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In the travel and hospitality industries, categorization of products, brands, and experiences permit efficient comparison and evaluation that aids decision making—from consumer choice to organizational strategy. However, categories often involve self-categorization (e.g., marketer defined) that may not reflect the reality of dynamic markets and industries. In this study of the cruise industry, we derive a new categorization approach using consumer perceptions of their cruise experiences to challenge a long-standing industry typology. Results using a variety of statistical tests of J.D. Power data from more than 3,000 cruisers yield a new and more informative category structure and assignment of cruise lines to it. Analyses reveal differences between the new cruise categories in terms of determinants that influence customer choice. Discussion highlights benefits to travel practitioners of using dynamic and customer-based categories, as well as to researchers of applying advanced statistical techniques to expose unexpected and insightful patterns in secondary data.


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© SAGE. Final version published as: Li, Y., & Kwortnik, R. J. (2017). Categorizing cruise lines by passenger perceived experience. Journal of Travel Research, 56(7), 941-956. doi: 10.1177/0047287516674602
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.