Accounting for trip frequency in importance-performance analysis
Understanding customer satisfaction is critical to the successful operation of both privately and publicly managed recreation venues. A popular tool for assessing recreation visitor satisfaction is Importance- Performance Analysis (IPA). IPA provides resource managers, government officials, and private businesses with easy-to-understand and -use information about visitor preferences and satisfaction for selected site characteristics and management issues. Many improvements have been made to IPA since its inception, strengthening the validity of results and providing managers with knowledge for better decision making. This study adds to this list of improvements by examining the effect of trip frequency bias, or endogenous stratification, on IPA scores and then demonstrating a simple bias correction procedure. The issue of endogenous stratification was examined with three variations of an on-site sample of visitors to the Virginia Creeper Trail (VCT). Statistical tests for differences between the typical calculation of IPA scores and a weighting procedure which corrects for endogenous stratification or trip frequency bias were conducted. Findings suggested that accounting for bias, resulting from over-representation of frequent visitors, can lead to IPA results statistically different from those more conventionally calculated. By adjusting for endogenous stratification, the IPA graphs in this study provide a more accurate picture of the tastes and preferences of the visitor population. For managers, conventionally calculated IPA could lead to misclassifying the importance or performance of site characteristics or features into the wrong IPA quadrant and thus adversely affecting management of site resources.
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