Ice and Snow Tourism Experience and Its Influencing Factors

Exploring the Tourism Experience of Beginner Skiers in the Emerging Ski Market

  • PENG Yuanxiang , 1 ,
  • YIN Ping , 1, * ,
  • YANG Jingjing 2 ,
  • Kurt MATZLER 3
  • 1. Department of Tourism Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
  • 2. School of Tourism Management, Macao Institute for Tourism Studies, Macao 999078, China
  • 3. Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism, Innsbruck University, Innsbruck 6020, Austria
*YIN Ping, E-mail:

PENG Yuanxiang, E-mail:

Received date: 2021-09-16

  Accepted date: 2021-12-10

  Online published: 2022-06-07

Supported by

The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(2019JBWB002)

The Major Project of National Social Science Foundation of China(20ZDA067)

The General Project of Humanities and Social Sciences Research of National Level(17BTY057)


The skiing economy is a typical experience economy, so understanding the experience of ski tourists is essential to the development of the destination. To enrich the tourism experience research in the emerging ski market, this paper studies the 7118 online reviews of beginner skiers by selecting the main ski resorts in China as a case study. The content analysis method and sentiment analysis based on the domain lexicon and custom rules are combined to explore the perception characteristics of the beginners from the two aspects of experience dimension and experience satisfaction. Three main results were found. (1) The five main dimensions that affect the ski tourism experience of beginners are interaction perception, price perception, reputation perception, risk perception and functional perception. (2) For beginners, skiing is the primary purpose of tourism instead of being the critical factor of the positive reviews. They pay more attention to the pleasure produced by interpersonal interactions. (3) From 2014/2015 ski season to 2010/2021 ski season, the positive sentiment of beginners had no obvious change, while the negative sentiment showed a continuous downward trend, and the negative sentiment was mainly distributed among reviews on price, low temperature and service. This paper not only expands the research perspective of ski tourism, but also provides managerial inspiration for ski destinations interested in attracting beginners from the emerging ski markets.

Cite this article

PENG Yuanxiang , YIN Ping , YANG Jingjing , Kurt MATZLER . Exploring the Tourism Experience of Beginner Skiers in the Emerging Ski Market[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2022 , 13(4) : 613 -623 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2022.04.007

1 Introduction

In the era of the experience economy, the concept of “experience” is essential for tourism destinations, as tourism is essentially based on experience, and creating a pleasant experience is an important source of competitive advantage (Laing et al., 2014). According to Pine and Gilmor (2011), experience is a highly subjective, complex psychological process that engages an individual in a personal way and it “encompasses anything ranging from emotional, intellectual, and esthetic to experiences of nature, amusement and travel” (Mei, 2014). Due to the progress of information technology and the development of e-commerce, there has been avast increase in the number of online reviews based on online travel platforms (Liu et al., 2019). These reviews often include the natural emotions and spontaneous impressions of visitors, which are not limited by time and space while they are being written by the visitors. Compared to interviews or questionnaires, it is easier to obtain very large amounts of data on the real feelings of the visitors at considerably lower costs (Kozinets, 2002; Liu et al., 2019). Thus, a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of online tourist reviews is an extremely effective way to understand the tourist experience in the context of the experience economy.
In anticipation of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China has quickly become the fastest-growing emerging ski market in the world (Vanat, 2019; Vanat, 2020). The number of skiers has been doubled from 10.3 million in 2015 to 23.45 million in 2019, and China now ranks among the top three countries in terms of the number of skiers, after the United States and Germany (Vanat, 2020). One of the most striking features of China's ski market is that as many as 80% of skiers are beginners, which has been recognized by many skiing destinations as one of the most promising target markets (Wu, 2019; Vanat, 2020). However, most current studies have regarded the research objects as homogeneous groups. As Matzler et al. (Matzler et al(2007) have shown that beginners have different expectations and choice criteria for ski resorts, it is therefore crucial for the operators of global skiing destinations to understand the experiences and preferences of beginner groups. A comprehensive review of experience research on winter tourism shows that most of them have been conducted in a western context (e.g., Matzler et al., 2019). Research is lacking on winter tourism in emerging markets, especially in China. At present, the research on ski destinations mostly focuses on destination choice, satisfaction and behavioral intention, preference and motivation of visitors (Alexandris et al., 2017; Hall et al., 2017). Most of these studies explore the influences of preset experience variables on skiers from top to bottom. However, research on the dimensional structures and connotations that affect the skiers’ experience seems to be absent. In particular, the large beginner groups in the emerging ski market have not received enough attention. Moreover, there is a large gap in the aspect of behavioral preference between western and Asian visitors (Huang, 2017; Khoo-Lattimore and Yang, 2020). The development stage and pace of China’s emerging ski market is completely different from that of western countries, and whether the research results based on western visitors can predict and explain the behavior characteristics of visitors in the emerging ski markets remain to be further examined, and may not be able to effectively guide the management and marketing of ski tourism destinations.
Hence, this study considers beginner skiers as the research perspective. The UGC (Online Generated Content) of beginner skiers from China’s main ski resorts was used to analyze the tourism experience from the perspectives of experience dimension and experience satisfaction. The experience factors and their connotations that affect the experience of beginner skiers are identified, then the sentiment analysis method based on custom rules and a sentiment lexicon was used to identify the experience satisfaction of beginner skiers. This paper not only enriches the research vision of winter tourism and fills the gap in the study of beginner skiers’ tourism experience, but also provides valuable managerial inspiration for destination managers interested in attracting more skiers from the emerging ski market.

