The consumer experience is central to tourism research and practice, where the concept of experiential consumption and the process of co-creation are receiving increased attention. In addition, interpretive storytelling is being advocated as a co-creation tool that facilitates more pleasurable experiences for tourists. This study aims to contribute to this emerging discourse by exploring how interpretive storytelling can act as an engagement platform and value enhancing strategic resource that impels the value cocreation journey and shapes the tourist experiences at a Historic House Tourist Attraction (HHTA)? Service Dominant Logic (SDL) emerged as the most appropriate theoretical lens to study this topic due to its provider/customer balance, process orientation and application in tourism research. However, a review of the literature on storytelling in the co-creation of the tourism experience fails to provide illumination on the key issues required to answer the proposed research question. Details on how the co-creation process occurs, the role of the people within the experience and influencing dimensions are critically absent. This study gives prominence to these factors through six units of analysis; it will identify the co-creation process through the performance of stories; the role and function of the people and how and when they derive pleasure (value); the influencing aspects of the environment or place; and their perspective on how they feel and think during the experience. Observation is coupled with interviews to capture the dual perspective of both guides and tourists in this ethnographic study and empirical investigation is situated in the context of guided tours at Huntington Castle, Ireland as a single case site. Analysis adopts a narrative approach of structural (how), thematic (what), and interaction (who, when and why) analysis; Structural analysis focuses on how stories are formed and their classification. Thematic analysis focuses on content to uncover similarities and divergences clustered into themes. Interactional analysis examines the physical and dialogic interaction between actors (e.g. guide, tourist and others). Findings suggest that structured stories, regardless of genre, act as a platform of engagement by stimulating interaction between guide and tourist. In these interactive encounters co-creation takes place through the guide’s actions of interpretation and performance and the tourist’s integration of their own resources to produce physical, sensorial, cognitive and emotional reactions. Therefore, the guide acts as an enabler and the tourist as responder. Together, they co-construct the narrative in the mind of the tourist and co-create the on-site experience at the HHTA. Value or pleasure is accumulated from these episodic story based interactions and is determined by the tourist through post experience reflection. The process and appropriation of pleasure is influenced by the authenticity of the guide and storyscape (environment); the cognitive processes of imagination and immersion; and, the affective responses of empathy and personal reflection. The memorable effect of the stories and the attainment of learning, further contribute to the acquisition of pleasure. This study contributes by providing a theoretical conceptualization and practical framework for the design and management of a Story Enhanced Tourism Experience (SETE). Tourism scholarship is expanded by unifying storytelling and the marketing cocreation theory to conceptualize this experience. The framework has an applied value by providing managerial insights and strategic direction to national and international attractions intending to enhance their tourist experiences through storytelling. It also provides empirical support to the national policy emphasis on storytelling at heritage attractions.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2018|