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Customer satisfaction study at two of the major glamping destinations in India namely Rann Utsav, Gujarat, and Eco Retreat, Odisha.

Dr. Jagat Mangaraj1, Smrutirekha2, Priti Ranjan Sahoo3


The research objective of this study was to analyze the contribution of destination attributes towards customer satisfaction from the perspective of tourists at two of the most popular glamping destinations in India. The study focuses on the perception of customer satisfaction among crossculture tourists and local tourists at two of the major glamping destinations in India namely Rann Utsav, Gujarat, and Eco Retreat, Odisha. The method of research includes the collection of data using a close-ended questionnaire and random convenience sampling. A total of respondents was involved in the study. Descriptive analysis of the interviewed questions has been done for the discussion and scope of further research. This study indicates the importance of destination attributes in the customer satisfaction curve which aids in development and growth from the service provider’s perspective.

Keywords: Destination attributes, Glamping, customer satisfaction


Six Sigma was developed in 1981, now has widespread application in many sectors of Industry. Whenever this Six Sigma concept was introduced to a new sector it attracted controversy, even when it was introduced to the hotels, it too had controversy regarding its applicability. Few hotels in India has applied the concept of Six Sigma successfully. As a member of the teaching fraternity in hospitality education I personally feel that six sigma can be applied to the IHMs in its customized format.

It should be reminded that the Six Sigma was designed to improve the manufacturing process while eliminating the defects. The hospitality educational organizations should not be understood as manufacturing units in commercial terms that produce man power for the relevant industry, but at the same time it should be understood that the products here are trained human beings who are readily available to undertake the operation in hospitality sector. The philosophy of six sigma stresses on the steps like-


1 Introduction

Glamping dates back in history to the 1100s when Mongolians used camps called ‘Yurts’ to live which are used even today among their tribes. Then in the 1900s, the wealthy and rich Europeans and Americans went to Africa for a taste of luxury in camping with all the furniture and furnishings inside the tent being the best in quality. This led to the evolution of adventure campsites and festival campsites which promoted the local culture of a place.
The world Glamping came into the picture in 2007 and continued to be on the rise. The United Kingdom and most of the European countries have been the pioneers of glamping in the modern era. Post-2010, glamping became very popular and began attracting guests due to its affordability and value for money.
Glamping has recently been under the limelight at Rann Utsav Gujarat, Jal Mahotsav Madhya Pradesh, The Narmada Tent City at The Statue of Unity in India, and Eco Retreat Konark, Odisha


Rann Utsav, Gujarat

Rann Utsav is one of the most eagerly-awaited tourism events of India, which celebrates the marvels of nature at the White Desert and the rich cultural and artistic heritage of Kutch. The concept of Rann Utsav was envisioned by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Rann of Kutch is the largest salt desert of India. While the White Rann, near the Great Rann of Kutch, was written off as a lifeless stretch of land, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) took the initiative of introducing ‘White Rann Experience’ in 2005 for the public. It began as a three-day festival progressively evolved into a 100-day celebration at Dhordo, a village near Rann of Kutch where a whole new tent city has been created, replete with temporary infrastructure built and rebuilt every year.
Since its inception, the Rann Utsav booking has multiplied exponentially, attracting over 5,00,000 visitors from 20+ countries.The Tent City at Rann Utsav has more than 350 tents spread across nine clusters and is a hub for entertainment amidst the salt desert. This arena lends a flavor of the Rann of Kutch in its culture, art, craft, cuisine, and geography to the visitors. The Tent City offers different kinds of stays namely The Darbari Suite, The Rajwadi Suite, The Premium Tents, Deluxe AC swiss cottages, and Non-AC Swiss cottages for the taste of every kind of visitor. A couple of adventure sports activities and sightseeing is also provided to the visitors during their stay. Travelers from all over the world have been attracted towards the Rann Utsav, Gujarat every year.
Rann Utsav offers activities like Camel Ride, adventure sports, Yoga and spa, cultural events like folk music and dance, and visit to nearby tourist destinations like the Great Rann of Kutch. The city of Bhuj is very beautiful and strategically located. It is having Aina Mahal, Hamirsar Lake, Vijay Vilas Palace, Rukmavati River, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Swaminarayan temple, Ram Kund stepwell, and Shyamji Krishna Verma memorial. Dholavira is one of the Harappa cities at the Khadir Bet Island. This Island is also known as Kotada Timba. Near Nalia is located the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, spread over a two sq km area. The Little Rann of Kutchchh has the Wild Ass Sanctuary. One can also see Desert Fox, Blue Bull, Blackbuck, Wolf, Jackal, and water birds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingos, sand grouse, francolins, and the Indian bustards. On the seashore in Kutchchh is the beautiful town Mandvi famous for beaches, camel and horse rides, windmills and film shooting locations. The temple of Vishnu adds to the beauty of Narayan Sarovar, one of the most five sacred lakes according to Hindu custom.


