Project Report on Scope and Effectiveness of Social Media in Tourism Marketing

Submitted By :

Rohit Ahuja 2010/MBA/45

Under the Guidance of :
Dr. Archana Singh Associate Professor

Delhi Technological University
Bawana Road Delhi 110042 Year- 2012


This is to certify that Mr. Rohit Ahuja , a student of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program from Delhi School of Management, Delhi Technological University; has worked under my guidance and supervision. This Dissertation Report has the requisite standard and to the best of my knowledge no part of it has been reproduced from any other project, monograph, article, report or book without giving proper credits and references.

Rohit Ahuja 2010/MBA/45 Batch 2010-12 Delhi School of Management Delhi Technological University

Dr. Archana Singh Course Coordinator Master of Business Administration (MBA) Delhi School of Management Delhi Technological University



I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my guide Dr. Archana Singh, Delhi School of Management, for her unvarying guidance, valuable support and direction throughout the duration of the project work. The constant and regular encouragement and motivation at various stages of the project enabled me to accomplish the work to the satisfactory level. I also extend my appreciation towards the institute, Delhi School of Management, DTU, which provided me with an extremely valuable platform in order to carry out research work of this nature and equipped me with various requisite resources.

Rohit Ahuja Roll No. 10/MBA/45 MBA 2010-12


it was assumed that younger Indians would use social media differently. by examining travellers’ social media usage and how it can be leveraged for travel purposes. age plays a role in the way of social media considered to be important and used. The results indicated. it is mainly used in the information search phase. however. The study examined the usage of social media in a specific context. while analyzing possible variables that influence its usage. the eWOM presented on social media and internet sites is gaining importance and has become the focus of these discussions. in consistence with previous studies. However. Moreover. with the aim to suggest creative and new ways for destination marketers or DMOs to exploit the lucrative features of social media in their promotional activities and marketing campaigns.Executive Summary Travel research and studies have consistently shown the high influence and role of word-ofmouth (WOM) in travellers’ decision-making process. In recent studies its electronic version. 4 . thus requiring a different approach from travel marketers when applying social media in their promotion. where the personal recommendations and the audio-visual features like travel related photos and videos were favoured. regarding Young Indians’ social media usage and presence. Though it was pre-assumed. the results showed no correlation between age. The study represents a new perspective on comprehensive studies of social media usage in tourism context and hopefully contributes to a greater understanding of the possibilities of using social media in tourism destination promotion. and the extent of social media usage in travel and holiday planning. This study took one step further. A quantitative (n=62) survey was conducted in order to obtain a thorough picture of the social media usage. Indians’ social media usage was identified through a five steps travel planning framework. that social media is considered as a really important information source during travel planning due to it particular qualities such as informativity and credibility. The main influencing factor was found to be the purpose of the trip.

.............4 Growth Drivers of the Tourism market ..........1 One of the most influential Information Source: WOM ...............................7...................................................... 19 3.......3 Segments of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry . Data Analysis and Findings ...7..........................7 Social Media in Tourism .......................................................................................................................................................6 A shift from WOM to eWOM .................................................................6 Possibilities of social media .................................................... 16 3..........................................................................................................................7............ 24 3.................................................. 29 3......2 Electronic WOM .........................................................2 Social Media features. 27 3....... 34 4.........Contents 1........................... 10 2.....................................................1 What is a Social Network? .................. Introduction ..............................................................7............................................................................................................... 33 3............................................................................................................................................................................................. 37 5..... 40 5 ................... 37 4....................2 Evolution of Indian Tourism Industry.................... 25 3.. 12 2............................................................... 38 5.. 23 3............................................4 Why People use Social Media .................................................................. 13 3...................2 Factors Influencing the Tourist Information search .3 Demographic characteristics in travel behaviour .................. 28 3...................1 Advantage India ................................................................................................................................... 15 3..7................. 11 2..........................................................7................................................... 11 2................6...........................4 Tourists’ travel planning behaviour .................................. 22 3..................................... 14 3.................................................................1 Profile of the Respondents ...............................................................................2 Tourism Behaviour ...................................................................................................................................................5......................................................5 Opportunities .......................................................................................................................... 31 3........ 35 4............................................................. 35 4...............................................................................................................................................2 Research Questions Instrumentation ................5..................4 Limitations....................................................................................................................................... 25 3.......... Literature Review ................................2 Role of Social Media in the Travel Planning Process ..... 7 2.......................................................................................................... reliability and generalization ............................5 Tourist Information Search .... 10 2... 14 3.......................... 36 4.........................................1 Modelling Information Search .................................5 Challenges of social media ................................................................ Indian Tourism and Hospitality Industry ....................... 30 3...............................1 Quantitative Empirical Data and Sampling .............3 Usage of Social Media .....................................................3 Variability................................................................................. Research Methodology .........1 Base Papers Review .......................................................................6... 33 3... 38 5...................

.................................... Survey Questionnaire ....................................................... 57 B................................................................................................................. 57 A............................................................................................................................................................. 56 Appendix ................................................. SPSS Tables.................... 60 6 ........................................................ 52 Bibliography .................................. Conclusion and Recommendations................................................6.............................................................

1. Social media’s success can be attributable to enabling interactive communication compared to traditional communication methods which provide a unidirectional communication form. The appearance and the increasing popularity of the social media will have consequences for tourism professionals as well in several aspects. Introduction Marketing of travel services and promoting a destination is not an easy task. such as the evolution of the Internet and the change of consumer behaviour as its consequence. review and to respond to an online content. Several factors facilitated that the social media applications became enormously popular among many consumers. such as TripAdvisor. Travel and hospitality marketers have to face with the challenge of creating concise and clear messages that capture the essence of the destination and differentiate the destination from the several similar ones. the increase of internet penetration in many countries and the technological evolution of the internet and its applications had also fuelled the process of how the social media gathered ground. as it enables them to submit. In recent years new communication methods. Moreover. For the consumers of today the internet has become a very important source for information search and an essential tool to keep in touch with others. 7 . It has been argued among marketers that a different approach is required while promoting a destination for the different segments of a heterogeneous market not only regarding the content of the message but also the communication channels as well. The appearance of peer review applications. VirtualTourist or Social Networking sites as Twitter or Facebook change the way how the consumers can engage with the information presented via the Internet. travel marketing is certainly challenging and difficult. where the information is generated by the marketer. Different communication and delivery channels like print media or Web 2.0 have started to gather ground and achieve great success in two way communication with the consumer. through e-mails or using messengers.0 can be explored in travel marketing so as to reach to different segments of the market. Because of the multi-attributed nature of the destination or travel product on the one hand and a nonhomogeneous demand of travellers on the other hand. known Social Media Platforms or Web 2.

therefore. therefore. Moreover. Academic research regarding the subject concerns so far the young traveller’s behaviour in tourism context or the social media usage among consumers. therefore. how young travellers use social media remains under researched. provoke desire to visit and even induce action to plan the trip to the destination. how its advantages could be used in their destination marketing promotion is sparse. as these sites can raise attention towards the there is not much academic research conducted on the strategic usage of social media yet. due to the content generated by the consumers themselves and not by a business oriented company. This social media marketing effort led to an enormous increase in the tourist footfall in Queensland Australia. Due to these advantages. Moreover. the correlation between these two areas of concern. ex cept some notable studies. the Island Caretaker would discover.0 applications or the social media have the potential to positively enhance the destination marketing activities of a certain region. discussions concerning the potentials or possibilities of the social media usage for destination marketers. Twitter or Facebook. uploading pictures and posting video diaries on the website of www. as the majority of these sites are not economically biased in their reviews. however. the sites would be perceived as more credible and reliable.From the tourism marketers’ point of view the Web 2. would help to promote the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef to the world through social media. Flickr. We know little about how young people use the different types of social media or how the social media can influence them in their travel planning or travel decision making. 8 . despite of the social media’s actuality and clear importance. They have posted an enticing job offer. people use social media in different way which can challenge the tourism destination marketers but also gives an interesting potential for them when designing their promotional activities. The blog also enables to follow the experiences of the Island Caretaker on other social media applications such as YouTube. For this job more than 34000 people applied and more than 8. A recent successful example of the social media usage in tourism destination marketing is the promotional campaign of Tourism Queensland. The promotional tasks were blogging of his adventures. However.6 million people visited the website. where during a 6 months’ period the best candidate. explore and report on his travel. in Australia launched as “The best job in the World” in 2009. more and more travel marketers have started to realize that they should exploit the benefits of social media in their promotional activities. However.

the young travellers’ segment and takes as point of departure their preferences and behaviour in terms of choice of communication channels. It will be explored whether the usage of the popular social media can play an important role in destination marketing communication when conveying meaningful messages towards young travellers. it can be analyzed which role social media plays for the young travellers in their travel planning process. or due to the reviewed information even provoke an action to start planning the visit. travel marketers could adjust their promotional activities. its suitability for possible official destination promotion campaigns can be discussed. whether social media is merely raising the attention in regards to a certain destination or inducing desire to visit the destination. can be used as a new way of communication towards them. By knowing the role of the social media in their destination choice process. media and content of message when they are about to plan a holiday. and therefore. The focus of this project was chosen to be the segment of young travellers as the usage of social media is more widely known and used among the young people than among other segments and therefore. Furthermore. 9 .Questions concerning the young travellers’ acceptance of social media or its usefulness and reliability in tourism context can be raised. This dissertation will focus on one specific segment of the heterogeneous market.