2 Literature review

2.1 Tourism experience

For many years, scholars have put a lot of effort into the discussion and empirical study of tourism experiences (Na et al., 2019). A tourist destination is a place for tourists to experience and perform. As Ooi and Can-Seng (2004) put it: destinations are attractive because there are so many things to do when you travel there. Therefore, to succeed in the competitive market, we need to pay a great deal of attention to the experience feedback of tourists in the process of their tourism activities. The composition of tourism experience is multi-dimensional (Walls et al., 2011), making the research content and research method of tourism experience diversified (Han and Liu, 2019).
From the dimension construction of tourism experience, such studies can be divided into the dimension recognition of experience quality, experience value and destination image (Jin et al., 2015; Kim, 2018; Wu et al., 2018; Na et al., 2019). As Beerli and Martn (2004) argue, the image perceptions of tourist destinations are mainly composed of natural resources, cultural landscapes, tourist facilities and services, social environment, local atmosphere and emotions. Na et al. (2019) found that the tourism destination experience value is based on the functional value, the enjoyment value and the symbolic value through the online text analysis. Rojas and Camarero (2008) suggested that quality of experience includes quality of interaction, quality of the physical environment and quality of results. Wu et al. (2018) conducted empirical research on the relationship between satisfaction and behavioral intention, such as experience quality and experience value of cruise tourism, and divided experience quality into four dimensions: interactive quality, physical environment quality, outcome quality and traffic accessibility quality. Furthermore, Walls et al. (2011) summarized the theoretical framework of four factors that affect tourism experience based on the existing tourism research results, and the factors that affect the consumer experience were divided into four categories: Physical experience factors, Human interaction factors, Situational factors, and Individual characteristics.
From the measurement method of tourism experience, previous studies on tourism experience mostly use the methods of questionnaire survey or interview, and these structured or semi-structured data acquisition methods are inherently limited by the researchers’ knowledge level, leading to one-sidedness and subjectivity of the research conclusions (Li et al., 2018). The non-structural and fragmented big data of online reviews, as one of the most valuable forms of user-generated content, provides a high-quality data source for the in-depth study of tourists’ experience, perception and satisfaction (Li et al., 2018). To date, the massive resource of online tourist reviews in the tourism industry have not been fully utilized by researchers (Liu et al., 2019).
To sum up, the dimensions of tourism experience will be different in different environments or backgrounds, and for different groups of tourists, they will also show great differences (Uriely, 2005). At present, the tourism experience of the large group of beginner skiers in the emerging ski market has not been fully studied, and its dimensional connotation has not been mined accordingly. Therefore, this study is an examination through the lens of the Chinese ski market, identifying its experience dimension through the UGC of beginners, deconstructing the beginner experience from the two aspects of experience dimension and experience satisfaction, and then the behavioral characteristics of ski beginners are summarized, which provide the valuable theoretical basis for ski tourism destination managers.

