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Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]]
Gender differences in online travel information search: Implications for
marketing communications on the internet
Dae-Young Kima, Xinran Y. Lehtob, Alastair M. Morrisonc,Ã
Hotel & Restaurant Management Program, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO, USA
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, Indiana, USA
College of Consumer and Family Sciences Purdue University, IN 47907-2059, USA
Received 30 March 2006; accepted 2 April 2006
Gender has been and continues to be one of the most common forms of segmentation used by marketers in general and advertisers in
particular. In general, males and females are likely to differ in information processes and decision making. The growing predominance of
Internet use has further highlighted the need for understanding online users’ attitudes and behaviors from a gender perspective.
Reﬂecting this research need, the purpose of this study was to examine gender differences within the context of online travel Website
functionality and content preferences as well as search behavior. The data used for this study were obtained from the Internet Tourism &
Travel 2001 Study conducted for the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). There was a usable sample of 1334 qualiﬁed respondents in
this study. The results indicated that there were substantial gender differences both in terms of attitudes to information channels and
travel Website functionality preferences. The implications of such differences for online tourism Website message design were discussed.
r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Gender difference; Information search process; Destination website
1. Introduction experiences is perceived as essential for the success of
The revolutionary development of information technol- Acknowledging gender differences arising from factors
ogy has dramatically changed society and people’s every- such as ‘‘biological factors’’ (Buss, 1995; Everhart,
day lives, including the way travelers search for Shucard, Quatrin, & Shucard, 2001; Hall, 1984; Saucier
information and plan trips. Recent studies by NFO Plog & Elias, 2001) ‘‘gender identity’’ (Bem, 1974; Fischer &
Research show that the Internet has become one of the Arnold, 1994; Spence & Helmreich, 1978), and ‘‘gender
most important information sources for travel information role attitudes’’(Buss & Schaninger, 1987; Douglas, 1976;
acquisition (Lake, 2001). Tourism by nature is an Eagly, 1987; Fisher & Arnold, 1990, 1994; Schaninger &
information-oriented phenomenon due to structural rea- Buss, 1985), gender has been frequently used as a basis for
sons (Schertler, Schmid, Tjoa, & Werthner, 1995). For segmentation for a signiﬁcant proportion of products and
consumers, decision-making and consumption are sepa- services (Putrevu, 2001). The fact that men and women are
rated in time and space. These distances can only be different is commonly acknowledged in most societies. The
overcome by the information about the product, which is prevalent research question, however, has focused on
available in advance and which can be gathered by the whether biological make-up or social factors drive these
consumer (Werthner & Klein, 1999). As a result, informa- gender differences. That is, the study of gender differences
tion quality has emerged as a major research topic and encompasses several unexplored dimensions that lately
providing relevant and meaningful information search have attracted research attention. Within the context of
information search processes, relatively little research has
ÃCorresponding author. Tel.: +1 765 494 7905; fax: +1 765 496 1168. been done on gender differences. An intriguing question
E-mail address: email@example.com (A.M. Morrison). facing consumer researchers is whether gender differences
0261-5177/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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can be translated into consistent differential patterns in Worrall, 1990). In many aspects, tourist information-
information-processing and judgment. In order to deliver processing is different from that of other consumers. The
products and services that cater to the unique needs and differences are mainly due to structural reasons (Schertler
aspirations of each gender, marketers need to understand et al., 1995). Tourists have to leave their daily environment,
the origins and psychological differences between the two having to move to geographically distant places to
genders. Accordingly, the purpose of this research was to consume the tourism product. According to Werthner
provide a review of the literature on the information- and Klein (1999), the tourism product normally cannot be
processing differences between females and males, empiri- tested and controlled in advance. Thus, decision-making
cally examine the gender differences in online information and consumption are separated in time and space. These
attitudes, preferences and behaviors within the domain of distances can only be overcome by the information about
travel-related information, and discuss the major implica- the product, which is available in advance and which can
tions of such differences for more effective marketing and be gathered by the consumer (Werthner & Klein, 1999).
