Results from the project
Ute Walter, Senior Lecturer at Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts
What is the research project about?
“We will be studying a traveller’s different “eating-out activities” when visiting a place. Both leisure and business travellers need to eat several times during a visit. Perhaps they eat most of their meals at restaurants, but they will occasionally buy food at a shop, an open-air market or a snack stall. We want to understand how visitors think. On what basis do they make their choices? What attitude, for example, does a business traveller have towards the fact that someone else has booked and decided on all his or her meals? Are they satisfied with what is on offer, or would they want something else?”
How will you proceed?
“We will carry out a field study using a range of different methods. We will observe the visitors at close range, perhaps even go and speak to them to find out why they make those specific choices. We will possibly use an IT solution involving mobile phones, for example. Our first step will be to read up on the subject in detail and obtain information from a range of sources. We will also find out what we can and cannot do. We must comply with the principles for ethical research.”
How can companies in the hospitality sector benefit from this research?
“Business travellers and tourists are important for businesses at a destination. Understanding the customer is one of the most important factors in order to run a business successfully. We hope that the project will help provide them with knowledge on how to develop what they offer in order better to respond to customers’ wishes and requirements. It can help generate innovations and completely new services at the companies as well as new approaches in the hospitality industry. A destination can use the knowledge as a basis for refining their offerings and their profile as far as food and meals are concerned.”
Has this been studied previously?
“We reviewed previous research in advance of our project application and did not find any similar studies from the perspective of meals. Travellers were perhaps followed via GPS to see how they moved in one place, but visitors were not followed from their own perspective and it was not linked to eating.”
What are your challenges?
“The project is very complex. I believe that our biggest challenge will be to produce a study that is systematic and rigorous.”
About the researchers:
“Everyone involved in the project has experience of the industry. I have almost 20 years’ experience in restaurant and hotel work. It is a strength; it contributes to our understanding.”
Ute Walter, Senior Lecturer at Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts, is leading the project. She carries on research into service experiences from a customer perspective. Her background is in service marketing.
Senior Lecturer Inger M Jonsson, Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science, Örebro University
Professor Mikael Wiberg, Professor Dieter Müller and Linda Bogren, Umeå University,
External co-financiers include Visit Umeå.
Eating out – a study of visitors’ activities relating to food and meals
Umeå University, School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts
May 2015 – Mar 2017