Professor Sara Dolnicar

Professor

School of Business
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law
s.dolnicar@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 56702
0437216185

Overview

Sara Dolnicar was born in Ljubljana (Slovenia), grew up in Vienna (Austria) and now lives and works in Brisbane (Australia). She holds a Masters and PhD degree from the Vienna University of Economics and Business and a Masters degree in Psychology at the University of Vienna.

Sara’s core research interests are the improvement of market segmentation methodology and the testing and refinement of measures used in social science research. Because her key research interests are not tied to any particular application area, Sara was in the position to study a range of different applied research areas, including sustainable tourism and tourism marketing, environmental volunteering, foster care and public acceptance of water alternatives and water conservation measures.

To date, Sara has (co-)authored more than 300 refereed papers, including more than 160 journal articles and led more than a dozen Australian Research Council (ARC) grants. In 2011 she took up a prestigious ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship. She won more than 30 awards, including two prestigious lifetime achievement awards: The US-based Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) Distinguished Researcher Award (2017) for ground-breaking research that positively impacts the tourism industry, and outstanding service to the tourism research community. In the Association’s 48-year history this award has been given to only four people; and the Slovenian Ambassador of Science (2016). This is the highest honour the Republic of Slovenia bestows on expatriate Slovenian researchers in recognition of global excellence, impact, and knowledge transfer.

Sara is the wife of a chemistry academic (who hates nothing more than anyone standing between him and his molecules) and the mother of ten old Miles (who loves to dance) and eight year old Dana (who loves jiu-jitsu).

Research Interests

  • Improving market segmentation methodology
  • Making tourists behave in a more environmentally friendly way
  • Improving measurement in the social sciences
  • Peer-to-peer accommodation networks
  • Developing better tools for tourism marketing
  • Improving brand image measures
  • Increasing public knowledge about and acceptance of water alternatives
  • Attracting good foster carers

Research Impacts

SEGMENTATION RESEARCH

In the area of market segmentation research, Dolnicar has uncovered flaws in segmentation studies, both at the methodological and conceptual level (Dolnicar, 2002; 2003; 2005; 2007), recently proving that factor analysing items before constructing segments (the predominant method in tourism research) leads to inferior results compared to using the raw data directly (Dolnicar & Grün, 2008).

Dolnicar has also contributed significantly to segmentation methodology. Since her PhD in 1997, which compared nueral networks with traditional algorithms, she has been exploring the usefulness of novel algorithms for market segmentation. Later she adapted bagged clustering — an ensemble method leading to increased stability of solutions — for segmentation purposes (Dolnicar & Leisch, 2000; 2003). Most recently she introduced bi-clustering to solve the item selection problem while grouping individuals (Dolnicar, Kaiser, Lazarevski & Leisch, 2013). A comparative study of indices for determining the number of clusters in binary survey data led to a Psychometrika publication in 2002 (Dimitriadou, Dolnicar & Weingessel, 2002) which is cited by researchers from not only marketing, but also psychology, geophysics and engineering. Dolnicar was part of the research team that invented perceptions-based market segmentation, a nonparametric simultaneous analysis of segmentation, positioning and competition which prevents sequence errors from occurring when both positioning and segmentation decisions are made (Dolnicar, Grabler & Mazanec, 1999; Buchta, Mazanec & Strasser, 2000; Buchta, Dolnicar & Reutterer, 2000). As such, she has made a significant contribution to the improvement of segmentation in the broader context of marketing strategy.

MEASUREMENT

In the the area of measurement in the social sciences, Sara has conducted numerous empirical studies investigating the VALIDITY OF ORDINAL ANSWER FORMATS, raising serious validity concerns about the most popular answer format used by marketers: the ordinal multi-category scale such as the Likert scale (Dolnicar, 2003; Dolnicar, Grün & Leisch, 2004; Dolnicar & Grün, 2007). She also investigated the problem of data contamination by cross-cultural RESPONSE STYLES, and developed an ensemble-based method to assess the robustness of results from potentially contaminated data (Dolnicar & Grün, 2007a; Dolnicar & Grün, 2007b). During her research on the validity of marketing measures as well as ensemble methods for the assessment of response bias in survey data, the question of OPTIMALITY OF ANSWER FORMATS arose. Currently Dolnicar is conducting a large-scale investigation supported by two ARC Discovery grants: one specifically investigating optimal brand image measures (Dolnicar & Rossiter, 2008; Dolnicar & Grün, 2007), the other investigating general answer format optimality. Results indicate that the level-free full binary answer format outperforms more commonly used multi-category answer formats in the context of brand image measurement.