2.2 Sentiment analysis

The sentiment characteristics based on tourism experience directly affect tourist satisfaction and behavioral preferences (Deng and Li, 2018; Jang and Moutinho, 2019; Liu et al., 2019). The purchase intention of potential visitors will be affected by online tourist reviews to a great extent as well (Guo et al., 2017; De Pelsmacker et al., 2018; Hou et al., 2019). A business can make product recommendations and consumption forecasts by analyzing the emotional tendencies of online reviews (Heikal et al., 2018), which carry great research value and commercial value.
Sentiment analysis (SA), also known as opinion mining, has grown to be a very active area in the natural language processing (NLP) field, and has received unprecedented attention (Heikal et al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2018). It is an information retrieval tool, which can classify text into subjective categories or measure emotional intensity (Chiu et al., 2015). Opinion-revealing words are used to express positive (such as wonderful, amazing, etc.) and negative (terrible, disgusting, etc.) sentiments (Deng et al., 2018). From predicting market trends based on the sentiment expressed in news and blogs to identifying customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction factors through customer reviews and social media (Shrestha and Nasoz, 2019), sentiment analysis has been successfully applied in various research contexts.
Sentiment analysis mainly includes sentiment analysis based on machine learning and sentiment analysis based on lexicon (Mowlaei et al., 2020). The former is an analytical method of supervised learning, which converts text into digital features and uses a classifier to classify them. However, it requires the manual annotation of massive amounts of data in a specific field in advance, which costs a lot of time, manpower and equipment, and cannot be applied to non-specific fields. In contrast, the latter is an analysis method of unsupervised learning, which matches the emotional words in the analysis text through the emotion lexicon and calculates the emotional tendency value of the text according to grammatical rules. Compared with machine learning, sentiment lexicons do not need data annotation and the cost is low, and they also can be easily extended to application in multiple research fields (Taboada et al., 2011). At present, sentiment analysis research based on the sentiment lexicons is mostly based on the public lexicon, while the lexicon in the field of ski tourism should be specifically related to the field of sports and tourism, which has its own professionalism and uniqueness. The general public lexicon contains few words related to the field of tourism (Cong and He, 2020), so it is difficult to accurately analyze the sentiment characteristics of ski visitors based on the public domain dictionary. Therefore, this research developed a ski tourism-specific sentiment lexicon based on the reviews of ski visitors, then the sentiment of the ski visitors was further interpreted by analyzing the sentiment polarity through the domain lexicon.

3 Research methods

3.1 Research area and data collection

To fully understand the tourism experience of beginner skiers in China, this study used the main ski areas in China as the research area. The online reviews of the main ski destinations in Xinjiang, Chongli, Jilin, Yabuli and the south of China were selected as the research object. Based on the comprehensive measurement of each platform’s popularity, number and flow of users, and reading visits, four well- known websites (,, and which contain OTA businesses were selected for data collection and research. The Python web crawler was used to collect a total of 14150 online reviews and travel data related to “ski tourism”. The data obtained were all distributed between November 2016 and March 2021. Firstly, the original review data obtained were sorted and classified, and the review data which were not related to the research topic and the duplicate reviews were eliminated. Some of the review data representing non-text content, such as emoticons, emojis, pictures, etc., were deleted and those few reviews that were in English were translated into Chinese. Secondly, to obtain the review data of beginner skiers, the reviews which included keywords such as “instructor”, “beginner”, “beginner skiers”, “novice”, “first time”, “no foundation”, or “skiing rookie” were selected through the computer word segmentation program and manual screening. In the end, a total of 7118 reviews with valid data from beginner skiers were obtained.

3.2 Content analysis

Content analysis is an observational research method used to systematically evaluate the real or symbolic content of all forms of recorded human communication (Krippendorff, 1980). In recent years, with the continuous development and broad application of network technology, more and more users are sharing their tourism experiences on online media, so the advantage of content analysis in the field of tourism research is becoming increasingly obvious. Research on the perception of different types of tourism is becoming more abundant (Peng and Huang, 2019).
To determine the perception factors and perception dimensions of beginner skiers, this paper used an inductive method based on skiers’ online reviews in China’s core ski area. We analyzed the text to extract the initial codes and further sorted out the most critical and frequent codes based on the initial codes, and then a theoretical coding system gradually formed that could cover all the initial codings (as presented in Table 1). Coding is the process of decomposing, comparing and reclassifying the comment text, which enables researchers to grasp the theme of an event through the complex phenomenon, so as to better interpret the essence of the phenomenon (Chen, 2009). This process used the Nvivo12 text analysis tool to encode the text content. To increase objectivity, the following coding work was carried out separately by three researchers in the field of tourism management.
Table 1 An example of the original and theoretical text coding
Text Original coding Theoretical coding
The service is good. It’s the first time for us to ski, and we play better than joining a tour group. You can take the train from Harbin east railway station at 7:00 and get to Yabuli South Railway Station at 10:00. When you arrive, there is a shuttle bus to the ski resort you want. After you rent and get the ski board, you can return it according to the specified time. Then you can take the bus back to the station and take the bus back to Harbin at 4:30 p.m. The first time to ski, the snow slope is not steep, suitable for beginners. but it took half the time to line up for the magic carpet(① Service Service
Train External traffic
Shuttle bus Internal traffic
Ski board Ski equipment
Magic carpet Ski equipment
Take time to queue Waiting time
Step 1: Researchers referred to the representative research literature to become familiar with the classification attributes and principles of the tourist experience.
Step 2: Researchers encoded the content of the online reviews related to the experience perception, i.e., the content about experience perception of the ski destination mentioned in the text, such as Snowboard rental, ski lifts, etc. Then the initial codes were further sorted out, mainly to merge some similar factors, such as high-speed rail, bus and car into a single factor of “traffic”; and to summarize the same factors, such as children, friends, and colleagues as “fellow travelers”.
Step 3: Continue coding until saturation. In the initial formation of the initial coding and theoretical coding, a large amount of data is continuously used to filter the code, so that the code and its categories can eventually cover almost all the information in the text, and no new theoretical coding appears.
Step 4: Researchers referred to the theoretical model of the tourist experience of Walls et al. (2011) and the components of attribute satisfaction in ski areas of Matzler et al. (2007), then made up for the missing of the codes and sorted out the theory coding, and the theoretical coding system was determined based on the research data of this paper.
Step 5: To avoid the value interference caused by the subjective consciousness of the researchers, another six professionals (including two professors in the field of tourism research, two directors of ski resorts, and two ski instructors) were interviewed, and their opinions about our code identification system were combined to form a final theoretical coding system.

