Assessing the visitor experience for management in park and protected areas has long been the research focus of social scientists working in concert with park managers. One approach to protected area management—outcomes focused management—examines either the motivations that guide the behavior of recreationists or the outcomes that are attained through outdoor recreation experiences as a means of better meeting visitor expectations. Though longstanding calls have been made to integrate motivations and outcomes, they remain separated—as researchers select one or the other as measures of either the drivers of or the actual visitor experience. This study is an attempt to connect motivations to outcomes with the goal of understanding their relationship and developing an outcome-based means of measuring the quality of experiences in a heavily visited area of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Using a pre- and post-experience survey approach, researchers first asked visitors what outcomes they were seeking from the area and then examined to what degree they attained the outcomes that drove their visitation. Results of a structural equation model suggest that visitors were able to attain the outcomes they were seeking from their experience, with the exception of escaping society. The use of outcome attainment as a possible measure of quality is subsequently discussed.
- Outcomes-focused management
- Protected area management