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Consumer Behavior in Tourism


Laesser C.

Course director


According to Kuester (2012) and Kahle and Close (2011), consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society. It blends elements from psychology, sociology, social anthropology, marketing and economics. It attempts to under-stand the decision-making processes of buyers, both individually and in groups such as how emotions affect buying behavior. It studies characteristics of individual consumers such as demographics and behavioral variables in an attempt to understand people's wants. It also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups such as family, friends, sports, reference groups, and society in general.

In this course, we deal with a special context of consumer behavior: consumer behavior in an experiential setting. This context is closely related to a service context, where

  • we lack tangible goods (experiences are intangible);
  • purchases are often highly emotional and/ or associated with risk;
  • consumers are highly involved in the purchase decision (sometimes even also highly engaged);
  • the uno actu in services results in special consumption settings
    (co-production, pricing, and the like).

We shall discuss a number of general consumer behavior models but also go in-depth with a number of different issues related to the topic of the course. We further discuss selected empirical results mostly with the scope of the country in which USI is in: Switzerland.

The content of the course includes, among other, the following modules:

  • Topics: Behavioral pricing in tourism
  • Introduction and background
  • Consumer behavior approaches
  • Consumer behavior models
  • Consolidated working model
  • Role of motivation and information in consumer behavior
  • Topics: The role of ‘value’ and its perception in consumption choice
  • Topics: The consumer as bearer and disseminator of information
  • Topics: Travel - considerate planning vs. impulse purchase?
  • Topics: Segmentation approaches

According to lecture content (different document which also includes specific program). Materials include lecture presentation and scientific papers.


At the end of this course, the students are familiar with the following topics related to consumer behavior in tourism:

  • general models describing and explaining consumer behavior
  • specifics in tourism influencing the way we view consumer behavior in tourism (mostly stemming from a service perspective)
  • model specifics with regard to consumer behavior in tourism
  • selection of special topics in consumer behavior in tourism

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

Teaching, discussion/ reflection, application (stationary; conditions permitting)

Examination information

Closed book essay