Principal Investigator: Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis
Researcher: Kristin Scheibel
In recent years, the rise of the ‘information superhighway’ internet has significantly reshaped the tourism industry, bringing about fundamental changes in the way tourism-related information is distributed and the way people plan for and consume travel.
Globally, people are engaging with friends and family through social networking sites regularly discussing and sharing tourism-related information and thereby influencing the way people plan their holidays. Even though opinions and recommendations of relatives and friends still remain the most trusted source of advice when it comes to travel choice, social media websites have facilitated the emergence of an additional significant set of influencers enabling consumers to make informed decisions based on personally relevant data.
The number of user-generated reviews on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, has doubled within only two years and is indicative for travellers’ need for specific and relevant information when they go through the decision-making process. Although it seems without controversy that social travel sites are becoming increasingly important in the online tourism domain as well as in consumer behaviour, research on their specific role at the different stages of travellers’ decision-making process is still lagging behind.
Thus, the dissertation aims firstly to describe and explain the travellers’ use of travel review websites exemplified on TripAdvisor and its most prominent features, and secondly to analyse the influence of such features on the varied stages of the travel planning process.