Gaming not key to visitors’ attachment to integrated resorts

Study by IFT scholars finds visitor attachment to casino resorts is not significantly influenced by presence of gaming

Research Corner | A partnership between Macau Business and the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT)

Macau’s integrated resorts are well known worldwide for the huge size of their respective casino gross gaming revenues. A new study by two scholars from the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) concludes, however, that gaming activities play no particular role regarding the degree of attachment visitors feel toward a casino resort in the context of an integrated tourism experience.

Of all the dimensions of tourism experience studied by Yan Io Man U and Penny Wan Yim King, “positive emotions, particularly the ‘light pleasure’ emotions,” were the “most effective factors shaping visitors’ place attachment,” the two IFT scholars concluded.

“Hotel operators should be aware of this and should improve visitors’ place attachment by better managing their positive emotions, especially their ‘light pleasure’ emotions,” the researchers wrote. Such emotions were related to “relaxing and pleasurable” feelings.

Place attachment refers to emotional and functional bonds between place and people. Intensity of place attachment has been found to be an indicator of tourists’ loyalty and commitment to a particular place.

The conclusions – featured in the paper Relationships between Tourism Experiences and Place Attachment in the Context of Casino Resorts – were published earlier this year in the Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism.

“The present findings suggested that not all activities could determine tourists’ place attachment in the context of casino resorts,” Dr. Yan and Dr. Wan wrote. “It is interesting to note that gaming was found to have no significant impact upon any dimension of place attachment, suggesting that casino-resort visitors’ participation in gaming did not affect their emotional bond with the place, although gaming is the core entertainment of casino resorts.”

Importance of non-gaming

Study results were based upon a questionnaire answered by 500 tourists to Macau, most of them coming from Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. The sample comprised visitors to four major casino resorts; namely, City of Dreams, The Venetian Macao, Galaxy Macau and MGM Macau. These venues were selected for the study as being “well known for their non-gaming facilities, in addition to their casinos,” the researchers stated.

The study addressed the effects of a number of so-called “integrated tourism experience dimensions” – including “positive emotions”; “gaming and non-gaming hedonic activities”; “sensory experiences”; “cognitive appraisal of tourism offerings”; and “social relations” – on a total of four dimensions of place attachment. The latter included place dependence, place affect, social bonding, and satisfaction.

Dr. Yan and Dr. Wan concluded that distinct tourism experiences had distinct impacts, respectively, upon each dimension of attachment to place in the context of Macau’s casino resorts. For instance, their results revealed that non-gaming activities such as dining, shopping, live shows and events were found “to predict respondents’ place dependence significantly”.

“This finding suggested that the operators of casino resorts should continue to develop more and better non-gaming hedonic activities and facilities for visitors,” the researchers stated. “With the significant effect of positive emotions on place attachment shown in this present study, both non-gaming activities and positive emotions were important for the management of visitors’ place attachment,” they further noted.

In addition, the researchers observed that each dimension of tourism experience not only had a distinct impact upon attachment to place, but seemingly created interactions within the minds of visitors. “To better manage the integrated tourism experiences, the interrelationships among the five dimensions of the integrated tourism experiences should be further explored, particularly the impact of different dimensions of tourism experiences on positive emotions,” opined Dr. Yan and Dr. Wan.

The authors also noted that all dimensions of place attachment regarding casino resorts were interconnected.

“Since place dependence, place affect, social bonding, and place satisfaction were related to each other, the tourism experiences of non-gaming activities, social relations, positive emotions, and sensory experiences had some indirect effects on visitors’ place satisfaction” via “their impacts on place dependence, place affect, and social bonding,” observed Dr. Yan and Dr. Wan. “Operators of casino resorts should notice the different impacts of each dimension of tourism experience on place attachment and plan resource allocation accordingly.”

The researchers

Yan Io Man U is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT). She has a PhD from the University of South Australia. Dr. Io teaches subjects related to hospitality and marketing. Her research interests include tourist experience and behaviour in relation to heritage tourism, casino hotels, and nostalgia tourism. She is also certified as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide Trainer.

IFT visiting Assistant Professor Penny Wan holds a PhD from the University of Hong Kong. Her academic research fields are primarily related to sustainable tourism planning, casino gaming management, heritage management, hospitality services, and urban planning. Dr. Wan has served as an editorial board member and reviewer for several high profile academic journals in the tourism field.

The paper

Yan Io Man U and Penny Wan Yim King: Relationships between Tourism Experiences and Place Attachment in the Context of Casino Resorts, Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism, Volume 19, Issue 1, pages 45-65, 2018