 Attractive opportunities – India has lot to offer because of its rich culture and history. o Medical tourism is also expected to grow to a staggering $3. Indian Tourism and Hospitality Industry 2.2 billion market by the end of 2012. o India presents diverse offerings such as adventure. o Domestic spending on tourism and travel is also growing due to rising income levels in India. and alternative medicine fascinate and attract both the luxury and budget travellers alike towards India.2.9 million foreign visitors annually. targeted at the inbound tourists from foreign countries. The major factors that which are responsible for a booming India Tourism and Hospitality industry are as follows:  Growing Demand – The demand for Indian tourism and destinations is rising heavily around the world more number of inbound foreign tourists are visiting India each year and the numbers are ever increasing. o Foreign tourists’ arrivals have increased by about 40% during the period 20062010. which means “Guest is God”. horticulture. culture.1 Advantage India It’s a boom time for India’s tourism and hospitality sector. It also makes a direct contribution to economy with significant linkages with agriculture. handicrafts etc. heritage. A 5000 year history. o When the Taj Mahal is considered. religion. Tourism in India is the third largest foreign exchange earner accounting for 2. Currently the Indian tourism and hospitality Industry is growing at a compounded annual rate of 13%. People come to India from abroad to relive that old world charm and experience royal Indian heritage.5 percent of the GDP. The Department of Tourism’s resolve in promoting Indian tourism has strengthened as it recognizes it’s potential. 10 . it attracts over 0. The focus of tourism industry is towards “Athiti Devo Bhavah” campaign. rural and wildlife tourism opportunities.  Diverse Attractions o India has got 28 world heritage sites and 25 bio-geographic zones which fetch a majority of the tourists to India.

o The country’s big coastline also provides excellent tourism options like Goa. Travel Agents 11 . “Hindustan ka dil dekho” by Madhya Pradesh govt. Attractions 4. E.g. “Incredible India” campaign. Cochin.2 Evolution of Indian Tourism Industry 2005 onwards 2000-05 •A national policy on tourism is announced in 2002 with focus on developing robust infrastructure •Online travel portals and low-cost carrier airlines boost domestic tourism •The government undertakes various marketing initiatives to attract tourists •Domestic markets provide over 75 per cent of the total tourism revenues •The foreign tourists visiting India per year stands at 5.3 Segments of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry The Indian tourism and hospitality industry is divided in to the following five segments: 1.  Policy Supports – The government of India has also made its policies attractive enough to support tourism in a good way. Transportation 3. etc o The government is also increasing the allotment for tourism in the annual budget. Accommodation and Catering 2. 2. o Various marketing campaigns are being designed by centre and state governments. Pondicherry.9 in 2005 1990-2000 •Various states in India declare tourism as an industry Pre 1990 National Tourism Policy announced in 1982 •The government formulated a comprehensive plan to promote tourism in 1988 •Government stresses on privatepublic partnership in the sector •Government policies give fillip to the hotel industry 2. Puri etc.4 million in 2010 against 3.

2011 2.5. Source: IBEF. Tour Operators A more detailed explanation can be seen in the figure below.4 Growth Drivers of the Tourism market •Domestic expenditure on tourism Growing Demand •100 per cent FDI allowed is expected to rise due to the growing income of households •A number of niche offerings such through automatic route in the hotel and tourism sector •Campaigns such as Incredible as medical tourism and eco tourism are expected to create more demand India and ‘Athithi Devo Bhavah’ were launched to harness the tourism industry’s potential Growth Drivers Investments Policy Support •The tourism and hospitality 12 sector attracted investments of over USD20 billion in 2010 . Tourism and Hospitality Sector.

2 billion per year by 2012 o Tour operators are teaming up with hospitals to tap this market  Cruise Tourism – o Cruise shipping is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the global leisure industry o India with a vast and beautiful coastline. Skiing teams from many countries like Switzerland. 13 . and enable interaction between tourists and locals for a mutually enriching experience  Adventure Tourism – India has been recently emerging as a preferred destination for adventure tourism as well. Thus the scope for adventure a tourism option in India is huge. These areas are meant for special segments of tourists and are very niche in nature.2.5 Opportunities Apart from the conventional tourism and travel options that India provides there lies huge growth opportunities in other not so conventional areas of tourism. and undisturbed idyllic islands can be a fabulous tourist destination for cruise tourists  Rural Tourism – o India has potential to develop the rural tourism industry as most of its population resides in rural areas o This can benefit the local community economically and socially. Every year large number of bikers comes to India to tame the highest Himalayan roads of Ladakh. virgin forests. US etc come to the snow slopes of Himachal and Uttarakhand in the winter months. Some of the areas which Indian tourism industry can adapt to are as follows:  Medical Tourism – o The presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals make India a preferred destination for medical tourism o Medical tourism could earn India USD2.

the intention to use OSNs for travel purposes are directly influenced by the perceived benefits of that use (functional. The findings reveal that females perceived higher benefits (functional.3. emotional and social) using OSNs for travel purposes than their male counterparts. Thadani) Extract from the paper: Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) communication has been one of the most exciting research areas of inquiry. I carefully examined the following papers and literature from the books available. who are members of Online and Social Media Sites and have taken a trip to a destination in the previous 12 months. altruism and the socio-technical environment facilitate and promote the use of OSNs when organizing and taking vacation trips. social and hedonic). The paper studies how their characteristics affect these students’ perception of the use of Online Social Networks (OSNs) and intention to use OSNs for travel and holiday purposes. In this study. Moreover. 2. A research survey was conducted on a sample of 383 students at three Bangkok-based universities. Dimple R. it was also determined that incentives such as trust. we focused on the individual-level eWOM research. The scope of published studies on the impact of eWOM communication is rather broad and the studies appear relatively fragmented and inconclusive. Cheung. gender and disposable money result in perceived differences with regard to trust incentives to use OSNs for travel purposes. 1. who are exposed to a lot on online media sources.K. There is an emerging attention on the effectiveness of eWOM communication.1 Base Papers Review Before working on this project I consulted a few research papers and literature available so that I could lay a foundation of my project and have a better understanding of Social Media usage in the travel and tourism industry. And differences in the respondents’ nationalities. The Effectiveness of Electronic Word-of-Mouth Communication: A Literature Analysis (Christy M. We 14 . Literature Review 3. The intention was also to look at the various travel initiatives that are being carried on social media. Intention to use online social networks for travel purposes: A case study at three Bangkok based Universities (Jiaming Ling) Extract from the paper: This paper aims to identify how differences in terms of college students who are basically young or we may call them Gen Xers or Gen Yers.

Thus the consumer will be highly interested and involved in the decision-making process. Planning and Purchasing a holiday generally involves a larger spend. The intangible nature of service products coupled with the high spend aspect of tourism will have significant affect on the consumer behaviour causing high level of insecurity during the purchase process.2 Tourism Behaviour Consumer behaviour is a difficult and challenging area to research. The complexity of tourism behaviour is shown in the below figure. but also provides the consumer with the possibility to escape from the everyday life. 3. such as 15 . By the motivators we mean those factors that motivate the consumer to wish to purchase a certain tourism product. even more in the field of tourism where the purchase decisions are more of emotional.conducted a systematic review of eWOM research and identified key factors that are specific to the context of eWOM communication. Strongly influenced by other people High involvement in purchase decisions and high commitment Considerable emotional significance The Consumer High level of insecurity linked to intangibility Long term decision High level of Information Search During the complex tourist decision-making process several motivators and personal and external determinants influence the consumer behaviour. but also serves as a salient guideline for future research directions. which will result in a high level of information search from several sources. We believe that this literature analysis not only provides us with an overview of the current status of knowledge within the domain of eWOM communication.

these motivators might vary according to several factors. However. while the external determinants are factors such as views of friends. knowledge of (e.g. destinations. among the determinants. It can be argued that as these motivators and determinants influence the tourist behaviour as such. leisure time. types of holidays). travelling partner. The determinants are those personal and external factors that determine the extent of the consumer’s ability to purchase the desired product. attitudes and perceptions. thus. past experiences. Great importance will be given to the demographic background and personality trait in this project. personal development. but many generational theorists define the generation born between 1943-1960 as Baby Boomers. Generational cohorts share a common and distinguishing social character due the shared experiences and conditions through the time.g. the project is not strictly considering the age as a variable regarding the use of social media during travel planning. as e. cultural. there is no absolute harmony of how to classify the different generational cohorts regarding the birth dates.personal.g. 3. social and technological factors. products) or experience of (e. therefore. marketing activity of the tourism industry. between 1961-1981 as Gen Xers and 16 .3 Demographic characteristics in travel behaviour It is necessary to look into the generational characteristics as the project is aiming to understand the young Indians’ information search behaviour and identify whether social media plays a different role in their travel planning. economic. on the usage of social media as well. demographic characteristics or the timing of the purchase decision. the media or political. attitudes and behaviours have a significant impact of how a generation will react to different public and social circumstances. Moreover. it can be argued that several motivators can influence the tourist behaviour in the same time. the views of friends will play a significant role in this project as word of mouth is claimed to be clearly influential during travel purchase and also because social media is seen as a new form of WOM and may regarded as eWOM. status. where their unique values. those can have a great impact on tourists’ information search during travel planning. Moreover. However. However. health). lifestyle. emotional and physical motivators. The personal determinants can be certain circumstances (e. visiting friends and relatives (personal motivator) can have a relaxation angle (physical motivator) as well.g. such as the traveller’s personality.

