Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation attributes, SL Richardson, JL Crompton

Tags: Canada, English Canadians, perceptions, attributes, French Canadians, antecedents, USA and Canada, local celebrations, activities, cultural roots, language in Canada, Vacation Patterns, Canadian Travel Survey, sample size, Canadian Market, Quebec residents, cultural identity, French Canada, Canada Sarah Richardson, Texas A & M University, Perspectives in Cultural Anthropology, Winter outdoor activities, Canadian population, cultural differences, outdoor activities
Content: Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation attributes
SarahL.RichardsonandJohnL.Crompton
This article explores similarities and differences between French and English Canadians in their perceptions of the vacation attributes of the USA and Canada. Because French and English Canadians have been separated historically by both cultural and socioeconomic characteristics, this study investigated the relative influence of these antecedents upon vacation-related perceptions. Findings identified primary influences of cultural antecedents upon perceptions and underscored the importance of incorporating cultural criteria into strategic marketing processes. Keywords: vacation-related perceptions; culL;al differences: Canada Sarah Richardson is at the Center for Recreation and tourism development, Camous Box 420, College of Business and Administration, University of Colorado at Boulder. Boulder. Colorado 80309-0420 ?ISA; and John Ciompton is at Texas A & M University, Department of Recreation and Parks, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. College Station, Texas 778432261 USA.
The anthropological concept of culture has been one of the most
important ideas in 20th century thought. First explored and adopted by
the 19th century anthropologists,
the concept of culture is today
incorporated into a multitude of social and behavioural science inquiries
and fields of thought.'
Formal definitions of culture are many and varied. They tend to stress
either patterns of behaviour or an organized system of knowledge and
belief. Both types of definition are meaningful to those involved in the
study of tourism. Tourism researchers are concerned with both
observable tourism-related behaviour (eg vacation destinations visited,
trip length, distance and cost) and perceptions and preferences
underlying behaviour (eg perceptions of vacation attributes).
The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of cultural
antecedents upon perceptions of the vacation attributes of the USA and
Canada. Understanding perceptions of the vacation attributes held by
current and potential tourists is instrumental to effective tourism
marketing and development. While it is widely accepted in marketing
and tourism that perceptions are influential in directing decision making
and behaviour, so far little work has been reported in the tourism
literature which explores cultural antecedents of tourism-related
perceptions.
Background to the study
`R.M. Keesing and F.M. Keesing. New Perspectives in cultural anthropology, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1971. *StatisLcs Canada, Language in Canada, Ministry of Supply and Services, Ottawa, 1985.
The investigation was conducted within the officially bilingual and multi-cultural context of Canada, a country particularly well-suited for cross-cultural research. English and French Canadians comprise about 60% and 25%, respectively, of the total Canadian population. Of the French Canadian population 80% reside in the Province of Quebec where 82% of all residents are French Canadians.' French and English Canadians are usually differentiated on the basis of `mother tongue' (language first learned as a child and still understood) or household language (language most often spoken at home). However, the question of cultural identity in Canada is generally conceded to reach beyond language alone. As Saint-Jacques
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0261-5177/88/020128-09$03.00
0 1988 Butterworth & Co (Publishers) Ltd
Cultural vuriatlons in perceptions of vacation attributes and .&lallen contend `The language spoken in Quebec is not simply a different way of saying things. It is, rather, a different way of seeing things, of feeling about things. and often, indeed. the very expression of different values'.' Previous empirical research findings have suggested that the different values of French and English Canadians have manifested themselves in different lifestyle profiles, work orientations, leisure patterns and consumer behaviours.' The general hypothesis of the Study Reported here was that cultural differences between French and English Canadians also translate into unique perceptions of vacation attributes. Because French and English Canadians have been separated historically by both cultural and socioeconomic characteristics, the relative influences of both types of antecedents were investigated and compared.
Methods
3M. Saint-Jaques and 6. Mallen, `The
French-Canadian market', in P. Zany and
RD. Wilson, eds, Advertising in Canada,
McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Toronto, 1981.
4D.J. Tigert, `Can a separate marketing
strategy for French Canada be justified:
profiling English-French markets through
life style analysis', in D.N. Thompson and
D.S.R. Leighton, eds, Canadian Market-
ing: Problems and Prospects, Wiley Pub-
lishers of Canada, Toronto, 1973, J.T. Plummer, `Consumer focus in cross-
national research', Journal of Advertising,
Vol 16, No 2, Spring 1977, pp 5-15; R.