Eco Retreat, Odisha

Odisha – India’s best-kept secret, has been one of the most visited places for pilgrimage rather than a beach destination of India. But there are hidden beaches which are worthy of praise. Inspired by the Rann Utsav, Mr. Vishal K. Dev, IAS, and commissioner cum secretary, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation is the mastermind behind bringing this concept to Odisha. This initiative has been a catalyst for increasing the footfall of tourists post-Fani, the cyclone which devastated parts of the state leaving behind a life to struggle with.
Eco Retreat Konark started on the 14th of December, 2019 for 45 days. This is the first time that the Government of Odisha’s tourism department has put up such a kind of cultural and eco-friendly glamping arena. Its located on the beach area near Chandrabhaga beach Konark which makes it an ideal place for beachside glamping.
Though glamping is at a very nascent stage in India, still its presence is marked in Odisha by the Marine Drive-Eco Retreat, Konark. It’s a moment of pride for the state to host such a grand cultural festival for the world. This festival offers a basket of the culture of Odisha from the aspect of food, art, and hospitality. The famous Sun temple at Konark is a UNESCO world heritage site which is just around 5 km from the Eco Retreat and is a bouquet of culture worth experiencing.


The Marine Drive-Eco Retreat, Konark can be reached by road from Bhubaneswar within 2 to 2.5 hours. After reaching the Eco Retreat, the vibes of the festival and the beach tents which are worth a night’s stay.
The Eco Retreat offers 50 luxurious tents along the beachside with stunning views of the Sun, sand, and sea. The tents are of four types which are as follows:

  • • The Presidential Villa which offers 2 bedrooms, a dressing room, attached bathroom, a private dining area, AC, TV, Heater, and a minibar all spread across 1600 sqft area making it the most luxurious option among the tents. This is the costliest accommodation among all.
  • • The Royal Cottage which offers similar facilities like above but consists of a single bedroom and is of 900 sqft.
  • • The Premium Cottage comes with a front porch and has a double bed.
  • • The Deluxe Cottage is of the lowest category but has basic amenities with a twin bed system.