the generation born during 1982-2002 as Gen Yers. arguably will have significant impact on the social media (as a new type of WOM) usage as well. promotional letters (Gen X) or are fond of participative. as in case of the Gen Yers it can be argued that socializing e.g. of which several factors can play an important role in their tourism behaviour as well. either individuality (Gen X) or relational (Gen Y) can also be related to the type of the trip they would take. while the Generation Yers frequently portrayed as conventional. The above figure shows clear differences between Generation X and Generation Y. the different generational approaches towards marketing and communication. The below table illustrate the differences of the generations incorporating the diverse attributes of generational types. Thus. according to these generation segments the project’s respondents can be mainly grouped into the Gen Xers and Gen Yers. The Generation Xers are often characterized as pessimistic and depressed. Knowing the different generational cohort’s decision-making is of great importance. expert novices and Interactive. whether they prefer direct marketing such as catalogues. Whether friends and relatives (Gen Y) are considered as the most influential during decision making. Furthermore. communication and marketing styles such as travel forums or blogs (Gen Y) would clearly influence whether 17 . or the individual prefers to rely on experts (Gen X) such as travel agents or guide books. The different motivations. confident. then in the case of Gen Xers who tend to be more individually focused. making new friends could be of their motivator.

As the above figure shows several features characterize the travel behaviour of Gen Yers. educated. By special he refers to their digital capabilities. multi-taskers and team-members. they are sheltered by their parents and community and confident in that sense that they accept uncertainty and so far they have experienced a good economic base. thus their travel behaviour as media can play a role as a marketing or a communication channel towards them. spend more money during travelling. they are conventional in certain areas of life. team oriented. impatient. which also shows that they are the most education minded among all generations. conservative. Generation Yers are often called digital natives. hence. confident. It has to be argued that all these generational traits have an important impact in shaping their behaviour. fun and digital culture and where the members of the generation are relaxed. Seven core traits that represent the unique character of this generation: special. sheltered. such as regarding work-life balance or carrier. which is detailed in the below figure. they often use the 18 . Furthermore. They claim that this generation is the first generation born in the Information Age which results in a native comfort level with information and communication technologies. such as they travel more often. conventional. They are pressured in time-wise as they are always busy and achievement is of great importance for them. Gen Yers can also be regarded the hero generation with focus on friends. pressured and achieving.

Travel decision-making is often presented as a long planning process involving extended problem-solving. Thus. where the individuals do not necessarily belong to or are not defined by any age groups. compared to the general consumer behaviour models as they tend to view tourists as a homogenous group. where those models can be rooted back to the general consumer behaviour models. Many attempts were made to model the tourist behaviour during the purchase process. the question can be raised whether these generational traits and features might only just describe this demographic segment of Generation Yers. the pre-trip. during the trip and the post trip phase in a linear way. despite of the claimed weaknesses existing studies on the process of travel planning and destination choice tended to rely on the general consumer decision-making model.4 Tourists’ travel planning behaviour As it was already mentioned tourism decisions involve the consumer in a high-risk decision making process due to the tourism product’s intangible nature and social implications of its purchase. or whether these “stereotypes” can also portray certain behavioural types. and on the other hand also keeping in mind that these features may also shape the behaviour of those travellers who actually do not belong to the Generation Y. the consumer will be highly interested and involved in the entire decision making process. However.internet for booking their travel. therefore. 3. they presume a high level of rationality and fail to recognize the impact of motivators and determinants on the purchase decision. experts argue that many consumer behaviour models adapted to tourism appear to be linear and rather simplistic. the younger Indians’ social media usage in travel planning will be analyzed on the one hand by assuming that certain above claimed generational features can play an influential role such as being digital experts. However. which features can also be linked to the claimed generational traits. consulting a wide range of information sources or relying more on friends and relatives. keen on new experiences. This is represented in the figure below. However. which suggests five key stages. 19 . These five stages when adapted to a tourism context would follow three trip phases. are brave travellers and they consult a wide range of travel information sources.

problemsolving understanding of the travel planning. sudden decisions may result from a sudden impulse. travel planning 20 . Although. Experts argue that rational decision making is limited in tourism mainly due to the incomplete information available to the majority of the tourists and because tourists are influenced by their own opinions and perceptions which might be irrational. a sudden pleasure or a sudden feeling (falling in love). the contingency of decision-making and the adaptability of the traveller one should assume different decision making processes in tourism.According to the proposed model. They claim that due to the individual differences. therefore. where the spontaneous. They also argue that travellers during their travel planning might not follow all steps of the travel planning process in the predicted order. choosing between the alternatives. where the decision making is made spontaneously following the contextual contingencies and without going along the three pre-trip phases. the purchase decision would take place. At the Post-trip phase the travel satisfaction outcome and evaluation would take place. During trip phase. travellers during the pre-trip phase would go through on three phases by recognizing the need or the desire for vacation. without following a rational behaviour scheme. which would be followed with the travel experience. Some experts even add that adaptability and opportunism can be related to emotional triggering factors. which departs from the rational. It can be argued that vacation decision-making is often fostered incidentally. then starting to search for information and followed by evaluating the different alternatives. They point out that due to the strong influence of situational and social variables decision making should be seen as an adaptable and an opportunistic process. such as in the case of last minute trips. therefore.

therefore. budget. activities. accommodation and meals. has been chosen as the overall theoretical framework for this study. required expenses. They have observed that a planning evolution takes place during travel planning. while secondary decisions are flexible decisions mainly concerning selection of activities or attractions to visits. and search information according to that. meaning that dreams are moving towards reality with an increasing commitment to make a choice. By en route decisions they mean those decisions which are made during the trip and can be considered as secondary decisions. They pointed out that this shift from ideas to real plans is felt more strongly concerning certain decisions. As it was already mentioned this above presented model of travel planning process. destinations. Thus. travel period or duration and travel party. secondary and en-route decisions. such as destination. Those sub decisions are: travel partners. but might not strictly in the proposed rational framework of the travel planning process due to situational and social variables. giving higher importance to certain decisions. Some of the experts argue that the information searches happen in various stages of the decision-making process where the reviewed information contributes to take specific decisions and to develop destination images. travel date. it has to be argued that all these decisions can be shaped by the travellers’ motivators and determinants. Regarding the complex decisions and extended problem solving during the travel planning process Pan & Fesenmaier discuss that that travellers tend to cover 10 key sub decisions related to the trip. date/length of the trip are claimed to be the core decisions.might not particularly follow the proposed sequential order. In order to reduce the risk of 21 . transportation. but more as a framework that also gives space for adaptability according to the circumstances. it is understandable why travel information is given a central role in the tourism decision-making models. travel partner. where destination choice. where the framework should not only be understood in its rigid nature. length of the trip. a certain evolution can be seen in the travel decision making. However. Tourism information sources have been identified as a key factor influencing destination choice thus. They even categorize these sub decisions into core. attractions. it has to be argued that regarding certain travel decisions some kind of structural behaviour can be seen. also by acknowledging its weaknesses.

information search during travel planning is an important. however. They point out in their study that travellers’ mental model is constantly changing during the trip planning. such as recognizing various functional and hedonic needs. travellers would use different types of information sources depending on which phase of the travel planning process they are in. as it cannot be tested or tried beforehand the importance of searching information about the product in order to be able to make purchase decisions is even greater than in other industry sectors.g. The process would keep on going until all aspects of the trip planning are satisfied or the traveller comes across with obstacles as e. travellers usually search and review several forms of information early in the travel decision making. It has to be noted here that the information search process obviously is an active. it is necessary to further discuss the information search process during travel planning. Moreover. as it has a great impact on consumers’ images and expectations. Experts argue that it is during the information search process when marketers can influence travellers’ purchase decisions. Some authors add that information search in the pre-purchase phase strongly influences the overall decision. As the above discussion shows.making a poor destination decision. Moreover. from the travellers’ perspective information search is a really important part of their travel planning process as well. It is commonly acknowledged in the academia that the decision-making and the information search start with need recognition. Due to the service nature of the tourism product. which can be related to the nature of tourism product and the social implications involved to its purchase. several models were proposed with different stages of which this project will make use of the proposed five-stage travel planning process. determinative part of the travel planning process. incorporated part of the travel planning 22 . and due to the project’s aim to understand the Indians’ information search and the possible role social media can play in that.5 Tourist Information Search Understanding how tourists seek and acquire information in today’s dynamic consumption environment is really important for marketers to design effective communication strategies and service delivery. 3. Therefore. exhaustion or lack of relevant information. due to the complexity of the decisions involved in travel planning.

process.5. Given the vast amount of information available by multiple sources to aid trip planning. while the external refers to information acquire from external sources. consumers can often be overloaded and feel overwhelmed before finding the information they have searched for. It also reveals three forces that drive individuals to develop their unique information search strategies. temporal and operational. Spatial – Internal & External Temporal – Ongoing & Pre-purchase Operational – Contributory & Decisive Tourist Characteristics Individual Differences – Family Life Cycle. The internal information search can also 23 .1 Modelling Information Search According to a research conducted by Fondness and Murray in 1999. composition of travelling party Product Characteristics – Purpose of the trip. As marketers argue consumers will filter out using their cognitive system the irrelevant or untargeted information and those will have only little impact on them. But what information is relevant is a matter of discussion here. individual (tourist) characteristics and behavioural search outcomes. Therefore. travel related expenditures  The spatial dimension is related to the locus of the search activity. Number of attractions visited. 3. where the internal information is originating from one’s memory or experience. Contingencies Situational Influences – Nature of decision making. there are three kinds of information search strategies that a traveller may follow. 3. Mode of travel Information Search Strategies 1. Number of destinations visited. such as search contingences. it has to be argued that for marketers or other information providers it is extremely important to provide relevant information in order to reach the travellers and satisfy their information need. they are spatial. Socio-Economic Status Search Outcomes Behavioural – Length of stay. 2.

