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Can too many options annoy guests?

Travellers presented with an overwhelming choice of holiday destinations are more likely to be dissatisfied with the one they ultimately select, according to research by The University of Sydney Business School.

A research article titled Too many destinations to visit: Tourists’ dilemma? also says the problem has been aggravated by the internet, and calls on travel companies to proactively guide customers towards a more satisfactory choice.

The research results “challenge the widespread belief that more is better,” Dr Nguyen (Beo) Thai, of the Business School’s Discipline of International Business. “Providing travellers with numerous destinations results in uncertainty and thus causes negative destination evaluations.”

Researchers conducted a series of lab and online experiments which measured the choices and levels of satisfaction of about 270 Australian business students and 340 US citizens.

The research published in the Annals of Tourism Research, found that study participants choosing a holiday destination from the large choice-set “were significantly more uncertain and less satisfied with their decision than those choosing from a small choice-set”.

“The uncertainty that results from a large choice leaves doubts about the choice made,” said Dr Thai. “This is particularly true of people with a low level of self-confidence.”

“People with a higher degree of self-confidence do not experience the choice overload effects and thus provide better destination evaluations when choosing from large destination portfolios,” he said.

The research article urges travel advisors to decrease or limit the number of destinations offered to customers and to listen to customers in order to “understand the strengths and competencies that make them feel better”.

It goes on to say that travel advisors can boost their customers’ confidence by “praising their skills and capacities before presenting them with a destination portfolio”.

Armed with the right knowledge, the article says that travel advisors can prime and boost customers’ self-confidence by reminding them of their expertise not only in travel but also in areas such as food, photography and sports.

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