Research: What Do Fishermen Value as a Tourist Experience?

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

A new Tourism Marketing and Management research suggests that fishing tourists’ lived experience is always built around the same core elements. The elements in the order of importance are the following: emotional value, social value, and epistemic value. This means that Finnish fishing tourists value such elements as nature, peace-and-silence (i.e. emotional value). Also, sharing the own fishing success, fishing know-how and growing the social esteem (i.e. social value) is important. As well as, new experiences and self-development (i.e. epistemic value).

Based on their seriousness towards fishing tourism, three groups are identified: Hobbyists, Active tourist anglers, and Occasional tourist anglers. Even though the relative importance of value components was the same in every seriousness group, more serious fishermen had higher values.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically this means that serious fishermen’s, (i.e. hobbyists) total experience (incl. fishing activity, travelling, accommodation, etc.) is more strongly built around the fishing activity. Thus, they are more likely focusing on self-development, learning of new skills, visiting new fishing spots, and actively sharing this knowledge with like-minded people. Whereas, the fishing activity itself does not seem to have the same meaning for less serious fishermen (i.e. active tourist anglers and occasional tourist anglers).

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Six different types of recreational fishermen

The research also identified six different types of recreational fishermen based on the benefits they seek.

Fishing tourists’ profiles

‘Service-oriented novelty seekers’ is the most potential group from the guide services perspective. That’s because their experience is often carried out by using a different kind of guide-services. Segment’s fishing tourist experience is built around networking, novelty, and development.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically, their fishing tourist experience is more likely a social event that takes place in a peaceful environment and focuses on networking with like-minded people. These fishing tourists are also willing to try new fishing spots, seek new experiences, and use professional fishing guide’s to develop their own fishing-related skills. Thus, it can be proposed that usage of different services enable them to realize their own dreams which would otherwise be difficult or even impossible to implement.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

How to use the results in tourism business development?

Company or organisation may only gain a competitive advantage with benefit segmentation if they understand the preferences of different market segments.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The segmentation results should be combined with other segmentation variables to generate even more accurate customer profiles. Hence, future development should more likely focus on the main characteristics of seriousness clusters, preferences of individual segments, and combine these together with the company/organization own special characteristics. The idea is that this kind of profile combines the company/organization service offering, main characteristics of different seriousness clusters as well as the preferences of fishing tourist segments. Practically, customer profiles should be something like “Service-minded novelty seeker who likes to fish monster pikes” or “Development-oriented salmon rower” or “Group-focused trout fisherman who focus on an ice fishing”.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

About the research

The research approach was quantitative, and the data was collected from the Finnish recreational fishermen by questionnaire. In total, 1 166 respondents participated in the survey. However, the results only focus on the respondents (937) who had participated in a fishing tourism trip.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The empirical study is based on two basic theories, namely serious leisure and consumption value. According to the theory of serious leisure, the fishing tourists have been categorized into three clusters, based on their level of seriousness in fishing. The components of experience value are based on the theory of consumption value, completed with togetherness value which was found in earlier hunting tourism research. In addition, these value dimensions are utilized as criteria for benefit segmentation, when searching for different fishing tourist segments. The data was analysed by using cluster analysis, principal component analysis, and comparative analysis methods.

More information

Experiences and digitalization – where are we going?

It’s all about experiences these days, isn’t it? They are constantly discussed in the field of tourism, and with other industries as well, but do we actually know what it is about the idea of experience that in the end intrigues the customer enough to make a purchase decision?

No, we cannot know that. Why? Because experience is a subjective, individual and very unique concept. No one experiences a product or service the same as their peers. Someone might not even feel as though they have received any kind experience from a service or product which might have been completely transformational for someone else. So, how do we market experiences, if we cannot guarantee that there is even going to be an experience to have? Can we enhance the experiences with tools provided by digitalization?

We must know our customer segment and what they are searching in their travels in order to understand how they might see the meaning of experience. Finding the customers ready to receive those experiences and even pay for them is not probably going to be difficult as marketing online develops, and it gets easier to attract bigger masses or find the niche market inside those masses that want your products.

How will digitalization change experience design?

In the future, digitalization and online marketing will be the key element in marketing experiences. As the world of digitalization moves forward, we can expand our experiences and how we see them. It opens totally new doors for marketing; A customer puts a pair of VR glasses over their eyes. They jump through a series of videos; snow, reindeer petting, Santa Claus, northern lights. The pretty picture formats in their head. I have to see that for myself. The thought of perfect winter wonderland has been set in their mind. The spark is there. All you need is the product to sell.

Snow dusting, formation of experience
Will there be time when experiences, like the feeling of snow and seeing the northern lights, can be designed fully online? Photo: Pulkkinen 2015

The question then becomes; how much we can tease the potential customers? Where is that line of wanting the hands-on experience, instead of watching northern lights lying on your own bed with the VR glasses on, enjoying the comfort and safety of your own home? What added value does the customer get from coming to Finland and going to freeze in the middle of the lake to watch northern lights? And how we can keep that experience authentic to the customer?

It’s about evolving. Designing. You need to find the link between the need to evolve with digitalization and the benefit for your company. What can you do in order to enhance the hoped customer experience? It’s about designing, prototyping and trying. Co-creation, another big word. Co-creation will most likely get on a different level with digitalization in the future, as information sharing and possibilities to do online get wider and wider. We are in a state of constant development.

The question remains. Digitalization, opportunity or threat to experiences in the tourism field?

Maybe both? The key is to find what is the best possible practice for you.