Contingencies  The situational influences are arising from factors that are relatively independent of consumer and product characteristics.refer to the individual’s accumulated knowledge that was previously acquired from external sources.2 Factors Influencing the Tourist Information search The major forces that drive the tourist information search method are follows: 1. 3. the number of destinations or attractions visited and the travel related expenditures. Pre-purchase type of information search is when the individual come across accidentally with certain information that raises his interest highly and proceeds forward to purchasing. business or visiting friends and relatives) or the mode of the travel.They suggest that family lifecycle and the socioeconomic status has an influence on the choice of information strategy. or as pre-purchase.more precisely the behavioural factors regarding the length of the stay. 2.  The temporal dimension can be understood in two ways.  The operational dimension reveals the way of search and focuses on the particular sources used and their usefulness for problem solving and decision making. where the individual is building up knowledge for an undetermined future purchase decision. The travelling party. 24 .5. whether it is e. when the information search is taking place as a response to an actual purchase decision. Search Outcomes . social settings or time. a family holiday or couples travelling without children obviously influences the information search strategy. as ongoing.g. Tourist Characteristics . such as physical surroundings. Age as a demographic factor can play a significant role in travel planning and information processing as well 3.  The Product characteristics can be understood as the purpose of the trip (such as leisure.

WOM plays a pivotal role in overcoming the challenges of nowadays’ overwhelming information which can lead to confusion.1 One of the most influential Information Source: WOM The importance and the high influence of interpersonal communications have long been recognized in the tourism industry. which can be defined as informal communications between private parties regarding evaluation of goods and services is one of the most influential sources of information during tourists’ travel planning process. sub-optimum decisions or dissatisfaction of choices. especially when the product is an intangible travel experience to a destination.6. of which much is generated by marketers. trustworthy information among the increased quantity of information available. 25 . The basic model of WOM is presented below. as it is difficult to evaluate prior to its consumption. as an information source tend to be used to lower perceived risk and uncertainty due to its perceived higher credibility. consumers tend to trust more on and influenced by this type of information than by more commercial sources. Experts argues that WOM can help sceptic consumers to find credible. such as tourism products. Moreover they argue that the influence of WOM is different in each step of the consumer decision making process. WOM. Travellers often rely on advice from friends and family. Though WOM recommendations lack commercial interests.6 A shift from WOM to eWOM 3. Some Authors discuss that due to the intangible and experiential nature of service products. as the information provider is not interested in getting financial gain by sharing information or experience. who obviously stress the benefits of their products. Many researchers concluded that WOM.3.

the probability of purchase. Those travellers who relied on WOM from other travellers appeared to show similarities to backpackers.g. accommodation and transportation used. other information sources used. younger travellers with lower income preferring backpacker accommodation and taking longer trips. it was concluded that WOM is not homogenous and there are clear differences between the suggested four groups of travellers (those who used friends and relatives WOM. Therefore. favourable WOM can result in increasing e. who is motivated to contribute. Those respondents who used friends and relatives WOM generally seemed to be representing travellers visiting friends and relatives with higher income. other travellers WOM. According to a study conducted in North Queensland. to the information seeker. product acceptance or loyalty towards the certain 26 . thus. by interpreting the meaning of mass media or passing on his consumption experience to the listener or by other words. other travellers’ WOM was not identified as information source.The model suggests that the process of WOM starts with the key WOM player as the opinion player. while ignoring the influence of other travellers. and with repeating visits. Australia. Turning back to the suggested conceptual model of WOM. and the travel activities at the destination. both WOM or no WOM) with respect to demographic characteristics. Experts argue that many studies that research on WOM tended to focus on the WOM originated from friends and relatives. they argue that the different WOM used in the pre-travel stage and during the travel is linked with the travel choices and the tourist behavior at the destination.

the advancing internet features have enabled new forms of communication platforms to further empower both providers and consumers to share information and opinion among each other. Consumer generated media can be understood as a new form of WOM that happens beyond the traditional social circles of consumers. According to the study of a travel industry market research company. It is essential to realize that the WOM originator. Plog Research approximately 95 % of internet browsers use the internet to seek information online during their travel planning process. in order to nourish positive WOM. Furthermore. Several researchers pointed out the importance of web pages in all stages of the travel planning process.6. Many researchers refer to social media as a new type of WOM or the eWOM. while negative WOM has the contrary effect. therefore. he can judge whether their WOM applies to him or not. WOM gathered from other travellers. 27 . Thus. during this WOM acquisition stage can the marketers or other tourism product or service providers influence his interpretation and understanding of the experience or the information or with by other words. due to these internet-based features the word-of-mouth as an informational source could be facilitated in an electronic digitalized version.2 Electronic WOM With the improvement of internet technologies.product. 3. particularly during the information research phase. know as electronic WOM or eWOM. gains the WOM information from various sources. as while the consumer knows his friends and their preferences. more and more of travellers use the internet to search for travel related information and to actually plan their trip online. influences the travellers’ behaviour in a different way than the friends and relatives WOM. To summing up. which in the case of other travellers WOM is more it complicated. influence the influencer. such as through the former experience with the destination or with the certain product or even through the media. it is really important for marketers to understand the role of WOM and acknowledge its importance and high influential value as tourist information source. the other travellers’ personality plays a role in the WOM influence. The question here remains whether. therefore. Generally the social media information is produced by other travellers and not especially by the friends and relatives of the travellers.

several technological improvements. known as Web 2.0 applications. marketers face challenges to effectively measure the impact of social media on their marketing programs. UGC (user-generated content). Indifferent from the statistics. by altering the origin of the information. pointed out that 50% of online travel purchasers visit a forum. review and to respond an online content. The terms of Web 2. The consumers instead of entering through a site’s homepage and browsing it. 3. which might influence the consumer in his purchase decision in different ways.eWOM has several different forms ranging from virtual opinion platforms to consumer portals. evaluating its impact on individual buying decision can be a first step towards understanding its influence on the consumers. use particular search sites to have them transported directly to the required information. A typology of eWOM regarding the communication scope among the users and the level of interactivity is presented below.0 applications further develop this changing process of information search. a web analytics company. it has to be acknowledged that the popularity of social media sites are increasing. the way of searching for travel related information and evaluating those is likely to be changing. a message board or an online community in the process of buying a travel related product and moreover. CGM (consumer generated media) or social media refer to the same new media.7 Social Media in Tourism Due to the development of internet technology and to cater the changing needs of today’s consumer the online information search process is facilitated by several search engines. one of three of these buyers stated that social media helped in their decision. 28 . Furthermore. therefore. where the individual consumers are given the possibility to submit. However. The research conducted by Compete (2006).

instant messaging services. The present day social networks harness the potential of the internet and web 2.3. Sometimes it is indeed apparent that 29 . On the other hand. feelings etc to their friends and family around the world. The social networks exploit the human tendency or desire to look into and know the lives of other people. Most of the social networks today are web based and they offer a variety of interesting ways for subscribers/members to interact. modify. consume. these are some of the many forms of human relationships that form the basis of the social networking industry. people have got a chance to interact and share emotions. choose and look out for relevant content The information and IT revolution around the world has given rise to new economies built around flows of data.7. sharing videos. social contacts. share and participate in many activities Social networks shape the way you work with data and information on the world wide web They change the mindset of the people towards a more collaborative participation The focus of attention is the user here The user can make. The interdependencies include vision. People have been social networking since the Stone Age through word of mouth and community gatherings. shared beliefs and values. The social networks today focus on building online communities of people from across the globe who share common interests and activities and also the ones who are interested in knowing about the interest and activities that other people pursue. trade etc. The only new thing about the social networks is how the technology has influenced and facilitated the development of virtual social platforms that increase the reach.0       In a more peer-to-peer and collaborative fashion The users communicate with each other and while at the same time they contribute. It was only after the rise of internet during the 1990‟s and 2000‟s. social networking industry has grown stronger as a means of organization of human activity. pictures etc. like writing messages.1 What is a Social Network? The very concept of social networking as a tool or platform for engaging people and communities over the internet is clearly not very new. organizations and related human systems that bind together in one or more types of interdependencies. Social networks can be considered as the nodes of individuals. groups. potential and power of the community. knowledge and information. emails. mutual conflicts. exchangesfinancial or otherwise.

