Visitor attractions—such as museums, national parks, zoos, castles, or amusement parks—are important aspects when making travel plans. Hence, to increase ticket sales, it is important for visitor attraction operators to know what (potential) visitors expect to become satisfied during a visit. Moreover, a solid understanding of crucial drivers of visitor satisfaction are also important because TripAdvisor and other social media platforms are spreading positive or negative experiences immediately to others.
In our quantitative literature review we analyzed more than 60 published articles from the last 30 years. The quantitative integration was based on a so-called meta-analysis—an established way of calculating statistical averages among many individual findings. In our case we were able to use almost 400 empirical findings from the 60 studies to quantify the importance of success drivers for visitor satisfaction.
In general, the following success drivers are most important for visitor attractions:
- Employees’ service quality—which means the quality of employee visitor interactions—i.e., visitor attraction employees’ attitude, behaviour, and expertise during all visitor interactions and communications.
- Perceived cost-benefit ratio—which means the relationship between visitors’ perceived interaction benefits during the visitor attraction visit and visitors’ investments related to the visit; so, basically, whether the provided utility such as fun or knowledge gain faces reasonable ticket prices.
- Brand image—which means visitors’ attitudes towards, associations with, and perceptions of a visitor attraction and its core experience created by visitor attraction’s image, prestige, and awareness level.
However, we also run further separate analyses on the individual level of a visitor attraction. These individual analyses revealed certain differences depending on the explicit type of the visitor attraction. Hence, we will next detail a selection of what is individually important and how visitor attraction managers could potentially implement activities to increase visitor satisfaction.
- Museums should especially focus on an authentic experience through their exhibitions which is a key reason for museum visits.
- National parks are mostly visited for recreational reasons—e.g., enhanced health or a break from the daily routine—which could be provided through sufficient and comfortable places to sit and rest.
- For zoos, an importance of provided emotions is important and might be explainable by zoos’ core product and by the main reason for visiting them, the interaction with animals which provokes feelings in visitors such as those associated with some zoo activities—e.g., public feedings.
- Heritage attractions (e.g., castles, World Heritage Sites, and archaeological sites). Managers of heritage attractions should especially emphasize the improvement of access and signage which might reasonably be attributed to the non-purpose-built character of heritage attractions.
- Finally, for amusement parks the overall high importance of brand image could be confirmed, too.
To conclude, visitor attractions operate in a highly competitive market and are faced with visitors’ increasing expectations. This makes a competitive advantage necessary and is achievable via high visitor satisfaction levels positively influencing visitor loyalty and vacation destination choice.