Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in Tourism

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As we know that motivation is a process where our need activates a selected behavior thanks to we can try to achieve our goal, It drives us to act in a way to achieve our desire goal and it’ s the general term for all processes involved in starting, directing, and maintaining physical and psychological activities. Maslow hierarchy of needs theory is one of the most popular motivation theories and it’s also considered one of the most important theories in psychology. According to Maslow people has a specific needs and they are motivated by their desire to satisfy these needs. In addition to this he arranged these needs in hierarchical order, he put physiological needs at the bottom of hierarchy ,followed by safety needs ,the belongingness and love needs after that esteem needs and at the top of hierarchy self -actualization need. He proposed that the lower -level needs must be satisfied before higher-level needs become important. Travel motivation reflects one’s needs and wants and can be viewed as a critical variable in relation to their purchase decisions. Maslow hierarchy theory help us to understand the different needs that motivate travelers and in other hand it will be enhancing service providers’ knowledge about what kinds of experiences travelers seek, especially for certain groups of people. Maslow’s hierarchy is considered a useful tool for understanding consumer motivations, developing marketing strategy, appropriate advertising appeals and as the basis for market segmentation and product positioning because consumer goods often serve to satisfy each of the need levels

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The determinants of travel decision-making and the influential factors would also be examined since they are related to the travel motivations. Understanding of travelers’ motivations is critical to predict future travel patterns. Maslow’s five-level hierarchy need theory has been broadly accepted and used to explain travel behavior. This paper will try to discuss the Maslow hierarchy theory in tourism and the importance of this theory in tourism field .this paper also involves some studies in tourism which based on Maslow hierarchy theory and how the authors applied this theory in tourism field.

Maslow hierarchy of needs theory

Hierarchy of needs theory was proposed in the 1943 by Abraham Maslow who was born in April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931, and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology, all from the University of Wisconsin. Maslow presented hierarchy of needs. On the bottom of the pyramid are all physiological and safety needs such us food, water, air, rest etc. Higher levels represent higher needs, which are more complex. An affiliation on the third level of the pyramid says about belonging to a groups such as family, school or work colleagues groups; a need of love and friendship. On the forth level are self-esteem needs such as respect, achievement, confidence, need of being recognized. Self-actualization needs are on the last level of the Maslow’s pyramid are creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving etc.

He also proposed that the lower -level needs must be satisfied before higher-level needs become important in addition to this Maslow in 1970 also discus two important needs related directly with tourism ;the aesthetic need and the need to know and understand .(maslow,1987)

The basic need hierarchy

  1. Physiological needs: – in this level of hierarchy people must be satisfied their physiological need which involves basic survival needs such as the needs of air, water, food and shelter. People can’t become concerned with other higher-order needs before they satisfy these needs
  2. Safety needs: – this level is the second level of maslow;s hierarchy of needs which concerns people’s need to be secure and safe in their environment. It includes the need for protection psychological and physical harm.
  3. Belongingness and love need: – these needs include dealing with and acceptance by other people, giving and receiving affection and friendship. Based on Maslow’s theory people can’t reach to this level until satisfied their physiological and safety needs
  4. Esteem needs: – according to Maslow theses needs may be classified in to two subsidiary sets. First, the desire for achievement, adequacy, strength, competence and freedom.seconde we have what we may call the desire for reputation or prestige, status, recognition importance and dignity.
  5. Self actualization needs: – people need for self- actualization represents their desire to fulfill their potential, maximizing the use of their skills and abilities .malsow proposed that even if all the previous need are satisfied we may still often expect that anew discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he or she, individually is fitted for.(Hitt ,Miller andColella,2006)

There is no doubt that , all these needs affect the choice of destination selected by tourists by tourists, an extreme -adventure tourists might forgo all lower needs to satisfy self actualization.

The basic idea of Maslow’s theory is that individuals are waiting beings they always desire more and that they want relays on what they already have. It’s necessary to know that Maslow’s theory relates to individual development and motivation in life and not just to the behavior of people at work. That’s mean the hierarchy of needs can be applied to the satisfaction of the needs and expectations of tourists as well as to members of workers who work in tourist establishment. (Mulins, 1998)

Maslow theory in tourism

This theory is very important in tourism sector because the determinants of travel decision-making and the influential factors would also be examined since they are related to the travel motivations. Understanding of travelers’ motivations is critical to predict future travel patterns. Maslow’s five-level hierarchy need theory has been broadly accepted and used to explain travel behavior. In addition to this, the satisfaction of people (tourists, employees) needs plays a vital role to develop this sector.

