Whose perceptions are reality?
Revealing the Gap between real demographic profile of visitors
and tourism providers’ perceptions of this profile
The aim of this research paper is to investigate the existence of discrepancies or gaps
between the actual demographic profile of visitors and providers’ estimate of this profile
within the context of a tourism destination. This study is the first in marketing literature
to investigate such a gap. A modified gap analysis is used to measure and interpret the
results. Results highlight the importance for providers of acknowledging visitors’ most
observable and measurable variables, such as demographic characteristics, in order to
develop sustainable destination strategies. This gap analysis may prove to be an
extremely useful tool for destination marketing managers in charge of the market
segmentation and the destination marketing strategy.
Keywords: Demographic segmentation, Modified gap analysis.
Track: Tourism Marketing
The importance of market segmentation as a basis for developing a destination marketing
strategy is widely acknowledged (e.g. Bieger & Laesser, 2002; McCleary & Uysal, 1995,
Tkaczynski, Rundle-Thiele, & Beaumont, 2008) and there has been a distinguished body of
researches into tourism destination segmentation research (Frochot, 2005; Johns & Gyimothy,
2002). This paper investigates the gap between the demographic profile of destination visitors
and providers’ estimate of this profile, using a modified gap analysis. The implicit assumption
of this investigation is that the possession of spherical knowledge of destination visitors’
profile by local destination stakeholders is crucial for the successful operation, sustainability,
and long-term viability of the destination.
2. Literature review
2.1 Tourism market segmentation research
Tourism researchers acknowledge that market segmentation is a widely accepted strategic
marketing tool in tourism industry (Hanlan, Full