ArticlePDF Available

Thrilled to have ‘bagged a bargain’ or ‘bitter’ and ‘very frustrating’?: exploring consumer attitudes to value and deals in the leisure travel market


Abstract and Figures

Similar to most global tourism markets, UK consumers adjusted their behavior during the global financial crisis, emphasizing value for money in travel choices. However, there is little evidence concerning consumers’ value-seeking behavior and especially how deals, discounts and other sales promotions influence tourist decision making. This project explores concepts of value consciousness and deal proneness to shed light on attitudes towards monetary value in travel purchases. Using focus groups, the study found that deals and discounts frequently underpin some tourist choices, but that value consciousness is related to deal proneness, and interactions between the two could result in negative, positive or mixed emotions. This relationship was captured through a dynamic categorization of tourists’ attitudes and behavior into four approaches to deals and value, namely deals 1) as a way of life, 2) as a bonus, 3) as a problem and 4) as toxic. The categories were dynamic in that individuals could move across them. The implications for tourism marketers are outlined.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Travel Research
1 –16
© The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0047287518790403
Empirical Research Article
The tourism industry is one of the most competitive and
dynamic industries in the service sector. The range of choices
on offer to tourists is vast, and since tourism purchases often
represent “big ticket” items in discretionary household bud-
gets, consumers are acutely aware of value determinants and
quality criteria, which form an essential role in travel deci-
sion making (Chen and Chen 2010). The Internet has pro-
vided consumers with a high degree of transparency in
tourism product prices, allowing greater scrutiny of offers,
deals, and discounts. Thus, tourists are more able to evaluate
the value and quality attributes of these products and services
(Buhalis and Law 2008). These contextual factors generate
questions about how consumer perceptions and attitudes
toward deals offered by the tourism industry are changing,
and the implications arising for businesses.
Although previous research has examined the effects of
price discounting on demand in the airline and accommoda-
tion sectors from an economics perspective (e.g., Granados
et al. 2012; Yelkur and Da Costa 2001), relatively few studies
have examined consumer perspectives on the role that dis-
counts play in influencing consumer choices, that of Park
and Jang (2016) being a notable recent exception. Within
marketing, there is a lack of research on the implications of
price discounting for customer perceptions of value. This is
an important omission since prices play an intrinsic role in
brand perceptions and service quality (Boz, Arslan, and Koc
2017; Jeong and Crompton 2017; Zeithaml 1988).
The aim of this article is to examine customer attitudes
toward price discounts and promotions in tourism and their
relationship to value perceptions. The paper develops and
applies theory on deal proneness and value consciousness to
tourism consumption. Specifically, the study examines these
issues in the context of the domestic tourism market in
England. The British tourism market is one of the most
important globally, representing an expenditure of £43.2 bil-
lion in 2016 (McGivney 2017), and yet few studies have
explored this market. Thus, we examine English consumers’
responses to pricing strategies in the tourism and hospitality
sector, specifically their attitudes toward and perceptions of
deals, and to develop a holistic understanding of the role that
price plays in tourist decisions.
790403JTRXXX10.1177/0047287518790403Journal of Travel ResearchMcCabe and Branco Illodo
1Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham, United Kingdom
2College of Business Law & Social Sciences, Nottingham Business School,
Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, United
Corresponding Author:
Scott McCabe, Nottingham University Business School, Jubilee Campus,
Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 1BB, United Kingdom.
Thrilled to Have “Bagged a Bargain”
or “Bitter” and “Very Frustrating”?
Exploring Consumer Attitudes to Value
and Deals in Tourism
Scott McCabe1 and Ines Branco Illodo2
Similar to most global tourism markets, UK consumers adjusted their behavior during the global financial crisis, emphasizing
value for money in travel choices. However, there is little evidence concerning consumers’ value-seeking behavior and
especially how deals, discounts, and other sales promotions influence tourist decision making. This project explores concepts
of value consciousness and deal proneness to shed light on attitudes toward monetary value in travel purchases. Using focus
groups, the study found that deals and discounts frequently underpin some tourist choices, but that value consciousness
is related to deal proneness, and interactions between the two could result in negative, positive, or mixed emotions. This
relationship was captured through a dynamic categorization of tourists’ attitudes and behavior into four approaches to deals
and value, namely, deals (1) as a way of life, (2) as a bonus, (3) as a problem, and (4) as toxic. The categories were dynamic
in that individuals could move across them. The implications for tourism marketers are outlined.
deal proneness, value consciousness, emotions, decision styles, consumer attitudes, consumer behavior
2 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Literature Review
In marketing strategy, pricing refers to the direct monetary
value of the product or service. The use of deals and dis-
counts in marketing strategy has increased rapidly in tour-
ism. This has been attributed to rising costs of advertising,
together with the increasing number of media channels. An
increase in “noise” and “clutter” in the media environment
have led to an emphasis by tourism marketers on alternative
methods to influence purchase decisions. One example is the
attempt to understand the influence of customer reviews on
both price anchoring and willingness to pay (Book, Tanford,
and Chen 2016).
In tourism marketing, there is an apparent contradiction
between an important emphasis on conveying high-quality
features of products and services, and the copious use of pro-
motions and discounting to stimulate demand. Because tour-
ism products are hedonic purchases, in which consumers are
sometimes unwilling to compromise satisfactory experiences
and high quality, price-related factors may have uncertain
effects on tourism decisions (Kim, Kim, and Kim 2018;
Tanford, Baloglu, and Erdem 2012). Yet sales promotions are
often used by consumers to mitigate time pressures in deci-
sion making and by marketers in targeting strategies. As low-
cost airline carriers and budget hotel chains have proven, the
value model can be a very effective strategy in tourism. Yet
there is scant research on the use of sales promotions in the
tourism literature. Therefore, there is a need to understand
consumer attitudes toward deals and promotions in depth.
Price Deals and Tourist Decision Making
Price is one of the most important factors affecting tourist
decision making (Masiero and Nicolau 2012). This is because
the difficulties in evaluating intangible services mean that
consumers generally link low price with low quality
(Kandampully and Suhartanto 1989). We know remarkably
little about the role that price plays in tourists’ decisions,
although evidence does exist that contradicts simplistic
assumptions between discounts and low quality. For exam-
ple, cruise passengers who paid a discounted price were
more likely to evaluate their cruise experience positively
than those who paid full price (Petrick 2005), and in tourism
adverts, price discounts attract customer attention more than
other features, such as pictures of tourists or the brand/desti-
nation logo (Boz, Arslan, and Koc 2017).
Recent research has begun to address the ways in which
discounted or offer prices are perceived by tourists. It has
been noted that heuristics are associated with price effects,
in that odd-number prices are linked to mental shortcuts that
simplify decision making, and that price framing is cultur-
ally specific to the market (Jeong and Crompton 2017).
Whether tourism offers are framed as either discrete pur-
chases or bundled into a package (often at a discount), influ-
ences consumer decisions, while price, price transparency,
and consumer income have negligible implications for vari-
ety-seeking in the selection of a travel package (Kim, Kim,
and Kim 2018).
While the previous discussion has focused on the effect of
pricing on holiday selection, some related studies have
examined consumer attitudes and behaviors of shopping
experiences in the destination, such as haggling in street
markets. For example, Correia and Kozak (2016) found that
perceived utility and price consciousness were related to
moral values and status in a cross-cultural study of purchases
of counterfeit branded goods in street markets in Portugal
and Turkey. Kozak (2016) explored the bargaining behavior
of British holiday makers to Turkey and found that value-for-
money becomes an expectation for some tourist groups, who
seek similar products at lower prices. The bargaining experi-
ence can lead to satisfaction and positive evaluations,
although there are also negative associations and attitudes
toward haggling and pricing in some contexts. Finally,
Kozak, Correia, and Chapia (2017) explored the role of ratio-
nal and nonrational value determinants in understanding
shoppers’ attitudes, and how they may affect repeat visits to
Italy for bargain shopping. These recent studies provide a
useful basis to explore theories on perceived value and socio-
psychological factors that may influence responses to price
deals in the broader context of vacation decisions.
Deal Proneness and Value Consciousness
Theory on deals and value determinants has largely been
driven by utility theory and has focused on two dimensions:
deal proneness and value consciousness. Deal proneness has
been defined as “an increased propensity to respond to a pur-
chase offer because the form of the purchase offer positively
affects purchase evaluations” (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1990, 56). It refers to the propensity to buy rather
than actual buying behavior, and thus is conceived as a latent
consumer trait (DelVecchio 2005) and an individual charac-
teristic influencing consumer perceptions (Buil, De
Chernatony, and Montaner 2013). There has been an exten-
sive debate around deal proneness as a generic concept, a
domain-specific construct (around particular types of deal)
or an intermediate approach (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1995). DelVecchio (2005) suggested that there are
three main types of deal proneness—active (i.e., looking for
a deal before buying), passive (i.e., taking advantage of a
deal once in the store) and proneness to specific deal types
(e.g., coupons). Indeed more recently, Kwon and Kwon
(2013) noted that there may be heterogeneity in propensity
toward deal proneness, with different types of shopping for
deals in the information search stage of the decision-making
process. There remains a lot of uncertainty about the charac-
teristics of deal proneness, with few studies, and none from a
holistic perspective.
