Value, satisfaction and loyalty in volunteerism. Application to a religious megaevent.

Author:Imizcoz, Elena Floristan
  1. Introduction

    Using events as acts with a limited duration that empower attributes of a destination like knowledge, image and notoriety is an increasing phenomenon with numerous associated benefits (Hall, 1992; Lee and Taylor, 2005; Laws, 1995; Monga, 2006). Aligned with this strategic interest, the events management literature repeatedly underlines how difficult it is to coordinate the various stakeholders (Shone and Parry, 2004; Goldbaltt, 2001. This difficulty is an addition to the usually mentioned need in tourism of combining different groups of interest (Lee et al., 2010). This is made worse in the case of events because the existing conditioning of a strong time limitation.

    Volunteers are one group of stakeholders, with a particular role in big events, because they are needed in large numbers to help with the event. Volunteers are a highly involved public with very specific characteristics (a high level of involvement with a possible lack of professionalism) that distinguish them from a labour force (Gallarza et al., 2009; Kemp, 2002).

    Nevertheless, not every big event is the same, thereby conditioning volunteer profile, motivation and satisfaction even further. This study focuses on a religious event where volunteers seem to have higher altruist motivations (Gallarza et al., 2009; Gallarza et al., 2010) and greater involvement than in other events. Events in tourism is a rising line in tourism research and we predict a very fruitful future for religious tourism.

    The main objective of this study is to examine volunteers' evaluation of their experience of the event. The study applies multidimensional scaling (Gallarza et al. 2009; 2010) to classic consumer behaviour variables, such as perceived value, satisfaction and loyalty as behavioural intention on a mass religious event held in August 2011 in the city of Madrid (World Youth Conference 2012)

    The present paper is intended to contribute to the line of investigation into volunteers' experience at events, by studying a less known and less studied religious event. To achieve this goal, this paper is structured as follows: Below there is a review of terms like religious tourism, event typology and volunteering. Followed by a study of volunteers' assessments of their experience at events with the proposed model. Section 4 describes the empirical study, its objectives and methodology. Section 5 presents and analyses the results and, finally, Section 6 discusses the conclusions and recommendations for managing volunteers, the limitations of the study and future lines of investigation.

  2. Literature review: volunteering and events

    2.1. Religious tourism and events

    The most common form of religious tourism: pilgrimage is acknowledged as one of the oldest types of tourism (Jacobsy and Smith, 1992), and has generated plenty of literature in this field (Raj and Morpeth, 2007; Timothy and Olsen, 2006; Sharpley and Jebson, 2011). Nevertheless, it is curious to observe that in the research of events in tourism, religious events have been little studied in comparison to sports, cultural or other megaevents. This fact can be explained because not even its conceptual delimitation or its categorisation in different typologies is unanimous in literature. So, such events can be considered both religious and/or cultural events (Ritchie, 1984), even though they have special features (Gallarza et al., 2010). Academic researchers are therefore interested in the conceptual definition of religious events. The economic impact of religious tourism is also an area of interest (Vuconic, 2002) particularly from the managerial point of view.

    2.2. Categorisation of the religious event in events typologies

    As Brown and James (2004) point out, there are as many definitions of event as there are authors, in addition to the terminology regarding "special event", "megaevent" and "Hallmark event". The special event concept can be defined as "unique, infrequent events that take place outside normal activities. For consumers they are an amusement opportunity, a social or cultural experience that goes beyond their daily experience" (Getz, 2000). Goldblatt (1977) also specifies they are unique and occasional, a unique moment in the time celebrated with a ritual that satisfies a need. Allent et al. (2002) describe special events as celebrations, presentations or performances with a specific ritual created because of a special occasion and with the objective of obtaining specific social, cultural or corporative goals.

    A Hallmark event adds to the special event term the capacity to create image and notoriety; thus Getz (2000) considers that "some events have acquired a level of remembrance and reputation that the images of the event and of the community have achieved to be inseparable". "Hallmark event" is translated in Jafari (2000) as "emblematic event", very closely aligned to Graham et al.'s (1995) proposal, that such events "mark a historical highlight".