According to Horner and Swarbrooke, (2001) satisfying the tourists in tourism is very important for three reasons:-

  1. It leads to positive word -of -mouth recommendation of the service to friends and families, which in turn brings in new tourists.
  2. Creating a repeat customer by satisfying them with their first use of product brings a steady source of income with no need for extra marketing expenditure
  3. Dealing with complaints is expensive, time-consuming and bad for the organization’s reputation .further more; it can bring direct cost through compensation payment.

In tourism we have two customers one who pay and the other who is working in tourist’s establishments’ .when we satisfy the workers need in workplace that will be reflected in their works and quality of service which provide to tourists.

Maslow as we know that also discuss two important needs related directly with tourism ;the aesthetic need and the need to know and understand. these needs are less known to people because they were not included in the hierarchical needs model .however, from tourism standpoint , these needs carry more weight than others beyond the hierarchical needs model .people travel to learn about something new and to be exposed to objects of beauty. Unfortunately, a few tourism studies have applied Maslow’s model in relation to these two sets of human needs. (Hsu and Huang, 2008)

Examples of tourist’s studies


Using Branding and events to attract tourists

By Bonita M. Kolb

The author in his book used this theory when he discuss the factors which affect on a person behavior to chose tourist destination, we can observe that the Hierarchy of needs theory has direct application for marketing because many of these needs are satisfied through the purchase of services and products . Of course, person must continue to satisfy his basic need for food, clothing shelter and security even while they are satisfying his belonging and self-esteem needs. A well-designed tourism package will give

Chance to tourists to satisfy many of their needs at the same time. After all, on matter how exciting is the place’s attraction, the tourist will still needing good food, a comfortable be, and personal security. Therefore, tourism marketers must provide information in their promotional on how tourists can satisfy their basic needs while stimunesaly promoting how a visit to the place will satisfy tourists’ need for belonging, self- esteem, and even self-actualization needs.

Satisfying physiological and safety needs

Tourists want assurance that the place can provide a suitable hotel rooms and high quality restaurants. Inn addition to this the tourists information about the place’s safety can encourage them to visit this place. Promotional materials must provide information on the place’s restaurants, hotels and safety[mark. in other hand money is one hotels award that is potentially related to these needs to the extent that it provides for food and shelter. , in addition to this workers must consider their jobs are security factors and as means for keeping what they have acquired ( mulins,1998)

Satisfying belonging needs

The social belonging and self -esteem needs play a key role to motivate people to visit any place by using a good promotion such as a small places or tourists destination can satisfy tourists belonging need by communicating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

A large destination also can satisfy these needs through the number of tourists from every where can be helped to make tourists feel like they are apart of new social group. In addition to this when the tourists build a strong relationship with a local community that may help to motivate a repeat visit. In addition to this, Workers satisfaction in hotels may come from family relationships, a job usually provides an additional source of relationships, The manager can use this theory when he wants to motivate workers through give them money in order to satisfy them basic needs after that by communication can make a good work environment .also when the worker feels there are affair system in hotel that’s mean career development he will be more satisfy

To satisfy tourists belonging need, all tourists destination have to provide a social events and activities that allow tourists to deal with indigenous people and with other tourists .in other hand the workers in tourists establishment must satisfy their belonging needs

Satisfying self esteem

These needs also can be used to motivate people to visit by sharing the information about the trip with others after returning home.

Tourists can satisfy their self -esteem by traveling to learn or improve skill or pursue anew or existing interest .in other hand these needs can be also be enhanced by participation in events that are unique or of limited availability .workers also can satisfy their esteem needs by money and financial rewards because they provide signals of people’s worth to the hotels.

Satisfying self – actualization

Tourism may provide the chance for tourists to improve their own special skills or interests to a professional level; tourism marketers could improve a tourist package that involves advanced lectures by experts or training by celebrities.

