Tourism shopping in rural markets: A case study in rural Iowa

Deborah C. Fowler, Jessica L. Hurst, Linda S. Niehm, Catherine Strohbehn, Janell Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study aims to focus on the unique challenges of retail service delivery in rural tourism markets. This paper specifically seeks to address: factors attracting individuals to a rural tourism community; factors motivating resident and tourist customers to engage in tourism shopping; satisfaction of resident and tourist customers with local retailers; and strategies to assist retailers in successful service delivery. Using Dillman's survey techniques, data were collected from two different groups: resident customers and tourist customers in a rural Iowa tourism community. Given the study's exploratory focus, a case study methodology was selected. Shopping experiences were much less satisfying for resident customers than for tourist customers in this study. Tourism retailers may not be effectively differentiating their customer service and providing adequate attention during the shopping experience, particularly to resident customers. One limitation is that the study represents an initial test of selfdesigned and/or modified scales to capture the variables of interest in a single rural tourism community in Iowa. Therefore findings may only be generalizable to the unique nature of an established tourist population in Midwestern regions of the USA. An important implication from this study is rural tourism retailers need to develop a comprehensive customer relationship management strategy to encourage repeat shopping and sustained patronage behavior. This study provides valuable strategic implications for rural tourism entrepreneurs, business consultants and economic development professionals in rural tourism communities, and fills a void in the tourism and patronage literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-208
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 3 2012


  • Residents
  • Rural
  • Shopping
  • Tourism
  • Tourists
  • United States of America


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