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The Use Of Social Media And Its Impacts On Consumer Behaviour: The Context Of Holiday Travel

Research Area:  Social Networks

Abstract:

   Social media enjoy a phenomenal success in terms of adoption and usage levels. They cause paradigm shifts on how people connect and communicate with each other, on how they express and share ideas, and even on how they engage with products, brands, and organizations.Moreover, social media became significant networks of consumer knowledge. In travel and tourism, the impacts of social media have already been described as tremendous, primarily due to the experiential nature of tourism products, and especially of holiday trips: purchases are considered risky and therefore decision making processes are information intensive.
   To address this gap, this study aims to explore use and impacts of social media on consumer behaviour with particular focus on holiday travel. To meet this aim, a qualitative methodology was designed to provide an insider-s perspective on how consumers use social media throughout the holiday travel process and the impacts of such use on consumer behavior. Seven focus groups were carried out with fifty-one active social media users who have been on a holiday trip during the last twelve months. It was revealed that social media are used during all stages of the travel process, and also during all stages of holiday related decision making processes.
   This study makes four contributions to knowledge. First, to consumer behavior theory by proposing information exchange as an enlarged consumer behavior construct consisting of nine components. Second, to the theory of technology fluidity. Fluidity, from being a characteristic of a specific technology, is now proposed as a characteristic of the sets of behaviors and cognitive functions associated with the use of the specific technology or medium. Third, to social media related research in the context of holiday travel by identifying six functional spaces that enclose active users specific behaviors and cognitive functions: inspiration, collaboration,decision making, self-expression, communication, and entertainment. Fourth, by proposing the social media enabled travel process model as a framework for understanding use and impact of social media throughout the holiday travel process.

Name of the Researcher:  John Fotis

Name of the Supervisor(s):  Dimitrios Buhalis

Year of Completion:  2015

University:  Bournemouth University

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