Effects of information characteristics in a social media context on travellers' perceived decision-making speed and confidence : an exploratory study from the perspective of human information processing

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Effects of information characteristics in a social media context on travellers' perceived decision-making speed and confidence : an exploratory study from the perspective of human information processing

 

Author: Ma, Caiwei
Title: Effects of information characteristics in a social media context on travellers' perceived decision-making speed and confidence : an exploratory study from the perspective of human information processing
Degree: DHTM
Year: 2015
Subject: Social media.
Tourism -- Data processing.
User-generated content -- Marketing.
Internet marketing.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: 173 pages
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2832913
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8395
Abstract: Social media is currently playing an important role as an information source for travellers. At the same time hotels and travel companies are redefining their business models and operational practices seeking opportunities provided by social media to reach their customers, enhance customer relationships and do long tail marketing Although the travel industry had been using other types of Web 2.0 applications such as blogs as mediums to promote their products and to build customer relationship in the last few years, information availability and accessibility has advanced considerably in terms of amount of information as well as speed and veracity due to the emergence of social media. Meanwhile the characteristics of information (i.e. adequacy,currency and veracity) in a social media context prompt several concerns. Some of these challenges are rooted in the open, collaborative, interactive nature of the social media environment and the views of UGC contributors. Some contradictory results are found in prior research regarding the adequacy and veracity features of social media information. The multitasking feature of travel planning requires a large amount of information. What's more, tourism products cannot be pretested. Thus, travellers face high risks and need sufficient and higher quality information to be confident to make quick travel decisions. The characteristics of social media information are believed to have an significant impact on travellers' decision-making speed and confidence.Most published papers focus on the impact of consumer generated media (CGM) and social media's role in product awareness and purchase decisions as well as the intention to utilize social media in travel planning. Little search has been done on the influence of social media information on the speed of tourists' travel decision-making or decision confidence. In many travel decision making situations, travellers are limited by the time they have to make decisions. The fierce competition in hospitality and tourism industry makes the industry players also desperately want travellers to be confident with their products and speed up their decision-making time and purchase the products.Searching for travel information is part of a dynamic process in which travellers use various types and amounts of information sources in vacation planning. Prior research indicates that information searchers select different search strategies during the information process to make decisions. The interplay of two distinct information processing systems are widely accepted in prior studies: a logical (systematic) system and an intuitive (heuristic) system. As all information is processed in human brains, understanding how the brain works on information is essential for us to interpret the actions. But few studies explain the relationship between information characteristics and decision making with strong theoretical underpinnings. As long as the characteristics of information in social media stimulate the choice and extent of heuristic or systematic information processing mode, mediation effects are expected in the relationship between the information and the traveller's speed and confidence in decision-making. However, the adoption of the HSM in analysing traveller's decision-making speed utilizing social media information remains a gap in the scholarship. Thus, this study investigated theeffects of travellers' perceptions of social media information characteristics on their speed and confidence in decision-making within the heuristic-systematic model context through quantitative research methods. Structural equation modelling was used to validate the proposed model based on data collected from the 372 valid samples. By incorporating the human information processing theory, the findings of the present study discovered information characteristics in social media environment do determine the choice and depth of human information processing modes adopted by travellers, which helps to explain the varied level of subsequent decision making speed and confidence. The findings also suggest some other factors including age and task importance are equally significant variables in moderating the choice of information processing modes and travellers' perceived decision speed and confidence The heuristic-systematic model successfully explains certain travellers' behaviour with information use under today's dynamic and popular social media platforms.

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