DATE:22ND MARCH 2013
Marketing Research Project
Tourism, as one of the fastest growing economic sectors (+5% per year) (UNWTO, 2013), according to Kotler is expected to maintain the trend, due to continuous improvements in means of transport, availability of leisure time to a larger extent of the population and the birth of IT and media (Kotler, 2006). In the last two decades the introduction on the web of User Generated Contents (UGC), able to bring tangibility to intangible products and services, has deeply influenced buyers’ behaviour in tourism (Jalilvand&Samiei, 2012). This essay explores similarities and differences in behaviour and motivations of a sample of 40 students from the University of Hertfordshire (UH), who completed a survey prepared from students of the course of Tourism Marketing. Finally, by comparing the results obtained to those reported in the article of Ye et al. (2011), it will be established if the two trends are similar or different and to which extent they should be analysed for further marketing purposes. In the last decades improvements in IT have enhanced faster communication and broaden the range of available sources to consult when impartiality and extra knowledge on a topic/issue is needed (Ye et al., 2011). UGC are perceived differently by each individual, albeit, they play a key role for both marketers and consumers as they provide tangibility to a good, which in the case of tourism is intangible (e.g. a package holiday cannot be experienced before purchasing) (Jalilvand&Samiei, 2012). The survey conducted on the premises of the UH, consisted of 10 questions prepared from the students of tourism marketing regarding the influence of UGC on the pre-, during and post-purchase behaviour of the interviewees, in order to verify Solomon’s model and the theories studied. The aforementioned professor of consumer behaviour defined his field of study in 1996 as “the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires” (Swanbrooke&Horner, 2007:34). This process, involving at least two like-minded people or organizations, is one of the main foundations in marketing and highlights the importance of adapting the products to different personalities and segments of the consumer (Abdallat&El-Emam, 2000). Fig. 1.2, reported in the “appendix a” of this essay, describes the major factors influencing the decision-making pre-purchase process. It is possible to highlight that the majority (60%) of the interviewees are mainly influenced by world-of-mouth (WOM), while only 5% of them think that UGC (e-WOM) are influential in their decision-making over a final destination. Although, when asked about the usage of TripAdvisor almost 53% of the students acknowledge having heard and used the website or analogous ones, confirming Swanbrooke and Horner (2007) theory on the importance of the external determinants on tourist behaviour. Each individual has different personal physical and, particularly, psychological characteristics which primarily influence the behaviour and, consequently, the decision-making pre-purchase (e.g. socio-economic status, health, attitudes toward local culture and perception of the place) (Kotler et al., 2006). Then the close circle of friends and family, followed by marketing events promoted by the tourism industry; global issues are the least important determinants in the whole decisional process (Swanbrooke&Horner, 2007). Studying tourism motivations and behaviour enables to identify the benefits offered from a specific product and improve the marketing of it (Assenov&Khurana, 2012). Motivations have been defined by Solomon (2006:90) as the sense of tension created by the desire of fulfilling one’s...