Kanungo, G.J. Gorn and H.J. Dauderis,
`Motivational orientation of anglophone
and francophone managers', Canadian
Journal of Behavioral Science, Vol8, No 2,
1976, pp 107-l 21; R. Johnson, `Leisure in
Canada', in H. lbraham and J. Shivers,
eds, Leisure: Emergence and Expansion,
Hwong Publishing Company, Los Alami-
tos, California, 1979; and 8. Mallen,
French Canadian Consumer Behavior:
Comparative Lessons from the Published
Literature and Private Corporate Marketing
Studies, Advertising and Sales Club of
Montreal, 1977.
5S. Richardson, `Culture and vacation
travel: a cross-cultural analysis of French
and English Canadians', Unpublished
Master of Science Thesis, Texas A&M
University, College Station, 1986.
%. Schaninger, J. Bourgeois and W. Buss,
`French-English
Canadian subcultural
consumption differences', Journal of
Marketing, Vol 49, Spring 1985, pp 82-92;
J. Chebat and G. Henault, `The Cultural
Behavior of Canadian Consumers', in J.G.
Barnes and M.S. Sommers. eds. The
Cultural Behaviour of Canadian Consum-
ers, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Toronto, 1978;
D. Tinert. `Can a separate marketing
strategy for French Canada be justified:
orofilinq English-French markets through
iife styk analysis', in D.N. Thompson and
D.S.R. Leighton, eds, Canadian Market-
ing: Problems and Prospects, Wiley Pub-
lishers of Canada, Toronto, 1973.
Data used for the study were generated by the 1981 Vacation Patterns survey, one of the most recent years of which data from this annual survey were available at the time the study was initiated. Data were collected through in-home personal interviews with members of a nationwide probability sample of 3573 people living in Canada. Details of the sampling methodology are presented in a more extensive discussion of this study reported elsewhere.' For the purposes of this study, the sample of 3873 persons was reduced to a smaller sample size in three ways. First, only those respondents who resided in the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec were included in the analysis. The sample was delimited in this way to control, as much as possible. for regional effects upon perceptions. Second, only those Ontario and Quebec residents who reported French or English to be both their mother tongue (language first spoken and still understood) ntld household language (language most often spoken at home) were included in the sample and considered to be representative of French or English Canadians, respectively. The decision to use language as a functional representation of culture was based upon prior empirical research that has su ggested that language in Canada is representative of different value orientations.6 Third, only respondents who had travelled more than 100 miles from their homes and had stayed away from home for at least one night in the two years before the study interviews, were included in the study sample. These three reduction measures produced a final sample size of 624 of which 336 (S3.S%) were English Canadian and 288 (46.2%) were French Canadian. Data were analysed through a two-step process. First. differences between the two samples in their perceptions of the vacation attributes of the USA and Canada were identified using chi-square analysis. Second, for those attributes for which differences existed, log-linear modelling was used to assess the relative influences of culture and socioeconomic antecedents.
Socioeconomic
covariates
To compare the relative influences of culture (as manifested by language) and socioeconomic antecedents upon perceptions of vacation attributes, socioeconomic covariates (ie those variables that significantly differentiated between the two samples) were identified and introduced into all statistically significant relationships between language and the
TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
Cultural variations in perceptions
of vacation attributes vacation attributes. Covariates were identified using difference-ofmeans and chi-square tests (PcO.05) which tested for significant differences between the samples for seven different socioeconomic variables. Three of these variabies significa~tiy differentiated between the samples (PPearson correlations identified significant associations between all these covariates. The positive correlation of education and income was important to subsequent log-linear modelling - the method of analysis used to determine the relative influences of socioeconomic covariates and culture upon perceptions. The requirement of log-linear mo~ielling that as few empty cells as possible exist in the generated crosstabulations. required the substitution of either education or income by the other. Income was chosen for presentation here due to the a priori evaluation of its effect upon perceptions of vacation attributes. Similar models, where education replaced income as a measure of socioeconomic status, were found to yield results almost identical to tliose described below.
