An experience economy analysis of tourism development along the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail
Global growth in wine tourism mirrors that of wine consumption and rural tourism. Existing research reveals that wine tourists look for dining, shopping, cultural, and recreational activities (Getz & Brown, 2006b) and are driven to escape and enjoy socializing with friends (Getz & Carlsen, 2008; Mitchel & Hall, 2006). Together these motivations suggest the value of hedonic and experiential consumption theories which have been recently referenced in wine tourism literature (Bruwer & Alant, 2009). The present study utilized the central constructs of the experience economy model, namely the 4Es--education, esthetics, entertainment, and escapist--(Pine & Gilmore, 1999) to explain the experiential nature of wine tourism. A scale was adapted that proved to be reliable and constructive through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) for measuring rural wine tourism. Data collected from 970 visitors demonstrated the validity of the experience economy in predicting intentions to recommend and return to the Chautauqua-Lake Erie wine tourism destination. Findings were consistent with measurement of these experiential elements in other tourism settings (Hosany & Withiam, 2010; Oh, Fiore, & Jeoung, 2007), namely esthetics provided the most statistically significant construct, mediating other predictors such as gender, history of previous visits, and activity level, shown to be statistically significant using multiple regression equations. In addition a second scale was tested and proved to be successful via CFA for measuring tourism suppliers' 4E priorities in creating the visitor experience. Welch's t-tests between tourists' evaluations and the business providers' priorities demonstrated various gaps between what is believed to be offered by the wine tourism supply chain and what tourists experienced. Stakeholder analysis confirmed several key differences among four tourism supplier groups (winery owners and farmers; restaurateurs and retailers; lodging operators, and attraction providers) on issues of importance to successful wine tourism, although, agreement on a dozen concerns were also identified. This study advances the emergent theory in experiential consumption and wine tourism offering a circumferential view of both supply of and demand for experiential consumption that may be applied to wine tourism geographies in varying stages of development. Consequently, the work offers new theoretical directions for rural wine tourism stakeholders and practical insights for contemporary applications of the findings for marketers.