Tourism products can be categorized as either tangible or intangible based on whether they are physical items that can be touched or non-physical experiences. Understanding the differences between tangible and intangible tourism products is important for tourism businesses and destinations looking to attract visitors and create memorable experiences.
- Tangible tourism products are physical items that tourists can see, touch or consume such as souvenirs, food, accommodation and transportation.
- Intangible tourism products are the experiences, memories and feelings tourists have when visiting a destination like guided tours, festivals or exploring nature.
- Both tangible and intangible products are critical for a successful tourism industry as visitors look for a mix of things to see and do as well as experiences to remember.
- Destinations and businesses need to develop quality tangible products like hotels and restaurants as well as unique intangible experiences through culture, nature and customer service.
- Pricing strategies differ for tangible goods which have production costs versus intangible experiences that are valued subjectively.
Defining Tangible and Intangible Tourism Products
The tourism industry comprises many different products and services to cater to travelers. These tourism products can be categorized into two broad types:
Tangible tourism products are physical items or goods that tourists can see, touch and consume. These include souvenirs, food and beverage, accommodations, transportation, event tickets and other merchandise.
Intangible tourism products refer to the experiences, memories and feelings people have when visiting a destination. These are the services and experiences such as tours, activities, festivals, explorations of nature or culture and interactions with local people.
Tangible products satisfy more functional needs of travelers by providing the things they require for their trip like a place to sleep, transportation and food. Intangible products fulfill more experiential needs by creating memories through exposures to unique cultures, adventures and personal connections.
Both tangible and intangible tourism products are essential components of a successful tourism industry. Destinations must develop quality tangible products to serve visitor’s basic needs as well as craft memorable intangible experiences that make a place worth visiting.
Examples of Tangible Tourism Products
Some common examples of tangible products in tourism include:
Various forms of accommodation are critical tangible products for visitors including hotels, resorts, hostels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, cruises and campgrounds. These provide a place for tourists to stay overnight during their trip. Accommodations range from luxury to budget options.
Food and Beverage
Eating and drinking are basic needs travelers require during their visit. Destinations offer tangible dining products like restaurants, cafes, bars, food carts and grocery stores. Iconic local cuisine and drinks are especially popular souvenirs.
Forms of transportation to help visitors get to and explore the destination are key tangible products. This includes planes, trains, rental cars, taxis, buses, boats and bicycles for sale/rent.
Tangible retail goods as souvenirs or functional items help tourists remember their trip. Popular products include destination-themed t-shirts, magnets, postcards, arts and crafts, clothing, local products and more.
Tickets to attractions, tours, amusement parks, concerts, festivals, museums, sporting events and other local happenings are tangible products visitors can purchase to experience activities.
Informative visitor guides, maps and brochures help tourists navigate the destination. These are useful tangible products for trip planning.
Equipment rentals for tourist activities like ski/water gear, fishing poles, hiking boots, surfboards, bikes and more allow visitors to take part in experiential intangible products.
Examples of Intangible Tourism Products
Some common examples of intangible experiences in travel and tourism include:
Guided tours like city bus tours, food tours, walking tours, boat cruises, winery visits or adventure excursions offer the chance to explore with an expert. Tours provide intangible experiences of place.
Experiencing local culture through attractions like museums, historical sites, markets, festivals, religious ceremonies, theater and music performances. These offer intangible cultural insights.
Outdoor recreational activities allow visitors to connect with nature. These intangible experiences include wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, skiing, water sports and more. Eco-tourism is a popular form.
Trying unique local food and beverage is an intangible experience travelers often consider a highlight. Food tours, cooking classes and tasting local flavors all provide cultural immersion.
Live entertainment is an intangible experience like concerts, sporting events, amusement/theme parks, casinos, nightlife. These create memories and emotions.
Wellness tourism provides intangible experiences like spas, retreats, yoga classes and healing treatments that nourish the mind, body and soul.
Adventure travel offers adrenaline-pumping intangible experiences through activities like whitewater rafting, ziplining, scuba diving, surfing, skydiving and more. These create thrills.
Interacting with local people, homestays, language classes and village tours allows visitors to form personal connections and gain local perspectives for intangible cultural understanding.
Lounging on a serene beach, getting spa treatments, or simply unwinding in a beautiful setting creates intangible feelings of relaxation that tourists seek.
Importance of Tangible and Intangible Tourism Products
Both tangible and intangible tourism products play critical complementary roles in creating a successful visitor experience and tourism industry.
Tangible products satisfy the basic functional needs of travelers by providing the goods, amenities and items they require on a trip. Quality accommodation, dining, transportation and retail help make visitors comfortable. Having visitor information readily available also makes travel easier. Tangible products form the basic infrastructure visitors need.
However, intangible experiences create the memories and emotions that make a destination truly worth visiting. Tourists seek to collect memories and stories to reflect back on, not just things. Experiential intangible products like tours, activities, events and attractions make a place come alive. They bring local culture and characters to visitors. Interactions with people also help travelers connect with destinations on a deeper level to gain understanding and empathy.
Ideally, a tourism destination offers excellent tangible products to serve visitor’s needs as well as unique intangible experiences that exceed expectations and create unforgettable memories. Places with only mediocre tangible products but amazing intangible experiences still inspire visitors to return and recommend the destination to others. However, without strong intangible products, even a beautiful destination eventually stops attracting tourists seeking deeper connections.
Destinations constantly need to enhance both their tangible and intangible products to remain competitive, meet changing consumer preferences, incorporate technology and keep visitors coming back.
Pricing strategies differ greatly between tangible and intangible tourism products.