advertising strategies. Another reason is due to the characteristics of the
tourism product. In consumer behavior research, Nelson
2. Literature review (1970) suggests that goods can be classiﬁed as possessing
either search or experience qualities. Search qualities are
2.1. Characteristics of tourism information those that ‘‘the consumer can determine by inspection prior
to purchase,’’ and experience qualities are those that ‘‘are
Various typologies of information sources have been not determined prior to purchase’’ (Nelson, 1974, p. 730).
proposed. There is general consensus, however, that With respect to classiﬁcation, tourism is a conﬁdence good;
information search can be divided into internal search, an a priori comprehensive assessment of its qualities is
which is a scan in long-term memory for relevant product impossible. This requires information from the consumer
knowledge, and external search, which happens when an and supplier sides, entailing high information search costs
internal search cannot provide sufﬁcient and adequate and causing informational market imperfections (William-
information and consumers need to collect information son, 1985). Tourism organizations rely on an exchange of
from the external world (Bettman, 1979; Engel, Blackwell information with travelers through various channels to
& Miniard, 1990; Fodness & Murray, 1997, 1998; Mullen market products and build customer relationships. Trave-
& Johnson, 1990; Wicks & Schuett, 1991). Based on these lers depend on travel-related information for functional
two concepts, Fodness and Murray (1997) conceptualized needs such as travel planning and also other social, visual,
tourist information search as ‘‘a dynamic process wherein entertainment, and creativity needs (Vogt & Fesenmaier,
individuals use various amounts and types of information 1998). Recent studies show that travelers use different
sources in response to internal and external contingencies combinations of information sources to plan trips such as
to facilitate travel planning.’’ For external sources, personal experience, friends and family, travel agencies,
travelers rely on both marketing-dominated and non- travel brochures and guidebooks, highway welcome
marketing-dominated information sources to search for centers, magazines and newspapers. These sources are
travel-related information and plan their trips. The former inﬂuenced by different search contingencies and individual
information sources include advertising and commercials characteristics (Fodness & Murray, 1998).
in the mass media, travel brochures, guidebooks from clubs In addition, the tourism product is a complex product; it
and welcome centers; the latter includes friends, relatives is a set of basic products, delivered by a large number of
and personal experiences. Further, tourist information suppliers (Werthner & Klein, 1999). The basic products are
search may vary depending on the purpose of the trip aggregated by some intermediary entities. The product
(Fodness & Murray 1998), planning horizon (Gitelson & aggregation and consolidation process is also information
Crompton 1983; Schul & Crompton 1983), motivation intensive. Products have to have well deﬁned interfaces so
(Gitelson & Crompton 1983; Vogt & Fesenmaier, 1998), that they match consumer needs, processes, and distribu-
and level of involvement (Crotts, 1999; Kerstetter, & Cho, tion channels. For example, a hotel may be packaged with
2004; Lehto, O’Leary, & Morrison, 2004). different transportation arrangements or combined with
Many studies have indicated that the major purpose of demand-generators such as sports or cultural events. These
information search is to support decision-making (i.e., packages can be sold to different consumer groups, if the
reduce risk and uncertainty) and product choice in which product attributes and the consumers’ interests can be
the information search behavior strengthens the decision- mapped onto each other. Another important feature of
making and choice behavior (Bettman, 1979; Bloch, tourism products is their perishability (Kotler, Bowen &
Sherrell, & Ridgway, 1986; Moorthy, Ratchford, & Makens, 1999). They have to be consumed when they are
Talukdar, 1997). For tourists, information acquisition is available and cannot be stored. This is true for nearly all
necessary for choosing a destination and for onsite components of the tourism product; a hotel bed not sold
decisions such as selecting accommodations, transporta- for one night represents lost income, and the same is true
tion, activities, and tours (Fodness & Murray, 1998; for a seat on an airplane or for a sports event. Thus,
Gursoy and Chen, 2000; Snepenger, Meged, Snelling & suppliers bear high risks and are vulnerable if consumers
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are unaware of product offerings. This risk can be some- shows that female students are better at reading and male
what reduced if suppliers or intermediaries have complete students are better at math in every country surveyed
access to information about inventory and availability. In (Sokoloff, 2001). It would be assumed that the cognitive
short, the unique characteristics of the tourism product gender differences inﬂuence information searchers’ prefer-
further underscore the importance of successful informa- ences and abilities to successfully search and navigate
tion dissemination strategy. information on the Web, since there is evidence suggesting
that women lag behind men in the degree to which they are
2.2. Gender difference in information processing experienced with and motivated by technology (Light,
Littleton, Bale, Joiner, & Messer, 2000; Schumacher &
Gender is socially constructed; it is based in a person’s Morahan-Martin, 2001).