The main difference between social media and other traditional forms of media lies in the direction of communication. as the content is generated by the consumer rather than by the marketer. the social networks influence larger processes by connecting human. Categorization of the different social media sites according to its nature:    blogs which can be understood as online journals or personal websites Users’ comments and reviews. physical and financial capital. Wikipedia. When such firms succeed. Moreover. rather than only providing a uni-directional communication. due to the search-engine friendliness. consumer generated media is believed to have great influence in tourism. such as wikis. blogs or broadcasts. photo sharing sites. YouTube 30 .0 sites can be described as applications that share common features such as      Being participatory Inclusive Collaborative User centric and Information intensive Furthermore. Social media can take on several forms. these sites influence how users create. 3. as well as the knowledge and information resources backing these. a peer-to-peer communication. which resembles WOM such as TripAdvisor. experiential properties and having no commercial interest in promoting the product. increased credibility. social.2 Social Media features Web 2. by adding search engine friendliness and experiential feature. blogs. It has to be mentioned that social media adds on the positive features on the traditional WOM. not just the direction of communication changes but it becomes a two-way communication as well as it allows interactivity.networked organizations out compete all other forms of organizations. share and use information. reviews and rating. Flickr. Furthermore.7.

the internet and social media statistics are presented below: Source: http://www.3 Usage of Social Media 3. Facebook.7. such as booking online. It was argued previously that the Generation Y due to its unique characteristics behaves differently in a tourism context. one can argue here that due to these characteristics their behaviour towards the social media would be different and they would consult Web 2.imediaconnection. and they consult a wide range of information sources during their travel planning process. of which a couple would be discussed here in more details. adapt really quickly to the new travel technologies. When it comes to India.1 What Influences the use of Social Media Tourist characteristics influence the use of social media. they are strongly influenced by friends. gender. As they were born in The Information 31 . Online social networks as MySpace. Twitter 3. nationality.0 applications more often and in a different way during their travel planning process then other generations.7.3. they are technology confidents and information hungry. moreover. such as age. Therefore.

000) in the world 32 . This is more than the total population of Brazil Twitter (13 million) & LinkedIn (13 million)  Facebook in India has grown by 37% in the past 6 months.000) and fourth highest Facebook Users (38.3. These comprise of 60% of India's Internet usage  66% of Indian Internet Users check Online Reviews before making the purchase decision  E-Commerce in India is estimated to be of USD $10 billion which is around USD $ 100 per Internet User.3. This is the highest growth seen by any social network in India   Social Gaming is the most popular activity in India especially on Facebook & Orkut India has the second highest number of LinkedIn Users (12. Out of this only 2% Indians are from rural areas and 59% access the Internet via their Mobile Devices   An average Internet user in India spends 26 minutes online each day There are around 8000 Internet Cafes across India.2 Internet Scenario in India  50% of the Indian Population is below the age of 25 years and the same comprises the most of Internet users    70% of India's Internet users are male India has grown by 25% more internet users in the last 12 months 20 million people in India use the Internet every single day.7. 67% of the e-commerce comes from Mobile users in India  31% of those living in rural areas of India have never heard of the Internet.838.3 Social Media Scenario in India  Video consumption via Youtube & other social video sites is accessed by more than 70% users   Indians spend an average of 3 hours on Social Media sites every month Facebook is the top social network with 38 million people followed by Orkut (28 million).

which is arguably not that high percentage.4 Why People use Social Media According to a study conducted there are four fundamental benefits that drive the extent to which consumers engage themselves in online travel communities:     Functional benefits Social Psychological and Hedonic benefits Despite the fact that they suggest these benefits for online travel communities. information search the hedonic and the social benefits might can be secondary. however. Functional benefits are e. In contrary with many researches. identity expression. its interpretation is more difficult which might lead to credibility issues. as it was suggested that probably among the Gen Yers and even Xers there can be seen a more intense use towards social media. ease of decision-making process or exchange information from similar travellers. such as official tourism websites or airline sites. The psychological benefits.7. one can argue that these motivations partly or even all can drive the travellers to use social media in general as well. 3. there are different trust levels between different types of 33 . that social media sites are not viewed as credible and trustworthy as more traditional information sources. which can be argued also for reasons for using social media. Moreover. According to Compete (2006) more than half of their surveyed respondents find the information generated by consumers credible.5 Challenges of social media Despite of the clear importance of social media it has its challenges as well.This project’s aim is to research among the younger generation of Indians. 3. described as a sense of belonging. one can argue that while using the social media in certain phases of travel planning e. Authors also argue that as the contextual clues that help the interpretation of the information such as facial expressions are missing from the social media.g.g. would clearly have major role in online communities than in other type of social media. Credibility and reliability is among the most argued challenges of social media. complementary drives after the functional benefits. The social aspect and the hedonic aspect of social media was already discussed.7. therefore. support for information search.

social media. By the informational perspective they mean that hospitality and destination marketers can use up the content created online (post-trip) to improve visitor satisfaction through product development. due to the perceived commercial interest of the latter sites. as the majority of their respondents claimed that it is better to use user-generated content during accommodation search then the hotel’s description. therefore. revenue generation strategies can be designed to spread positive WOM about the destination. 34 .6 Possibilities of social media The user-generated content can raise possibilities for marketers as well in an informational and revenue generating perspective. helping potential visitors’ information search (pre-trip) by providing supportive opinions. 3. according to the reviewed researches social media can play an important role in several phases of the travel planning but is mainly used during the information search phase of the travel planning process. The possible commercial interest relates to the credibility issue. being perceived less objective. it can be argued here that the stimulated eWOM. the possible “fake” content generated by travel operators as independent travellers.7. Moreover. thus. where these possibilities can be linked to the post-trip and the pre-trip phase of the travel planning. To sum up. might be a driving factor why consumers trust certain sites more than others. Furthermore. DMOs or travel marketers by engaging travellers post-trip in posting their experiences or photos on the official website can reconfirm tourists’ destination choice and can also build traveller loyalty. Additionally. enhancing positive WOM might raise credibility concerns from the travellers’ side. However. increase the competitiveness of the product/destination or to monitor the reputation or image. Social media is one type of information source which is a supplement to the existing types of travel info and a source which supports the consumer decision making process. the clearly user generated content sites such as TripAdvisor is perceived more credible than reviews posted on online travel agencies sites such as Expedia.

the use of it in the different planning phases and about its impact on the purchase decision. The questionnaires of this project were sampled based on some predetermined types of probabilities that gave way to approach the aimed group of audience. Moreover. which is incorporated in the theoretical considerations presented in the above chapters. However. the relationship between travellers’ social media usage and its possibilities for official tourism promotion will be identified through an exploratory approach as well. Therefore.Apr 2012. The aim to select young people/travellers aged between 18 to 40 and gain insights as to how they use internet and Social Media while planning their holidays and travel. 4. Numerous probability indicators can have influence on how the survey questionnaires are sampled. Research Methodology This project applies an explorative approach. it can be argued the age of the respondents should not be seen as a strict requirement when 35 . which in this case were mainly the younger age groups of Indians (18-40 years) who travel frequently. Regarding the above discussion this project applied the proposed rigid framework of travel planning by designing the quantitative questionnaires about social media usage according to the sequential phases of the travel planning process.1 Quantitative Empirical Data and Sampling The project’s quantitative data collection took place through online surveys conducted during the months of Jan . Understanding the role of social media during the travel planning process clearly requires an explorative approach. in this project an exploratory survey was used to understand how and which type of the social media is used in travel planning. the researcher has adapted the ontological stand-point which is the base of behaviourism (cognitive psychology) regarding people’s travel planning as a rational act which follows five consecutive steps. it has to be criticized that travel planning can happen randomly and also the purchase itself can be an impulsive process. By choosing the sequential model of travel planning process as discussed in the earlier chapters as the project’s main theoretical framework.4. Though.

