Designing a Model of Commercial Voluntourism Services
Keywords:Voluntourism, Conceptual model, Finland, Live like a local
Travelers nowadays increasingly seek destinations and activities through which they can immerse themselves in the local culture as a contrary to mass tourism and inauthentic tourist attractions. This has led to the reconsideration of tourism types and other activity involving travelling, such as voluntourism or volunteering away from home, which has earlier been predominantly seen as volunteering rather than tourism. Digitalization has brought opportunities for new actors to provide such services. Apart from the non-commercial activity, volunteering travellers are often willing to pay to enter the authentic scene and act together with and in benefit of the locals. Previous research has already established that Finland has the potential to provide a variety of experiences desired by voluntourists, and spontaneously emerging, uncoordinated voluntourism activity exists in the country. This activity, however, differs from voluntourism in other parts of the world and attracts different tourists. To be able to systematically design voluntourism activity as commercial tourism products, the influence of multiple factors defining visitor’s choice needs to be taken into consideration and understood. This paper aims at identifying the major factors and producing a model of conceptualizing commercial voluntourism services. The paper uses qualitative research data which consists of 70 global actors’ websites in total. Content analysis and quantifying is used. The most typical elements of commercial concepts are identified, and the model for designing a concept is created. The found elements are as follows: destination, significance and amount of voluntary work, traveller’s motives, duration of trip, need of qualification. The model shows that these elements work as dichotomy indicators. The element could be considered as “either – or” type of choice, but some activity could also be situated in between the extremes. For example, the duration of a trip can vary from one day to one year, but some trips’ duration can be less than the maximum and more than the minimum. The model promotes further voluntourism development in the Nordic countries such as Finland but could potentially be used even more broadly. The results reveal the importance of understanding the customer insight, and further steps should include testing of products designed according to the suggested model and studying customer reviews from destinations in the Nordic countries.
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