Association of Marketing Theory and Practice Proceedings 2011


Risk as a Decision-Making Variable in Travel Destination Selection

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Marketing Research/ Demographics/ Consumer Behavior

Publication Date



The spring break travel market is estimated to be a billion dollar industry. Most of the top spring break vacation destinations are in Florida (e.g., Daytona Beach and Panama City) and Mexico (e.g., Acapulco and Cancun). Two other popular destinations are South Padre Island in Texas and Negril, Jamaica. Also, in addition to these standard spring break destinations, more and more students are looking into cruises, European vacations, and alternative spring break travel options that usually involve students volunteering for nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity or United Way. The increase in travel by U.S. students to foreign spring break destinations has caused some concern for parents because of the additional issues associated with international travel. Some of these issues revolve around the economic environment. The U.S. dollar is weak in relation to other foreign currencies, increased gas prices have resulted in higher travel costs, and there is an eminent threat of inflation, and a possible recession. These issues apply to both domestic and international travel. Another area of concern is the increase in physical threats such as natural disasters, diseases, and terrorism. These are associated closely with international travel. Finally, there are risks related to the actual travel package when purchased through third party providers such as online travel agents and spring break travel agents that specialize in student travel. These organizations offer service guarantees in order to decrease the risk associated with making a travel purchase. Some of the potential problem areas are unexpected expenses, inferior accommodations, and overbooking. The purpose of this paper is to examine the decision-making process as it relates to students choosing a spring break destination. In particular, the importance of risk-related factors are evaluated for students planning a spring break vacation. In addition, students are categorized based on their regulatory focus – i.e., the extent to which they make decisions to avoid losses rather than achieve gains. The results of the study will provide valuable information for the travel industry, especially student travel.

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