 The first three questions ask about the general demographic information from the respondents so to analyse the results of the survey according to Age groups. software engineers. blogs. In order to stick to the project’s research focus mainly younger travellers were approached in a random selection. The targeted respondents were selected in no particular numerical order.selecting the sample. as the behaviour patterns using social media will give the base for the analysis. however.  The next set of three questions basically examines the internet usage statistics and determines the awareness and usage trends of social media websites. If the respondents did not use social media then. the question arises whether the diverse social media pages are influencing the consumers in a tourism context as well. 62 respondents filled the questionnaire over the online form. 36 . The question ask about what all social media platform the respondents use so that the marketer can easily focus on particular social media sites to attract maximum number of travellers. gender and occupation cohorts.  The remaining questions explore: o What is the role of social media in the travellers’ travel planning process? o It will also be investigated how the social media is perceived in tourism context o How do young travellers perceive the content presented in social media sites? o How the travellers might react on official destination promotion initiatives placed in the social media. In all. businessmen etc. more precisely in their travel planning process.2 Research Questions Instrumentation Based on the research papers and theory studied the following research questions can be formulated: The social media has gained remarkable popularity in recent years. 4. Respondents were from diverse background like students. photo sharing sites etc. and some filter questions were fist asked like do you even use Internet and Social media at all. they were asked to leave the survey.

to retain construct validity adequate measure of variables were chosen. concerning the Young Indians’ social media usage in travel planning. aimed to accomplish statistical conclusion validity. using mixed methods was thoroughly dealt with in order to approach the multifaceted problem area. the project is set in a specific context. Using adequate statistical analyzing methods for analyzing the data. the theory was checked if it was relevant for answering the research questions. whether the data collection and analysis is done correctly e. in this project mainly the Chi-Square test. reliability and generalization Validity raises the question if the individual steps of the research process provide what was intended to be researched.g. The sample size of 62 respondents can be claimed as a limitation towards the study as well. the time limit to fill out the survey. while the methodological approach. the data is encoded correctly and whether the results are reproducible. and moreover.o How do young travellers react on the official destination promotion campaigns presented in the social media? 4. respondents could understand the questions. Reliability refers to the consistency of findings. Concerning the quantitative data. 4. In order to produce a valid research. Conducting the survey in January-March when not much people travel. The choice of respondents and interviewees were thought through and even pre-check questions were proposed referring to nationality or travel destination to obtain appropriate data. an assessment of reliability.3 Variability. is only valid within this context. thus.4 Limitations As above pointed out. 37 . The consistency of the findings was pointed out above. and the willingness of respondents can be linked to the obtained sample size causing limitations for the project. by providing a quite transparent method description of this research one should obtain similar results thus.

The age composition of all the respondents is depicted with the help of a pie chart below Age Composition (Yrs) 18-23 5% 23-28 3% 24% 28-33 >33 68% 38 . review and use travel related matter. Age Structure: The target audience of this survey were mostly young people. The composition and classification of the respondents is illustrated below.5. The main motive of choosing the younger section of the society is because these are the people who use Online and Social media platforms to discuss. The respondents were divided into various cohorts or groups for easier analysis and segregating them as working class or studying class. Only 3 (5%) and 2 (3%) respondents were in the age range of 28-33 yrs and more than 33 yrs respectively. Out of the total of 62 respondents 15 respondents (24%) were in the age range of 18-23 yrs. thus showing that people who currently working or are shifting from their graduation to work are the people who are more frequent travellers.1 Profile of the Respondents For this project a total of 62 respondents responded to the online survey which was conducted during the months of Jan-Apr 2012. Gen X and Gen Y people as discussed in the previous chapters of this report. 42 of them (68%) were in the age range of 23-28 yrs. Data Analysis and Findings 5. Thus they are definitely the target group for this dissertation.

Thus in this response majority are males. Gender Composition Male Female 31% 69% Work/Occupation Profile: The survey was distributed among students as well as working professionals on a random basis. These respondents actually showcase the target group of this project because these people use Social Media the most and they are also frequent travellers. The students were undergraduates and post graduate level only. they were from a very diverse working environment – IT professionals.Gender Profile: Out of the 62 respondents to the online questionnaire 43 were Male and 19 were Females. 39 . Bankers. In terms of percentage males respondents were 69 % and females comprised only 39% of the total respondents. Students were approximately 71% and working professionals were around 29% in the survey conducted. Gender plays a very important role here. many experts have found that men use Social media more as compared to women in India. Businessmen etc. As far as the working respondents are considered.

all the respondents were completely aware and educated about the use of internet and computers.Work Profile Students Working Professionals 29% 71% The first three questions of the survey aimed at gaining these above demographic information so as to understand who actually our target audience is. of the respondents used internet for more than 6 hrs a day 32% and 31% of the respondents used internet for up to 3 and 6 hrs respectively Thus the opportunity for a travel marketer is huge as the Gen Xers and Gen Yers are spending a lot of time online search for information and interacting with their peers. 40 . As the survey was an online one. The first of the filter questions asking the respondents that how many hours they spend online on the internet per day. 5. awareness level and affinity of the respondents towards Social Media and particular use of social media in their travel planning process.2 Role of Social Media in the Travel Planning Process To understand the scope and effectiveness of Online Media particularly Social Media in the travel planning process of young individuals (Gen X and Gen Y). The responses to this question were divided into cohorts/ranges so that the respondent can fill in his/her duration of internet usage per day. The following statistics were obtained as a result.   A large number. 35%. certain questions were developed which gauged the usage. that majority of the respondents were heavy internet users and spent a lot of time surfing and working online. It was found as results of this question. First of all a couple of filter questions were asked to all the 62 respondents.

The response that was received was staggering. all the 62 respondents were very aware of the social media and were active users of one or more of the social media platforms available. 70 Num of respondents 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Active on Social Media Sites Not Active Awareness and Usage of social media sites 41 .Time Spent/day (Hrs) >1 1-3 3-6 >6 Number of Respondents 1 20 19 22 % 2% 32% 31% 35% Time spent online per day (hrs) 25 20 20 15 10 5 1 0 <1 hr 1-3 hrs 3-6 hrs >6 hrs 19 22 The second filter question was designed to basically know whether the target group actually uses social media or not.

a product or a service. of Respondents 61 42 . Where people share videos and it’s already quite popular among the marketers. Twitter also has a huge user base. Youtube – it’s a niche kind of social media platform. People share and like those media content which people put on facebook. thus lies a great opportunity for travel marketers. Popularity of Social Media Sites Others Flickr Blogs Youtube Twitter Facebook 0 10 20 Twitter 18 30 Youtube 40 40 Blogs 18 50 Flickr 5 60 70 Others 5 Facebook No. Respondents were given the choices of the following social media sites:  Facebook – most popular social media platform available. Facebook being the first choice of every respondent. They also share videos. Flickr – Again a niche kind of social media platform where people can share their pictures and albums. followed by blogs (personal blogs and online forums related to tech widgets.When the respondents were asked about which all social media sites they use and are active on. travel etc) and Twitter. The response was very good in terms of awareness about varying social media platforms available. Thus facebook act an essential eWOM medium. The chart below shows the popularity and usage pattern of the various social media sites among the 62 respondents. what do they think about the products & services they use? They also discuss about their recent trips and future travel plans. Blogs – these days internet users are moving towards general and travel related blog to get reviews and post their experiences about a trip. then Youtube being the second most preferred.     Twitter – it’s about sharing short tweets/ messages about anything under the sun. photos etc. Almost all the respondents were users of Facebook. On facebook people share what’s on their mind.

hotels etc is essential because of the credible information is available on these sites.Other social media sites that were used by the respondent were of somewhat professional nature like LinkedIn. where the claimed importance of WOM will be analyzed in the Danes’ information source usage. nearly 77%. believed that the most trusted source for travel information is the WOM from friends and relatives. The most used information sources will be presented. Of Respondents 48 10 20 Official Tourism Websites 53 30 40 50 Other 3 60 Social media Print Media 30 15  Word of Mouth from friends and relatives – A large number of respondents. 43 . They can easily trust the experiences that their friends have had in the past and they can follow that.  Official Tourism Websites – a whopping 85% of the respondents believed that visiting the official pages and websites of the tourism departments. tour operators. This section will focus on investigating the Indians’ use of different information sources during travel planning. Preference of Information Source for Travel Other Print Media Social media Official Tourism Websites Friends and Relatives 0 Friends and Relatives No. Thus the scope of destination and travel promotion is not possible or its very limited on those sites. There is an emotional aspect related to this thought. Most people believe that if their friends are satisfied with the use of a product or service then they also can’t go wrong. The following result was obtained regarding the preferred information source among the 62 respondents.

magazine etc.  The first statement of this question asks the respondent whether social media excites him/her to look for a future travel or holiday option.  Social Media .Moreover there are other facilities like bookings.point likert scale ranging from Always to never. This question makes the use of 5. A majority 44% of the people said they sometimes refer to social media for future travel planning. Thus the degree of user/respondent involvement in Social Media when it comes to travel planning can be examined.The response towards social media was not that bad as it was expected.  Print Media – this information source also emerged as a good option for some of the respondents. India is still in the phase of adopting social media. This shows people do refer to user generated content on social media sites when it comes to travelling. 44 . depending upon the use of social media sites in different situation in travel or holiday planning process. This question will examine how the respondents react to various situations and instances in a travel or holiday planning process considering social media in mind. The set of questions (Q8 – see Appendix) focus on the use of Social Media in particular in relation to travel planning process. Nearly 15 out of 62 respondents said they prefer to look at travel and holiday ads in a print media platform like newspaper. Out of 62 respondents 30 (48%) said they would visit and explore a social media page to get information about a travel plan or a hotel. Social Media to Get Inspiration for Next Travel Option 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never The response can be seen in the above pie chart. virtual tour etc which further prompt the respondents to trust these official websites.

comments etc on social media sites like facebook. Social Media For Sharing Travel Experience 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never 45 . Social Media For Destination Reviews 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never A majority 35% of the people said they often use social media for reading reviews and traveller’s experiences.People generally believe that UGC – user generated content is credible because there is no monetary motive associated with it.  Next people were asked whether they use social media for destination or accommodation reviews. The following results were obtained. Only 5% said they never search for travel information on a social media website. twitter etc. The results can be seen in the following chart. videos. 31 % said they always look for destination reviews and ask friends on social media before planning a trip.  When respondents were asked about whether they share their travel related photos.

