Equipped with mobile technologies, travelers increasingly seek opportunities to encounter the real lives of the people residing in the focal destination. With this trend of pursuing local life experience, this study investigated how international visitors recognize the lives of people in the focal destination, and whether this recognition is related to satisfaction. Reviews for Teheran’s Grand Bazaar from an online review site, Tripadvisor, showed that visitors’ local encounters were linked with favorable emotions (good, interesting, and worthwhile). To lend support to the contact hypothesis, which posits that intercultural experiences can lead to more favorable evaluations of the host community; the visitors who recognized direct and indirect encounters with local life indicated higher satisfaction. Even if brief, the experience of local life appeared to create more intimate feelings for the focal destination. Interestingly, the number of past travel experiences, which was captured by the number of reviews written by the reviewer, was found to have a negative association with satisfaction. We draw further implications for the travelers as well as the local community.
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