Related to deal-proneness is the concept of value con-
sciousness, defined as “a concern for paying low prices,
McCabe and Branco Illodo 3
subject to some quality constraint,” meaning that “the highest
value for the particular consumer is viewed as the lowest
priced product that meets his or her specific quality require-
ments” (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and Burton 1990, 56).
The relationship between deal proneness and value con-
sciousness has been explained by utility theory (e.g., Pillai
and Kumar 2012), yet the two concepts have emerged inde-
pendently. Deal-prone consumers value transaction utility
(DelVecchio 2005), since the internal reference price in the
consumer’s mind is more expensive than the deal. However,
value-conscious consumers are affected more by acquisition
utility, where the focus is on the need-satisfying properties of
the product (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and Burton 1990)
(utility theory is discussed further in the next section). The
acquisition–transaction utility theory approach provides a
useful mechanism to differentiate value consciousness and
deal proneness (Pillai and Kumar 2012).
However, value consciousness and deal proneness share
some conceptual characteristics. Both are conceived as a
continuum, from high to low (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1990), which suggests that they are not mutually
exclusive (Pillai and Kumar 2012). The relationship between
them has not been studied in depth, leading to two main
omissions in the literature: first, the influence of value con-
sciousness on consumer responses; and second, comparisons
between the behavior of value-conscious and deal-prone
consumers (Palazón and Delgado 2009). Additionally, most
studies on consumer responses to prices and discounts have
assumed a cognitive perspective, which has overlooked
affective considerations. Aydinli et al. argued that affect is a
“quicker, easier, strong conditioner of preference” (2014, p.
80), and identified that price promotions increase the affec-
tive response to purchase decisions. Laroche et al. (2003)
proposed a cognitive–affective–behavior model and exam-
ined sensitivity in a retail context involving coupons and
two-for-one promotions. Their study highlighted the salience
of behavioral, cognitive, and affective aspects of value con-
sciousness. Yet there is little sense of how value conscious-
ness or deal proneness produces affective responses.
Furthermore, most studies in this area have been con-
ducted from a quantitative perspective, assuming that deal
proneness and value consciousness are inherent to the indi-
vidual, thus neglecting how individuals make decisions con-
textually and consider situational factors. Therefore, a deeper
understanding of both concepts is needed to provide a more
holistic understanding of how value is interpreted in the con-
text of tourism purchase decisions, and in relation to the pric-
ing strategies employed by firms.
Consumer Attitudes as the Basis for Deal
Proneness and Value Consciousness in Tourism
Existing research has approached price discounts from vari-
ous perspectives. Utility theory has been used to distinguish
between economic gains from the transaction (acquisition
utility), and the psychological satisfaction from the transac-
tion (transaction utility) (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1990; Pillai and Kumar 2012). Prospect theory, in
tourism contexts, has been used to consider the gains and
losses of value based on the perceived outcome (Kozak
2016; Park and Jang 2016). Although these theories have
been very effective in explaining travel choices, they may
have limited scope in providing a complete understanding of
such purchase decisions. This is because they assume ratio-
nality, and so neglect emotions as well as contextual and situ-
ational factors that affect choice-processing styles and
outcomes (Tanford, Baloglu, and Erdem 2012; McCabe, Li,
and Chen 2016). It is for this reason that we argue that a
focus on attitudes offers a useful and multifaceted route to
examine consumer perceptions of price deals and value.
However, unlike the study by Correia and Kozak (2016),
which applied the attitude construct as a function of the
belief, attitude, intention, and behavior sequence applied
through the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein and Ajzen
1975), we adopt Allport’s definition of attitudes. Allport
defines attitude as “a mental or neural state of readiness,
organized through experience, exerting a directive or
dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all
objects and situations with which it is related” (1935, p. 810).
Recent research on the psychology of tourism has suggested
that a renewed focus on attitudes would reap great benefits to
theory on tourist experience and behavior. Pearce and Packer
(2013) argued that travel experiences become embedded in
an individual’s memory through telling and retelling, taking
on the character of representations. Thus, attitudes are more
than evaluative responses to structured survey questions, but
“packages of information traded in daily life” (Pearce and
Packer 2013, p. 9). This approach to attitudes as a construct
can complement the standard approach that seeks to identify
what people think and experience, by tracing how attitudes
are derived, communicated and contextualized in social
Value consciousness and deal proneness possess charac-
teristics that make them suitable objects for conceptualiza-
tion as attitudes, for two key reasons. First, the widespread
adoption of technology has allowed firms to offer greater
customization and highly differentiated, often individualized
approaches to pricing strategy. Thus, consumers’ experiences
of prices and offers become part of their travel stories, which
could lead to positive or negative emotions and/or satisfac-
tion. This requires a more holistic understanding. In addition,
the prevalence of individualized pricing means that con-
sumer responses are highly contextualized, making it diffi-
cult to generalize from conventional attitudinal measures.
Secondly, there is greater transparency in prices and dis-
counts on offer in the marketplace. Transparency influences
choices (Tanford, Baloglu, and Erdem 2012) and increases
customers’ willingness to spend time comparing prices and
evaluating alternatives, generally online (Buhalis and Law
2008). Therefore, over time, consumers build up experience
4 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
of prices of travel products that is highly nuanced and related
to a wide basket of attributes. This allows people to develop
richer perceptions of prices and quality, which go beyond
ideas of risk and reference pricing.
In cultures that place a high individual and social value on
the ability to take holidays, socio-economic and political
events, such as the global financial crisis, increase consum-
ers’ focus on the price of goods and services and other value
dimensions. Throughout the recession, consumers fought
hard to protect holiday spending, which led to the emergence
of more value-conscious behaviors, and we suggest this was
underpinned by a shift in attitudes. Modification strategies
included reducing the number of holidays taken each year,
reducing the length of stay, replacing foreign holidays with
cheaper domestic alternatives, and staying with friends and
relatives (Visit England 2014). Furthermore, the Association
of British Travel Agents (ABTA) stated in its annual Travel
Trends Report for 2014 that value for money was expected to
remain a key consideration for holidaymakers. Indeed, Visit
England (2014) predicted that the focus on value and thrift
would not dissipate as the economy recovers, but are likely to
become habits that will remain entrenched in consumer
behavior in the long term. However, the extent to which such
behaviors are the result of shifts in attitudes toward types of
holidays, or the result of value consciousness or deal prone-
ness and the interaction between them, is a crucial omission.
Attitudes are, then, “subtle summaries, shapers and modi-
fiers of behavioral directions” (Pearce and Packer 2013, p. 7)
rather than drivers of behavior. Thus, tourists’ accounts of
their experiences can assist the understanding of attitudes
toward deals. The present study examined such accounts to
yield important implications for research and the tourism
Methodology and Data
Previous research measuring deal proneness and value con-
sciousness has assumed that they are underlying traits, inher-
ent to each individual. However, qualitative research may be
more appropriate to understand the process of deal shopping
(Kwon and Kwon 2013). In this study, focus groups were
used to explore attitudes to deals and value. Stokes and Bergin
(2006) pointed out that among the many benefits of focus
groups, two essential qualities were group interaction and the
identification and replication of social forces. Nonetheless, it
is also the case that participants may feel inhibited, and social
desirability bias or group dynamics can stifle the articulation
of individual perspectives and lead to the emergence of con-
sensus views (Greenbaum 1998). Of course, these pitfalls can
be mitigated by careful research design and active and careful
management of the interaction by moderators.
In tourism studies, focus groups have been widely used in
the context of marketing research. They have been found
useful for examining stakeholders’ attitudes toward and per-
ceptions of tourism development, and particularly valuable
in exploring processes (Wilson et al. 2001). Focus groups
can be beneficial in dealing with complex problems, espe-
cially by drawing out a range of different opinions, or where
ideas and solutions can be discussed.
The current research project aimed to probe attitudes
toward deals through focus groups. The impetus came from
Visit England’s regular research with UK consumers on their
decision processes, and intentions to visit English destina-
tions, which revealed a growing importance attached to dis-
counts and deals. Visit England had found that consumers
consistently engaged in value-seeking and optimization
strategies even though they were more optimistic about their
future finances. This finding suggested that following the
recession, consumer confidence or lack thereof was not the
sole driver of value-seeking behaviors (Visit England 2014).
Therefore, a need for a deeper understanding of the relation-
ship between price and discounts was identified.
The present study consisted of five focus groups, which
aimed to cover the spectrum of tourist consumers: young
prefamily urbanites; middle-class families with children;
working-class struggling households; lower middle-class
families; and older empty-nesters. Participants were recruited
via the use of a screening questionnaire, which asked respon-
dents to complete a short survey on their holiday booking
intentions and behavior (questions are provided in supple-
mentary files to this article). Informants entered into a draw
to participate in a focus group and, if selected, they would
receive an incentive payment of a £25 Amazon voucher. The
screening survey (designed in close consultation with repre-
sentatives of Visit England’s research unit) was accessed via
a QR code printed on posters and leaflets, distributed in pub-
lic places (e.g., libraries, supermarkets), and through an
online link shared in social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter),
the staff email distribution lists of the lead author’s academic
institution as well as through the university’s social media
sites and social media feeds of the local city destination man-
agement organization.