The majority respondents said they always (23%) or Often (39%) share their travel related experience on social media platforms. Only 3% said they never share their photos etc. packages and deals. Respondents usually do not find it enticing to participate in such stuff on social media platforms. the responses were of the following nature.  The following responses were received when people were asked whether they visit travel related pages on social media to look for travel or holiday discounts. Travel Contests and Quizzes on Social Media Pages 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never 46 . 24% and 27% respectively said they always and often look for such deals. Deals & Discount on Social Media Pages 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never  When asked whether you participate in travel related contest and quizzes on official social media pages of travel operators or DMOs.

 When asked about the level of agreement or disagreement on the reliability of social media when comes to information on planning travel and holidays. o 47% of the people agreed that social media gives them reliable information when it comes to travel and holiday planning o The level of disagreement is not that great. Again a 5 point likert scale is used here ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Some key insights on why people use social media for travel can be received by this question. Social Media for Intinerary Planning 23% 13% 18% 19% 27% Always Often Sometimes Seldom Never Here the responses were of a mixed nature. almost equally divided among the options. the responses received are as under. The next set of questions (Q9 – See Appendix) focus on the reasons why respondents use or may use social media while planning for travel or holiday. Respondents reported the following responses when they were inquired about the use of social media for online travel itinerary planning services. 47 . Majority (27%) said they sometimes use social media for travel itinerary planning. Respondents preferred to respond to a neutral option but they did not disagreed to this statement in large numbers.

IndiaMike. 48 . what respondents felt about it is depicted in the chart below. The travel information which is referred here is the information which is available on the official social media pages of the etc. The reason what led people to believe that the information id unbiased is the non monetary motive behind the user generated content. Travel info on social media is Unbiased Strongly agree Agree Neutral 2% 11% 6% 42% Disagree Strongly Disagree 39% Again the level of disagreement is not much. on the travel blogs like BCMTouring. Just 18% people disagreed to the statement about the unbiased information on social media.Is Social Media Reliable for Travel Info Strongly agree Agree Neutral 2% 11% 6% 42% Disagree Strongly Disagree 39%  As far as the unbiased nature of travel and holiday information available on the social media sites is concerned. People just want to share their experiences and help out people in planning their itineraries.

 When the respondents were asked whether they could get quick and easy replies to their fundamental travel queries on social media sites.  On social media sites like Facebook and Youtube people share their travel related experiences on their pages. they responded in a fashion which is depicted by the following pie chart. Thus when the respondents were asked whether this UGC help them to plan and decide a good travel or holiday. 29% were neutral. on communities and on the official pages on travel sites like MakeMyTrip. Yatra etc. o 48% agreed o 29% strongly agreed o 15% were neutral o 3% disagreed o 5% strongly disagreed 49 . then decide whether to head towards a particular destination or not. These sharing of experiences lead to generation of credibility in the content available and makes it very easy for the new user to look at the videos and photos. 15% disagreed and 3% strongly disagreed to the fact that one’s travel related queries can be solved and heard on a social media platform. 13% strongly agreed. Are Your Queries heard on Social Media Strongly agree Agree Neutral 2% 11% 6% 42% Disagree Strongly Disagree 39% 40% of the people agreed. here is what they have to say.

Audio Vedio Impressions on travel
Strongly agree Agree Neutral 2% 11% 6% 42% Disagree Strongly Disagree


The respondents were also asked whether the user generated reviews and experiences regarding a particular destination or a accommodation option like a resort, hotel, camp etc. the responses to this statement can be seen below.

Do Reviews & Experiences help
Strongly agree Agree Neutral 2% 11% 6% 42% Disagree Strongly Disagree


Majority 42% of the people strongly agreed that these reviews help a lot in planning the travel activities. 39% agreed, 11% were neutral to the statement and only 8% disagreed. Thus respondents firmly trust the opinions of the fellow travellers on the social media platform, where they can freely express their voice. Finally, analysis the last question of the survey which aims to find out what is there in store for the future travel marketers. This question basically asked the respondents what should


they want to see in a travel related social media interface be it a Facebook page, A youtube Video or a mobile application. What is that the travel marketers should focus on while designing their future social media strategies? This is where the travel industry can leverage the two way interaction on the social media platforms between the traveller and the travel service provider or a DMO. Thus through the activities and interactive services on Social Media the travel marketers can always be in touch with the target audience and get feedbacks and responses from them. The options which were available for the respondents are: o Ability to share your customized travel plans and Itinerary with your friends on Facebook, twitter etc o Loyalty programs and Promotional campaigns on official social media pages of travel services providers o Contests, games and quizzes to get discounts on travel packages, win trips etc o Travel Blogs and Forums where people can share experiences, give/take travel advice etc o Mobile apps for travel bookings, destination search, hotel reviews etc o Other The responses that were generated are shown below the table. Statement No. of Respondents Ability to share your customized travel plans and Itinerary with your friends on Facebook, twitter etc Loyalty programs and Promotional campaigns on official social media pages of travel services providers Contests, games and quizzes to get discounts on travel packages, win trips etc. Travel Blogs and Forums where people can share experiences, give/take travel advice etc Mobile apps for travel bookings, destination search, hotel reviews Other 31 3 50% 5% 39 63% 23 37% 37 60% 38 % of total 61%


6. Conclusion and Recommendations
Pre Trip Phase In the pre trip phase, social media sites, mainly the travel reviews clearly play an important role during the phases of information search and evaluation of alternatives. The consumergenerated content due to its informativity and credibility is of great importance, as it supports the information search e.g. for crosschecking the information, can help to narrow down the choices and can even induce purchase decisions. Therefore, it can be pointed out that social media is used to reduce the risk involved with the tourism product purchase and to obtain value for money.

During the Trip Social media do not have much of a role while a person is on the trip. Most of the times people just want to enjoy their trip and not to get into all the complexities and information overload. Moreover, travellers on the trips usually don’t like to access Internet or Social Media.

Post trip Phase In the post trip phase; social media is used among a minority of travellers during the post-trip phase to share experiences, comments or photos, where mainly the extreme experiences motivate the traveller to spread the WOM on social media sites. Sharing the experiences on social media sites normally encompasses hotel ratings and other travel related information such as route maps etc (TripAdvisor,,, etc) however; certain highly involved travellers motivated by hedonic benefits might engage themselves in a more extended evaluation process, by not just rating but posting reviews, blogs and photos.

Summing up the role of social media in the travel planning process In the previous sections it was pointed out that WOM recommendations play the greatest role as an information source during the Danes’ travel planning, followed with the independent travel reviews. The reviews are used in every phase of the travel planning process, due to their credibility and informativity for a certain extent and with different purposes. The social

as clearly in the information search stage of the travel planning. pictures of friends posted on the social networking sites might influence and induce further information searches. decisive source during the different phases of travel planning. Social media is used for idea generation. then the travellers who visit friends and relatives. However.networking sites are not really taken into account during travel. by e. However. also for evaluating the alternatives. 53 . Social media is significantly less used onsite and also in the post-trip phase to share the travel experiences either through pictures or reviews and blogs. therefore. owing to particular qualities such as informativity and credibility. either positive or negative. the extent of its contribution can depend on the travel planning phase. Word-of-mouth recommendations play a high influential role in travellers’ decision-making process. In addition. The social media sites allowing eWOM are considered as really important information sources during the travel planning process. using it for cross-checking. it can be seen more as a contributory source. However. The findings open up new opportunities for destination marketers. The independent travel reviews were found really useful in the information search phase. It can be pointed out in consistence that generally social media is not used as a sole. indicating to further exploit social media in their promotional activities. its contribution to the information derived from other sources is even greater. again its role as an information source whether it is seen as contributory or decisive can depend on the individual behaviour characteristic. but is used more in combination with other sources. which could even result in purchase decision. therefore. which undoubtedly gives a significant potential to its electronic version. to the eWOM as well.g. to narrow down the choices. by gathering inspiration in the pre-trip phase as well. Social media’s post-trip usage is not just influenced by the different behavioural characteristics but also by the intensity of experience while being onsite. Among the different variables the purpose of the trip clearly influence the reviews’ usage where the leisure travellers reported a greater use of it. which is argued also mainly takes place on those social media sites that incorporates other travellers’ reviews. and with reported no importance for the business travellers.

it is crucial to acknowledge its role in travellers’ decision making process and the characteristics influencing its usage. Therefore. where the independent travel reviews are considered of much greater importance as information sources than the social networking sites. such as the age as pre-assumed. While during the trip social media is not considered as an adequate information source and is yet underused due to its computer and internet based features. following with the VFR tourists while for business tourists it does not play any role as an information source. However. Moreover. Regarding the influencing factors towards social media’s usage in travel planning a hierarchical structure of the influencing variables was observed.g. In the Post-trip phase Indians share their experiences online (i. While in order to take advantage of beneficial features of social media. for its low entry barriers and for reviewing others’ experiences. beyond their traditional social 54 . It has been pointed out that social media is used among a large number of travellers (48%) and is even consulted in the first places among all information sources. in order to draw conclusions about the role of social media in their travel planning and thus. However. reaching other travellers’ recommendations and comments in a cost effective way are clearly considered important for all travellers. Leisure tourists reported the greatest use of it. thus. travellers use social media for its fast communication abilities. there was found to be some variation in the way various age groups used social media during travel planning. though it might serve as an inspirational source as well. e. Survey findings indicate that the act and extent of social media usage during travel planning depends on the purpose of the trip alone and not on any demographic variables. which can be linked to the perception of the latter. clear differences were seen among the different types of social media sites. Smartphone applications.e. suggest potential ways of using social media in the Indian Travel services provider’s or DMO’s marketing and promotional activities. where those informativity and credibility aspect can be claimed. The younger age group reported greater benefits from the personal recommendations of others and from its audio-visual features than elder group. This project’s case study focused on the young Indian travellers’ information search process in general as. social media is mainly used in the pre-trip phase for information search and to narrow down the choices. Still. its adequacy might be changing with the increasing popularity of mobile devices.

