The impact of social media on travel information search strategies

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

The impact of social media on travel information search strategies

 

Author: Yang, Xin
Title: The impact of social media on travel information search strategies
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2014
Subject: Tourism -- Social aspects.
Hospitality industry -- Social aspects.
Social media.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: vi, 70 pages ; 30 cm
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2819545
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8131
Abstract: Information search is an essential stage of pre-trip planning since it helps travelers to enhance their experience by reducing the prevalence of uncertainty and risk. With the prevalence of Internet, an increasing number of studies have been conducted to examine the changing portfolio of information sources (online and offline) and have identified the diminishing importance of 'traditional' information sources such as travel agents and brochures. Social media has developed into a participatory platform for people to share and search information, meanwhile it has evolved into critical and considerable platform in online tourism domain. The goal of this research is to highlights the impacts of social media on travel information search strategies. Specifically, this research explores social media's impact on the three components of travel information search strategies: 1) source- types of sources adopted and the reasons of their adoption, 2) degree- search effort (i.e., time and details involved in the search), and 3) spectrum- how the information search process has been conducted using the sources. This research is designed as a qualitative study. Qualified informants were obtained by snow-balling sampling strategy. 21 independent travelers who have used social media for their travel planning information search were interviewed. Transcribed transcripts were imported in Nvivo10 for coding and data analysis purpose. The interview results have shown that social media have exerted comprehensive and in-depth influence on the whole process of travelers' information search. Social media have been highly attached to travelers and have deeply penetrated into all three dimensions of travelers' information search strategies. The reliance and trustworthiness towards social media can be a reason why social media have become more and more dominant and influential in travelers' information search strategies. The conclusion of the findings explains the impacts of social media on each dimension in details. By investigating each information source closely, travel social networking sites appear to be the most prevalent among different types of social media outlets (e.g., micro-blogs, OTAs with reviews and ratings, mobile social applications and so on). Destination information search requires the highest degree of search effort compared with flight and accommodation information search. In addition, certain social media outlets appear to be deeply attached to travelers, so travelers' directly use such platforms either to browse travel products or to conduct directed search with the intention of making a purchase. The findings of the interviews also confirm that search engines are likely to direct travelers to social media outlets. This research contributes theoretical and industrial implications and suggests directions for future study in hospitality and tourism industry.

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