In total, 184 completed surveys were received. An analy-
sis of the demographic details and other information yielded
a pool of 60 potential participants for the focus groups, who
lived within a reasonable travel time of the venue. A total of
36 people attended one of the five group sessions, held in
May 2015. As Table 1 shows, the gender mix of participants
was heavily skewed toward women, who are the primary
decision makers in family travel (Mottiar and Quinn 2004),
with only four male participants. However, the sample was
quite balanced in terms of age, marital status, parental situa-
tion, and working and occupational status.
The focus groups were designed to explore attitudes to
holiday pricing generally and to discounts in particular,
and their use of online sites such as Voucher Codes,
Groupon, and social media sites to source deals. We
designed two written exercises to facilitate discussion, and
a range of question routes, building on the inquiries raised
by Visit England and our review of the literature. We used
McCabe and Branco Illodo 5
conversational sentences to guide a natural discussion
leading from one question to another (Krueger and Casey
2014). Written exercises comprised an ice-breaker activity
using sticky notes on which informants wrote their favorite
holiday places, and a set of adverts with different types of
promotion to obtain detailed opinions on different aspects
of deals. These exercises aimed to ensure that participants
were all fully involved, to minimize negative group dynam-
ics and to avoid the confirmation effect of the most popular
answer (Greenbaum 1998). The subsequent discussion
explored the use of discounts for particular types of holi-
day purchases, the interplay between searching, planning,
and buying holidays of different types, the habitual or
infrequent use of discounts, and the emotional response
that discounts engendered in consumers.
Focus groups were organized around an attempt to have a
diversity of people (primarily in terms of age and marital sta-
tus) and situations, to enable a rounded discussion with differ-
ent opinions, although expediency and availability inevitably
constrained our efforts. The lead author moderated each dis-
cussion while the coresearcher took notes to record the inter-
group dynamics and body language, occasionally interjecting
in the discussion to probe particular issues. In order to avoid
interruptions and create a relaxed atmosphere, researchers
booked a quiet university meeting room and provided refresh-
ments. The duration of the group discussions ranged from 1
to 1.5 hours. The resulting audio-recorded data were profes-
sionally transcribed and analyzed independently by each
researcher. The data analysis followed the streamlined codes-
to-theory approach to progress from the “particular reality” of
our data (i.e., empirical observations) to the thematic and
theoretical understanding (Saldaña 2016, p. 14). Analytic
codes generated by each researcher were compared until
agreement was reached. Subsequent rounds of analysis com-
pared and reduced the data into themes using standard the-
matic analysis based on grounded theory techniques (Corbin
and Strauss 2008), as illustrated in Table 2.
Findings and Discussion
Although the study was specifically designed to probe the
contexts and use of deals in tourism decision making, what
was initially striking was the emphasis placed by almost all
participants on the role of monetary value in these decisions.
Table 1. Profile of Participants.
Sample Characteristics
Number of
Informants % of Sample Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Male 4 8 2 1 1 0 0
Female 32 92 8 6 6 5 7
Young (18-34) 14 38 6 3 3 2 0
Middle-aged (35-54) 19 53 4 4 3 3 5
Older (+55) 3 8 0 0 1 0 2
Marital status
Single 8 22 4 1 3 0 0
Married or cohabiting 25 69 6 5 4 4 6
Divorced or widow(ed) 3 8 0 1 0 1 1
Parental situation
Children under 18 living with them 9 25 0 2 2 1 4
Children over 18 living with them 2 6 1 0 0 0 1
Children of any age living away 3 8 0 1 1 0 2
Without children 22 61 9 5 4 4 0
Working status
Working full-time 26 72 9 5 4 4 4
Working part-time 9 25 1 2 3 1 2
In other situation 1 3 0 0 0 0 1
Occupational status
Working in high management positions 2 6 0 0 1 1 0
Working in supervisory/junior managerial
22 61 9 4 2 3 4
Working intermediary managerial positions 7 19 1 1 1 1 3
Skilled manual workers 1 3 0 0 1 0 0
Students 4 11 0 2 2 0 0
Total 36 10 7 7 5 7
6 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Participants talked about the amount of effort they put into
searching for value, deliberating on deals and other promo-
tional offers made by the travel industry and, evaluating the
value propositions of tour operators, airlines and other
Yet for many of the participants, the search for value,
including deals, seemed to be habitual and an underpinning
consideration in tourism choice, even when a deal is not pos-
sible or available. This suggests that planning ahead and
undertaking complex information search and evaluation
involve value-seeking dimensions in addition to destination
selection. However, some participants invested a great deal
in the outcomes of specific tourism decisions, which negated
the importance of value determinants. They felt that, in those
contexts, the potential negative consequences of selecting
value options were too great and instead they placed an
emphasis on destination attributes or package features. This
enabled us to classify tourist decisions as being characterized
by either high or low value consciousness.
We identified four categories of attitudes toward deals
by comparing consumers’ deal proneness and value con-
sciousness (see Appendix 1), thus addressing Lichtenstein,
Netemeyer, and Burton’s (1990) call to understand how
high/low degrees of deal proneness and value conscious-
ness relate to each other and uncovering the complexity of
this relationship. Specifically, we identified (1) deals as a
way of life, (2) deals as a bonus, (3) deals as a problem, and
(4) deals as toxic, for consumers (Figure 1). We further-
more captured the dynamic nature of this categorization by
showing how individuals can move from one category to
another as their attitudes and circumstances as well as deci-
sion contexts changed.
Deals as a Way of Life
Deals as a way of life reflect attitudes among consumers who
love (and actively look for a deal), but which must also fit
their needs, and so value consciousness and deal proneness
are both high. Respondents in this category of attitudes had
often signed up to e-mail alerts for deals via websites such as
Groupon, and actively searched for and responded to deal
offers. They identified themselves as “bargain hunters,” and
active deal-takers, who looked at a destination or holiday
product they had not previously considered because of the
availability of a deal. This category largely applied to
younger individuals, single or in a relationship, and without
children. The following is an example of the type of behavior
associated with this approach:
I would, quite often, deliberately pick a deal when I wasn’t even
thinking of going away anyway, just because it seems like a
great . . . if it’s a really, really cheap deal and it’s somewhere I’d
never thought of going for and we find we’re taken to places that
we discover new things by doing that. Just lots of weekend
breaks, really. So, there’s a sense of discovery and little treasure
hunts, really, getting these little deals. (Group 1)
In this category, advertised deals and discounts can trigger
holiday ideas, research, and booking. Email advertising can
act as a prompt for “window shopping.”
Yeah. Yes, you’ve got to love Groupon especially having a look
and seeing what’s on. Subscribing to them if you know that
you’re heading that way as well. There’s always some restaurant
that’s going to be doing free desserts or two-for-one mains or
you get a free bottle of wine, we’ve had that before. . . . That’s
Table 2. Data Structure and Analysis Process.
Empirical Observations Theoretical Observations Theoretical Contribution
- Actively looks for deals leading to unplanned breaks/holidays Deals as a way of life
(High VC–High DP)
- Haggling for deals
- Loves a deal
- Search for deals elicits positive emotions/enjoyment
- Likes a deal but not at any cost Deals as a bonus
(High VC–Low DP)
Categorization of attitudes
toward deals (around value
consciousness [VC] and
deal proneness [DP])
- Destination and consumer needs are a priority
- Obtaining a deal elicits mixed emotions, both positive and
- Disposed to deals but disempowered Deals as a problem
(Low VC–High DP)
- Would like a deal but are unable due to restrictions
- Experience negative emotions associated with restrictions to
get a deal
- Wants to protect nonmonetary aspects of holidays highly Deals as toxic
(Low VC–Low DP)
- Suspicious about deals’ unwelcome compromises
- Experience negative emotions associated with perceptions
of advertised deals
- Changes based on type of holiday Consumer attitudes
toward deals are
- Changes based on life cycle
- Changes based on previous experiences
McCabe and Branco Illodo 7
always useful to have but also if you’re buying a package in
certain hotels you can get free dinner or you could get a free
upgrade. (Group 5)
This type of attitude might relate to a particular type of deal
consumer, who tends to be prone to deals encountered inci-
dentally (i.e., unplanned), defined as “encounters” by Kwon
and Kwon (2013). Their attitude to tourism deals is deeply
ingrained, and relates to specific behaviors (searching for
deals, taking deals and offers) and a high level of value con-
sciousness. Their attitudes suggest they are likely to take
advantage of unplanned offers, and actively search for deals,
which may relate to both value-mining and price-mining
characteristics (Kwon and Kwon 2013). Price is always fac-
tored into the search and decision process. These individuals
tried hard to obtain the best possible value, and searching for
deals was an important part of the process.
No, absolutely, deals are the first place and then once you’ve
found that first deal, it’s a starting point to see how much lower
you can get it. There are some really great comparison websites
of deals. Another one I use, Travel Republic and that Trivago,
the one that’s always advertising online. Those ones I find are
fantastic . . . to make it as cheap as possible. (Group 2)
This type of attitude and the associated behavior confirm the
idea that these consumers spend increasingly more time
online, on comparison websites for example, looking for
exceptional value for money (Buhalis and Law 2008;
Tanford, Baloglu, and Erdem 2012). Although research sug-
gests that price promotions reduce deliberation time (Aydinli,
Bertini, and Lambrecht 2014), for people whose attitudes
suggest high deal proneness and value consciousness, infor-
mation search is likely to be lengthy and yet a positive and
value-enhancing process.