Analysis and results Perceptions of how the USA and Canada compare as vacation destinations were assessed and compared for the following 10 attributes: winter outdoor activities; a place for rest and relaxation; a place with quiet countryside; a lot to see and do there during a vacation; interesting cities to visit; attending local celebrations; value for money in car travel; value for money in motels and hotels; overall value for a vacation; and courtesy shown to tourists. Respondents were asked to assess each of the attributes in one of the following ways - better in Canada, better in the USA. the same in both countries, or no opinion. Each of the 10 vacation attributes was subjected to chi-square analysis. Of the 10 tests, six gave significant results, supporting the test hypothesis of dependence between language and perceptions (P~0.01). The six attributes to which these tests corresponded were: 0 winter outdoor activities; 0 interesting cities to visit; 0 attending local celebrations; and the three value-related attributes: 0 value for money in car travel; 0 value for money in accommodation; and * overall value for a vacation. While there are important implications in both similarities among and differences between the two cultural groups in their perceptions of vacation attributes, the discussion focuses, in the interest of brevity, on significant differences. The following discusses each of the six attributes that were perceived in a significantly different way by French and English Canadians, compares the predictive roles of cultural and
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TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
80 7n r" 60 50 % 40 30 20 10 n "
-
English Canadians
French Canadians
PBetter in Better in
Canada
USA
Same No opinion
Figure 1. Winter outdoor activities.
Cultural variations in perceptions oj' r~acation attributes
60 r 50 40 t
English Canac French CanaclOa,I,
PBetter in Better in
Canada
USA
Same
Figure 2. Interesting cities to visit.
No opinion
60 50 % 40
-
English Canadians
French Canadians
P30
20
10
n
Better in Better in
Same
Canada
USA
Figure 3. Attending local celebrations.
No opinion
60 ,
150
E
40
30
20
10
English Canadians - French Canadians P%
0
Better in Better in
Canada
USA
Same No opinion
Figure 4. Value for money when you travel by car.
50 r
r English Canadians
60 1 I
French Canadians
%
I
20
10
0L
Better in Better in
Canada
USA
Same No opinion
Figure 5. Value for money in motels and hotels.
0
Better in Better in
Same
Canada
USA
Figure 6. Overall value for vacation.
No opinion
socioeconomic variables, and suggests, for cases where language remains the primary predictor, cultural explanations for the findings. Winter outdoor activities Although a majority of both French and English Canadians perceived winter outdoor activities as `better in Canada', substantially more French than English Canadians did so (67.4% and 57.7% of French and English Canadians, respectively; see Figure 1). About equal propor-
TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
131
Cultural variarions in perceprions of vacarion arrribures tions of French and English Canadians were distributed across the other three assessment categories (better in the USA, same, no opinion). Results of the log-linear analyses for all six significant attributes are presented in Table 1. For `winter outdoor activities' results suggested that neither of the covariates (age and income). nor language. significantly influenced perceptions of this attribute. Thus, differences between French and English Canadians in their perceptions of winter outdoor activities appeared to be attributable to factors other than socioeconomic characteristics and language. Work by B&chard supports the hypothesis that types of activities and levels of participation differ between French and English Canadians and may, therefore, be responsible for the variations described here.' He uItimately attributes these variations, however, to cultural foundations. Bouchard identified sin fundamental CULTURAL DIMENSIONS (called cultural roots) and 36 associated personality characteristics (called keys) of French Canadians. He suggested that French Canadians have a particular affinity for kvinter outdoor activities because of their `rural root' and a corresponding love of nature. Findings of Canadian tourism and recreation studies also identify activity and participation variations. The 1982 Canadian Travel Survey, a quarterly survey of vacation travel by Canadians, reveaied that 5% and 4% of all person-trips made by Quebec residents (of whom 82% are French Canadian) were for purposes of downhill and cross-country skiing, respectively. ' Furthermore. cross-country skis were reported in 41% of all Quebec households in 1982." Certainly. geographical features in Canada may also have some bearing on the activities and levels of participation that predominate in Quebec, and may, therefore. help to explain the variations in perceptions described here.
`J. Bouchard, Differences: The 36 Keys of the Quebecois According to their Six Vital Roots, Les Editions Heritage, Quebec, 1980. 8Statistics Canada, 1982 Canadian Travet Survey, Ministry of Supply and Services, Ottawa, 1984. `Statistics Canada, Tourism and Recfea- tion: A Statistical Digest, Ministry of Supply and Services, Ottawa, 1984.
Interesting cities The second attribute that was perceived significantly differently by French and English Canadians (PTable 1. Log-linear results - aga, Income, ianguage by significant vacation attributes.