    As regards megaevents, the prefix "mega" means very large in Greek and a million in the metric system, so megaevents are events with a great impact or attraction "that bring an extraordinary level of tourists, media coverage, prestige or economic impact for the host community" (Getz, 2000). One of the most complete definitions is the one Donald Getz provided at a conference at the Swedish Institute for Regional Research in 1997: events planned with a limited duration that have an extraordinary impact in the area hosting them, in one or more of the following aspects: number of tourists, visitors expenses, notoriety that leads to greater familiarity and a better image, the development of infrastructures and related organizations that substantially increase the appeal and capacity of the destination" (Fayos-Sola, 1997)

    Nevertheless, despite the numerous categorisation efforts (Ritchie, 1984; Getz, 1997; Maure, 2007), it is sometimes difficult to mark out and apply the megaevent notion because it is a relative concept that depends on two factors: the size of the host community and the type of impact expected. So, these events vary a lot in relation to their size and complexity: they can be simple and small, like a village carnival, or much larger and more complex and international, like the Olympic Games (Shone and Parry, 2004). In order to understand this complexity, different authors have provided typologies and many of them have developed classifications related to their diversity, sector, or even market (Ritchie, 1984; Getz, 1997; Goldblatt, 1997; Watt, 1998; Bowdin et al., 2001; Shone and Parry, 2004, Van Der Wagen, 2006; Maure, 2007).

    Ritchie's classification (1984) clearly collects the field of study of this paper in that it considers a group named Religious and Cultural Events. These events are described as non-commercial events but make an important contribution to tourism in specific regions. According to this author, its main objective is perhaps not to promote tourism (for instance, a Royal Coronation) but they attract a mass of visitors. Examples of the importance of some religious events are Hagg at the Meca (Saudi Arabia), a sacred annual pilgrimage for Muslims, attended each year by approximately 3.4 million people. Also, the Pope's visits to Catholics: the literature reports John Paul II's visits to Ireland and the USA, where masses were held for more than one million people in Dublin, New York and Boston (Tum et el., 2009), and Benedict XVI's visit to Valencia (Gallarza et al., 2009 and 2010). Few categories of events are able to generate crowds like these, but there has been scanty academic interest, which we attempt to remedy with this empirical work.

    2.3. Volunteers as specific stakeholders in a megaevent

    One common aspect in every type of event is human resources administration, which is specifically characterised in megaevents by the complexity of dealing with different agents in a very limited time and space (Tum et al., 2009; Getz, 2005; Getz and Wicks, 1994; Bowdin et al., 2001). From amongst all the agents that take part in these events (workers, volunteers, managers and executives), volunteers are becoming the largest group (Goeldner et al., 2000; Kemp, 2002; Gallarza et al., 2009). As Getz (1991) notes, volunteer participation in an event is absolutely crucial for success.

    The origin of this kind of volunteerism can be found in the traditional habit of organisers of sports or cultural events of involving residents in the organisation as a way of citizenship participation, which has often been multitudinous (Tosum, 1999 and 2006). Nevertheless, what originated in residents' good will is nowadays a need. There is currently increasing dependence on volunteers to make events economically and functionally viable (Chalip, 2000; Green and Chalip, 1998). This approach represents a big challenge for managers. However, De Cuskelly et al. (2004) emphasise that organisers usually consider volunteers as a free workforce and they do not consider improving their management of volunteers.

    Many authors have noted that difficulties in managing volunteers are different to those related to employees. Vidal and Villa (2007) consider the following challenges in managing volunteerism: creating a managing model that is useful not only for employees but also for volunteers; organisations' need to adapt to new profiles of volunteerism; incorporating people from the business world into nonprofit organisations and, lastly, consolidating teams with a precarious economic situation in nonprofit organisations. Volunteers and employees increasingly have to work together as a team, and as Pauline and Pauline (2009) indicate understanding the motivation and orientation of all the groups involved will make management of the event more effective. Even more, Garner and Garner (2011) also underline the need to look after and improve the relationship between employees and volunteers.

    Additionally, nowadays organisations that manage...

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