Author: Zhang, Yulan
Title: Why do people travel in luxury? : a means-end investigation of Chinese luxury travelers
Advisors: McKercher, Bob (SHTM)
Tse, Tony (SHTM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2019
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Chinese -- Travel
Consumer behavior -- China
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: ix, 235 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: There is increasing volume of hence attention on luxury travel. Many luxury brands have built luxury hotels to extend the experience of their luxury customers, and the number of travel agents who provide dedicated service to luxury travelers in China is increasing. The significant population of high net worth individuals in China and their interest in leisure travel further evince the potential growth of the luxury travel market in China. While various industry reports reveal the trends and preferences of luxury consumers in China, the question why they travel in luxury style remains unanswered. This study aims to understand the motivations of luxury travelers in an emerging market, China. The motivations of Chinese luxury travelers are explored by looking into their values and beliefs since values guide people's preference and behavior. The means-end theory explains the causal relationship between the customers' values and preferred products, and it is applied as a theoretical background of this study. The preference for luxury travel products reflects the values of luxury travelers; thus understanding their values helps answer the main research question about the motivations for choosing luxury travel products. This study is exploratory in nature; thus qualitative research approach was adopted. Two phases of semi-structured interviews were conducted. In Phase I, a total of 11 luxury travel agents in China were interviewed. Questions were asked mainly in two aspects: agents' perception of their clients, and how the luxury travel products can satisfy their clients' needs. In Phase II, a total of 30 luxury travelers who have an individual net worth not less than CNY 10 million (USD 1.45 million), annual travel expenditure not less than CNY 100, 000 (USD 14, 500), and at least two flights in business or first class in their past three trips, participated in the study. They shared their travel experience and the reasons why they travel in luxury style. Luxury travel agents revealed that some travelers prefer luxury travel products because they can make new friends with people of similar social status during the trip, can display their social status by traveling in luxury, can enjoy the superior service and facilities during the trip, can obtain more pleasure from travel, can have more entitlement to travel arrangement, or can better satisfy their needs, e.g. in terms of relaxation. The travel agents tend to category luxury travelers according to their travel experience and budget.
In the interviews with luxury travelers, laddering technique which is rooted in means-end theory was adopted to explore the reasons behind their travel preference. The study revealed a total of 20 values which make them prefer luxury travel. Happiness, pleasure, freedom, safety, and cleanliness are the most common values travelers would like to embrace by luxury travel. Based on their different motivations when choosing luxury travel products, Chinese luxury travelers are segmented into seven groups: Always Luxury travelers who travel in luxury style as a norm, Aspire to Luxury travelers who consider luxury travel as novel experience and will travel in a more luxurious way if their financial ability supports, Family Oriented travelers who choose luxury travel products for their family especially kids, Achievers who consider luxury travel as a way to enjoy their achievement, Reward Seekers who travel in luxury to reward themselves for their hard working, Status Pursuers who consider luxury travel as a status symbol, and Adventurers who enjoy not only comfortable luxury travel but also adventurous trips with minimal comfort. The findings indicate a more diverse profile of luxury travelers compared with what is perceived by luxury travel agents. The luxury today will be the norm tomorrow. This study contributes to the understanding of Chinese luxury travelers in two ways: answering the question why they travel in luxury and identifying the various types of luxury travelers. Luxury travel agents and industry players who would like to elevate their service level to meet the needs of the more experienced and more well-off travelers will find this study useful.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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