A number of people in each focus group also mentioned
that, in order to obtain the absolutely best deal, they would
haggle and/or take additional steps to ensure the lowest price
for their trips. The following extract epitomizes this approach:
Yes, I mean, I tend to . . . In the UK, I’ll either look at Groupon
and then I’ve sometimes gone direct to the hotel and tried to
haggle the deal. I don’t tend to use Groupon in that way. I’ll
haggle the deals with the hotel. I’ve literally sat one night and
ping-ponged between two different hotels until I got the best
deal. I’m a bit mad that way but I’ll hammer them down.
(Group 1)
Furthermore, these consumers’ positive attitudes toward
deals are not always dependent on their income, as the fol-
lowing excerpt suggests:
I think it’s weird, because I’m now better off than I was a year
ago, but it’s almost like you get into the habit of looking for the
best value. It’s weird when you continue to do that, even though
you’re more comfortably off. (Group 2)
This suggests that consumers expressing this type of attitude
are willing to “engineer” deals (Kwon and Kwon 2013),
using haggling and going beyond conventional search pro-
cesses to find the best possible deal, which influences the
type and timing of holiday purchases. People who think
about deals as being important and part of their way of life
may be more open to intuitive, affect-driven decision styles,
Figure 1. Classifying attitudes toward value consciousness and deal proneness.
8 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
especially in specific holiday contexts, including short-break
domestic UK holidays or low-cost airline tickets. This may
imply an emphasis on transactional utility, where past expe-
rience and confidence are related to high deal proneness
(Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and Burton 1990).
On the other hand, deal taking involves effort, including
haggling and extensive search for lower-priced offers. This
effort, though, is not generally perceived as a “cost,” but as
value enhancing. This group expressed attitudes that were
linked to higher levels of confidence in their decision mak-
ing, and a sense of power and achievement, related through
the stories they told of obtaining bargains. They were fre-
quent travelers, and expressed very positive emotions about
their deal-buying experiences. These respondents “loved”
deals, and an ability to obtain a deal elicited strong, favorable
emotions. The following are just a few examples illustrating
this outcome:
I think it makes you feel more relaxed about not having to really
make the most use of your time. If you’ve spent so much money
on it, you feel very kind of . . . not smug, but confident that
you’ve got yourself a good deal and that adds to the pleasure of
the holiday. (Group 3)
For me the fact it’s come down is part of the appeal. I like a
discount. I like to think I bagged a bargain . . . (Group 4)
I do . . . I am a bargain hunter, I’m a sale buyer. I was raised by
a very shrewd mother. I’m very proud of that, so that for me is
like a badge of honor really. (Group 4)
Thus, deals as a way of life could be linked to experiences of
specific behaviors and positive emotions that reflect a high
deal-prone and high value-consciousness set of attitudes,
which were quite distinct.
Deals as a Bonus
The category “deals as a bonus” reflects, on the one hand, a
high level of value consciousness and yet, on the other, low
deal proneness. People expressing this type of attitude were
not willing to sacrifice or compromise on particular aspects
of their tourism experience, which suggests a higher empha-
sis on acquisition utility (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1990). In those circumstances, a deal, if it can be
obtained, is an added bonus rather than essential. Deals are
not acceptable at any cost. We observed this type of attitude
toward deals mostly in middle-aged and mature partici-
pants who were married or in a relationship. The impor-
tance attached to value and price considerations was
dependent on the holiday context. For example, people
with these attitudes expressed differences in value percep-
tions for “main” holidays abroad and UK short breaks.
Deals were seen as a bonus (sometimes an unexpected
bonus) and were evaluated within those contexts. Holidays
in England were sometimes seen as a bonus – something
additional to holidays abroad.
I wouldn’t say it’s searching for a deal, I would say it’s just
looking up the prices and we will always look for value for
money and for me it’s value for money, not the cheapest. So, we
would never just go for the first price that we saw: we’d always
do a bit of research. Look at where the location is, look at what
we want to do when we’re there and how close it is. So, we see
it as research and we see it as good value for money. If there’s a
deal as well it’s a bonus. (Group 4)
I personally wouldn’t say it was essential for me. I would
definitely see it as a bonus and it’s something I would actively
look for, but if I couldn’t get a deal, that wouldn’t prevent me
from going on holiday. I would just go for the cheapest one I
could find. (Group 3)
There was some discussion around the notion of reference
prices. Participants expressing this type of attitude often
stated that they had a budget in mind when searching for
holidays or breaks, and made comparisons based on alterna-
tive value propositions.
I think everybody’s got the budget to work to. You know in your
own mind what you want to go up to, and the quality that you
want, so there’s a compromise there of doing it, whereas you
might see something, think, “Oh, that looks great,” then you
look at the price and it’s £1,000 a week. No way am I paying
that, so you just dismiss it. Well, I would, because I think it’s just
ridiculous. So, I go back to looking at something reasonably
priced that is in the budget that we could afford. (Group 3)
Consumers frequently mentioned a constant search for value,
which was mainly interpreted as being the lowest possible
price, but not at any cost. Quality was also a determinant in
decisions about value in addition to low cost. Some respon-
dents expressed the view that their holidays were “rewards”
and this determined an expectation of luxury, or at least good
standards of quality, which might be unnecessarily compro-
mised by taking a deal or discount. Other respondents stated
that their holiday decisions were destination driven, and
therefore deals or discounts were secondary considerations.
Yeah, I think for us, we think, okay where do we want to go?
Then we think, okay, well what time off can we get? Then we say,
well, what’s the best price that we can get for that location at that
time? If something pops up for . . . So, we’ll keep looking for best
price at this place and we’ll go for the best price that works with
our dates. So, we’re driven by the location. (Group 4)
Participants also expressed the opinion that despite value
being intrinsic to the holiday search, some deals were per-
ceived to be high risk. Risk was associated with destination
context (UK or abroad) and price.
I’m slightly nervous about too-cheap self-catering in Britain,
having been burnt. This is before kids, but me and my husband
went to Bridlington and stayed in a self-catering flat that was
really awful. There were teabags still in the teapot that had gone
moldy and I know when I told my mother how much we were
paying she was very dubious. (Group 3)
McCabe and Branco Illodo 9
High value consciousness could also be linked to delibera-
tive information search and complex evaluation behaviors.
For example, when we showed the deal adverts to partici-
pants, some of them struggled to decide because they felt
they needed more information about the destination before
making a decision, and this uncertainty was not welcomed:
I’ve not got all the information I need . . . I have to make an
assumption that I have three nights that I could go . . . time
availability is a key factor in this decision-making process . . .
the £99 one [deal] . . . I would be a bit dubious about why it’s
been reduced; so some issues there potentially about quality,
which is why then I want to click through and find out where it
was, what the hotel was . . . so for me, the price isn’t everything
. . . the deal is important but not necessarily the cheapest price.
(Group 3)
As a consequence of the somewhat ambivalent attitude
toward deals, the emotional aspects of this type were also
mixed, including anxiety about whether they had actually
obtained the very best deal:
I think the lead-up to searching and booking, there’s always an
element of excitement, but I think what I find is once I’ve
committed and paid my money, there’s then that anxiety of, “Did
I get the best deal or could I have found something that was
elusive, hiding something in the ether?” Do you know what I
mean? It’s just ridiculous really. (Group 2)
This excerpt reflects the mixed emotions experienced at dif-
ferent stages of the decision-making process, highlighting
the enjoyment found in the search process, followed by post-
purchase angst. This could be linked to postpurchase coun-
terfactual thinking, leading to negative emotions, as
investigated in recent studies (Park and Jang 2016).
Deals as a Problem
For some respondents, and in some contexts, price was not
a key factor, because other considerations drove decisions
(e.g., pets, refusal to compromise on holiday quality).
Moreover, people in this category, and especially families
with children living at home, often perceived that deals
were impossible to obtain. Indeed, the majority of attitudes
in this category were linked to an inability to take deals,
mainly due to the situational characteristics of participants.
Although people in this category would be open to deals,
and actively searched for them, they were largely, and frus-
tratingly, unobtainable. A lack of flexibility was often com-
bined with negative emotions and a refusal to compromise
on a much-needed, if too expensive, break.
You have to book up . . . if you want a deal you have to book up
much earlier in advance. Because of the school holidays they
don’t have to give you a deal. So, you could be looking at 15
months in advance in order to get those child free places that are
so touted and are very hard to track down. And things like half
term [when] the price hike is extraordinary. If you want to ski in
February half term it will be twice the price and now the schools
have got so sticky about taking [children] out. You really are
very restrained. (Group 4)
We’re going to Center Parks in May half term and paying an arm
and a leg for the privilege but when you have children of school
age you don’t really have a choice. (Group 3)
We noted that this participant was not very happy with his
holiday choice and mentioned that, although it was not ideal,
the holiday was more about the children, and being able to
provide positive experiences for them.