Attribute
Probability of effect
Winter outdoor activities Interesting cities
Age 0.52 0.09
Income 0.80 0.05
Language 0.16 0.0008
Residual 0.98 0.98
Effect none income
language
Local celebrations
0.62
0.46
0.01
0.97
language
Value in car travel
0.43
0.56
0.01
0.92
Value in accommodation
0.20
0.07
0.0001
0.85
Overall vacation value
0.60
0.67
0.0001
0.93
language language language
Significant parameters
Parameter
Probability
Comparison category
SlO 000-19 9991 the same English/better in USA English/better in Canada English/the same English/no opinion English/be~er in USA English/better in USA English/better in USA English/the same
0.01 0.0002 0.02 0.05 0.02 0.002 0.0001 0.002 0.02
>$30 000 French French French French French French French French
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TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation attributes French and English Canadians. respectively). Conversely, more French than English Canadians perceived cities as `better in Canada' (30.9% and 23.5% of French and English Canadians, respectively). A roughly equal percentage of respondents from both samples had `no opinion'. Log-linear results associated with this attribute suggested that both income (P=O.O5) and language (P=O.OOOS) significantly influenced perceptions of cities (Table 1). Several parameters particularly contributed to this significance, In terms of income, respondents in the $10 000-19 999 group were significantly more likely than respondents in the highest income category (greater than $30 000) to assess cities as `the same' in both countries (P=O.Ol). In terms of language. English Canadians were significantly more likely than were French Canadians to assess cities as `better in the USA' (P=O.O002). The more favourable perception of Canadian cities among French Canadians and of US cities among English Canadians might be partially explained by the availability of tourism information and services in French and English languages in both countries. Previous empirical work by Couturier and Mills suggested that differences betvveen French and English-speaking residents of the province of New Brunswick in their levels of awareness of, and visitation to, provincial tourist attractions were attributable to a lack of information available in the French language. "' Hence the more favourable perceptions of Canadian cities held by French Canadians may reflect a higher service orientation in these cities toward French speaking markets.
Local celebrntions
The third attribute that was perceived significantly differently by French
and English Canadians (Pwith `winter outdoor activities', the largest percentages of both French
and English Canadians perceived local celebrations to be `better in
Canada' (63.1"/o of French Canadians; 48.8% of English Canadians).
About equal proportions of French and English Canadians were
distributed across the other three assessment categories (better in the
USA, same, no opinion).
Log-linear results suggested that variations in perceptions of local
celebrations were primarily attributable to variations in language (Table
1). Neither income nor age significantly influenced perceptions of the
attribute. Further analysis of significant parameters identified English
Canadians as significantly more likely than French Canadians to
perceive interesting cities as better in the USA (P=O.O2). the same in
either country (P=O,Oj) or to have no opinion (P=O.O2).
That a majority of both French and English respondents perceived
local celebrations as `better in Canada' may be an indication of the
importance of these events to domestic tourism. However, the greater
percentage of French Canadians that assessed local celebrations in this
way suggests that they may mean different things to French and English
Canadians. Again, an explanation for this finding may be drawn from
work by Bouchard. Bouchard suggests that combined personality
`OH. Couturier and A.S. Mills,`Acompari- characteristics of loyalty to heritage (which springs from the rural root) son of the tourism behavior of French and and joie de vivre (which springs from the latin root) results in the
English-speaking New Brunswick resi- attachment of great importance to local celebrations by French
dents', Loisir et Soci&& Vol7, No2, 1984, pp 425-438.
Canadians
. l1 In contrast, Eng lish Canadian society historically has been
"Bouchard, op tit, Ref 7.
shaped by the Protestant work ethic that has probably contributed to
TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
133
Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation attributes historical and contemporary meanings for local celebrations from those ascribed by French Canadians.
that differ
Value-related attributes The remaining three attributes that were perceived significantly differently by French and English Canadians (P134
TOURISM MANAGEMENT June 1988
Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation atrributes Canadians to perceive value as `better in the USA'. For the attribute `overall value for a vacation' English Canadians were also more likely to perceive it as `the same' in either country. That perceptions of value in vacation travel might reflect cultural factors is supported by previous empirical work by Mallen." In his analysis of Canadian consumer behaviour, Mallen noted that although French Canadians are willing to spend more time searching for and evaluating products, they are more likely than English Canadians to make premium-priced purchases. Findings of a corporate study reported by Mallen identified the influence of this consumer tendency upon travel accommodation decisions. That study suggested that French Canadians have a tendency to choose more expensive, better-known hotel chains when travelling. Given that Canada has somewhat fewer budget hotel chains than does the USA, the higher percentage of French Canadians who perceived value in accommodation as `better in Canada' and `the same' in both countries might be a reflection of this consumer tendency. On the other hand, the high percentage of English Canadians who assessed the USA as the better country in terms of value in acommodation may reflect a proclivity to use lower priced accommodation when available.