view of him- or herself as possessing those qualities that The research literature seems consistent in ascribing
society deems to be masculine, feminine, or both. However, speciﬁc personality traits to men and women and in
sex is a biological classiﬁcation; the term refers to whether suggesting that the unique interests and knowledge
an individual is biologically and genetically male or female associated with the genders’ social roles guide their
(Wilson, 2002). The study of gender and gender-related judgments. In general, men are reported to be more
behavior has been and continues to be one of the most independent, conﬁdent, competitive, willing to take risks,
important forms of segmentation used by marketing and less prone to perceive product risk than females
communicators (Darley & Smith, 1995; Holbrook, 1986; (Darley & Smith, 1995). Based on previous cognitive
Meyers-Levy, 1988; Meyers-Levy & Sternthal, 1991; researches, Meyers-Levy (1988) examined gender differ-
Putrevu, 2001). Holbrook (1986) saw gender as a key ences of information search behavior in visual-spatial and
variable in moderating consumers’ evaluative judgments. verbal abilities, and argued that males had a tendency not
Meyers-Levy & Sternthal (1991) and Darley & Smith to process all available information as a basis for judgment.
(1995) suggested that the use of gender in market Instead, they relied more on their own opinions. As a
segmentation met several of the requirements for successful result, males made decisions more quickly than females,
implementation: the segments were easy to identify, easy to relying on only highly available information. Additionally,
access, and large enough to be proﬁtable. males focused on concrete, objective cues such as form and
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, and physical attributes. In contrast, females relied on multiple
lateralization refers to the specialization in the functioning sources of information before making a decision. Females
of each hemisphere: The left hemisphere specializes in processed information in a more exhaustive and inter-
verbal abilities and the right hemisphere specializes in pretive way, relying on a broad variety of information.
spatial perception (Hansen, 1981). Recent clinical and Females processed information resorting more to sources
experimental research shows that the two hemispheres are in the external world rather than to their own judgments.
more symmetrically organized in females and more In terms of information processes, Krugman (1966)
specialized in males (Everhart et al., 2001; Saucier & Elias, reported that women engaged in greater elaboration of
2001). Likewise, women have speech- and language-speciﬁc advertisements than did men, regardless of whether the
areas on both sides of our brain (Whitesel, 2005). For advertisements focused on contents considered of more
males, speech and language are not speciﬁc brain skills, and interest to men or to women. Rosenthal and DePaulo
they primarily operate on the left side of the brain. Because (1979) found greater stimulus elaboration among women
of this ‘‘non-compartmentalizing’’ of women’s brains, than among men when subjects were given adequate time
talking is necessary for processing information. In regard to process information. Similarly, Meyer-Levy and
to emotion, men’s emotion is located in two areas of the Sternthal (1991) noted that men were more likely to be
right side of their brain (Gorman, Nash, & Ehrenreich, driven by overall message themes or schemas and women
1992). Located in only one side, men’s emotions can were more likely to engage in detailed elaboration of the
operate separately from the other brain functions. On the message content. Speciﬁcally, men are considered to be
other hand women’s emotions are located in both hemi- ‘‘selective processors’’ who often do not engage in
spheres of the brain, making her more able to ‘‘switch her comprehensive processing of all available information
emotions on’’ while her brain performs other functions. before rendering judgment. Instead, they seem to rely on
The brain lateralization differences attributed to the various heuristics in place of detailed message elaboration.
