Cultural organizations seek to attract and retain a broad range of audiences by offering them emotional, cognitive, and memorable experiences, able to satisfy their expectations and desires. To understand cultural organizations’ audiences, it is crucial to investigate why many people never visit, why other people visit occasionally, and why still others visit regularly cultural goods; specifically, the process whereby visitors (and potential visitors) take decisions on how to spend their leisure time. The aim of this paper is to investigate both the antecedents of visitors’ fruition experience and the latent dimensions of their satisfaction, so to understand how to design novel and engaging cultural offerings. A qualitative/quantitative study has been carried out to evaluate both the fruition process and satisfaction of a cultural goods, the Carlo V castle, located in Lecce, a baroque city in Southern Italy. In the exploratory phase a pilot open-ended questionnaire was directed to obtain the items able to evaluate the antecedents of the intention to visit the heritage, and the items able to evaluate visitors’ satisfaction of the entire fruition experience. As regards the intention to visit cultural goods, an extended version of the Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of planned behaviour (hereafter TPB) was used, according to which the Intention is a decision influenced by Attitude, Subjective norms, Perceived behavioural control, and Past behaviour. As regards the measurement of visitors’ satisfaction, the evaluation of consumers’ expectancies –expectations and desires– has been carried out in the entire fruition experience, which includes the following phases: i) need recognition; ii) information search; iii) evaluation of alternatives; iv) fruition decision; and v) post-fruition evaluation. This approach goes beyond the traditional evaluation of satisfaction, as the post-fruition evaluation of the experience, to consider not only the “objective quality” (“rational factors”) but also the emotional, motivational aspects of fruition – expectations and desires. Furthermore, the satisfaction paradigm has been re-examined by considering the entire fruition experience, which include also pre-fruition and post-fruition phases. Results of this study could favour the management and the policy makers, thus allowing their offerings of unique and distinctive activities and experiences, with the purpose of attracting new visitors, create a greater engagement, thus developing the identity and symbolic capital and strengthening the social capital of the local territory.
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