The ICMS academic team that won the ICMS Scholarship Activity Grant (SAG) in 2022 were able to present their research funded by the SAG at the annual National Council of Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE) conference held in February this year in Fremantle, Western Australia.
Over 180 delegates attended from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, the UK, Scotland, Canada, India, the Pacific Islands, and Singapore. The conference’s theme was ‘West, East, South, and North: Redirecting Research in Tourism, Hospitality, and Events’.
For ICMS’ Dr Feras Orekat, Dr Andrew Le, and Glenn Murray, the opportunity to present their research as one of over 119 presentations was a valuable platform to share lessons learned and experiences gleaned with fellow tourism and hospitality academics and practitioners.
Visitor Experience at Q Station: The Study
The research, entitled ‘Investigating visitor’s experiences at the heritage site of Sydney’s Quarantine Station’, was a collaboration with the Quarantine Station (Q Station), one of ICMS’s long-term partners, and was wholeheartedly endorsed by the Q Station’s management and owner.
The purpose of the study was to understand the factors influencing visitors’ experiences at the heritage site of Q Station.
Data was extracted from the visitor book at Q Station between 2017 and 2022, with 581 comments analysed. Additional data was provided by the Q station’s Helen Drew, who was acknowledged as a co-author of the presented paper.
The research connected to specific subjects studied at ICMS, HOS302A – Service and Experience Management, TOU201A – Tour Design and Development and TOU302A -Sustainable and Competitive Destination.
Q Station owner, hotelier Glenn Piper, and the management team were very interested in the research, providing a clearer understanding of the customer experiences throughout the various interest groups.
The Q-Station has the unique feature of attracting several different interest groups with varying expectations, creating a complex dilemma in how to meet the expectations of each of the interest groups, including ghost tours, heritage and historical tours, cultural and indigenous connections, wildlife and location attractions, accommodation by Accor, an award-winning food and beverage offering, and a function centre.
Under the theme of ‘New Horizons in Culture and Indigenous Tourism’, the ICMS team presented their findings to an engaged audience, with several questions fielded at the conclusion.
The study found that visitors connected in three ways: culturally (via ancestral connections), environmentally (via wildlife viewing), and secularly (via service, accommodation, and food).
Findings show that visitors with ancestral and cultural connections to the site have a more memorable experience than those without them. Also, most visitors experienced a transformative experience at the site since it has a unique story and rich history.
Bringing value back to ICMS post-CAUTHE
The conference provided the opportunity to visit two tourist sites, the Swan Valley wine region, discovering new infusion techniques in cider production, and Rottnest Island, focusing on sustainable tourism destination management.
The research and conference output will flow back into the learning and teaching of the related subjects, providing new and additional content and additional reflective practices, including additional research into the Q-station experience management and recommendations.
* The Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE) is a Council established to represent the interests of higher education providers and individual members of tourism, hospitality and events education and researchers at bachelor degree level and above in Australia and New Zealand.
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