3.3 Sentiment analysis based on the domain lexicon

To increase the accuracy of sentiment analysis, this study constructed a special sentiment lexicon in the ski tourism domain. Then the scoring rules were formulated to score the comments. The specific steps were as follows.
To ensure the comprehensiveness of the sentiment lexicon, this study chose as an example for crawling the web review data of the four major ski resorts in China, Xinjiang, Chongli, Yabuli, and Jilin through the Python web crawler. A total of 6302 reviews and travel notes were collected. Through manual reading, a sentiment lexicon of ski tourism was created. The lexicon contains 211 positive words such as “stimulating” and “unforgettable” and 138 negative words such as “bluff” and “deceptive”.
Based on the sentiment lexicon that was compiled, we chose the HowNet lexicon as the basic dictionary. The HowNet lexicon contains 91016 Chinese words, including six basic types of words: positive sentiment, negative sentiment, positive evaluation, negative evaluation, magnitude of degree, and viewpoints. Then we combined the basic dictionary with the constructed dictionary, then removed repetitive words, and a total of 3670 positive words and 3265 negative words were obtained.
The appearance of negative adverbs often reverses the emotional tendency of the reviews, such as “not” happy, so we sorted out the commonly used negative words. When the number of negative words in front of sentiment words is singular, the intensity of sentiment words was multiplied by “-1”, and when the number of negative words is even, the intensity of emotional words was multiplied by 1.
The degree adverbs will change the sentiment intensity of the sentiment words in the comment. For example, in the comment “the coach is very patient”, the degree adverb “very” increases the sentiment intensity of “patient”. A total of 219 Chinese degree-level words are included in the HowNet lexicon. In this study, they were divided into 5 grades, and the degree adverbs of these 5 grades were given the weight scores of “3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, and 0.75” (Table 2), then the data were read through Python and the sentiment analysis process was implemented as shown in Fig. 1.
Table 2 Filtering rules of semantic logic and weight
Types of adverbs Degree Number Weight Examples of adverbs
Extremely 69 3 “extremely”, “unparalleled”
Super 30 2.5 “too”, “more than”
Adverb Very 42 2 “greatly”, “very much”
Comparatively 37 1.5 “relatively”, “rather”
A little/slightly 29 0.75 “a little”
Negative adverb 76 -1 “not”, “never”
Fig. 1 Sentiment analysis process
The sentiment score was calculated based on the above rules. When the positive sentiment score exceeded the negative sentiment score in the total score, the comment will be judged as positive, otherwise it will be judged as negative. A scoring example is shown in Table 3.
Table 3 Example of sentiment score
Review Score Sentiment polarity
The scenery is like a fairy tale. People in the northeast are very kind, but it is too expensive to eat, and the tour guide is enthusiastic and careful. I hired a personal instructor for the first time skiing, and he was very patient. 1‒2.5×1+1+1+1.5×1=2 Positive

