WP4 - Guidelines for professional activity services in tourism (pdf edition)

WP4 - Guidelines for professional activity services in tourism (pdf edition)

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Raija Komppula

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Main Description

Guidelines for professional activity services in tourism - a discussion about the quality of a tourist experience product



The total demand and supply for nature-based activity services has risen fast during the last ten years. Lapland is particularly well known as a nature-based adventure destination in several target groups: short Christmas packaged tours for British families, wilderness trekking for individual tourists and incentive-adventures for foreign and inbound tourists are an especially growing business. For Finnish companies, nature-based activities are an important means of corporate entertainment, and local businesses are, in many cases, the most important customer group for activity operators, especially outside the tourism peak seasons.
The number of businesses that specialise in nature- and adventure-excursions, fishing services and so on have been increasing significantly since 1993, although in Lapland, and in a few skiing or other holiday centres in southern Finland, there are a couple of activity companies, which have several employees, and which have a capacity to serve more than 50 customers at a time, most of the businesses employ only the owners. Almost a quarter of the nature-based activity operators do not have full-time personnel. (Aalto et al. 1999)
Many of the businesses providing these services are so-called rural tourism companies, which often work on part-time basis. Generally, the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries have low entry barriers. Many new businesses are created as a result of identifying an opportunity following experiences of neighbours, or then new businesses are built on the back of a hobby or an interest. For individuals with no business or industry background, many of the skills have to be learnt whilst "on the job". (Morrison et.al. 1999, 128; Komppula 2002). There is no legislation in Finland that would regulate start-ups in the tourism industry, so it is possible to begin offering activity service without any professional training or experience
These characteristics of the industry mean that it is difficult to guarantee for the customers and especially for the tour operators the quality of these services. Nevertheless, nature-based activities are often marketed as unforgettable, memorable and unique experiences, which promise excellent product quality. While nature-based activities are most often the basis for incentive products, the quality demands for the products are high, in general.
The purpose of this paper is first to briefly present the results of a tourism development project, called the MONO-project. The aim of this project was to develop voluntary guidelines for the production of certain nature-based activity services in order to help the providers, intermediaries and customers in the production, purchase and evaluation of the products. In the third section of the paper the concept of tourist product is discussed and a descriptive model of prerequisites for the customer-oriented tourist product is presented. A short theoretical review on the service quality is presented in the forth section, after which the results of the MONO-project are discussed in the light of these theories.

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