Conclusions and implications
12Mallen, op tit, Ref 4. 13E J . Mayo and L.P. Jarvis, The Psycho/- ogy of Leisure Travel, CBI Publishinq Company, Boston, 1981. "`Tourism Canada, The Year of Tourism: Tourism Program and Tourism Canada, Ottawa, 1984.
This study has explored cultural influences upon perceptions of vacation attributes in North America. While the importance of perceptions in directing tourism decision making and behaviour is widely recognized, little empirical research has been conducted in Canadian and other contexts to explore cultural antecedents of tourism related perceptions. That vacation attributes may be perceived differently by members of different cultural groups is supported by Mayo and Jarvis." In their model of the major influences on vacation travel behaviour they suggest that perceptions are influenced by four major external factors. Two of these are culture (and subculture) and social class. Because French Canadians have been separated historically by both cultural and socioeconomic characteristics, investigation of the relative influence of both these antecedents upon vacation-related perceptions was deemed essential to the study. Findings of the study suggested that differences between French and English Canadians in their perceptions of vacation attributes exist and are primarily attributable to variations in culture (here functionally represented by language). Income appears to exert few significant effects upon perceptions of the vacation attributes and the effects of age were not significant. Implications of the study are of interest to those concerned with marketing US and Canadian destinations to Canadian markets, but most notably to Canadian interests. Maintenance of a strong tourism industry in Canada depends upon three major markets - Canadians travelling within Canada, visitors from the USA, and visitors from other foreign countries. Of the three markets, domestic tourism plays a particularly critical economic role. In 1982 domestic travel expenditure represented about 78% of the total tourism sector income." Accordingly; about 75% of all 1982 travel in Canada was accounted for b; residents. Most of the remainder represented visitors from the USA with only 1.5% representing visitors from other countries.
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135
Cultural
variutions
in perceptions
of vacation uttributeh The importance of travel by Canadians within Canada highlights the need for sound marketing and development strategies. Results of this study suggest that French and English Canadians are likely to be responsive to different marketing strategies and messages. The favourable vacation image maintained by French Canadians suggests the potential receptiveness of this market for Canadian domestic tourism. French Canadians appear to maintain particularly favourable perceptions of Canada in terms of winter outdoor activities, local celebrations, and vacation value. The relatively less favourable image of Canada maintained by English Canadians suggests the need for image enhancement among this market. This is particularly true of English Canadians' perceptions of value of accommodations in Canada. While differences between the two samples in their perceptions of the vacation attributes were emphasized for purposes of brevity. similarities between the samples cannot be ignored. The fact that. for most of the attributes, the largest percentages of both French and English Canadians perceived them to be `better in Canada' suggests the strong and favourable image of vacation travel in Canada among all Canadians. However. for both French and English Canadian markets. it appears that Canada competes with the USA to some degree. particularly when vacationers are concerned about experiencing interesting cities. This attribute in particular appears to need image enhancement among both markets. According to a 1985 article by Schaninger, Bourgeois and BLISS. tvvo principal research issues relevant to French and English Canadian consumer behaviour remain unresolved:
0 Are consumer behaviour differences due to cultural or socioeconomic factors? and 0 Does cultural assimilation influence consumption patterns?15
`%chaninger, Bourgeois and Buss, op cit. Ref 6. `%aint-Jacques and Mallen, op tit, Ref 3.
The study reported here contributed to answering the first question in the context of the vacation perceptions that characterized Canada's two major cultural groups in the early 19SOs. Certainly, French and English Canadian societies. and factors that differentiate between them, continue to evolve. The socioeconomic gap between French and English Canadians is rapidly diminishing and French Canadian culture is being shaped by a tide of self-assertion and differentiation. " While these continuing changes suggest that some specific marketing implications generated by the 1951 data reported here may need some modification to respond to current market characteristics, they also reinforce the view that the study hypothesis of dependence between culture and tourism-related perceptions continues to be meaningful in the late 1980s. It is hoped that the findings and methodology of this study may serve as a departure point for investigations of the second Research Question identified above as it relates to tourism concerns in current Canadian contests.
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SL Richardson, JL Crompton

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