4 Results

4.1 Perception dimension analysis

Through the above coding process, we obtained 18 theoretical codes (Table 4), which are also used as the factors of the experience perception of beginner skiers in this study. Finally, according to the literature review of the tourism experience, these factors were condensed into five dimensions of function perception, price perception, reputation perception, risk perception and interaction perception.
Table 4 Code lists for assessing the experience perception of beginner skiers
Perceptual dimension Theoretical codes Free codes Frequency Percent (%)
Function perception
Landscape Pleasant scenery; good environment; the fairy tale world; amazing snow scenery 138 2.4
Transportation A bit far from the city center; take the high-speed train directly; convenient transportation; shuttle bus inside 150 2.6
Service Ticket booking procedures; procedures of equipment leasing; attitude of service personnel; waiting time 284 4.9
Food Unpalatable; dining; delicious; the northeast fried sauerkraut; fish stew; sticky bean paste; special snack 138 2.4
Activities Dog sledding; horse sledding; snow tubing; hot spring; snow paradise; watching pandas 168 2.9
Quality of slopes Good snow quality; long slopes; real snow; lack of snow 168 2.9
Ski facilities Ski facilities; magic carpets; ski lifts; snowboards; security protection facilities 156 2.7
Interaction perception
Instructors Instructors; humorous instructors; instructors are very serious; patient; tipping; the attitude of instructors is poor 606 10.5
Tour guides Tour guides are professional; the guide is honest; the guide is humorous 410 7.1
Fellow travelers Kid is happy; my husband is too clumsy; friends; colleagues 462 8.0
Price perception
Price of food Food is expensive; high-cost performance; economic material benefit 278 4.8
Price of skiing Ski price; package price; concessionary ticket 340 5.9
Price of equipment leasing Snowsuit price; snow goggles price; helmets price; gloves price; snowboards price 352 6.1
Price of instructor hiring The price of instructor is too high; mandatory tipping 386 6.7
Risk perception
Slope congestion Many people; worry about hitting people; fall 254 4.4
Fast ski speed Too fast, so painful, dangerous; too fast to control 248 4.3
Low temperature It’s too cold; the temperature is low; freezing 278 4.8
Reputation perception
Reputation National level; well-known; famous at home and abroad; 5s-level ski resort; influential ski place 958 16.6
(1) Function perception: This refers to the feelings that visitors get from the fundamental experience factors, such as destination tourism products and services. It is the essential value factor of the destination experience, according to the analysis of online reviews of beginner skiers. This paper summarizes landscape, transportation, service, waiting time, quality of ski slopes, and ski equipment as function perception. This dimension accounts for 20.7%, among which, service factor received the highest attention. Activities ranked second, and the content analysis found that the entertainment items mentioned by beginners included dog sledding, horse sledding, snow tubing, hot spring, snow paradise and watching pandas, which also reflects the importance of entertainment to beginners.
(2) Interaction perception: In the process of the tourism experience, interactive communication is a significant part of visitors’ experience perception. These interactions are manifested in the established dependence of the tourism purpose, the accidental embedding of the tourism process or the contractual transaction relationships with other stakeholders (Xie, 2015). This study found that for beginner skiers, the interaction with instructors, guides and fellow travelers like children, friends and partners is an essential part of perception in the process of the ski experience. In this study, the reviews of beginner skiers on instructors, guides and fellow travelers are summed up as interaction perception. The proportion of this dimension is 25.6%, with the interaction with the instructors accounting for 10.5%. One example is the comment: “the instructor is very patient and made a lot of skiing videos for us”. The second is the interaction with fellow travelers and tour guides, such as: “friends have a good time”, and “under the leadership of the tour guide, in the environment of ice and snow, everyone is happy like a child”. Clearly, for beginners, the interaction with “people” is an important part of their experience and perception process. The emotional expression of fellow travelers and the communication and interaction with fellow travelers and ski beginners affect the travel experience of the beginners to a great extent. Similarly, some studies have found that tourists can feel happy from the pleasant expressions and states of others (Chen et al., 2017).
(3) Price perception: This refers to the perceived effect of tourists on the difference between the actual price and the psychologically expected price of tourism products. In this study, reviews made by skiing beginners on skiing, ski equipment rental, coach employment costs and food are summarized as price perception. This dimension accounts for 23.5%. Among them, the price of instructors ranks the highest, followed by skiing price and food price. From this point of view, skiing beginners' perception of the price is also relatively strong, and beginners also describe the specific prices many times.
(4) Risk perception: The concept of risk perception was first introduced into market research by Bauer (1960) from the field of psychology. It refers to the individual’s understanding and psychological feeling of various external risks, and emphasizes the risk focusing on individual subjective perception. A visitor’s perception of risk is highly subjective, but it is also affected by individual differences. As skiing is a risky sport to some extent, it has some requirements for physical and psychological qualities. Thus, in this study it mainly refers to the risk perception of the body. The analysis of the reviews found that many beginner skiers are concerned about the low temperature, the fast skiing speed, and a large number of people on the ski slopes. This paper summarizes them all as the risk perception of beginner skiers, and it is the dimension with the smallest proportion, accounting for only 13.5%.
(5) Reputation perception: This refers to the stakeholders’ evaluation and description of the past behavior and future vision of the enterprise. It is also considered to be one of the most critical indicators measured by service providers, because it is considered to be more predictive of customer behavioral intentions than satisfaction or quality (Kaplan et al., 2015). In the context of the ski resort, reputation perception is the skier’s perception of destination impression, prestige and word of mouth. This paper summarizes them as the reputation perception of beginner skiers. The coding result of experience perception for beginner skiers is presented in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2 Experience dimension model for beginner skiers

