The characteristics of the tourism product and general product are not at all the same. There are many differences in their characteristics. So, without further ado, let us first understand the differences between general products and tourism products and discuss further the characteristics of tourism products.
General Product Vs Tourism Product
In general, a product can describe as an event, person, thing, etc. which satisfies and pleases the needs of the person who purchases the product. The product which is offered to the consumer must have some need satisfying qualities. This product can be exchanged for some value. The value is of importance for mutual satisfaction for both supplier (Receiver) as well as the receiver (consumer) of the products.
The product is always characterized by pull factors. As it motivates the consumer to purchase it as it has the ability to satisfy the need of the consumer.
Thus, a general product is anything that can be offered to the market for attention, acquisition, or consumption and is capable of satisfying a need or want.
On the other hand, the tourism industry is a service industry. It provides products to tourists. These products are nothing but services. This service product refers to an activity or a set of activities that a marketer offers to perform, resulting in the satisfaction of a need of the customer or the target market.
Products that fulfill or satisfy the customer’s leisure, pleasure or business needs at places other than their own places of residents are known as tourism products.
A tourism product can be either a tangible item. For example, a comfortable seat in an aircraft or the food served in a restaurant.
Further, tourism products can also be an intangible item, for example, the quality of services provided by the cruise liner or scenic beauty at a hill resort.
In general, in almost all cases, tourism products are a combination of both tangible and intangible items. This combination of different components results in giving the tourists the total travel experience and satisfaction.
Thus, a tourism product can be defined as the “sum total of physical and psychological satisfaction it provides to the buyers”, it is the complete experience of the tourist from the time the tourist leaves his/her usual place of residents or home till the time he/she returns back to his/her home.
Characteristics of Tourism Products
Tourism products are mainly service products or services that have several characteristics. The tourism products’ characteristics can be intangibility, inseparability, perishability, variability, etc.
For example, serving food to visitors and providing convention centers is the service that a hotel offers.
Cultural attraction in the form of dances and music can be seen and enjoyed, they are offered to enjoy for a particular time and season and these are perishable and variable.
Thus, the characteristics of tourism products are different from other products. Below are the characteristics of tourism products:
Commodities are tangible products that have physical dimensions and attributes which can be seen, touched, tasted. While tourism product is intangible and cannot be seen, touched, or measured but can only be experienced. The tourism products can be anything like a package tour, an airline ticket, or sitting in a hotel.
Intangibility means the product that cannot be directly seen, tasted, felt, or heard prior to the purchase and consumption. The only tangible items we get before purchase are the tickets or receipts for payment we have done.
For example, when you book an airline ticket, you received only the PNR number but you are unable to see or taste the airlines.
Consumer products, for example, a motorcycle manufactured in Delhi can be brought to a Mumbai outlet and sold there. In the case of the tourism industry, the products are mostly services. These services cannot be separated from the person or the company that provides them. The service is inseparable and the product exists only when the consumption takes place.
The production and consumption of the product occur simultaneously and cannot be separated. The tourist has to go to the site of production to utilize the product.
For example, the courtesy shown by an air hostess while serving a meal on board can only be experienced in the aircraft by the passenger. Not before or afterward as the production and consumption cannot be separated.
Any tangible good or product can be manufacture and stored for a certain period of time. Also, it can be sold or used at a later date.
For example, pens can be manufacture, stored in the warehouse for a few months, and can be sold when there is a demand.
However, we cannot store the tourism products in a warehouse and sell them at a later date.
For example, the airline cannot store 100 unsold seats of a flight scheduled to depart on 12 March 2017 and sell them on 13 March 2017. The unsold seats have no value at all.
Thus, the service industry faces such problems due to fluctuating demands, as demand for air travel is more in the morning and evening, or in some sectors which are heavily booked, while in other sectors, seats may remain unsold.
To avoid the loss of unsold products and overcome losses incurred due to the perishable nature of the product, the airlines offer last-minute sales or standby rates at drastically reduced rates. These rates indicate that although they are not getting profit, instead they are minimizing losses and at least earn some revenue.
Therefore, due to perishable in nature, the hotel industry also offers heavy discounts, especially during off-seasons.
In the tourism industry, services are rendered by humans to humans. These services have a high level of variability when producer and consumer interact.
The human element makes standardization of the product a difficult task. The services rendered vary from person to person and from time to time.
The guide’s or escort behavior may not be consistent every single day. Family problems, ill health, or stress may affect his/her interest in the job, concentration in his/her work, and ultimately his/her performance.
To avoid variation in services and to maintain the standards in the delivery of the products, the hotel industry, tour operators, and airlines have Introduced a computerized reservation system (CSR). Such systems minimize human contact and errors.
Absence of Ownership:
If you buy a computer, the ownership of the computer is transferred to you. But when you hire a car, you buy the right to be transported to a predetermined destination at a predetermined price. The tourist or consumer cannot own the car or the driver of the car. The same is the case with the hotel industry. The hotel rooms can be used by tourists during the hotel stay. The tourist only acquires the right to certain benefits that the seller or hotel offers. But the owner of the rooms remains with the hotel.
For example, you used the conference hall of the hotel for a specific time or period. But you do not own the conference hall.
Manufactured by Many Producers:
In the case of tangible products, one manufacture produces a total product. In the tourism industry, the tourist’s product cannot be provided by a single enterprise. Each of the components of the tourist product is highly specialized and when combined together makes the final product.
Various types of hotel industry produce guest nights or hotel rooms, and airlines fly passengers as their products. The travel agents’ products are the booking of airlines or hotels. In the case of a museum or an archaeological site, the product is measured on the basis of the number of visitors who visited the site on that day.
Highly Unstable Demand/Seasonal Product:
The demand for tourist products depends on many factors. Such factors can be climate or season, the economy of the destination, political factors, social factors, etc. Except for the seasonal factor, all other factors can be made favorable. The season is a factor that affects tourism greatly.
Seasonality means the time period when the tourist visits the tourist destination frequently for a limited period of the year. Almost all tourist areas have a short season which is popular as a peak season which often may be short as three months.
This seasonal usage of the product creates unemployment and also has an impact on transportation and hospitality services as well as most other services.
To tackle the problems of seasonality and unstable demand, the suppliers of tourism services have different pricing strategies. For example, the hotel tariff will be higher in peak season, in mid-season it will be moderate, and in the off-season, the rates of the product will be very low, i.e. off-season discounts are offered to combat the problem of seasonality.
From the above discussion, we can clearly say that in many ways there is a great difference between general products and tourism products. In short, the characteristics of tourism products are intangible, inseparable, perishable, heterogenous, absence of the owner, produced by various manufacturers, and the demand is not at all stable.
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