APPLIED RESEARCH

Sara has worked with many industry partners since commencing her academic career in Austria. For example, she assisted the Austrian Business Chamber (Hotel Section) in developing a research-based national hotel starring system for Austria. She advised the Austrian Ministry of Tourism on strategic matters and undertook research for the Austrian National Tourism Organization. In Australia, she has for many years worked with a consortium of not for profit organisations responsible for the placement of foster children. Currently she is working with a group of online market research companies in developing and testing improved survey measures specifically designed for the online environment.

Qualifications

  • Master of Business Administration, Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien
  • Master of Natural Science (Psychology), University of Vienna
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • (2015) Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Airbnb and its competitors. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 63-76) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3604

  • Hrobath, Bernhard Andreas, Leisch, Friedrich and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Drivers of price in city destinations: Vienna. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 137-147) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3610

  • Sigala, Marianna and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Entrepreneurship opportunities. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 77-86) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3605

  • Juvan, Emil, Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Environmental sustainability. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 267-278) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-36122

  • Fairley, Sheranne and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Facilitating events. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 109-119) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3608

  • Cvelbar, Ljubica Knezevic and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Filling infrastructure gaps. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 98-108) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3607

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Helping when disaster hits. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 237-245) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3619

  • Reinhold, Stephan and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). How Airbnb Captures and Disseminates Value. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-Peer Accommodation Networks (pp. 54-62) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3603

  • Reinhold, Stephan and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). How Airbnb creates value. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 39-53) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3602

  • Gardiner, Sarah and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Networks Becoming One-stop Travel Shops. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 87-97) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3606

  • Xiang, Yixiao and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Networks in China. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 148-159) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3611

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Political activism. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 257-266) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-36121

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Regulatory reactions around the world. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 120-136) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3609

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). The multi-family travel market. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 206-215) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3616

  • Reinhold, Stephan and Dolnicar, Sara (2018). The sharing economy. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 15-26) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3600

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2018). Unique features of peer-to-peer accommodation networks. In Sara Dolnicar (Ed.), Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 1-14) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3599

  • Reinhold, Stephan and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Airbnb's business model. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 27-38) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3601

  • Goodfellow, Denise Lawungkurr, Hardy, Anne and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Communication-regulated social systems. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 226-236) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3618

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Do hosts discriminate?. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 216-225) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3617

  • Randle, Melanie and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Guests with disabilities. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 246-256) Oxford, United Kingdom: Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-36120

  • Randle, Melanie and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Increasing civic engagement through market segmentation. In Timo Dietrich, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele and Krzysztof Kubacki (Ed.), Segmentation in social marketing: process, methods and application (pp. 129-142) Singapore, Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-1835-0_9

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Grün, Bettina (2017). Methods in segmentation. In Timo Dietrich, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele and Krzysztof Kubacki (Ed.), Segmentation in social marketing: process, methods and application (pp. 93-107) Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-1835-0_7

  • Hardy, Anne and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Networks and hosts – a love-hate relationship. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 182-193) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3614

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Socialising new guests. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 194-205) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3615

  • Forgacs, Gabor and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). The impact on employment. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 160-169) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3612

  • Hardy, Anne and Dolnicar, Sara (2017). Types of network members. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks (pp. 170-181) Oxford, United Kingdom : Goodfellow Publishers. doi:10.23912/9781911396512-3613

  • Hajibaba, Homa and Dolnicar, Sara (2016). Drivers of trip cancellations among Australian travellers. In M. Kozak and N. Kozak (Ed.), Tourist Behaviour - An International Perspective (pp. 97-105) Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: CABI.

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2015). Environmentally sustainable tourists?. In C. Michael Hall, Stefan Gossling and Daniel Scott (Ed.), Routledge handbook of tourism and sustainability (pp. 140-150) Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Grabler, Klaus (2014). Applying city perception analysis (cpa) for destination positioning decisions. In Management Science Applications in Tourism and Hospitality (pp. 99-111) New York, NY United States: Taylor and Francis. doi:10.4324/9781315782478

  • Sara Dolnicar (2014). Market segmentation approaches in tourism. In Scott McCabe (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Marketing (pp. 197-208) Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2014). Public perceptions of recycled water and why they matter a lot!. In Celine Herve-Bazin (Ed.), Water communication: analysis of strategies and campaigns from the water sector (pp. 148-150) London, United Kingdom: IWA Publishing.