4.2 Sentiment analysis

To fully understand the tourism experience of beginner skiers in China, this study takes the main ski areas in China as the research area. By sorting out the classification results, negative reviews accounted for 41% of the total reviews, and positive reviews accounted for 64.2% of the total reviews. To explore the changing trend of tourists’ emotional tendencies, the reviews were divided into seven ski seasons. According to the business hours of each winter in China’s ski resorts, we regarded the reviews from October to April of the following year as a ski season (as shown in Fig. 3). This analysis revealed a change in the sentiment tendency during the seven ski seasons, as positive reviews increased from 62.01% in 2014 to 63.79% in 2020 and negative reviews decreased from 16.48% in 2014 to 5.26% in 2020. Compared with positive reviews, the change in the percentage of negative reviews is large. However, comparing the overall trend, the best ski season in the past was the 2020/ 21 ski season as the positive reviews had increased. Negative reviews only accounted for 5.26% in that year, which shows that the skiing resorts have become better than in the previous years.
Fig. 3 Sentiment evolution from the 2014/2015 to 2020/2021 ski seasons
In order to explore the dissatisfaction factors, we extracted the negative words in negative reviews, and selected the top ten high-frequency words, which are listed in Table 5.
Table 5 Top negative words in negative reviews
Words Frequencies Words Frequencies
Expensive 336 Bluff 64
Cold 234 Dangerous 56
Deceptive 196 Pity 44
Chaotic 108 Disappointed 42
Force 102 Trick 36
Based on the frequency of the word “expensive”, we can see that visitors were dissatisfied with the price factor. Through the words “deceptive”, “trick”, and “bluff”, it can be inferred that there is deceptive behavior in the ski resort, or that the services provided by the ski resorts do not make visitors feel like they got good value for their money. One example is the comment: “It costs 240 yuan to hire the instructor, and the instructor would ask for a tip in the middle of the process, and it’s a whole hundred, which is too deceptive.” Through the word “cold”, we could find that visitors were concerned about the climate, and the climate made visitors feel uncomfortable. The word “compulsory” comes from the scenario in which the instructor forcibly asks for tips from skiers. This behavior cannot be accepted by visitors as there is no tip culture in China. The behavior of asking for tips from visitors will lead not only to visitors’ dissatisfaction with the price factors but also to visitors’ negative feelings towards the instructors, such as the comments: “The instructors attitude seems to be good, but everything he said was to pave the way for tipping, and theres a feeling of being forced”, and “the instructor forced to tip, and he was not satisfied with giving 100 yuan, which discredited such a famous ski resort.” The word “chaotic” refers to the service of the ski resort offered, as in the comment: “We queued to buy tickets, rent the shoes and rent the cabinets for two hours, and the scene was particularly chaotic!” Based on the above, we found that beginner skiers’ dissatisfaction mainly focuses on three aspects: price, low temperature and service.