For many of these participants, the holiday destination was
of primary importance, which trumped the availability of a dis-
count or deal. Location, in terms of either being able to choose
the destination for the holiday, or having the option to select the
location of the hotel in a particular city, was far more important
than getting a deal. Participants talked about concerns that
hotel deals were often for locations that would not be of interest
to them. However, others were open to such deals:
Some of the overseas deals that you can get say that you’ll be in
a three-star hotel somewhere and they’re often cheaper or
discounted because of that. I would never do that, because I
would want to know where I’m going, I want to be able to, you
know, the days on the internet looking up and having a good
look around to see what there is. So even though it might be
cheaper going to the one that I like the look of, I wouldn’t do it,
because I want to know where I’m going. (Group 3)
For consumers in this category, deals were sometimes neces-
sary in order to facilitate purchase, and so they were highly
deal prone, and also aware of the value options, and yet their
circumstances meant that value consciousness was low.
However, this placed a much higher emphasis on acquisition
utility (i.e., on completely satisfying their needs), because of
the expense.
There were frequent mentions of negative emotions
resulting from holiday deal offers by the industry and con-
sumers’ constraints. Sometimes these were reflective of the
transparency of prices at high season and low season:
Researcher When you look at the difference between the
school holiday prices and the out-of-season price, how
does it make you feel?
Sarah Bitter.
Sarah Bitter yeah.
Sarah Why, why is it when we’re having the same place?
Suzy I do understand supply and demand, I understand the
economics of it but it’s just ripping you off. (Group 5)
Participants’ negative emotions were related to the unavail-
ability of offers at times and dates people when would be
able to access them.
10 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Deals as Toxic
Although the proportion of the opinions on this issue was
smaller than those of deal taking and value seeking, all the
focus groups did reveal interesting negative associations
attached to deals in holiday contexts. Indeed, deals were
sometimes evaluated so negatively that they were perceived
as toxic. Here, deals were treated with suspicion and the per-
ception that they entail too many compromises.
Yes, I think I’d be suspicious of anything with an add-on or an
upgrade or something, I think, where you are still charging me
for that, payment for that, some other way really. (Group 2)
I think usually if it’s really, really, really cheap I start to get a
little bit suspicious as to why it’s so cheap and that’s when I’m
more likely to start really scanning the reviews to try and find
out exactly what’s wrong with this hotel. As long as they are just
cheap and there’s nothing wrong at all. (Group 2)
When presented with the deal adverts, these informants
expressed their negative perceptions about deals. This range
of attitudes supports the idea that some consumers are wor-
ried about perceived behavioral control in a deal scenario
because they fear lower levels of service (Boon 2013). A
benefit that looks too good can prompt people to consider
cancelling the purchase altogether, supporting the findings of
Park and Jang (2016). Searching for the best deals can be
time consuming and lead to the adoption of coping strate-
gies, such as opting for convenience over price. This did not
relate to domestic breaks, however, which were very often
sought with value as a high priority.
The sacrifices in time and effort required to obtain an offer
at the best value can sometimes result in negative feelings.
There’s almost a sort of extra pressure with all the information
available on something like TripAdvisor that you sort of feel
like if you end up in a bad hotel it’s your fault rather than it being
the hotel’s fault. You should have been able to see it. (Group 5)
The negative emotional outcomes can include status anxiety
or concern associated with being perceived as a “discounter”
by the hotelier/businessowner:
When we went to Windsor recently I was saying the hotel was
usually over £100. We ended up paying only £67 so we had
mixed feelings. We were proud that we’d got that deal and we
were happy when we got there—it looked really fancy and we
were a little bit, like, out of place, like we don’t belong here.
(Group 4)
This supports the arguments made by Boon (2013), who
suggested that consumers’ attitudes toward deals are gener-
ally positive, although they are concerned about “looking
cheap” by taking a deal. This type of status anxiety and its
role in pushing consumers toward particular types of price
decisions has yet to be explored in tourism and offers much
Other negative emotions were expressed about advertised
deals, in terms of either online, targeted advertising, or relat-
ing to hidden costs:
I was just researching flights to Canada for Christmas and they
were advertising this from quite a good price and I eventually found
the one that they were talking about and there were four connections.
I was, like, no, that doesn’t count, it takes so much time . . . it’s, like,
no, they’re just wasting your time. Very, very frustrating, so I much
prefer that sort of honesty about ‘here’s how much it costs’ and I do
find that airlines are the worst for it. (Group 4)
Dynamic Nature of Attitudes toward Deals
As mentioned, the holiday decision context is crucially
important to value perceptions and to the role that deals play
in influencing specific decisions. Rather than a fixed trait,
our data suggest that individuals flexibly adopt attitudes
toward value consciousness or deal proneness, depending on
the holiday context, stage in the life cycle, and previous expe-
riences. This dynamic understanding of attitudes addresses
the call for tourism researchers to explore attitudes more
holistically (Pearce and Packer 2013).
Regarding holiday context, when traveling abroad many
participants considered deals “as a bonus” and yet in England
deals were perceived “a problem,” since obtaining value for
money was “difficult,” as illustrated below:
I’d actually try and get as much value for money when you go
somewhere [outside England]. . . . In England, you can’t get as
much value for money, so it’s kind of psychological, I know
exactly how much everything costs. . . . Abroad, especially using
foreign currency it’s all a bit, “oh, it doesn’t matter how much it
costs, it’s not real money.” (Group 1)
For many people, deals were “a way of life” when traveling
abroad, while in England deals were not important:
When I am going abroad, I’m like “right, I’m looking for the
deals,” but if I’m in England, I’m, “Ooh, that looks like a nice
B&B; I’ll go there,” and I don’t bother looking elsewhere [for
deals]. (Group 1)
In a similar way, in relation to stage in the life cycle, our data
suggest that people may move from “deals as a way of life”
to “deals as a bonus” when their family situation changes:
I have done it in the past . . . we’ve effectively taken breaks that
we wouldn’t have been intending to take, because the deal was
there. . . . Where can you go for the £99 deal? Northampton.
Well, we’ll go there. Just for a couple of nights, because I’m
perfectly interested in seeing anywhere. . . . [Now] I think it is
the kids that put me off. I want to know for sure where I’m going
with the kids. (Group 3)
Previous experiences are a third element that triggered
changes from one category of attitudes to another, as in the
excerpt below:
McCabe and Branco Illodo 11
It was a few years ago now but it was like 129 or 150 quid for
the week and we thought, well, even if it’s rubbish it’s like 150
quid, do you know what I mean? So we just took the chance. It
was actually fine, there was no problem, but I just wouldn’t do it
in the UK. I think I’ve had too many fingers burnt. (Group 5)
Destination type was associated with varying value percep-
tions. Attitudes toward deals were more likely to be favor-
able in particular contexts, such as short-break domestic
holidays as opposed to “main,” longer holidays. These “sup-
plementary” holiday breaks were perceived generally to
carry fewer risks, with some participants agreeing that if the
holiday failed, or the deal compromised quality and satisfac-
tion, it would be easy to abandon the trip and go home.
Holidays abroad were perceived as higher risk, but also a
greater investment in terms of the experience sought and the
expectations of satisfactory outcomes (Hales and Shames
1991). In addition to supplementary breaks, deal-taking
behavior was also apparent when participants had flexibility
on departure dates, time or other criteria, in order to take
advantage of offers or deals. This type of activity is sup-
ported through extensive search behavior involving price
comparison sites.
There were many diverse opinions expressed in terms
of participants’ attitudes toward, and experiences of, deals
and discounts and the role they played in current behavior
patterns. Discounts and deals were sometimes instrumen-
tal in that the savings made enabled spending on other
value-enhancing aspects of the holiday experience, such as
luxury food and drink or additional events. Our research
supports the findings of Kwon and Kwon (2013), who
identified different types of deal shopping and sources of
gratification, albeit exclusively at the information search
stage, and the benefits that deals conferred in the context
of product shopping.
Pricing is an intrinsic aspect of the marketing strategy for tour-
ism, yet little is known about the effects of these strategies on
consumers’ attitudes and buying behavior, beyond the impact
on sales performance and profitability. Our focus groups with
a range of UK consumers have shown that deal proneness and
value consciousness in the tourism industry require an under-
standing of cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions
that underpin product choice and evaluation.
Theoretical Contribution
At a theoretical level, the study contributes to knowledge in
three ways. First, our research discovered that, in tourism,
deal proneness and value consciousness are not necessarily
inherent to the individual and can be operationalized as atti-
tudes. In fact, the relationship between deal proneness and
value consciousness can change depending on the type of
holiday (e.g., main holiday/short break), stage in life cycle
(e.g., children/no children) and other factors (e.g., previous
experience). This challenges one of the main assumptions of
studies that have measured deal proneness as an underlying
characteristic (e.g., Lichtenstein, Burton, and Netemeyer
1997; Pillai and Kumar 2012). Furthermore, the analysis
proposes a new dynamic framework comprising four catego-
ries of attitudes toward deals, which can be characterized by
different cognitive, behavioral, and affective features: (1)
deals as a way of life, (2) deals as a bonus, (3) deals as a
problem, and (4) deals as toxic. These categories explain the
relationship between different levels of deal proneness and
value consciousness and extend existing research (Kwon and
Kwon 2013) that has assumed a trade-off between deal tak-
ing and value consciousness (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer, and
Burton 1990; Pillai and Kumar 2012), by demonstrating the
complexity of the interactions between different levels of
these constructs.
