An Investigation of the Tourism Distribution Channels in the VFR Segment

Vicky C. Katsoni

Abstract


This study contributes to the understanding of the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travel segment, as it focuses on the use of tourism distribution channels as information sources for consumer travel behaviour in the VFR segment. Demographics and trip characteristics of the VFR travel segment were also analysed, according to trip organization (package holiday/self-guided holiday), time used to decide about the trip, type of accommodation, travel companion, and booking; the findings justify the significant and profitable role of VFR in commercial accommodation. The data are representative of the province of Arcadia, Greece, serving as the research field of a longitudinal study. The findings underscore the important role that VFR travel holds in commercial accommodation, confirming the ‘hybrid’ nature of VFR travel, and highlight the importance of social identity issues involved in VFR travel, as well as indicating an emerging role of the diasporas in their return visit(s) to the homeland. As such, the findings would seem to promote a marketing strategy of organized governance that takes into account identification and focuses on a ‘sense of belonging’ and community, tailored to the characteristics of this particular target market and aligned with the distribution channels they use, as evidenced in the research findings.

Keywords: VFR travel, consumer behaviour, distribution channels, tourism marketing, tourism segmentation


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