though the content of the promotion still plays a significant role. they even perceive it as modern and proactive approach. other types of social media sites. while designing certain tools that facilitate to reach this information in a time and cost effective way. either in a positive or negative way. All these above stated give an indication to the DMOs and travel marketers to around which type of social media they should mainly centre their promotional or revenue generating strategies which target group of tourists they should consider and at which travel planning phase they should focus on when exploiting social media. networking sites or photo/video sharing sites should not be underestimated either as those can be of inspiration for possible future travels. allowing features. both on social media and DMO sites that supplements the information conveyed by the official body with subjective travel reviews is seen favourable among the travellers. which increase the informativity of the site are possible ways to benefiting from social media. clearly the leisure tourists and their needs and motivations should be in focus when designing the destination promotion to be presented in social media or the social media features on the official page. 55 . Moreover. The young travellers are not adverse to the official promotions placed in social only if the experience was extraordinary. To reach all segments of tourists others’ personal experiences should be emphasized. Either using the travel reviews’ sites as promotional channel or allowing traveller reviews on their official homepage. However. Audio-visual features can even further enhance the information search of the younger segment of travellers. Concerning the target group.

P. & Pendergast. D. Oxfordshire: Cabi.pdf Tourism Queensland (2010) http://www.Bibliography Beckendorff. The Effectiveness of Electronic Branding Indian Tourism: Entering Second Phase Social Media use in Tourism and Hospitality.ibef. Cheung. D. (2010).competeinc. Rohan Gawande and Sudhir Dethe. er_Buzz_Creates_Measurement_Challenges. IBEF Report and Presentation on Indian Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Enterprises and Society. http://www.digitalvisitor. (2010) Tourism and generation Y.cfm Christy M.K.aspx 56 . R..html How travel brands are using Social 23rd Bled eConference: Implications for the Individual. Compete (2006) Embracing consumer buzz creates measurement challenges for Social Media and travel Industry: A general Perspective http://www. Slovania. G. http://socialmediatoday.

Appendix A. 3-6 hrs d. Facebook b. Twitter c. More than 6 hrs Q. Occupation? Q4.5 Are you a active on any online Social Media websites? a. My Friends and Relatives 57 . Yes b. Age? Q2. please specify the Social Media websites you use? (Multiple Choice) a. Which of the following information sources do you use when you plan for a holiday or travel? a. Blogs e. Youtube d. Flickr f. No Q. How much time do you spend on the internet per day? a. Survey Questionnaire Q1. <1 hr b.6 If Yes. 1-3 hrs c. Gender? Q3. Others Q7.

com etc 6.b. Yatra. To look for holiday/travel packages. To search for contest and quizzes on Internet or Social Media pages of travel service providers like MakeMyTrip. Others Q8. discounts etc 5. To look for reviews of destinations. Travel Blogs etc d. Print Media (Newspapers. deals. photos. hotels etc 3. Statement Never 1. To get an inspiration for my next travel destination 2. Websites of Tourism departments/ Travel Agencies/Tour Opeators c. Social Networking sites like facebook. Magazines etc) e. comments with others 4. To look for online Itinerary Planning services Seldom Sometimes Often Always 58 . How do you use Internet or social media websites in relation to holiday or travel planning? Please rate the following 6 statements on a 5 point Likert scale given below. videos. To share my experiences.

Travel Blogs and Forums where people can share experiences.Q. Please tick one or more of the options. Mobile apps for travel bookings. It is reliable 2. destination search. give/take travel advice etc e. I can read about the experiences and reviews of other travellers Q10.9 while planning for a holiday or travel I use Internet or social media because? Please rate the following 6 statements on a 5 point Likert scale given below Statement 1. it provides comments. if you would be interested in following activities/services on Social Media platforms by travel service providers. Others Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree 59 . hotel reviews etc f. Loyalty programs and Promotional campaigns on official social media pages of travel services providers c. win trips etc d. audio-visual impressions (Photos. games and quizzes to get discounts on travel packages. a. Contests. it is unbiased 3. Ability to share your customized travel plans and Itinerary with your friends on Facebook. I can get quick replies on my requests 4. videos) of other travellers 5. Twitter etc b.

1 3 3.B.613 62 1  Correlation between gender and independent travel reviews’ usage Gender * SMUseReviews Crosstabulation SMUseReviews 1 2 7 5.0 5 0 .3 22 22.0 Total 19 19.613 62 62 1 SMUseReviews -.0 3 5 4. H0: with the increase in the age the use of social media for seeking travel reviews increases.0 13 13.5 3 3.8 12 13.0 Gender Female Count Expected Count Male Count Expected Count Total Count Expected Count 60 .0 43 43.0 8 9. SPSS Tables  Pearson Correlation between Age of the respondents and the use of social media for seeking travel reviews. (2-tailed) N SMUseReviews Pearson Correlation Sig.5 5 5.9 3 2. there is negative correlation between the two factors.0 5 6. Correlations Age Age Pearson Correlation Sig.2 19 19. (2-tailed) N 62 -.0 62 62. Result: As we can see in the SPSS table below.066 . H1: with the increase in the age the use of social media for seeking travel reviews does not increases.066 .0 4 2 1.7 17 15. H1 is proven true here.

291 62 a. 5 cells (50.114 a df 36 36 sided) . Sig.744 .438 3. The minimum expected count is .575 .0%) have expected count less than 5.769 62 a.06.  Correlation between Age and use of social media for seeking user generated destination reviews.0%) have expected count less than 5. Sig. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 30. 46 cells (92. The minimum expected count is .92.649 32. Chi-Square Tests Asymp. 48 cells (96. The minimum expected count is . 61 . (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 29.0%) have expected count less than 5.Chi-Square Tests Asymp.213 a df 36 36 sided) . Sig.  Correlation between age groups and use of social media for social media for getting inspiration for the next travel option.222 62 a. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 2. Chi-Square Tests Asymp.736 30.05.897 a df 4 4 sided) .781 .

996 .692 a df 36 36 sided) .179 62 a. Sig.  Correlation between Age and use of social media for online Itinerary planning and help.0%) have expected count less than 5. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 37. The minimum expected count is . videos etc) Chi-Square Tests Asymp.06.0%) have expected count less than 5. Sig. 48 cells (96.336 62 a.989 19. Chi-Square Tests Asymp. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 17.  Correlation between Age and likelihood of the person to look for Travel & Holiday deals and special packages on social media.415 37.387 . Chi-Square Tests Asymp. Correlation between Age and use of social media to share travel experiences (photos. Sig.697 31.762 . 47 cells (94. 62 .162 62 a. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 29.  Correlation between Age of the respondents and the use of social media for travel related contests and quizzes.06. The minimum expected count is . 47 cells (94. The minimum expected count is .805 a df 36 36 sided) .03.0%) have expected count less than 5.578 a df 36 36 sided) .

038 .13. The minimum expected count is . The minimum expected count is .295 a df 36 36 sided) . 46 cells (92. Chi-Square Tests Asymp.0%) have expected count less than 5. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 60. Sig. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 52. Sig. Chi-Square Tests Asymp.442 a df 36 36 sided) .250 62 a.03.708 .0%) have expected count less than 5.007 .225 62 a.03.Chi-Square Tests Asymp.263 62 a.0%) have expected count less than 5.048 51.738 30. 48 cells (96.  Correlation between Age of the respondents and their belief about the reliability of social media when it comes to travel information.  Correlation between Age groups and belief that travel information social media is unbiased. Sig. 63 . The minimum expected count is . (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 30.505 35.930 a df 36 36 sided) . 49 cells (98.

The minimum expected count is .168 62 a.  Correlation between age and the use of social media by the respondents because they can get audio visual user experiences on these social media sites.905 62 a. 64 .918 24. Sig.164 a df 36 36 sided) . (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 26.0%) have expected count less than 5.671 62 a. Chi-Square Tests Asymp.03.690 a df 36 36 sided) .871 .0%) have expected count less than 5. Chi-Square Tests Asymp. 46 cells (92. The minimum expected count is . Correlation between age groups of the respondents and their use of social media because they can get quick replies to their travel related queries. Sig.  Correlation between age and belief among the respondents that they use social media for travel related matters because they can read user reviews on these platforms. The minimum expected count is . (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 36.02.580 33.461 . Sig. Chi-Square Tests Asymp.687 .651 32. 45 cells (90.0%) have expected count less than 5.03. (2Value Pearson Chi-Square Likelihood Ratio N of Valid Cases 31. 47 cells (94.402 a df 36 36 sided) .

65 .

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