There are three types of packages to choose from namely 1 Night/2 Day, 2 Nights/3 Days and 3 Nights/4 Days which includes the accommodation cost, pick up and drop facilities from Bhubaneswar and back, all the 3 meals along with high tea, local tour as per the package availed and one free adventure sport ride for one person. The Eco Retreat offers spa services as well for the in-house guests but is exclusive of the packages offered.
Adventure sports like parasailing, jet ski, speed boat ride, banana boat rides are pretty good and can be availed even if one is not staying overnight. There are portable bathrooms for changing and water taps have been put up to wash off the sand post a sport. This aspect has attracted lot a of domestic tourists for a day tour thereby increasing the footfall of tourists. As per the management, the marine life isn’t affected due to the water sports as fishing activities are carried out in the deep sea.
To cater to the food aspect, beach shacks have been put up by renowned restaurants and hotels of Odisha namely Mayfair hotels, VITS, Mahodadhi, Lotus Resorts, and Wildgrass who are under the radar of good food and services. For the first time in Odisha, consumption of alcohol at the beach shacks has been facilitated. The shacks are offering alcoholic drinks at a subsidized price which is a major attraction for the local tourists. Good seafood is available in the shacks to have with the drink. Vegan options are also there but better to go for non-vegetarian food at the beach shacks. There is also a food court that offers numerous options for vegan people. Good quality Odiya dishes are available at the food joints and the seating arrangement is good. Tea, coffee, and non-alcoholic beverages are on the menu in the food court. The price being affordable is a key point.
Considering the environmental aspect, the way to Marine Drive, Konark is paved within the Balukhand wildlife sanctuary, and if one is lucky enough maybe a deer or a jackal can be spotted. It is home to many birds and deer but posts the cyclone, mostly they have migrated to other forest areas. So, this serves to be an advantage for the Eco Retreat as wildlife isn’t much affected by the setup. The marine life also isn’t much affected as the beach area is cleaned daily with a proper waste management system.
Coming down to the safety and security aspect of the arena, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has made sure to keep the set up secure by pitching in tourist police vans along the marine drive and also on site. This helped in maintaining the sanctity of the in-house guests' stay parallel to the safety of the day tour tourists. As there are rip currents everywhere on the beach so, lifeguards have been employed for immediate rescue in case of any mishap. The police are very friendly and willing to help people and guide them in case of any confusion. Parking is a major issue on weekends though it's available on the weekdays easily.
This glamping retreat of Odisha has to potential to attract a greater number of international tourists which would take it to a global platform.


2 Literature Review

One of the key pathways for destination marketing is knowing the customer’s needs and wants. Tourist satisfaction is derived from the comparison of the service expected and the service delivered as studied and researched by (Barsky, 1992).
A satisfied tourist has several advantages to be careful of like positive word of mouth, price elasticity, and destination loyalty (Fornell, 1992).
The glamping industry looks forward to customer satisfaction at the end as the perception of a tourist has a huge impact on the behavioral intention in the future (Yang, Gu, & Cen, 2011). Memorable tourism experiences conceptualize attributes for destination marketing and customer satisfaction (J. H. Kim, 2014).
Destination selection attributes among the tourists also contribute to customer satisfaction (Ismail, Puad Mat Som, Alia Fahada W Ab Rahman1, Roseliza Mat Alipiah, & Mat Alipiah, 2018). The destination attributes also aid in the competitiveness of tourist destinations which helps in determining tourist satisfaction (Crouch, 2011).
A structural relationship between destination image, tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty has been studied elaborately by (Chi & Qu, 2008) which sites the intricacies of the relationships and their importance. The travel experience to a particular destination positively affects the customer sastisfaction and intention to revisit (K. Kim, Hallab, & Kim, 2012). The destination attribute plays an important role in the perception of customer satisfaction (Schofield, 2000). Customer satisfaction is a prelimnary instrument for measurement of development and growth of the tourism industry (Hsu, 2003).


3 Methodology

The survey questionnaire consisted of twelve questions related to demographics and thirty questions based on hospitality infrastructure, ambiance, food quality, and food service at the Rann Utsav, Gujarat, and Eco Retreat, Odisha.
The main aim of the questionnaire was to obtain feedback and opinions on the areas namely customer satisfaction, service quality, image of the glamping arena, food quality and services. The survey was also open to suggestions or recommendations which would help in building a proper destination marketing strategy.
The survey was structured in Likert scale format with responses categorized in the following order; 1 – Strongly Agree, 2 – Agree, 3 – Neutral, 4 – Disagree, 5 – Strongly Disagree. The survey was conducted at both the Rann Utsav, Dhordo, Gujarat and Eco Retreat, Konark, Odisha. Age group, income and place from where the tourist had come were also recorded.
A descriptive analysis of the results of the survey was done to conclude on the importance of destination attributes contributing towards customer satisfaction.