Self actualization also involves the need to do good for others; tourism marketers also must consider hosting special activities for tourists that also have an altruistic purpose.

Maslow’s hierarchy and food tourism in Finland: five cases

By Irma Tikkanen

The author in this paper attempted to explore the field of food tourism in Finland by using Maslow’s theory in classification and how can the food tourism promoters emphasize on the need of people to motivate them

According to Tikkanen food and beverage expenditure amount to one-third of overall tourist expenditure of the global tourism because eating is one of our physiological needs ,in addition to this in his paper he attempted to find the link between needs and motivations in hierarchy of needs and also how are they linked with tourism .

As we know that Food need is one of the most important basic needs which person cant survive without it but also catering services and food images are very important ingredient of cultural tourism.

In this paper the author mentioned that If the physiological needs are relatively well gratified, consequently, a new set of needs emerge, which may be categorized roughly as the safety needs, The safety needs represent the desire to be free of danger ,it is also a multidisciplinary problem. That includes food processing and legislation; management systems and organizational culture; microbiological, chemical and physical hazards; and human behavior. After the physiological and safety needs satisfied, needs of the need for love, affection and belongingness arise.

The esteem needs show an individual desire for a feeling of self-confidence and adequacy. This may reflect internal feelings of strength, achievement, independence, or external desires of reputation, prestige, recognition, attention, etc

Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual has an inward vocation. In other words, what a man can be, he must be. These needs called self-actualization.

Food tourism defined as”a visitation to primary and secondary food producers, food festivals, restaurants and specific locations for which food tasting and/or experiencing the attributes of specialist food production region are the primary motivating factor for travel. The authors believe that this definition is insufficient in explaining all food tourism and he agrees with the opinion which said that food and tourism have a strong related and Food has recognized as:

  • a part of the local culture, which tourists consume;
  • a part of tourist promotion;
  • a potential component of local agricultural and economic development; and a regional factor that is affected by the consumption patterns and perceived preferences of the tourists.

The authors in his study used multiple-case design because the evidence obtained this way is often regarded as more impressive and assuring. In addition to this five cases representing each type of need in Maslow’s theory of needs were selected. The goal of the identified five sectors with cases is to explain the case study findings with related to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its applicability into food tourism.

According to authors the five sector of food tourism in Finland are; food tourism based on physiological needs, food tourism based on safety needs, food tourism based on esteem needs, and food tourism based on self-actualizing needs. In this paper author discussed food tourism respect to hierarchy of needs.

Food tourism based on psychological needs:-

When the main motivation of food tourism is physiological needs, food is then seen as a tourist attraction such as, on cruise ships the quality and the variety of the meals is attracting tourists, That’s mean the tourists want to satisfy their psychological needs through food tourism. The authors discussed the situation of food tourism in Finland and he mentioned that the international cruising food tourism dates back to the 1960s when cruising tourism started between Finland and Sweden. At that time the assortment of foodstuffs in shops was narrow, and the display was imperfect compared to that of today, and also he focused on the alcohol which was one of the main motivations for the international cruising tourism between Finland and Sweden as well as Finland and Estonia. In addition to this In the Suonenjoki region, strawberry picking attracts tourists from Russian Carelia every summer offering seasonal income. Self-service strawberry picking attracts tourists locally and regionally on a smaller scale.

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Food tourism based on safety needs:-

In this sector of food tourism , it respected to safety needs which consists mainly of local and international food, as well as health and safety conferences, where participants are mostly university researchers, health officers and retailers .the authors emphases on the international conferences of safety food which organized February 1-3, 2003 in Paris, France and one of the One of the companies sending delegates to this event on an annual basis is Kesko, the second biggest retailer in Finland.

Food tourism based on social needs:-

In this sector of food tourism the author mentioned that Food is becoming the main point of festivals and special activities that attracts tourists as well as indigenous residents in addition to this Food and food activities can be viewed as complementing the trip and helping to the trip’s success, the tourist’s consumption experience, but they can also form a top activity during the trip. Therefore, food and the activities linked to it may become the region’s core attraction such as; the International Wine Festival in Kuopio collected about 50,000 visitors in 2003.