Second, our data identified for the first time a link between
attitudes toward deals and affective responses. We found that
people expressed a whole range of emotions in describing
their attitudes to value and deals offered by the travel indus-
try. Positive, negative, and mixed affective responses were
associated with deal offers and linked to previous experi-
ences. This extends previous studies, which have focused on
the information search (e.g., Kwon and Kwon 2013) and
postpurchase (Park and Jang 2016) stages, and responds to
Aydinli, Bertini, and Lambrecht’s (2014) call for greater
understanding of how emotions affect consumer preferences
in the tourism context.
Finally, the study contributes a holistic analysis by bring-
ing together the meanings consumers attribute to deals, con-
sumers’ attitudes to value, situational and contextual factors
influencing deal taking, as well as the positive and negative
emotions associated with deals and value-seeking behaviors.
In terms of managerial implications, the four categories of
attitudes proposed could be used for efficient segmentation,
drawing on specific cognitive, behavioral, and affective
aspects of each type. A better understanding of the types of
decision contexts in which deals might be more readily
accepted could lead to better-targeted marketing campaigns.
Additionally, businesses need to know which types of deal
are more likely to be eschewed or taken up by specific seg-
ments. Firms can then alter the presentation and message
structure of deals, or can create bespoke offers for specific
target segments.
The fourfold categorization of consumer attitudes pro-
posed here might help marketers to offer a range of deals and
discounts to different target groups at different points in the
travel decision cycle or season. For instance, making price
discounts available for those segments that find it difficult to
access deals at particular times could help capture market
share and increase the effectiveness of capacity planning,
and increase customer loyalty.
12 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Affective responses could be used in advertising appeals
to target particular consumers. For example, specific types of
deals may be perceived as toxic by some consumers, despite
being legitimate offers of high-quality services. Discounts
and offers could be presented in a more detailed and informa-
tive way to reduce uncertainty or suspicion amongst the tar-
get market. Alternatively, offers targeting deal lovers could
be framed to appeal to positive emotions such as excitement,
thrill and delight.
Limitations and Future Research
One of the limitations of this paper is that it is based on a
holistic analysis of a small number of consumers. Future
research should consider quantitative and experimental stud-
ies to delve into attitudes toward, and behavioral responses
to, deals and offers. Quantitative research could test whether
other factors can shift consumer’s attitudes toward levels of
deal proneness and value consciousness. Additionally, fur-
ther studies should evaluate whether the four proposed attitu-
dinal categories have stable features across different cultural
Much further research is needed to explore the emotions
derived from deals and their effects on intentions and
behaviors. Additionally, future studies should explore the
relationships between affective, cognitive, and behavioral
drivers behind deal proneness and value consciousness. It is
clear that the price paid for a holiday plays a crucial role in
mental processes in tourism decision making, as well as in
the overall social psychology of tourism. Prices and value
perceptions inform not only what, how, when, and how
much people buy but also how consumers think they will be
perceived by others. There is great potential for further
research on the role of loss aversion and risk as factors
affecting deal taking, for example.
Future research could investigate the relationships between
certain types of deal contexts and decision styles. Since deal
proneness and value consciousness have been developed as
theoretical constructs of individuals’ characteristics, future
research could also investigate the possible relationships
between individual and/or cultural traits and propensity
toward value seeking and deal taking. This paper highlights
the important interplay within a tourism context between the
two constructs, which offers a new approach to tourist deci-
sion making. This type of research could be of strategic
importance to the tourism industry to enable it to target con-
sumers better, with relevant offers at appropriate times, and to
understand which contexts best stimulate demand.
Appendix 1. Categorization of Attitudes toward Deals.
Raw Data Codes Themes Theory
“I have weekly email alerts with Travelzoo and they send
through quite a few deals. A lot of them are abroad,
but there are quite a few in the UK as well. . . . I’ll often
find that I’ll look at the deal and go, ‘Oh that’s a really
good deal, and then I start looking elsewhere and find I
can get it even cheaper if I book it directly. It often will
give me the idea to start looking in the first place. . . .
I almost end up booking it quite spontaneously if it is
quite a good deal” (Group 2).
Actively looks for
deals leading to
unplanned breaks/
Deals as a way of life:
High VC
High DP
Categorization of
attitudes toward deals
(around value
consciousness [VC]
and deal proneness
“With the Groupon thing I’ve found but this dead cheeky
but if there’s a deal on Groupon I’ll often phone the
place itself and say I’ve seen this Groupon deal have
you availability x, y, z? Well do you want me to buy
the Groupon or pay you direct and a lot of them will
say pay me direct. . . . They’ll match it. They’ll match it
because then they get all the money” (Group 5).
Haggling for deals
“I booked mine to Israel for my hotel, but I still check
on the website if I can get it cheaper so I can send a
letter to Expedia and get the difference refunded. Just
like when I’m bored. ‘Oh yes, I forgot, I didn’t check
today.’ Just keep looking. It’s probably going to be a
little difference, but I still like to know. If I have a spare
20 minutes I can just fill it out” (Group 3).
Loves a deal
“You look at other people and talk to them and they’ve
booked it for so much more and then you feel really
good about yourself, really smug. . . . I think a lot
of people would think me quite stingy for how long
sometimes I spend looking for these deals.
–It’s the thrill of the chase, it is” (Group 2).
Search for deals elicits
positive emotions/
McCabe and Branco Illodo 13
Raw Data Codes Themes Theory
“I’m hoping to go to my mum, to York, but we haven’t
put any date in the diary . . . it’s not a big deal if we can’t
find the best deals possible. It’ll be because both our
schedules have suddenly fit together, we can actually
do this. So for me [a deal] it’ll definitely be an added
bonus, because I don’t get to see my mum as often as I
like, which means that I sacrifice a little bit more money
sometimes to be able to get that chance” (Group 2)
Likes a deal but not at
any cost
Deals as a bonus:
High VC
Low DP
“If we go abroad we’ll book it individually, so we’ll book
the flights and then we’ll find the accommodation
separately, but I suppose, yes, you look for the best
value, I search around to find the best flight, but I
wouldn’t go somewhere just because the flight was
cheap. . . . So you pick your destination and then
obviously look and see who’s offering the best flights . .
. the cheapest.” (Group 2)
Destination and
consumer needs are
a priority
“I’d go for what I perceived as the value so, as I say, it’s the
overall price for what you’re getting that I would rather
regard as acceptable or unacceptable. If there’s a deal
built into it I would feel more chuffed than if there wasn’t
a deal, but it would be the bottom line price, irrespective
of the deal, for me to make the decision” (Group 3).
Obtaining a deal elicits
mixed emotions
both positive and
“If you want a deal you have to book up much earlier
in advance because of the school holidays they don’t
have to give you a deal. So you could be looking at
15 months in advance in order to get those child
free places that are so touted and are very hard to
track down. And things like half term the price hike is
extraordinary, if you want to ski in February half term
it will be twice the price and now the schools have got
so sticky about taking them out. You really are very
restrained” (Group 4).
Disposed to deals but
Deals as a problem:
Low VC
High DP
“We’re going to Center Parcs in May half term and
paying an arm and a leg for the privilege, but when
you have children of school age you don’t really have
a choice. . . . So we’ve got four nights, so that would
be a holiday, at Center Parcs at the end of May half
term. Obviously no discounts because they’re heavily in
demand at that time” (Group 3).
Would like a deal but
are unable due to
“I remember that other weekend was in Yorkshire and
it was a holiday cottage and it was a minimum three
nights and I went with a group, there were seven of
us. Nobody could actually stay the Sunday night we all
had to get back to work on Monday morning but it was
still cheaper to get this holiday cottage and just leave
the place empty for the last day. It felt really bizarre to
have to pay for three nights but only be able to use it
for two” (Group 4).
Experience negative
emotions associated
with restrictions to
get a deal
“I know where I’m going, I enjoy being there. It’s an
area that I love being, it’s like almost going home . . .
the place that I have been for the last ten years, you
know, it was a fair enough standard. I’m not looking
for terribly swish, but over the years the landlady
has improved it. Okay, that’s improved, makes no
difference, it’s the place that I am that’s important to
me. . . . . It’s a privately-owned house, so there are no
discounts to be had” (Group 3).
Wants to protect
nonmonetary aspects
of holidays highly
Deals as toxic:
Low VC
Low DP
Appendix 1. (continued)
14 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Raw Data Codes Themes Theory
“I think I’d be suspicious of anything with an add-on or
an upgrade or something I think, where you are still
charging me for that, payment for that, some other way
really” (Group 2).
Suspicious about
deals’ unwelcome
“It’s just so frustrating . . . I was just researching flights
to Canada for Christmas and they were advertising
this from quite a good price and I eventually found the
one that they were talking about and there were four
connections. I was like no that doesn’t count, it takes
so much time and you’ve gotten in your head that this
might be possible, this might be doable and it’s like no
they’re just wasting your time. Very, very frustrating so
I much prefer that sort of honesty about ‘here’s how
much it costs’ and I do find that airlines are the worst
for it” (Group 4).
Experience negative
emotions associated
with perceptions of
advertised deals
“You kind of know where you want to go and like you
say, if there’s a deal, that’s really good but kind of
you’re going to go anyway, whereas like abroad, ‘Well,
what can I get for my money?’ That’s over two weeks,
unless you’ve got a destination for a reason. I look at
deals then.
