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Long term benefits of visitor monitoring : an Australian experience
conference contributionposted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by D Zanon, J Hall, Robin Shaw
Abstract - Parks Victoria manages Victoria's (Australia) national, state and urban parks. These parks make up approximately 17% of the state's area and annually receive 45.3 million visits. Parks Victoria has been dedicated to the development of scientifically sound methods for monitoring visitors and the community since 1994. The three main ongoing monitoring streams are: visit quantities, community perceptions of management and visitor experience (Visitor Satisfaction Monitor). Accumulated research data from the Visitor Satisfaction Monitor (VSM) has been used to profile and refine the organisation's understanding of its various park visitors. After 10 years that data has matured to produce a comprehensive visitor-product market segmentation. Over 11,000 interviews at 34 major parks (including 68 visitor sites) between 2000 and 2004 were used to group park visitors into seven segments. The segments are Nature Admirers, Urban Socials Trail Users, Passives and Other Users, Activity Centrics, Access Made Easy and Country Vacationers. Each park visitor segment, or group, had substantial differences from the other groups, while the individuals within each segment had much more in common; Nature Admirers visit in small groups for a short spectacular scenic experience whereas Urban Socials visit in large groups for half-day social interactions such as birthday parties and picnics. Further analyses have been conducted to identify individual sub-segments within each of the major segments. These sub-segments provide detailed information that can be used for the future development of parks and associated services. Subsequent analysis using Structural Equation Modelling provides evidence that the relationships between services and satisfaction are better understood when considering segments. Parks Victoria has been using segments in park management applications such as wild fire recovery plans, tourism strategy formulation, park management planning and visitor risk management. It has proved to be an efficient and effective systematic way of meeting visitor needs.