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2008 Voluntourism Survey Report Nancy McGehee HTM Virginia Tech

David Clemmons VolunTourism.org

Seungwoo “John” Lee HTM Virginia Tech October 2009


The full version of the 2008 Voluntourism Survey Report, including all sections and appendices, is now available for purchase at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/878048


2008 Voluntourism Survey Report Nancy McGehee

Hospitality and Tourism Management 363A Wallace Hall Virginia Tech Blacksburg VA 24061 540-231-1201 nmcgehee@vt.edu

David Clemmons

VolunTourism.org 619-434-6230 voluntourism@voluntourism.org

Seungwoo “John� Lee

Hospitality and Tourism Management Virginia Tech October 2009


Table of Contents Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................3 Executive Summary .............................................................................................................................................8 Methods ............................................................................................................................................................12 Findings ............................................................................................................................................................14 Discussion and Recommendations ....................................................................................................................32 Appendices ........................................................................................................................................................40 Appendix A: Voluntourism Questionnaire ........................................................................................... 40-52 Appendix B: Tables and Figures ........................................................................................................... 53-91 Table 1: Demographic Characteristics.................................................................................................53 Table 2: “How Did You Hear About The Survey?”..............................................................................54 Table 2 A: Categorized Responses To “Other” (Source of Contact) ............................................54 Table 3: Travel and Volunteer Experience ...........................................................................................55 Table 4: Motivation ....................................................................................................................... 56-58 Table 5: Factor Analysis of Voluntourism Motivation................................................................... 59-60 Table 6: Geographic and Climate Preferences.....................................................................................61 Table 7: Voluntourism Itinerary Preferences .......................................................................................62 Table 8: Accommodation and Services................................................................................................63 Table 8A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.12) ...................................................................64 Table 9: Clusters and Expectation Preferences ....................................................................................65 Table 10: Goals and Objective ............................................................................................................66 Table 10A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.10) .................................................................67 Table 11: Personal Orientation and Preparation .................................................................................68 Table 11A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.24) .................................................................68 Table 12: Clusters and Pre-Trip and Orientation Requirements of Trip Providers .............................69 Table 13: Voluntourism Requirements of Trip Providers .............................................................. 70-71 Table 13A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.25) .................................................................71 Table 13B: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.26) .................................................................72 Table 13C: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.27) .................................................................72 Table 14: Preferred Voluntourism Activities.................................................................................. 73-74 Table 14A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.28) .................................................................75 Table 14B: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.29) .................................................................75 Table 14C: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q. 30) ................................................................75 Table 15: Voluntourism Activity Intensity Level.................................................................................76 Table 16: Voluntourism Activity Preferences.......................................................................................77 Table 16A: Categorized Responses to “Other” (Q.20) .................................................................77 Table 17: Open-Ended Final Question Comments ...................................................................... 78-81 Table 18: Cluster Analysis Chart ........................................................................................................81 Table 19: Cluster Analysis: Motivations ........................................................................................ 82-84 Table 20: Profiles of Three Typology Clusters ............................................................................... 85-89 Table 21: Motivation Factors and Typology Clusters ..........................................................................90 Table 22: Geographic Preferences and Typology Clusters...................................................................90 Table 23: Typology Clusters and Itinerary Preferences .......................................................................90 Table 24: Typology Clusters and Activity Preferences.........................................................................91 Appendix C: References .............................................................................................................................92 2


Introduction

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Introduction This project resulted from a partnership between Professor Nancy G. McGehee of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Tech and David Clemmons, Founder of VolunTourism.org. The purpose of the study was to develop and implement a survey instrument that would measure motivations and interest of potential voluntourists. Further, the initial data could be used by voluntourism entities to better understand the market and adjust current business practices accordingly. The study serves as a pre-cursor for gaining insights into the transformational potential of voluntourism experiences as reported by voluntourists. The results from recent surveys suggest that the number of voluntourism prospects is on the rise (Travelocity 2006 and 2007, CheapTickets 2007, MSNBC.com/Conde Nast 2008) and that in the U.S., in particular, they are interested in traveling to Africa, East Asia, and South America (UCSD 2008). Indeed it is estimated that the number of U.S. voluntourists alone exceeded 4.7 million in 2007 with more than one million of them traveling internationally (CNCS 2008). But who are these prospective voluntourists? What is really known about them? Cultural immersion, giving back, seeking camaraderie, and seeking educational and bonding opportunities are four motivational themes identified by voluntourists when questioned regarding their reasons for participating in a leisure travel experience that included volunteering (Brown 2005). The voluntourist, therefore, may define specific personal goals and objectives which s/ he desires to fulfill during a voluntourism journey. Anecdotal information and testimonials from voluntourists, as well as articles describing some of the pitfalls of voluntourism, indicate that failure to meet expectations results in a variety of direct and indirect responses – whether through post-trip surveys or postings on personal blogs, public forums or in periodicals. In 2001, Wearing published results from a study that he conducted with volunteer tourists 4


