Tourists set on relaxing and socialising when they reach their holiday destination tend to do little advance research on the internet before making their trip, but are more likely to share travel information and photos on social media once they return home, according to a study to be published in the International Journal of Tourism Policy. By contrast, travellers motivated by food-, nature- and culture-related factors do lots of online research before and during their trip, but share little information with others on social media.
Jan Møller Jensen and Anne-Mette Hjalager of the University of Southern Denmark, carried out an online survey of more than 500 travellers in order to understand how social demographic, type of holiday and other factors influence who does pre-emptive research before travelling and who is most likely to share their findings or critique of their holiday.
The researchers point out that differences across socio-demographics confirm that the young, well-educated and affluent tend to be the first movers in taking advantage of the internet. Sharing photos and other travel related information on social media is prevalent among younger travellers and more popular among females than males. However, the analysis of their survey results allowed them to identify various motivational factors, all of which have managerial implications for the tourist industry, they say, especially as people become less commonly loyal to particular holiday destinations.
Social status and self-esteem seem to be big motivators among the survey respondents who share their thoughts and photos from a holiday, the team found. This is important in making online research valuable to others if self-promotion and social staging are driving the information available then word-of-mouth may not be as useful as one might think.
Nevertheless, the team found that online information searching before a trip is now beyond doubt. They suggest that given the behaviour of the younger segments, the era of printed travel brochures will soon come to an end. "There is a strong case for suggesting that electronic media tend to out-compete offline media both prior to the trip and at a destination," they say.
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"The role of demographics and travel motivation in travellers' use of the internet before, during, and after a trip" is published in Int. J. Tourism Policy, 2013, 5, 34-58