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The Scale-Adusted Latent Class Model: Application to Museum Visitation

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Preferences of tourists and visitors are varied in a number of markets, making it difficult for managers to understand how underlying segments might respond to changes in service offerings. Market segments differ in preferences for specific features, as well as how consistently they make their choices. In this article, we illustrate recent developments in choice modeling that allows for simultaneously modeling feature preferences and consistency of choice. We use the Scale-Adjusted Latent Class Model (SALCM) to better understand choices in the context of a research project conducted in collaboration with six major Australian museums involving a sample of 3,685 museum visitors. We identify three preference classes of museum-goers that explain preferences for levels of 26 museum attributes: Life Force (two thirds of visitors), Educated Thinkers, and Wealthy At-Homes. Our results indicate sensitivity to general entry prices, including preference for free entry or entry "by donation." Tours are preferred if smaller, lengthier, and conducted by paid museum staff. Not unexpectedly, the findings suggest that museums should cater for children, with some classes responding positively to providing supervised child areas. Most visitors prefer museums that are dynamic, offer new experiences, and regularly update permanent displays. However, the three classes identified have different overall experience preferences; for example, Educated Thinkers see museums as an educational opportunity, but Wealthy At-Homes prefer entertaining experiences. Incentives for return visits and cross-museum promotional offers are valued by the Life Force class, but have little effect on Educated Thinkers. The SALCM approach may be attractive to other areas of tourism analysis, especially where offerings contain many attributes and potential market segments are difficult to define and understand.
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Keywords: DISCRETE CHOICE EXPERIMENTS; HETEROGENEITY; LATENT CLASS MODELS; MUSEUM VISITATION; SEGMENTATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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