following their three-month experience at the Santa Elena Rainforest Reserve (SERR) in Costa Rica. Regarding transformation and personal development, Wearing states (p. 3): “Furthering this, volunteer tourism provides an opportunity for an individual to engage in an altruistic attempt to explore ‘self.’ It has been built around the belief that by living in and learning about other people and cultures, in an environment of mutual benefit and cooperation, one is able to engage in a transformation and the development of self.” While this sounds very promising, Wearing did focus the bulk of his discussion on the positive outcomes of this transformational learning process with little emphasis on the early, sometimes disorienting stages of the voluntourism experience, or as Mezirow (1978) puts it, the ‘disorienting dilemma’. Mezirow introduced the concept of ‘perspective transformation’ and outlined the steps by which an adult initially confronts a ‘disorienting dilemma,’ i.e. passes through a series of cognitive and communicative exercises to replace what has been reframed in the mind of the holder thereof as a limited perspective. Cranton (2002) further developed this concept by calling it an ‘activating event’ and describes the process as ‘spiral-like’ instead of linear (p. 64): “Through some event, which could be as traumatic as losing a job or as ordinary as an unexpected question, an individual becomes aware of holding a limiting or distorted view. If the individual critically examines this view, opens herself to alternatives, and consequently changes the way she sees things, she has transformed some part of how she makes meaning out of the world.” It can be argued, based on a combination of Cranton’s (2002), Zahra and McIntosh’s (2007) and Mezirow’s (1978) work, that voluntourism experiences represent a series of activating events, or transformational triggers. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence and self-reporting by voluntourists 2008 Voluntourism Survey Report

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to justify the notion that these activating events, or transformational triggers, will, at the very least, result in a series of unexpected questions which could lead to perspective-transformation. To this end, Wearing (2001) provides testimonials of several volunteer tourists and how some of their personally-held views had changed as a result of their three-month engagements at Santa Elena Rainforest Reserve (SERR) in Costa Rica. Even more seriously, traumatic transformational triggers, described as feelings of profound disappointment, moderate to extreme interpersonal disruptions between voluntourists and other voluntourists or residents, or moderate to extreme re-entry and post-trip processing on the part of voluntourists, can also occur as a result of a voluntourism experience. Until now, it has been assumed by many voluntourism operators and voluntourists that transformational triggers will not impose ‘traumatically’ on an individual; but what if this is not always the case? Thus, the ultimate goal of the research being initially presented herein is to better understand the motivations, expectations, and preferences of potential voluntourists so as to plan for and embrace the potential transformational triggers, but also to find ways to minimize those more upsetting and counter-productive traumatic transformational triggers. This is not to suggest that such variances can be completely planned for by a voluntourist or a voluntourism operator, nor would one want to eliminate transformational triggers; but, it may be possible for a voluntourist provided with the appropriate tools to pre-select a voluntourism itinerary that is better aligned with her/his motivations, expectations, and preferences, with the goal of eliminating the possibility of traumatic transformational triggers. It is also possible that voluntourism operators, provided with similar tools, will be better able to screen voluntourists in an effort to mitigate the risk of traumatic transformational triggers and the resulting customer dissatisfaction, group disruption, and potential negative impacts on local communities. In order to discover what aspects of voluntourism experiences may generate transformational 6


triggers, it has been determined that step one is to better ascertain - who are voluntourists, in reference to: What are their motivations, personal life experiences, expectations, and other preferences? To what degree are they willing to interact with other voluntourists and community residents or experience emotional and/or physical intensity? How much time and effort will they put into preparation for their experiences? Can various groups or clusters of voluntourists be identified and described? This report represents that first phase of an attempt to develop a series of tools to assist potential voluntourists. “The VolunTourist Survey” was designed using scales and items from a number of well-established research projects, most particularly Pearce and Lee’s (2005) Travel Career Pattern Model. Pearce and Lee’s model is particularly of interest as it has been well-tested and as it recognizes that while travelers do express different motivational patterns and travel preferences over their life stages and/or travel experience stages, these patterns and preferences are not linear.

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Executive Summary

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Executive Summary Specific Aims of the Project 1. Measure motivations for voluntourism amongst potential voluntourists. 2. Identify potential clusters of voluntourists based on motivation. 3. Examine the expectations potential voluntourists have for themselves and for trip providers, including pre-trip requirements, the voluntourist experience, and any post-experience follow-up. 4. To utilize the data collected to make strategic recommendations for the voluntourism industry. Data Collection and Analysis 1. The survey was created on surveymonkey. 2. The survey was piloted using a Virginia Tech online class of 355 students. 3. The survey was refined and a link was provided on voluntourism.org, the voluntourism newsletter, and various media. The target population: potential voluntourists 4. After 6 months, the survey was closed. Over 1100 potential voluntourists responded to the survey, with 824 completed surveys. 5. Scales and other variables examined included demographics, past travel experience and experience volunteering at home, motivations for voluntourism, expectations of a voluntourism experience, pre-trip preparation and orientation preferences, and activity preferences. 6. Cluster analysis of respondents was measured using motivation; factor analysis was conducted of the motivations, expectations, pre-trip preparation and orientation preferences, and activity preferences. 2008 Voluntourism Survey Report

