A visitor experience scale: historic sites and museums
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Since Pine and Gilmore (1999) proclaimed the arrival of the experience economy era, research on tourists’ experiences has become an area of growing interest among scholars and practitioners. Gaining knowledge of the experiential features of tourist activities at historic sites and museums is of paramount importance for tourism operators to understand and satisfy tourists’ widely ranging needs. With this concern in mind, the purpose of this study was to develop a multiple-item scale to measure tourists’ experiences of visiting historic sites and museums. To reach this goal, a questionnaire survey was designed to gather data about tourists’ experiences in this context. Conducted at Fuzimiao (Confucius Temple) in Nanjing city, Jiangsu province, China, in the Summer of 2012 (starting in July and ending in August), the visitor survey had an overall response rate of 88%. A total of 500 questionnaires were used for data analysis. Following the scale construction procedure suggested by DeVellis (2003), first, the literature examining experience constructs was comprehensively reviewed. An initial pool of scale items was generated. Followed by a review from six judges to ensure content validity, a total of thirty items were developed as a basis for measuring tourists’ experiences. Subsequently, the scale’s reliability was assessed with using Cronbach’s alpha value. Alpha was 0.80. The statistical results of the ranked scale item mean show that the top rated experiences of tourists visiting Fuzimiao are “change from work”, “get away”, “relaxing”, “entertainment”, “watch music and dancing performance”, and “chat with locals”. To refine the scale, 11 items that show significantly low corrected item-total correlation scores were eliminated. Deleting these items resulted in an increase in the alpha value from 0.80 to 0.88. The rest items which survived the reliability analyses were subject to exploratory factor analysis (EFA). An interim six-factor model emerged, with the remaining 19 items accounting for 80.29% of the total variance. The six factors were entertainment, culture identity-seeking, education, exploration, relationship development, and escapism. Given the underlying latent variable structure detected from EFA, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to check the proposed measurement structure. Results of the CFA indicate that the measurement model fits the data adequately after the exploration factor was removed from the hypothetical model because measurement structure of this factor was unidentified. The evaluation of the model’s composite reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity provides good evidence of the reliability and validity of the five factors. The final experiential model, with 17 embedded items in five dimensions (entertainment, culture identity-seeking, education, relationship development, and escapism), was established.