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River Magic: Extraordinary Experience And The Extended Service Encounter

E. Arnould, L. Price
Published 1993 · Sociology

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This article explores the provision of extraordinary hedonic experiences on commercial, multiday river rafting trips in the Colorado River basin. White water river rafting provides a dramatic illustration of some of the complex features of delivering an extraordinary experience. Multiple methods were employed over two years of data collection to articulate the lived meaning of this experience from both the guides' and the consumers' perspectives. Robust quantitative measures were developed from rich qualitative data. Participant observation and interview data enriched the interpretation of quantitative results. Experiential themes of personal growth and self-renewal, “communitas,” and harmony with nature are evidenced across the data; they evolve and are woven together over the course of the trip. Together they are significant in explaining overall satisfaction. There is a complex relationship between client expectations and satisfaction. The narrative of the rafting experience rather than relationships between expectations and outcomes is shown to be central to its evaluation. Implications for other services and consumption activities are discussed.
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