Tangible products have concrete production costs for materials, ingredients, manufacturing, inventory, distribution, labor, storage and retail space. Pricing of tangible products factors in these defined costs plus additional markup. Price communicates actual value of tangible goods to consumers based on costs.
In contrast, intangible experiences have minimal concrete production costs beyond labor. Their value is highly subjective, based on consumer perceptions, emotions, satisfaction and symbolic meanings. Pricing of intangible products is not as cut and dry but rather based on consumer willingness to pay for the perceived value of the experience. Higher prices can even increase perceived value. Discounts are rarely used for experiences. Dynamic pricing based on demand is common for intangible products.
This contrast is seen in things like food souvenirs versus cooking classes. The ingredients and production costs of packaged food souvenirs can be calculated to price them. But the value of an immersive cooking class depends on consumers see the experience as special and worth the price.
Understanding these different pricing dynamics helps tourism businesses effectively monetize their mix of tangible and intangible offerings.
Challenges of Tangible and Intangible Tourism Products
Some key challenges exist regarding tangible and intangible tourism products.
For tangible products, consistent quality control can be difficult, especially for handcrafted goods or food items. Storage and distribution logistics also pose challenges. Inventory management is required to avoid stock-outs or waste. Shoplifting and vandalism of tangible products is an issue.
Regarding intangible experiences, it can be challenging to accurately convey what the experience will be like to tourists. Bad weather can ruin outdoor experiences. Delivering personal experiences consistently across visitors is difficult. Ensuring tourist satisfaction with intangible products and managing negative reviews poses problems.
Language and cultural barriers can also inhibit local interactions and immersive experiences. Some unethical businesses exploit culture in superficial tourist spectacles that degrade intangible heritage. Overtourism damaging fragile environments and cultures is a risk.
Balancing authenticity of intangible experiences with tourist expectations requires careful management. Pricing based on demand rather than costs leads some to claim exploitation or price gouging.
Overall, sustainable management practices are needed so the quality of tangible products and genuine intangible experiences last over time rather than becoming degraded.
Marketing Tangible and Intangible Tourism Products
Effective marketing is crucial for promoting both tangible and intangible tourism products.
For tangible products, visual marketing is key. High quality photographs showing tangible goods catches consumer attention. Descriptions should highlight quality, utility and value. Reviews and testimonials build trust. Email marketing and retargeting to abandon carts help convert sales.
Marketing for intangible experiences focuses more on storytelling and emotion. Evocative photographs, videos and blog content depict what it feels like to participate. Descriptions emphasize feelings produced rather than physical facts. Reviews describing emotions felt are influential. Social media photo shares help spread buzz.
Package deals bundling airfare, hotels and key local intangible experiences help market overall tourism competitively. Dynamic content displaying current deals appeals to savvy web users.
No matter what’s being sold, convenient booking, secure payment systems and responsive customer service are now essential. Mobile-friendly, multilingual booking capabilities are key for global digital marketing success.
Future Tourism Product Trends
Looking ahead, some notable trends are shaping the future of tangible and intangible tourism products.
Experiential intangible products will become even more important for premium value. Virtual and augmented reality technology will enhance immersive experiences. At the same time, sustainable and eco-friendly tourism limiting negative impacts will grow.
Localized, niche experiences like food, music, art and traditions unique to small areas will provide hyper-customized intangible products. Multigenerational and accessible travel products meeting diverse needs will increase. Tourism products embracing local communities and giving back through volunteering will expand.
New transportation modes like electric vehicles and scooters will emerge. Smart hotels incorporating technology for efficiency, luxury and health safety will rise. Contactless payments and services will increase, especially after COVID-19. Everything from reservations to reviews will integrate new technology.
But simple tangible products like small-batch local foods will also thrive by offering authenticity in an increasingly technology-focused world. Overall, seamless incorporation of tech in tangible goods and intangible experiences will coexist with demand for raw authentic connection.
No matter what form tourism products take, they must focus on creating genuine value and meaningful memories that make destinations worth discovering again and again. This requires investing in both quality tangible infrastructure and one-of-a-kind intangible experiences.
- Tangible tourism products satisfy functional needs while intangible experiences create memories and emotions that make travel meaningful.
- Destinations must provide quality tangible products as well as unique intangible experiences to thrive.
- Pricing dynamics differ greatly between tangible goods and intangible experiences.
- Marketing also requires different strategies for tangible versus intangible tourism products.
- Tech-enhanced experiences and eco-consciousness will shape future tourism along with demand for hyper-local intangible products.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some examples of tangible tourism products?
Some common examples of tangible tourism products include accommodation, food and beverage, transportation, souvenirs, event tickets, equipment rentals, and visitor guides. These physical items satisfy functional needs of travelers.
What are some examples of intangible tourism products?
Examples of intangible tourism experiences include tours, cultural attractions, outdoor recreation, cuisine, entertainment, wellness activities, adventures, and local interactions. These provide memories, emotions and cultural connections.
Why are intangible tourism products so important?
While tangible products serve needs, intangible experiences make a destination meaningful and worth revisiting. They provide the memories and emotions tourists seek. Without rich intangible products, a destination struggles to remain competitive.
How should you price tangible versus intangible tourism products?
Tangible goods can be priced based on concrete production costs. Intangible experiences are priced subjectively based on perceived customer value and willingness to pay. Higher prices can increase perceived value of experiences.
How do you market tangible and intangible tourism products?
Tangible goods require visual marketing showcasing products. Intangible experiences are better conveyed through storytelling and emotion. Reviews play a big role for both. Package deals bundling tangible and intangible products together help market full destination experiences.