Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


William F. Harrah College of Hospitality

First Committee Member

James Busser

Second Committee Member

Billy Bai

Third Committee Member

Hyelin Kim

Fourth Committee Member

Nadia Pomirleanu


Over the last two decades, there has been growing academic rhetoric regarding the concept of transformation. Furthermore, the discussion of transformative experiences extends to the tourism industry and literature, reflecting the changing tourists' profiles and demands that challenge Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) to deliver tourist experiences that incorporate self-reflection and personal transformation. Transformative tourism experiences (TTE) (Soulard et al., 2021) refer to extraordinary encounters and episodes that prompt high emotional reactions that bring an opportunity to explore the self and significant inner personal changes. Despite the emerging academic and practical attention on TTE, research empirically testing the antecedents and outcomes of TTE is missing. To address this research gap, the primary purpose of this study is to understand the role of openness to experience on TTE and the relational outcomes of storytelling, resilience, and thriving based on the transformative learning theory (TLT) (Mezirow, 1991). Furthermore, the study investigates the differences among three generational cohorts (Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials) on the process and outcomes of TTE.PLS-SEM model results (N=428) showed a significant impact of openness to experience on three out of four dimensions of TTE: local residents and culture, self-assurance, and joy. TTE showed a partial significant impact on storytelling, resilience, and thriving. The impact of storytelling and resilience on thriving was significant. The results also confirmed the partial mediating role of storytelling in the relationship between TTE and thriving. The PLS-MGA results illuminated that Millennials with higher openness to experience were more likely to achieve self-assurance than Generation Xers. Moreover, for Millennials, the feeling of self-assurance triggered an enhanced feeling of resilience, while for Generation Xers, the feeling of self-assurance did not impact resilience. In addition, Generation Xers were more likely to share stories about local residents and cultural experiences from their trip than Baby Boomers. The theoretical relevance of TLT in the tourism context is extended by empirically testing the causal relationship postulated by the theory. The study contributes to illuminating the role of openness to experience personality trait on TTE and deepens the understanding of TTE by revealing significance generational differences. This study provides important managerial implications for destination management organizations (DMOs) and marketers to consider critical factors impacting TTE, such as openness to experience, personality trait, and generational differences, to craft a marketing communication message that effectively appeals to target tourist segments. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Controlled Subject



Business Administration, Management, and Operations

File Size

1580 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit

Available for download on Monday, December 15, 2025