The love triangle: Loyal relationships among providers, customers, and their friends

Duarte B. Morais, Deborah L. Kerstetter, Careen M. Yarnal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


With the increasing maturity of many sectors of the tourism industry, providers have enhanced their efforts to develop loyal relationships with selected customers - a strategy that theoretically results in higher profits and a more stable competitive advantage. There is mounting evidence, however, that most loyalty programs are ineffective in generating psychological attachment to the provider. Therefore, the primary purpose of this article was to document the factors associated with the formation of ongoing, stable, and intimate (i.e., loyal) relationships between individuals and a provider of a cruise package. Data from 20 in-depth interviews with purposefully selected cruisers suggested that loyal relationships between customers and a cruise provider depended on the treatment customers received from the provider, the opportunities customers had to help the provider, and the bond they had with a larger community of cruisers. Implications for the integration and extension of loyalty theory are discussed, and suggestions for the development of effective loyalty programs are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-386
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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