sexes are also likely to inﬂuence product evaluation and These heuristics involve a cue or cues that are highly
judgment. Like the clinical ﬁndings about the brain available and salient and imply a particular inference. Such
lateralization, in cognitive studies, it is also widely accepted processing implies that men often base their judgments on
that women excel in verbal skills (Hyde & Linn, 1988), a select subset of all available information. In contrast,
whereas men show superiority in mathematical ability women are considered to be ‘‘comprehensive processors’’
(Geary, 1996; Hyde, Fennema, & Lamon, 1990) and spatial who attempt to assimilate all available information before
abilities (Linn & Peterson, 1986). Consistent with these rendering judgment. Women usually attempt effortful
ﬁndings, a recently released 32-nation OECD (Organiza- elaboration of all available information unless they are
tion for Economic Cooperation and Development) study restricted by memory constraints. Therefore, women give
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equal weight to self- and other-generated information, en- (2001) argued that the digital media are affecting the
code more message claims, and more extensively elaborate information environment and consumer behaviors in an
on speciﬁc claims. unprecedented way as a result of the unique characteristics
Despite several arguments that gender differences are of the Internet such as the speed of access, scope of access,
not signiﬁcant (O’Keefe, 2002) in cognitive theories, the provision of interactive assistance, and ﬂexibility in
research literature contains evidence of dependable gender representing information.
differences in persuasibility, with women being more easily Previous research has shown that people vary widely in
persuaded than men (Becker, 1986; Eagly & Carli, 1981). their ability to ﬁnd and retrieve information in loosely
For instance, women conform more, are more susceptible structured information environments (Chang & McDaniel,
to inﬂuence, and are more adept in encoding and decoding 1995). Some factors that predict search success in such
nonverbal communications (Hall, 1984; Everhart et al., environments include level of domain knowledge and
2001). Additionally, women are considered to be more search expertise (MacGregor, 1999), ability (Chang &
visually oriented, more intrinsically motivated, and more McDaniel, 1995), gender (ChanLin, 1999; Mantovani,
romantic compared to men (Holbrook, 1986). Wood 1994), learner control (Dillon & Gabbard, 1998; Mac-
(1966) also observed that women responded to nonverbal Greggor, 1999), learner style (Shute, 1993), and interest
stimuli by evoking more associative, imagery-laced inter- (Tobias, 1994). In general, more experienced, knowledge-
pretations, and more elaborate descriptions than did their able, interested, male users who are active learners and
male counterparts. In a similar sense, compared to men, oriented towards an internal locus of control are associated
women show more sensitivity to a variety of situation- with being successful in such environments. Gender
speciﬁc cues in determining their self-evaluations (Lenney, difference in technology adaptation rates may exist because
Gold, & Browning, 1983), and use more elaborate men and women differ in socioeconomic status, which
descriptive terms (Nowaczyk, 1982), which means that inﬂuences computer and Internet access and use (Bimber,
men pay less attention to the colors and details of 2000). Men tend to be more interested in computers than
information than women do. Men have been depicted as women, on average, contributing to gender differences in
more analytical and logical in processing orientation, Internet use (Shashaani, 1997). Others speculate that
whereas women are more subjective and intuitive since technology per se is a product of social relations, so
they indulge in more associative, imagery-laced interpreta- diffusion of new innovations favors particular social
tions (Hass, 1979) (Table 1). groups, such as men (Edward, 1995; Wajcman, 1995). In
this sense, men show a greater interest in information and
2.3. User information search process in online environment communications technology products (e.g., video, mobile
telephones and computers), and show a greater fondness
Concomitant with the rapid growth of the Internet, for the latest technical products (Mitchell & Walsh, 2004).
online information search behavior has become a major It has been also reported that women are slightly less likely
research topic. The Internet has gained considerable to live in a household with a computer (Losh, 2003), and
importance as a communicative and adaptive means of men dominate household decisions about computer pur-
sharing and disseminating information. It is generally chases (Papadakis, 2001). Some studies conclude that women
assumed that the digital media of computer networks are are less likely to use the Internet at all (e.g., UCLA, 2001;
fundamentally different from the current mass media of Bimber 2000) and use the Internet less frequently, given
television, radio, newspapers, and magazines because of Internet use at all (Ono & Zavodny, 2003).