  • Dolnicar, Sara, Yanamandram, Venkata and Juvan, Emil (2013). Ecotourists: who are they and what should we really call them?. In Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer (Ed.), International handbook on ecotourism (pp. 95-107) Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar.

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2013). Tourism market segmentation: a step by step guide. In Clement A. Tisdell (Ed.), Handbook of tourism economics: analysis, new applications and case studies (pp. 87-104) Singapore, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing. doi:10.1142/7956

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2012). Market segmentation in tourism. In Rodoula H. Tsiotsou and Ronald Earl Goldsmith (Ed.), Strategic Marketing in Tourism Services (pp. 17-34) Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

  • Dolnicar, Sara, Lazarevski, Katie and Yanamandram, Venkat (2012). Quality of life and travel motivations: integrating the two concepts in the Grevillea Model. In Muzaffer Uysal, Richard R. Perdue and M. Joseph Sirgy (Ed.), Handbook of Tourism and Quality-of-Life Research: Enhancing the Lives of Tourists and Residents of Host Communities (pp. 293-308) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2288-0

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Hurlimann, Anna (2010). Desalinated versus recycled water: what does the public think?. In Isabel Escobar and Andrea Schäfer (Ed.), Sustainable Water for the Future: Water Recycling Versus Desalination (pp. 375-388) Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/S1871-2711(09)00213-X

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Huybers, Twan (2010). Different tourists – different perceptions of different cities: consequences for destination image measurement and strategic destination marketing. In Josef A. Mazanec and Karl W. Wöber (Ed.), Analysing international city tourism (pp. 127-146) Vienna, Austria: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-211-09416-7_8

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Kemp, Byron (2009). Tourism segmentation by consumer-based variables. In Metin Kozak and Alain Decrop (Ed.), Handbook of Tourist Behavior: Theory & Practice (pp. 177-194) New York, NY, United States: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203881804

  • Dolnicar, Sara, Grün, Bettina and Le, Huong (2008). Cross-cultural comparisons of tourist satisfaction: Assessing analytical robustness. In Tourist Satisfaction and Complaining Behavior (pp. 137-150) New York, United States: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Dolnicar, Sara and Le, Huong (2008). Segmenting tourists based on satisfaction and satisfaction patterns. In Tourist Satisfaction and Complaining Behavior (pp. 187-204) New York, United States: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Dolnicar, S. (2007). Market segmentation in tourism. In Woodside, Arch G. and Martin, Drew (Ed.), Tourism Management: Analysis, Behaviour and Strategy (pp. 129-150) Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CAB International.

  • Dolnicar, Sara (2006). Crises that scare tourists: Investigating tourists travel-related concerns. In Crisis Management in Tourism (pp. 98-109) : CABI Publishing.

  • Dolnicar, S. and Leisch, F. (2004). Delivering the right tourist service to the right people–a comparison of segmentation approaches. In Eric Laws and Maree Thyne (Ed.), Hospitality, tourism, and lifestyle concepts: implications for quality management and customer satisfaction (pp. 189-207) New York, NY, United States: Routledge.

  • Dolnicar, S (2004). Improved understanding of tourists’ needs: cross-classification for validation of data-driven segments. In Eric Laws and Maree Thyne (Ed.), Hospitality, Tourism, and Lifestyle Concepts: Implications for Quality Management and Customer Satisfaction (pp. 141-156) New York, NY, United States: Routledge.

  • Dolnicar, S. (2004). Profiling the one- and two-star hotel guests for targeted segmentation action: a descriptive investigation of risk perceptions, expectations, disappointments and information processing tendencies. In Crouch, G. I., Perdue, R. R., Timmermans, H. J. P. and Uysal, M. (Ed.), Consumer psychology of tourism, hospitality and leisure (pp. 11-19) Wallingford United Kingdom: CABI Publishing. doi:10.1079/9780851997490.0011

  • Dolnicar, S. (2004). Towards more thorough data-driven segmentation in tourism: a tracking framework for exploring segment development. In Crouch, G. I., Perdue, R. R., Timmermans, H. J. P. and Uysal, M. (Ed.), Consumer psychology of tourism, hospitality and leisure (pp. 245-252) Wallingford United Kingdom: CABI Publishing. doi:10.1079/9780851997490.0245

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision