The expectation and satisfaction theory is a cognitive theory that was originally developed by psychologists and marketing professionals in the late 1980s, and it has subsequently been applied in many industries and studies.

The purpose of this theory is to evaluate the expectations of consumers and their post-purchase satisfaction.

Expectation management is critical for tour and activity providers, as you are hoping to leave your customers feeling exhilarated and impressed in order to generate positive reviews on the best travel sites. Here’s how you can increase customer satisfaction by applying the expectation and satisfaction theory to your business.



The scientific expectation satisfaction model visualized.

  1. Manage expectations with tour descriptions, videos, photos, price, basically everything a consumer sees before booking your tours.
  2. Manage the perceived performance with the marketing mix elements.
  3. Dis-confirmation of  beliefs is the difference between what a customer expects and experiences during your tour or activity.
  4. Customer Satisfaction, something we are all trying to achieve!


Low Expectations = More and Better Reviews Post-Sales = Increased Number of Bookings

When your customers have a lower expectation for your tour, they are more likely to feel highly-satisfied after it is complete, it is easier to exceed customers. This can help you get good reviews, as customers will be surprisingly pleased by the experience. Positive reviews are important in driving traffic to your website and increasing your online bookings. However, you do not want to set expectations too low for your customers, because they may not feel compelled to initially book your tours. You want to set the right tone of excitement for the tour, without promising an experience that you cannot deliver. Finding the right balance will be the key to your success.

Exceedingly High Expectations = Bad Reviews, No Referrals = Decreased Number of Bookings

When travelers are planning their itineraries, they often rely on videos, photographs and tour descriptions in order to make their selections when booking excursions. If you promise a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they can’t find anywhere else, they are likely to choose you over another tour provider. However, make sure you can make good on your promise. If you set your customers expectations high, you need to be prepared to meet or exceed them. If they leave feeling like they didn’t get what they were promised, they are more likely to leave bad reviews and will not be referring your business to others.

Meeting Desired Expectations = Happy Customers, More Referrals = Increased Number of Bookings

This is the best approach to the expectation and satisfaction theory for tour and activity providers. Provide your customers with a realistic yet exciting expectation for their upcoming tour, and they will leave feeling like they got exactly what they wanted out of the experience. Your customer satisfaction levels will increase, and you will receive raving reviews as well as plenty of referrals. By being honest and accurate about your tours and activities, customers will trust you to provide them with an experience they won’t soon forget.

As a tour and activity provider, you can help manage your customers expectations by writing compelling and accurate tour descriptions. These descriptions play a pivotal role in attracting customers and convincing them to book your tours. In turn, you can increase customer satisfaction by applying the marketing mix to all of your goods and services.

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There is a lot more..

This article scratches the surface about how to balance customers’ expectations and satisfaction. You might have some questions about how to create the right expectations for your tours, or want to read more about how tour operators can use this in their day-to-day strategy. Let me know in the comment section!

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