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Major Findings 1. Pearce and Lee’s (2005) 55-item motivation scale revealed 11 factors all of which were significant. 2. A voluntourism typology of three clusters showed significant differences within each of the factors with exception of one. These three clusters are referred to as “Vanguards”, “Pragmatists”, and “Questers” 3. The smallest, but most highly motivated group, is called “the Vanguards.” They are young; they volunteer at home an average of 7.5 hours per week, with fairly high levels of leisure travel experience. Vanguards are interested in staying in this hemisphere when they volunteer, but they have the time for an extended voluntourism experience (an average of 17 days). They are not picky about where they sleep - dormitory style accommodations are fine with them - but they do love their western amenities like internet and hot water. Of the three groups, they are most interested in the skill-building that can come from a voluntourism experience. Vanguards are very willing to do pre-trip legwork and information gathering. Vanguards also want the trip providers with whom they work to provide lots of clear policy information before they leave for their voluntourism experience (Table 12). In terms of activities, Vanguards seek the most physically and mentally intense voluntourism experience, and are interested in both environmental and human-contact activities. 4. The next (and largest) group in terms of level of motivation is known as the “Pragmatists.” They are motivated by a number of things, but mostly by the idea of developing a relationship with members of the host community (Table 21). Perhaps because they are the least experienced in international travel, Pragmatists are very interested in safety and security issues (Table 21), and they prefer private sleeping accommodations. Europe has the greatest appeal to them as a geographic destination for voluntourism, followed by regions within the western hemisphere (The Americas and the Caribbean) (Table 22). Pragmatists have the least amount of time and money to spend on voluntouring. When asked about their 10


expectations of Trip providers, Pragmatists were most interested in pre-trip information, policy information, and orientation upon arrival (Table 12). Pragmatists are less interested than Vanguards in an intense voluntourism experience. 5. The third (and oldest) group is known as the “Questers.� They are also interested in voluntourism, but are the least sure of what their motivations are to participate in a voluntourism experience. They are the most experienced group in terms of international travel and willing to spend 1) the most money and 2) the greatest amount of time volunteering on a voluntourism trip. Questers are most interested in traveling to South America (Table 22). When asked about their expectations of Trip providers, Questers resemble Pragmatists as they were also most interested in pre-trip information, policy information, and orientation upon arrival (Table 12), just not to the degree of their Pragmatist comrades. Conversely, the Questers are similar with their Pragmatist counterparts in that they too seem a bit adrift and unsure of what types and level of intensity they prefer (Table 24).

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The full version of the 2008 Voluntourism Survey Report, including all sections and appendices, is now available for purchase at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/878048

About The Authors Nancy Gard McGehee, PhD

David Clemmons

Seungwoo John Lee

Nancy McGehee received her MS and PhD in Sociology from Virginia Tech in 1995 and 1999 respectively. Previous to that she worked in regional rural tourism development. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department at Virginia Tech. Throughout her academic career, Nancy McGehee has focused on the volunteer tourism segment of the industry, which began with her dissertation and continues through her most recent research and manuscript submissions. She has worked with numerous volunteer tourism organizations throughout the US and in Mexico. In many ways, Dr. McGehee believes that this form of tourism has the potential to create the ultimate type of entrepreneur-friendly and socially responsible tourism: one which contributes to the economic health of a community through a combination of limited resource consumption and the injection of money into a community in ways that reduce leakages.

David Clemmons is the Founder of VolunTourism.org. As a ‘student’ of VolunTourism since 2000, his insights and commentary on the subject can be found in numerous periodicals worldwide, on websites, as part of the quarterly publication, The VolunTourist Newsletter, and on the VolunTourism.org Blog. He has conducted hundreds of interviews with travelers and VolunTourism stakeholders across the globe. He regularly leads seminars and participates in educational discussions with corporations, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and destinations to assist them in better understanding the role that VolunTourism may play in their operational development, strategic planning, or social responsibility goals & objectives. He has been a resident of San Diego, CA, since 1990.

Seungwoo John Lee is a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech. His research interests fall into the categories of volunteer tourism, residents’ attitudes, and sustainable tourism. While growing up on a rural part of Jeju Island, Korea, John had a great deal of experience interacting with volunteers including the receiving of medical, education, and welfare assistance in his hometown. His childhood experiences impressed upon him the potential of volunteer tourism and have led him to focus on how and in what ways volunteer tourists’ behaviors influence their participation in volunteer tourism.

© 2009. Nancy McGehee, HTM, Virginia Tech; David Clemmons, VolunTourism.org; Seungwoo “John” Lee , HTM, Virginia Tech


2008 VolunTourism Survey Report Intro & Executive Summary