Discussion & Conclusion

This section presents the findings of the survey conducted based on the questionnaire floated at the Rann Utsav, Dhordo, Gujarat and Eco Retreat, Konark, Odisha. From the descriptive analysis of the survey conducted through a structured questionnaire-based interview, the following data has been extracted which proves to be important contributors of destination attributes towards customer satisfaction in glamping facilities.

Glamping Destination Destination attributes Tourist Group
Rann Utsav Infrastructure, Accessibility, Outdoor Activities, Food & Beverage Quality, Food Service quality, Entertainment & Events, Nearby attractions, Safety & Security Locals and Cross-Cultural
Eco Retreat Ambiance, Hospitality Infrastructure, Accessibility, Environmental concerns, Food & Beverage Quality, Food Service, Entertainment, Safety, Price & Value Locals and Cross-Cultural

Fig. 1. Dimensions of customer satisfaction considered


Rann Utsav has been one of the pioneers in the field of glamping in India and it has set an example for the entire country to replicate. The Eco Retreat Konark, Odisha has been framed based on the model of Rann Utsav.
It was found that a large number of visitors were local tourists than from across states for both the glamping destinations. Rann Utsav and Eco Retreat, both have been a family destination meant for leisure activities and relaxation.
The information about Rann Utsav and Eco Retreat is mostly obtained through peer review followed by social media. But the tourism website needs more promotion to become a more preferable source of information.
Mostly the visitors are first-time visitors for Rann Utsav and Eco Retreat. Repeat customers are mostly not much in number which gives room for improvement of services to attract returning customers and also aid in the selection process.
Overall, the hospitality ambiance is up to mark for both the setups. Both the Tent city at Rann Utsav and the glamping facility at Eco Retreat, Konark, Odisha have a great hospitality infrastructure. Food quality and service for both the glamping facilities is commendable and is a major criterion for the selection of destinations for glamping tourism.
Hospitality infrastructure which is the most important attribute in sustainable tourism has been emphasized by all the tourist categories towards customer satisfaction at the destination for glamping. One of the major findings is that there is a growing demand in the glamping facility at Eco Retreat, Konark, Odisha as it is situated on the seashore and offers a bouquet of water sports and activities. Tourists visiting the Rann Utsav are mostly from the western part of India with the majority of the tourists belonging to Gujarat. A similar situation also is prevalent at Eco Retreat, Odisha with tourists from West Bengal contributing to a sizeable number.
The issue of waste management is a significant outcome derived from the research which affects the environment of the glamping destinations. Nature-based glamping tourism should consider the environment as a selection criterion for the destination marketing strategy.
This research indicated that over the years, these two glamping destinations in India have a success story in attracting tourists across cultures. However, their success story is limited to two traditional markets which include the Gujarati and the Odiya tourists due to the present scenario of the Covid-19 pandemic. Few strategic steps can be framed to cope up with the lacunas found in each of the establishments and to enhance the customer service and experience. The tiny steps taken would attract more tourist footprints and prove to be a greater profit earning facility.
The tourism sector is currently one of the hardest-hit by the outbreak of COVID-19, with impacts on both travel supply and demand. This represents an added downside risk in the context of a weaker world economy, geopolitical, social, and trade tensions, as well as uneven performance among major outbound travel markets.
In recent decades, tourism has come of age and is now firmly established as an important contributor to sustainable development, economic growth, employment, and international understanding.
The Rann Utsav is one of a kind in the glamping world and the management must have a mitigation strategy to cope up and get ready for the next Utsav to be held in 2022 as in this era of Covid-19, it’s all about survival of the fittest. The glamping industry in India must make note of the sustainability and reliability aspect of tourism to survive this unforeseen circumstance All the parties including the industry players, government agencies, and the local and cross-cultural tourists can actively participate in and contribute substantially to the destination marketing strategy of the glamping destinations across India in this difficult time to boost domestic tourism and income.



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