4.3 Behavioral preference analysis

According to the analysis of the experience dimension and the experience satisfaction above, the behavioral preference of beginner skiers can be summarized by four main aspects.
(1) Priority on entertainment
For beginners, because of their lack of skiing experience, they can only practice on the beginner slopes at first. Meanwhile, their interaction with the instructor was mentioned most frequently, such as “The instructor was very patient and made a lot of skiing videos for us. The second is the interaction with fellow travelers and tour guides. For example, “My friends are having a good time” and “Everyone is happy like a child in the ice and snow under the leadership of the tour guide Tian Tian. Thus, for beginner skiers, the communication and interaction with “people” is an important part of their perception process, and the emotional expressions of fellow visitors and their interaction with themselves will affect their experience perception to a great extent. According to Chen et al. (2017), the visitors can feel happy from the pleasant expressions and states of others. Furthermore, the reviews of function perception rank third, and in previous studies, the functionality of the destination was generally considered to be the most basic and important perception value (Sweeney and Soutar, 2001). However, for beginner skiers, we observed that the function perception of ski resorts is not regarded as the most important experience circle. For beginners, skiing is treated as an entertainment activity rather than a leisure sport, and ski resorts are regarded as ski playgrounds rather than holiday destinations, which embrace the same arguments made by Vanat on Chinese skiers as well (Vanat, 2020). Thus, we believe that skiing is endowed with more entertainment attributes by beginner skiers.
(2) Focus on reputation
There is only one factor in the dimension of reputation. However, its proportion still represents 16.6%, as in the comments: “It is worthy of being the most famous ski resort in China” and “It has held international competitions such as the Asian Winter Games, it is an established ski destination. One possible reason is that, for beginners, it is difficult for them to distinguish the ski resorts based on the advantages and disadvantages due to their limited skiing experience. Therefore, beginner skiers are likely to automatically associate the conditions of the ski resort they experience with the reputation of the ski resort. In addition, reputation is likely to be an important factor in choosing a ski destination for them.
(3) Sensitive to price
The frequency of price perception is slightly less than that of interaction perception, and the price factor is also the topic of most negative reviews, which indicates that the price factor is also an important factor in beginner skier experience perception. It is also a very significant perceptual feature for beginners, such as the comments: “Instructor hiring is 240 yuan for 2 hours” and “booking tickets from the official website is 260 yuan”. Matzler et al. (2019) compared the influence of the price factor between the first-time visitors and the repeat visitors, and found that first-time visitors were more sensitive to the price factor. In this paper, almost all beginners are first-time visitors. Thus, their conclusions have been verified in this paper.
(4) Fearless towards risks
As we all know, skiing is a risky activity that requires some physical and mental qualities. However, the reviews indicated that the frequency of risk perception are the lowest, at only 13.5%. We can deduce that due to the lack of skiing experience, the beginners have little personal awareness of the dangers of the ski sport, which explains why the beginners’ injury rate is much higher than that of experienced skiers. This also could explain why many beginners in some ski resorts of China dare to ski on the intermediate slopes directly without systematic training. Karamustafa et al. (2013) believes that visitors’ risk perception towards the destination is closely related to the frequency of their visits. Due to the differences in familiarity with the destination’s psychological perception, there is a great difference between first-time visitors and repeat visitors. Many visitors wrote about this in their comments after the experience: “I suggest that when you feel that you cant control the speed, turn sideways and dont hit others.” Due to the lack of skiing experience, they are less aware of the potential risks of skiing, and with the increase of skiing frequency, the potential dangers of skiing will become clearer.

