Storytelling and tourism experience: emotions around, and memories of "stories" and "non-stories" regarding Vincent Van Gogh

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


There is a great interest in storytelling for tourism experience development. An objective of storytelling is to engage people (Gabriel, 2000) by sparking emotions. Storytelling involves loading tourism experiences in a way that engages visitors’ emotions.Emotions are regarded as core building blocks of an experience (Bastiaansen, et al., 2019). It is assumed that an experience involving emotional engagement through storytelling should translate into a memorable experience. Zak (2015) asserts that emotions and identification lead to empathy, then to narrative transportation and better recall of the story. However, little is known about how storytelling in tourism experiences leads to emotions and memories. In this study, we compared the emotional impact and the memories of a (tourism) experience withoutstorytelling(mainly providing facts and information) to onewith storytelling(using specific storytelling techniques). The Van Gogh Heritage Foundation is currentlyredesigning three Van Gogh visitor centers located in the south of the Netherlands where Van Gogh spent most of his life. For two locations, we wrote a factual “non-story” version, and an emotional “story” version of certain events that took place in Vincent’s (early) years. We then created four 6-minutes videos, consisting of images, and a voiceover. Forty participants had their brain activity (EEG) and skin conductivity monitored while watching two of the four videos. Participants were asked to evaluate the videos immediately afterwards. One week after the experiment, 26 participants were interviewed about their memories of the videos. Results show that the “stories” led to a significantly higher level of narrative transportation than the “non-stories”. Furthermore, the “stories” lead to empathy for certain story’s characters, and to stronger and more vivid memories. The presentation will include theoretical and managerial implications. We will show how the outcomes have found their way into the redesign of the visitor centers.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2021
Event6th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism - Online
Duration: 14 Dec 202115 Dec 2021


Conference6th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism
Internet address


  • storytelling
  • Tourism experiences


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