Food tourism based on esteem needs:-

As we said that before esteem needs show an individual desire for a feeling of self-confidence and adequacy, the authors focused on Provincial à la carte projects which established to promote culinary food tourism and organized in the following regions: Kainuu, Lake Finland, Lapland, Middle Finland, Northern Savo, Northern Carelia, and Ostrobotnia. One of the most important aim of this project is to increase information of the regional food tradition and main materials and to use them in the modern catering services

Food tourism based on self-actualizing needs:-

In this type of food tourism the authors emphasized on categorized business to be the purpose of a visit in meetings and conferences. According to thee authors Food trade fair tourism involves of international and domestic food trade fairs. There are many international food trade fairs, such as BioFach – World Organic Trade Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. International food conferences attract food scientists to increase their knowledge. One annually organized domestic food conference is the Finnish Food Congress which has been organized annually since 1970. It is the largest professional educational event for the food sector in Finland. Through these conferences we can satisfy self actualization of food experts who seek new kinds of culinary ideas and new food products. Such as cooks, restaurant managers, food wholesale buyers etc.

The authors in his paper used the empirical findings which indicate that when classifying food tourism by sectors, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and motivations can be used as the basis in the classification.

Travel motivation: a critical review of the concept’s development.

By Cathy H.C Hsu and Songshan Huang.

The intent of this study represents the development of travel motivation concept over the year; the authors apply Maslow’s hierarchy theory to travel motivation theory. in addition to this they highlights the two conceptual framework ; travel career leader and travel career pattern . The study also discussed other concepts which influence in travel motivation such as push and pull, Mannel and Iso-Ahlo model of escaping and seeking dimensions, merits of Plog’s allocentrism / phsycontrism. In addition the study explained methodological issues in tourist motivation research. We will focus only on the uses of Maslow’s hierarchy in this study.

According to Hsu and Huang (2008) travel motivation related to why people travel motivation related to why people travel so this area is relatively difficult research area of tourism enquiry . Based on this problem this paper reviews some of the most important research pieces relating to the subject, and which document the conceptual development of the motivation construct.

Authors mentioned that sociology and social psychology is root of theoretical framework of travel motivation studies. In addition Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be used to analyze the theoretical of many tourism researches because is one of the most influential motivation theories in the academic and in the public domain, one reason of this popularity of theory is its simplicity. Maslow’s theory was developed by clinical psychology, the premise is applicable to others sectors such as counseling, marketing, tourism and organizational psychology.

The study also explained how Pears in (1982) used Maslow’s hierarchy theory in his study “the social psychology of tourism behavior “. Pears in his study analyzed 400 cases of travel experiences provided by some 200 tourists in Australia, Europe, U.S.A and Canada .he wrote down each respondent one positive experience and one negative experience.

Pears analyzed and coded the tourists experience data in to five categories in accordance to Maslow’s hierarchy. Based on the information s which collected through analyzed, he suggested that travel motivation has the properties of an approach-avoidance paradigm and travelers attracted to holiday destination because of the possibility satisfying self-actualization, love and belongingness and physiological needs in that order of importance. (Hsu and Huang ,2008)

This paper also mentioned hat Maslow in his theory discussed two others important human needs: aesthetic needs and the need to know and understand something new. These needs are very important in tourism field because person travels in order to see and learn about something new. But these needs were not included in the hierarchy of needs so the needs are less know to people.

Maslow’s of needs theory as applied to tourism field has been one of the significant main point in travel motivation research, as we said that before this study also highlights the two conceptual framework in understanding travel motivation; travel career leader (TCL) and travel career pattern (TCP).

Travel career leader can be traced to Pearce’s earlier work in tourist behavior and it is based upon Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Based on the TCL tourist’s needs or motivations are organized in a hierarchy with relaxation needs at the lowest level followed by safety needs, relationship needs, self-esteem and development needs and finally fulfillment need. The main idea underlying this conceptual framework is that a person’s travel motivation changes with his /her travel experience. (Hsu and Huang,2008)

The second conceptual framework which presented recently by Pearce and his friend Lee in (2003) is Travel Career Pattern (TCP), it is also known as adjusted version of TCL. In fact it’s quite different of travel career leader.