5 Discussion

Driven by the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the number of ski tourists and the market scale has expanded rapidly; and as a result, the proportion of beginners is still growing year by year. Figuring out how to seize the considerable beginner ski market is also the key to capturing the emerging ski market. Thus far, the beginner’s tourism experience has not been specifically studied, and its dimensional structure and connotation have not yet been resolved. Based on the online reviews of ski beginners in the main ski tourism areas in China, this study deconstructed the tourism experience of beginner skiers from five dimensions: risk, price, function, interaction and reputation perception. From the aspect of experiencing satisfaction, this study constructed the sentiment lexicon of ski tourism for the first time, then calculated the trend of satisfaction and mined the main focus factors of negative reviews, and finally comprehensively summarized the perceptual characteristics of beginner skiers.
With regard to previous contributions, first, previous studies have studied skiers as a homogeneous group. However, beginners are different from ordinary skiers. They have special expectations and destination selection criteria (Matzler et al., 2017). For the current situation of China, the study of beginner skiers is of great significance. As a result, this paper conducted a groundbreaking and in-depth study on the tourism experience of beginner skiers, which enriches the research vision of winter tourism. Second, this study found that in addition to the four kinds of experience factors obtained by Walls et al. (2011), the cost perception factor is also one of the critical experience dimensions for beginners. “Price”, “tip”, and “routine” are mentioned more often in the negative evaluations from tourists. Clearly, ski beginners are more sensitive to the price factors of destination tourism products, which is also a very significant experience feature of ski beginners. Therefore, this factor should be put forward separately and paid more attention. Third, it verified the important role of interpersonal interaction factors in the tourist experience based on big data, which makes a perfect supplement. For example, in terms of interpersonal interactions, especially with instructors, fellow travelers and tour guides, the impacts of interaction on the tourism experience and positive evaluation are verified. Studies using questionnaires have found that tourists can feel happy from the pleasant expressions and states of others (Chen et al., 2017). Fourth, the current research on lexicon-based sentiment analysis mainly uses the public sentiment lexicon (Cong and He, 2020), making it difficult to accurately analyze the emotional characteristics of visitors’ tourism experiences. This paper constructed a sentiment lexicon based specifically on ski tourism, which is practical for detecting Chinese visitors' emotional tendencies. Fifth, through the in-depth mining of beginner skiers’ UGC, this paper provides some theoretical references to make ski tourism destinations more comprehensive. It lays a foundation for the development of the tourism experience measurement scale of beginner skiers. Also, the analysis based on big data helps us to fully understand consumers’ perception characteristics. The methods and practices based on theory-driven and data-driven approaches can support each other and lead to a better understanding of the phenomena in tourism, achieving a new dimension of the theory.
According to the behavioral preference analysis of beginner skiers, four actions for ski destinations are suggested.
(1) For beginner skiers, the priority is to seek entertainment, and most of them travel together. The interaction with instructors, tour guides and fellow travelers is the critical factor affecting their skiing experience. It is easy to see that beginners regard the ski tourism destination as a destination for communication and reunion with fellow travelers, and the skiing experience itself as the carrier of their travel entertainment, rather than the decisive factor of positive evaluation. In other words, they pay more attention to the pleasant experience produced by interacting with "people". In addition to skiing, it matters for beginners and their fellow travelers to be able to participate in other recreational activities together. Therefore, it is essential to appropriately increase other recreational facilities, such as tubing parks and children’s playgrounds, so as to promote the high- quality interaction.
(2) The biggest challenge for the beginner market is the process of learning to ski. One-time skiers account for a very considerable proportion of the total number of skiers. For beginners, if the first skiing experience is unsatisfactory, the revisitation rate will be very low (Vanat, 2020). Therefore, only by developing a teaching system that is suitable for Chinese skiers can the ski destinations seize the market potential of beginner skiers. How can the destinations help beginner skiers to find the fun of learning to ski? Ski instructors play a crucial role in this process. It is suggested that the destination managers develop a training system suitable for Chinese skiers, improve the professional quality of instructors, establish an assessment mechanism for coaches, and improve the learning experience of beginners, in order to make them become skiing enthusiasts.
(3) Beginner skiers are more sensitive to price factors, and they do not have a strong ability to distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of the ski facilities, so it is not easy for them to have a specific attachment tendency in the short term. Therefore, destination managers should clearly state the prices of tourism products, reduce hidden consumption, and put an end to the behavior of asking for tips. In addition, they should offer some appropriate preferential policies for beginner skiers, and even free policies for some specific groups. These steps could not only attract more potential skiers, but also cultivate the attachment of beginner skiers to the ski areas, and increase the number of people participating in skiing through long-term market cultivation.
(4) For beginners, due to their lack of skiing experience, understanding the dangers of skiing is insufficient, so dangerous accidents readily occur without correct knowledge and guidance, and the ski resorts should provide more safety tips for beginner skiers. For example, they could set up more way-finding signs, offer some pro bono courses on skiing safety for beginners, provide instructions for safe enjoyment during skiing including improved training of staff, and strengthen the safety aspects of facilities including rescue protocols in the ski resorts.
Based on the realistic background of a large number of beginner skiers in the emerging ski market, this paper studies the tourism experience perception of beginner skiers in China. However, it also has some limitations. First of all, this paper mainly uses qualitative analysis to analyze the experience perception elements and dimensions of beginners, which inevitably leads to a certain degree of subjectivity. Second, the study only obtained beginners’ reviews with an obvious keyword set, but this approach does not rule out that beginners who do not use the specific words are also beginners. Therefore, to some extent, the data obtained cannot cover the reviews of all beginners. In future research, we will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods to further verify the dimensions and elements of skiing beginners' experience perception.

6 Conclusions

(1) The study reveals five ski experience dimensions affecting the beginners: the perceptions of interaction, price, reputation, risk and function; of which, interaction perception and price perception are the ones that attract the most attention from beginners.
(2) In the past seven ski seasons, the positive sentiment of beginners has shown no noticeable change, while the negative sentiment has exhibited a continuous downward trend, and the negative sentiment is mainly distributed in comments on price, low temperature and service.
(3) For beginners, skiing is the main purpose of tourism, but not the key factor of positive reviews. They pay more attention to the pleasure produced by interpersonal interaction, especially the interactions with instructors, fellow travelers and tour guides, and they are sensitive to price and fearless towards the potential risks of skiing.
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