I’m the other way round, really. I tend to think that
abroad, you kind of want your abroad holiday and
you’re almost like prepared to . . . you find the best
deal you can, obviously and look around, check the
deals and all the rest of it but ultimately, you think,
‘Well, that’s my main holiday or whatever; I’m still
going to go, whatever.’ Whereas the England ones are
a bit more added extra bonuses, really. So I’m going for
the cheaper things to add on” (Group 1).
Changes based on type
of holiday
Consumer attitudes
toward deals are
“Well, pre-dog we did used to go, like I say, with the
last-minute holidays abroad and it was . . . we quite
liked the surprise element. We knew we were going to
get a three or a four star hotel through Thomson, say,
and we knew that it would probably be alright and it
was” (Group 3).
Changes based on life
“I’m slightly nervous about too-cheap self-catering in
Britain, having been burnt. This is before kids, but me
and my husband went to Bridlington and stayed in
a self-catering flat that was really awful. There were
teabags still in the teapot that had gone mouldy and
I know when I told my mother how much we were
paying she was very dubious. I did decide she was
obviously right and I should actually have a minimum
that I should accept to expect something that’s half-
reasonable” (Group 3).
Changes based on
previous experiences
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support
for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This
research received funding from the Nottingham University Business
Supplemental Material
Supplemental material for this article is available online.
Scott McCabe
Appendix 1. (continued)
McCabe and Branco Illodo 15
Allport, G. W. 1935. “Attitudes.” In A Handbook for Social
Psychology, edited by C. Murchison, 798–844. Worcester, UK:
Clark University Press.
Aydinli, A., M. Bertini, and A. Lambrecht. 2014. “Price Pro-
motion for Emotional Impact.” Journal of Marketing 78 (4):
Book, L. A., S. Tanford, and Y. S. Chen. 2016. “Understanding
the Impact of Negative and Positive Traveler Reviews: Social
Influence and Price Anchoring Effects.” Journal of Travel
Research 55 (8): 993–1007.
Boon, E. 2013. “A Qualitative Study of Consumer-Generated
Videos about Daily Deal Web Sites.” Psychology & Marketing
30 (10): 843–49.
Boz, H., A. Arslan, and E. Koc. 2017. “Neuromarketing Aspect
of Tourism Pricing Psychology.” Tourism Management
Perspectives 23:119–28.
Buhalis, D., and R. Law. 2008. “Progress in Information
Technology and Tourism Management: 20 Years on and 10
Years after the Internet—The State of eTourism Research.”
Tourism Management 29 (4): 609–23.
Buil, I., L. De Chernatony, and T. Montaner. 2013. “Factors
Influencing Consumer Evaluations of Gift Promotions.”
European Journal of Marketing 47 (3/4): 574–95.
Chen, C.-F., and F.-S. Chen. 2010. “Experience Quality, Perceived
Value, Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions for Heritage
Tourists.” Tourism Management 31 (1): 29–35.
Corbin, J., and A. Strauss. 2008. Basics of Qualitative Research:
Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory,
3rd ed. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage.
Correia, A., and M. Kozak. 2016. “Tourists’ Shopping Experiences at
Street Markets: Cross-country Research.” Tourism Management
DelVecchio, D. 2005. “Deal-Prone Consumers’ Response to
Promotion: The Effects of Relative and Absolute Promotion
Value.” Psychology & Marketing 22 (5): 373–91.
Fishbein, M., and I. Ajzen. 1975. Belief, Attitude, Intention, and
Behaviour: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Reading,
MA: Addison-Wesley.
Granados, N., R. J. Kauffman, H. Lai, and H. Lin. 2012. “À la
Carte Pricing and Price Elasticity of Demand in Air Travel.”
Decision Support Systems 53 (2): 381–94.
Greenbaum, T. L. 1998. The Handbook for Focus Group Research.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hales, C., and H. Shams. 1991. “Cautious Incremental Consumption:
A Neglected Consumer Risk Reduction Strategy.” European
Journal of Marketing 25 (7): 7–21.
Jeong, J. Y., and J. L. Crompton. 2017. “The Use of Odd-Ending
Numbers in the Pricing of Five Tourism Services in Three
Different Countries.” Tourism Management 62:135–46.
Kandampully, J., and D. Suhartanto. 1989. “Customer Loyalty in
the Hotel Industry: The Role of Customer Satisfaction and
Image.” International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality
Management 12 (6): 346–51.
Kim, J., P. B. Kim, and J. E. Kim. 2018. “Different or Similar
Choices: The Effect of Decision Framing on Variety Seeking
in Travel Bundle Packages.” Journal of Travel Research 57
(1): 99–115.
Kozak, M. 2016. “Bargaining Behavior and the Shopping
Experiences of British Tourists on Vacation.” Journal of
Travel & Tourism Marketing 33 (3): 313–25.
Kozak, M., A. Correia, and G. D. Chiappa. 2017. “The Propensity
to Bargain While on a Vacation.” Tourism Economics 23 (1):
Krueger, R. A., and M. A. Casey. 2014. Focus Groups: A Practical
Guide for Applied Research. London: Sage.
Kwon, K. N., and Y. J. Kwon. 2013. “Heterogeneity of Deal
Proneness: Value-Mining, Price-Mining, and Encounters.”
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 20 (2): 182–88.
Laroche, M., F. Pons, N. Zgolli, M. C. Cervellon, and C. Kim. 2003.
“A Model of Consumer Response to Two Retail Sales Promotion
Techniques.” Journal of Business Research 56 (7): 513–22.
Lichtenstein, D. R., R. G. Netemeyer, and S. Burton. 1990.
“Distinguishing Coupon Proneness from Value Consciousness:
An Acquisition-Transaction Utility Theory Perspective.”
Journal of Marketing 54 (3): 54–67.
Lichtenstein, D. R., R. G. Netemeyer, and S. Burton. 1995.
“Assessing the Domain Specificity of Deal Proneness: A Field
Study.” Journal of Consumer Research 22 (3): 314–26.
Lichtenstein, D. R., S. Burton, and R. G. Netemeyer. 1997. “An
Examination of Deal Proneness across Sales Promotion Types:
A Consumer Segmentation Perspective.” Journal of Retailing
73 (2): 283–97.
Masiero, L., and J. L. Nicolau. 2012. “Tourism Market Segmentation
Based on Price Sensitivity: Finding Similar Price Preferences
on Tourism Activities.” Journal of Travel Research 51 (4):
McCabe, S., C. Li, and Z. Chen. 2016. “Time for a Radical
Reappraisal of Tourist Decision Making? Towards A New
Conceptual Model.” Journal of Travel Research 55 (1): 3–15.
McGivney, F. 2017. “British Lifestyles: Preparing for Change.”
(accessed March 4, 2018).
Mottiar, Z., and D. Quinn. 2004. “Couple Dynamics in Household
Tourism Decision Making: Women as the Gatekeepers?”
Journal of Vacation Marketing 10 (2): 149–60.
Palazón, M., and E. Delgado. 2009. “The Moderating Role of
Price Consciousness on the Effectiveness of Price Discounts
and Premium Promotions.” Journal of Product and Brand
Management 18 (4): 306–12.
Park, J. Y., and S. Jang. 2016. “Did I Get the Best Discount?
Counterfactual Thinking of Tourism Products.” Journal of
Travel Research 57 (1): 17–30.
Pearce, P. L., and J. Packer. 2013. “Minds on the Move: New Links
from Psychology to Tourism.” Annals of Tourism Research
Petrick, J. F. 2005. “Segmenting Cruise Passengers with Price
Sensitivity.” Tourism Management 26 (5): 753–62.
Pillai, K. G., and V. Kumar. 2012. “Differential Effects of Value
Consciousness and Coupon Proneness on Consumers’
Persuasion Knowledge of Pricing Tactics.” Journal of Retailing
88 (1): 20–33.
Saldaña, J. 2016. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers,
3rd ed. London: Sage.
Stokes, D., and R. Bergin. 2006. “Methodology or ‘Methodolatry’?
An Evaluation of Focus Groups and Depth Interviews.”
Qualitative Market Research 9 (1): 26–37.
16 Journal of Travel Research 00(0)
Tanford, S., S. Baloglu, and M. Erdem. 2012. “Travel Packaging on
the Internet: The Impact of Pricing Information and Perceived
Value on Consumer Choice.” Journal of Travel Research 51
(1): 68–80.
Visit England. 2014. “Staycation Debrief April 2014 Wave 10.”
april_staycation.pdf (accessed March 26, 2018).
Wilson, S., D. R. Fesenmaier, J. Fesenmaier, and J. C. Van Es.
2001. “Factors for Success in Rural Tourism Development.”
Journal of Travel Research 40 (2): 132–38.
Yelkur, R., and M. M. N. Da Costa. 2001. “Differential Pricing
and Segmentation on the Internet: The Case of Hotels.”
Management Decision 39 (4): 252–62.
Zeithaml, V. A. 1988. “Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality,
and Value: A Means-End Model and Synthesis of Evidence.”
Journal of Marketing 52 (3): 2–22.