This concept tested by Pearce and lee in two studies and generate very similar motivation factors ,these factors can be classified in two groups ; the first one involves the most significant and common motivation factors to tourists such as novelty ,relax and relationship while the other group involves motivation factors that were less significant to respondents e.g. stimulation ,isolation and social status. In addition Pearce and lee proposed three levels of TCP they put significant common motives e.g. relax, relationship and novelty in the main layer, the next layer which surrounding the main layer involves the moderately important travel motives e.g. self -actualization. The outer layer includes of common and less important travel motives e.g. social status, isolation and nostalgia. In addition Pearce and Lee explained that pleasure tourists at all levels of TCP are affected by the most important and central travel motives as well as by less important motives. Travel Career Patterns as a tourist motivation model is still underdevelopment and it’s validity requires further rigorous tests. (Hsu and Huang,2008)

We can observe the relationship between Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and TCP and how can Pearce and his colleagues Lee in 666 used maslow’s theory to introduce this new model.

Travel motivations of package tour travellers

By Jui Chi Chang

In this study the authors examined travel motives as well as travel decision-making of Taiwanese travellers with a group package tour abroad. Tourism is an industry for people who are looking for something different and they want to be treated as valuable customers travel motivation as we know reflects one’s needs and wants and can be viewed as a critical variable in relation to their purchase decisions and outcome of satisfaction. Motivation emerges when an individual wants to satisfy a need.

According to Maslow theory a person has different needs which he wants to satisfy it and these needs motivate person to act anything in order to satisfy his needs , the author mentioned that , Studying travel motivation helps one to understand customers’ needs, thus enhancing service providers’ knowledge about what kinds of experiences travellers seek, especially for certain groups of people in addition to this Understanding of travellers’ motivations is critical to predict future travel patterns. that’s mean it’s necessary to study motivation theory especially the Maslow theory of need which determine the person need

According to the author Maslow’s five-level hierarchy need theory has been broadly accepted and used to explain travel behaviour. Self actualization, the highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy, generates internal satisfaction and explains the necessity of acquiring knowledge and learning about different cultures. Fulfilling higher-order needs might also be associated with lower-order needs to which multiple motives contribute. Still, it is arguable that not all travellers are able to fulfil the highest need of self-actualization since some people may not consider it to be so significant.

The author mentioned that It is difficult to determine which stimulation triggers one’s needs in the first place. Besides, one person’s needs may not be the same as another’s, even though they are in the same life cycle. Nevertheless, theories of motivation have played an important role in the development of tourism psychology

This study suggests that socio-psychological needs are an important motivation for travel, and socio-economic considerations are regarded as a crucial motivation for travel decision-making. Furthermore, travellers’ decision-making may be strongly influenced by their social relationships – friends/relatives’ recommendations.

Finally we can say that Maslow hierarchy theory can used to explain travel behaviour and can help to determine which factor play a vital role to effect on person decision to visit destination and practice some activities.


There is a wide variety of theoretical frameworks that have been developed and used in attempts to explain the issues of motivation and satisfaction. As we know that, Human needs can be divided into different categories and the successful in tourism field based on how can tourism satisfy stakeholders’ needs in tourism sector,.

Maslow’s hierarchical needs theory, although developed in the field of clinical psychology has become widely influential as the best-known general theory of motivation and has been applied to explain motivation in many social disciplines, and areas such as business, marketing and tourism. it has been called an ’emotional trigger’ that enables marketers to communicate with their target audiences on a personal, meaningful level that goes beyond product benefits.

This theory has been broadly accepted and used to explain travel behaviour. Self actualization, the highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy, generates internal satisfaction and explains the necessity of acquiring knowledge and learning about different cultures. Fulfilling higher-order needs might also be associated with lower-order needs to which multiple motives contribute. Still, it is arguable that not all travellers are able to fulfil the highest need of self-actualization since some people may not consider it to be so significant.

One of the main reasons for the popularity of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is probably its simplicity. This hierarchy could be related to the travel industry in the sense that unless individuals have their physiological and safety needs met, they are less likely to be interested in travelling the world to make a difference. Self actualization can, in fact, be considered the end or goal of leisure.

Finally we can say that, Maslow’s five-level hierarchy need theory plays a vital role to determine these needs and helps all the parties to understand the different needs of people in order to satisfy it and achieve success in tourism field.


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