Predicting Site Choice Behavior Among Types of Campers

Authors

  • Chi-Ok Oh
  • Minkyung Park
  • William E. Hammitt

Keywords:

Stated Preference Choice Method, Choice Behavior, Recreationists’ Preferences, Decision Making Process, Campsite Management, Preference Heterogeneity

Abstract

As state level budgets are reduced, state park agencies are asking campground managers to generate more of their operating funds. To generate more campground revenue, managers might increase fees or entice campers to increase their frequency and duration of visits. Thus, it is crucial to understand how campers react to various combinations of campground attributes and amenities, and how combinations of these attributes might be related to increasing park visitation. The study objectives were to assess both the relative importance of various campground attributes as well as the desired level of attribute development for various segments of campers seeking different camping accommodations. In contrast to traditional uni-dimensional research designs, the stated preference choice method was used to identify the relative importance of decision attributes and levels for understanding recreationists’ preferences because it takes into account simultaneous tradeoffs among attributes. Eight common campground attributes were incorporated into the experimental designs. Those attributes were: the crowding and noise level that campers experience, the type of site settings, the level of site development, the degree of user behavioral restrictions, the existence of flush toilets and restrooms with hot running water, the level of security recognizable by campers, the travel distance from home to the site, and the amount of user fee that a camper pays to use a site per night. Using a fractional factorial design combined with a blocking tool, 36 paired choice sets were divided into six different versions of a mail questionnaire with six sets each. Of a total of 2,587 questionnaires disseminated by mail, 838 completed questionnaires (32.4% response rate) were returned. The camper responses were used to generate three types (i.e., motor home users, tent users, and cabin users) of camper preference models, as well as a pooled model of all campers. Using conditional logit models, results indicated that campers were more likely to prefer certain campsites with specific features, such as a high level of security, uncrowded settings and appropriate restroom facilities. Although the preference for necessity attributes was similar among the camper groups, the preference patterns were considerably different for the three camper types. This study focused on campground attributes at a statewide level, thus providing a macro-site analysis of attributes and site choice preferences. The approach developed here should provide state park managers and practitioners a better means of understanding camper preferences, which should lead to more satisfied camping experiences, perhaps increased visitation, and thus increased revenue generation for state park operations.

Published

2007-07-18

Issue

Section

Regular Papers