Author Biographies
Scott McCabe is professor of Marketing and Tourism at Nottingham
University Business School, Nottingham, UK. His research inter-
ests are in the tourist experience and consumer behavior, including
choice and decision-making processes, pro-environmental con-
sumer behavior and bottom of the pyramid consumers. He has also
conducted many studies on Social Tourism and the personal and
social benefits of tourism.
Ines Branco Illodo is a senior lecturer in Marketing at Nottingham
Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK. Her current
research interests include gift-giving, sharing, consumer coping and
engagement from the perspective of Clinical, Evolutionary
Psychology and Marketing. Ines regularly presents her research in
International conferences including the Association of Consumer
Research North-American conference and publishes her work in
journals such as the International Journal of Market Research.
... Other researchers [48] have found that emotion has a positive influence on tourism attitude, whereas attitude has a partial mediating effect on emotion. Respondents may use a series of positive, negative, or mixed emotional words to express their attitudes towards value perceptions of tourism products during interviews [49]. Therefore, in this study, we combined emotion with attitude to create the notion of 'emotional attitude', which represents residents' attitudes towards ICH with respect to emotions. ...
... For example, when promoting TFTLC, a museum could display pictures and posters of celadon embryos and decorations to convey profound information about celadon craftsmanship and inheritors to visitors, thus promoting the product's connotations. With respect to advertising design and target market research, practitioners should consider different groups' emotional responses and cognition to create pleasing, exciting advertisements [49]. ...
Full-text available
Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) has recently become an important area of tourism development for many countries that are home to such cultural resources. Within this context, the value of an ICH site has often been used to guide tourism development and policy making. In addition, community residents’ attitude and perception of ICH contribute to tourism development. In this study, we used the traditional firing technology of Longquan celadon in Zhejiang Province, China, as a case study to understand the relationships between value recognition and attitude along with the intention to visit the heritage site. We surveyed 368 residents and conducted path analysis to test such relationships. Findings revealed significant positive correlations between residents’ cognition of ICH value, their attitudes and travel intentions. Among them, attitudes played a mediating role in the formation of value cognition to travel intention. These findings offer insights into ICH-related tourism development, particularly regarding tourism product design, marketing and post-development evaluation, as well as the conservation of ICH sites.
... Los minoristas utilizan estrategias promocionales, como los productos destacados, los productos en oferta y los obsequios, para aumentar las ventas y las ganancias en mercados diversos (Andrade et al. 2010;Chinchay-Villarreyes et al. 2020;Choi & Chen, 2019;Guerreiro et al. 2009;McCabe & Branco, 2019;Valencia et al. 2019). Sin embargo, los descuentos en los precios y los paquetes de bonificación (bonus pack) son las estrategias de promoción de ventas más empleadas (Chen et al. 2012). ...
Full-text available
Las promociones de marketing son prácticas ampliamente recurridas en el mercado. No obstante, existe una disyuntiva en los hallazgos sobre la efectividad de la estrategia de descuento y de la de bonus pack. Por lo anterior, el objetivo de esta investigación es analizar de manera comparativa el efecto de ambas estrategias en la intención de compra. Para ello se empleó un diseño experimental con 69 personas utilizando como producto una barra de chocolate, aplicando un análisis de la varianza (ANOVA) de un factor. Los resultados señalan que el descuento de precio tiene un efecto mayor en la intención de compra. Estos resultados contribuyen a comprender en mayor medida el comportamiento del consumidor. Asimismo, se destaca que es importante elegir la promoción adecuada para promover el consumo en el corto plazo de productos semejantes al empleado en este estudio.
Full-text available
The current study is conceptualized to assess the perception of the general population towards health insurance providers and the policy features, to segment them based on their attitudes. The mixed-method design is used in this study. One fifty health insurance users response were analyzed. The data analysis technique includes focus group discussion, henry garret ranking method, factor analysis and cluster analysis. This study concludes that health insurance providers needs to devise insurance policies incorporating the features of home health, telemedicine and income protection features. The existing users should be offered customization option due to covid-19 to prevent customer switch.
Despite the revolutionary system of online booking, the decision-making process for booking hotels is still very stressful for customers, who face much uncertainty. The wide range of products and great volume of information result in significant cognitive overload. Therefore, online travel agencies (OTAs) try to reduce customers’ cognitive effort requirements and to induce effective decision making by triggering potential actions through perceived affordance. This study aims to explore the influence of perceived affordance on purchase decisions and postpurchase emotion in the context of OTAs. The findings show that explicit affordance and hidden affordance significantly affect impulsive buying, thus resulting in postpurchase discomfort and regret. Additionally, the outcomes of a multiple group analysis revealed a significant moderating effect of regulatory focus orientation on impulsive buying and postpurchase regret during an overall purchase process involving OTAs.
Full-text available
Evidence from past research and insights from an exploratory investigation are combined in a conceptual model that defines and relates price, perceived quality, and perceived value. Propositions about the concepts and their relationships are presented, then supported with evidence from the literature. Discussion centers on directions for research and implications for managing price, quality, and value.
Full-text available
General models of tourist decision making have been developed to theorize tourist decision processes. These models have been based on the premise that tourists are rational decision makers and utility maximizers. Further, these models have been operationalized through input–output models to measure preferences and behavioral intentions. The extent that they remain viable to explain and predict tourist behavior as tourism markets mature however is uncertain. This review article critiques these approaches and proposes a new general model based on dual system theory to account for different types of choice strategies, the constructive nature of preferences, and to recognize the individual and contextual factors that influence choice processes. The article argues that a general tourist choice model should integrate the psychological processes that determine choice strategies, or heuristics, and consider choice context. These include individual differences, task-related factors, and principles determining system engagement. Future research and practical implications are outlined.
Previous research on coupon proneness has measured the construct only in behavioral terms (i.e., consumers who are more responsive to coupon promotions are coupon prone). On the basis of the study premise that at least one other psychological construct, value consciousness, underlies the behavior of redeeming coupons, the authors argue that coupon proneness should be conceptualized and measured at a psychological level and treated as one construct that affects coupon-responsive behavior rather than as isomorphic with the behavior. They offer conceptual definitions of both coupon proneness and value consciousness and make a theoretical distinction based on acquisition-transaction utility theory. Eight hypotheses that reflect theoretical differences between the two constructs are proposed and tested. Results support the study premise that coupon-responsive behavior is a manifestation of both value consciousness and coupon proneness.
The price of a product is the key determinant of the revenues and profits of a tourism or hospitality business. Customers form their value judgments of a touristic product or service based on the price they have paid. Moreover, the price of a touristic product or service may have psychological influences on the customer. Thus, the way prices are perceived by potential tourists is of paramount importance. Against this backdrop, this study aims to provide insight into how tourists perceive prices and pricing issues. In particular, it provides neuromarketing examples to explain how tourists perceive prices in holiday advertisements in terms of design features, positioning and content.
This research investigates whether different ways of framing decisions influence travelers’ variety-seeking tendencies in choosing bundled product options. Based on the literatures of bundling, variety-seeking, and the decision-framing effect, we empirically test whether travelers show higher variety-seeking in travel package decisions when the bundle package is selected from a combined decision rather than from two single decisions. We also examine whether this different variety-seeking tendency is influenced by travelers’ preference for consistency. The results of six experimental studies support our main proposition, and the substantive theoretical and managerial implications of the findings are discussed.
Current trends in the tourism industry indicate that most potential travelers purchase tourism products from online travel agents that provide price promotions. Even though the range of price promotions often varies, the tourism literature does not address potential travelers’ perceptions after purchasing products at various discount rates. This study examined the relationships among different discount rates, temporal distance, and counterfactual thinking—a mental undoing of existing outcomes. Results showed that the relationship between discount rate and counterfactual thinking had a U-shaped curve. Furthermore, the shape differed by temporal distance. The optimal discount rate for minimizing counterfactual thinking was 29.62% when the reservation was made 15 days prior to departure but rose to 33.33% when the reservation was made three months prior to departure. This study suggested that counterfactual thinking mediates the relationship between discount rate and perceived regret.
Considering shopping as one of the most important motivations for travel, this study focuses on tourists' shopping attitudes towards street markets while on a vacation. Specifically, this study proposes and tests a conceptual model that assesses how price consciousness and perceived utility, as critical drivers of attitudes in street markets, may influence tourist satisfaction and future intentions. As opposed to the structure of previous research, this study is also based on a cross-national comparative study conducted among foreign tourists visiting Algarve, Portugal and Bodrum, Turkey, in the summer of 2011. Study findings confirm that price and utility perceptions are the most important marketplace cues and higher level of satisfaction moderates tourists' willingness to return or recommend street markets in both destinations.
This research utilizes theories of social influence and price anchoring to provide insights into the psychological processes underlying travel purchases in the presence of online reviews. Two experiments were conducted in which subjects chose between two resorts for a Las Vegas vacation in a 2 × 3 experimental design that manipulated social influence (unanimous, non-unanimous reviews) and price (10%, 30%, and 50% higher or lower). Social influence was in the form of negative (experiment 1) or positive (experiment 2) traveler reviews. Perceptions of quality and value as well as discount to purchase/willingness to pay were measured. Results indicate that no amount of price reduction was sufficient to offset the impact of unanimously negative reviews, although an extreme price reduction influenced decisions when negative reviews were not unanimous. Price anchoring occurred for positive reviews, such that a higher reference price increased willingness to pay.