Hiring a satisficing car in Portugal Part 1

Nov 26, 2015 |

I’ve always felt critical of people who go to the same place each year for their main holiday. Even if you won the lottery and spent the rest of your life travelling you couldn’t visit everywhere on earth – but somehow, somewhere I had this in-built belief that to expand all your experiences and to travel as widely as possible was what you should do. I suppose I had hinted at this in my teaching of tourist typologies, perhaps a little bit critical of those returning to the same guest house each year, finding comfort in the familiarity of the unchanging menu – oxtail soup or prawn cocktail, fish and chips or steak and kidney pie, Black Forest gateau or jelly and ice cream… This was what always came to mind when I thought of the rather pretentious word ‘satisficing’ – such tourists are perhaps an archetypal example of what might be thought of as satisficing behaviour. In other words, these are folk happy to settle for a ‘good enough’ option. Although a teacher once wrote about me in a school report, ‘Paul is satisfied with adequate’ – this wasn’t how I saw myself as a travelling adult.

Many years later, when I supervised a PhD about why people bought a static caravan, I came to realise that there were actually lots of people who didn’t hold my view of wanting to visit new places each annual holiday. There was also a group of people who spent more than the cost of my first house to purchase a caravan and then several thousand for the annual rent. After ten years or so the park owner says ‘your caravan is too old for my site, but we’ll give you £1500 trade in against a new one – in fact maybe as much as a £2000 against the Amalfi GXL, which has UPVC Doric columns on each corner if purchased with the ‘eternal beau’ interior package’. This comes after a £50k or more outlay, so why would anyone want such a depreciating asset? The answer comes in the form of that satisficing behaviour – the familiar is ok – life is tough enough without having to worry about terrorists, air traffic controller strikes, and dodgy overseas food when you go on holiday. It also means that the grandchildren with uncertain and multiple parentage also have somewhere to go on holiday. Demand for such caravans outstrips supply, as, from a UK perspective, getting planning permission for a new coastal caravan park is highly unlikely – so supply is pretty much fixed. What does this say about modern Britain?

Photo of Paul Brunt

Paul’s photo

So it came to be that I went to the Algarve three years in a row – a few years ago. I’m not a satisficing convert now, but have to agree that the second year our holiday was quicker to start, and better somehow. A great example of this was the hire car episode…

Posted in: Professor Paul Brunt | Tags: , ,

3 Responses

  1. Harold Simon’s (1955) notion of satisficing is still relevant today, and is used to develop models of choice in tourist behaviours (Nicolau & Más 2008); however, I think Paul’s article (Brunt 2015) is extending Simon’s concept in a way he never imagined. This extension rests on the value the holidaymaker experiences on their second visit to a familiar resort or tourist destination. It is a learnt behaviour, since the experienced traveller has already internalised the fact that tourism knowledge acquired during and initial field visit is more thorough, more complex and more nuanced than the image from brochures. I have looked in the journals for this second visit phenomenon and the creation of tourism knowledge in the field but cannot track anything down yet. Has anyone worked in this area or does anyone know of an article that explores this, please?

    References
    Brunt, P. (2015) ‘Hiring A Satisficing Car In Portugal’ in Brunt, P., Busby, G., Mansfield, C., and Wheeller, B. (2015) Travels in Search of, Plymouth, TKT [online] Available at eserve.org.uk [Accessed 27.11.15].

    Nicolau, J & Más, F. (2008) ‘Sequential choice behavior: Going on vacation and type of destination’ Tourism Management 29(5) 1023-1034.

    Simon, H. (1955) A behavioural model of rational choice’ Quarterly Journal of Economics, 69 99-118.