of convention and exhibition tourism.^ The study first embarked on the conceptualization of an attendee behavioral model through an interdisciplinary examination and application of theories and the synthesis of extant empirical literature pertaining to four sequential concepts of consumer behavior. They are motivation, perceived image, satisfaction, and future intentions. The conceptualization process started with a comprehensive understanding of motivations from the perspectives of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and economics. Theories and empirical literature on touristic motivations were particularly scrutinized to shed a closer light on why people are motivated to visit a destination for the purpose of participating in convention and exhibition tourism. The most original aspect of the conceptualization process was the concept of Image Package in convention and exhibition tourism. Such concept postulates that, to understand how attendees' perceived image affect their behavior, one must consider their perceptions of not only the direct objects – the conventions and exhibition events themselves, but also the venues and destinations where they take place. ^ The conceptual model was then empirically tested using data collected in China, one of the fastest growing markets of convention and exhibition tourism. The testing results revealed six major findings. First, motivation in the context of convention and exhibition tourism is a multi-dimensional concept. It is a combination of attendees' cognitive, psychological, and touristic needs. Second, the image concept in convention and exhibition tourism is not the perception of a single object, but a total package. This package consists of three image levels, the images of events, venues, and host destinations. Third, attendees' future intentions (i.e., future behavior and attitudes) are two-directional, towards events and host destinations. Fourth, attendees' motivation for convention and exhibition tourism form attendees' perceived image of the event, venue, and host destination. Fifth, positive images of the event, venue, and destination lead to attendees' intention to visit the event again, their positive attitudes towards the event and host destination, and their return to the destination for business and pleasure in the future. Finally, if attendees have positive images of the event, venue, and destination, they are more likely to be satisfied with their overall experience with convention and exhibition tourism. Such satisfaction could lead to attendees' intention to visit the destination for business and pleasure in the future, recommendation of the destination to others, and positive attitude toward the destination. ^ These findings contribute to the knowledge on tourism motivation and image in general and in convention and exhibition tourism in particular, with both theoretical implications for future academic inquiries and practical ones for the convention and exhibition industry both in and outside of China. In the latter regard, this research also represents an emerging stream of studies that advance the understanding of Chinese business travelers whose presence at international marketplaces is becoming stronger and stronger as China expands its economic reach beyond its own borders. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Howard Adler, Purdue University, Liping A. Cai, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Recreation

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