Visitors’ Emotional Responses to the Festival EnvironmentJournal of Travel & Tourism Marketing


Jenny (Jiyeon) Lee
Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management / Marketing



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Visitors’ Emotional Responses to the Festival


Jenny (Jiyeon) Lee

Published online: 23 Jan 2014.

To cite this article: Jenny (Jiyeon) Lee (2014) Visitors’ Emotional Responses to the Festival Environment, Journal of Travel &

Tourism Marketing, 31:1, 114-131, DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2014.861726

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Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31:114–131, 2014

Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 1054-8408 print / 1540-7306 online

DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2014.861726



Jenny (Jiyeon) Lee

ABSTRACT. Despite the importance of emotions and psychological commitment to loyal behavior, little empirical work has been done to explore their simultaneous effects on the festival loyalty development in the tourism literature. Guided by Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) framework in environmental psychology, this study examined how emotions elicited from the festival environment influenced visitors’ postvisit behavior. Data were collected from visitors to community festivals using the onsite and postvisit survey procedure. Results revealed that festival atmospherics had a positive indirect effect on loyalty via positive emotions, satisfaction, and psychological commitment. Based on the study findings, both practical and theoretical insights were provided.

KEYWORDS. Festival atmospherics, consumption emotions, satisfaction, psychological commitment, loyalty, Mehrabian-Russell model


Successful community festivals that draw large numbers of visitors are economically important in rural destinations as they provide an economic stimulus as well as social and cultural benefits to these small communities. They also play a role in increasing tourism appeal for nonlocal, domestic visitors (Gursoy, Kim, & Uysal, 2004). Given the economic, social, and cultural significance of rural community festivals, attracting and keeping the flow of visitors is important for both the festival organizers and destination marketing organizations.

In order to identify and retain loyal visitors, festival organizers should prioritize the formulation of the most effective strategies to create and provide memorable experiences to visitors while offering high quality tourism products and services.

Jenny (Jiyeon) Lee, PhD, is with the School of Marketing at the University of New South Wales, Sydney,

NSW 2052, Australia (E-mail:

In this regard, many tourism researchers have attempted to identify factors that drive destination loyalty. Applying the concept of customer loyalty in marketing, their work has provided insights into drivers that host destinations can manipulate to promote revisitation among target audiences. Nonetheless, much of the work is derived from operational definitions rather than from the theoretical conceptualization of loyalty as no consensus exists among researchers regarding what it is and how it is developed.

Researchers have often measured loyalty using a single indicator, thereby failing to capture the subtleties of complex loyal behavior (RundleThiele, 2005). They have also focused primarily on the cognitive process of loyalty development derived from the existing model of service quality–satisfaction–loyalty without considering other determinants, such as affective and attitudinal elements. 114

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Among the determinants of loyalty, the role of emotions has recently caught tourism researchers’ attention due to its ability to better predict repeat patronage and effectively create positive word-of-mouth recommendations (e.g.,

Lee, Lee, & Lee, 2005; Lee, Lee, Lee, & Babin, 2008; Yüksel, 2007). However, these studies have used aggregated scales that represent specific emotion types with a similar valence (i.e., positive and negative emotions). These summed, bidimensional emotion measures tend to entail some limitations—including the incapability to fully capture the nuance, diversity, and pattern of emotional responses to different contexts (Holbrook & Westwood, 1989). Emotions are specific to the context (Richins, 1997) and several discrete emotion types existent at a lower level of aggregation have different antecedents and consequences (Söderlund & Rosengren, 2004).