their designs and the technology upon which they function. A recent tracking research study on online user activities
From a business perspective, the Internet makes available performed by the Pew Internet Project (Pew Internet &
new tools for marketers to reduce costs, transform American Life Project, 2004a) reported some 78 percent of
relationships, open new channels, streamline processes, men thought the Internet was a good place to go for
and contribute to shareholder value (Oliva, 1998). From a transactions, compared to 71 percent of women. Some 72
consumer behavior perspective, Dholakis and Bagozzi percent of men viewed the Internet as a good place to go
Gender difference in information-processing
Female (Comprehensive Processors) Male (Selective Processors) References
Engaged in greater elaboration of ads Engaged in less elaboration of ads Krugman, 1966; Rosenthal & Depaulo, 1979;
Darley & Smith, 1995
Central or systematic route Peripheral or heuristic route Meyers-Levy, 1989
Inﬂuenced by detailed message contents Inﬂuenced by overall message themes Holbrook, 1986; Meyers-Levy and Sternthat,
More visually, intrinsically motivated 1991; Nowaczyk, 1982; Wood, 1966
Rely on external sources Rely on internal sources (e.g., own judgment) Lenney et al., 1983
Use All available information Select subset of all available information Meyers-Levy, 1988
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for personal entertainment, compared to 66 percent of record responses. The survey collected information on US
women. There were a few notable differences in how and Canadian Internet users (iTravelers) in the following
thoroughly men and women blended Internet use into daily categories: (1) trip planning information search sources; (2)
routines. Men were more likely than women to engage in number and types of online information used; (3) time
online activities on a regular and frequent basis. Men did spent online for planning purposes for most recent trips; (4)
online activities more frequently: 66 percent checked sports information search timelines (before, during, and post-
scores online at least several times a week, compared to 46 trip); (4) inﬂuence of online information in the decision-
percent of women. Some 79 percent of men accessed news making process; (5) online travel booking patterns; and (6)
online at least several times a week, compared to 63 percent socio-demographic backgrounds of the respondents. An
of women. By contrast, women showed a deeper engage- available sample of 1334 qualiﬁed respondents for the
ment with Internet use for communicating with friends and gender difference study resulted.
family. Some 64 percent of women communicated with Data analysis was completed following a four-step
friends and family online at least several times a week, procedure. First, the demographic proﬁle of respondents
compared to 59 percent of men, a ﬁnding consistent with in the survey was identiﬁed through frequency analysis.
past Pew Internet research about the importance of the Second, one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests
Internet among women for interpersonal relationships. were conducted to examine whether there were statistically
signiﬁcant gender differences in terms of their travel
3. Research objectives information search behaviors and attitudes toward differ-
ent types of on/off-line information sources. Third, 15
Despite these prior research efforts on user online items of number of visits on travel-related Website and 11
activities, relatively little research attention had been given items related to attitudinal measurements of travel-related
to gender differences in information seekers’ attitudes Website functionality were factor-analyzed to identify
towards information channels and search behaviors in the underlying dimensions of online travel information atti-
online environment. It is reasonable to assume that tudes and behaviors. Fourth, one-way ANOVA tests were
understanding how gender-related issues affect online undertaken to detect any signiﬁcant differences between
information search and processing behaviors is essential males and females based on the factors obtained.
for tourism marketing organizations to make more
effective Web-based advertising channel selection and 5. Results
content development decisions. Therefore, this study
contributes to the literature on gender differences both in 5.1. Proﬁle and trip characteristics of respondents
terms of attitudes toward Web travel information sources
and information search behavior. The primary objectives The demographic proﬁle of the respondents by gender is
of this research study were to: summarized in Table 2. About 60 percent of the male
respondents were in the age range of 40 to 59 years,
(1) Investigate gender differences in terms of attitudes compared to 55 percent of the females. One notable
towards on/off-line travel information sources. characteristic of the respondents was that a large majority
(2) Identify the underlying patterns of online channel usage (male—90 percent/female—84 percent) of the respondents
based on patronage frequency to various tourism were highly educated (some college education or higher),
Websites and assess gender differences with regard to and approximately 65 percent of the males and about 45
these patterns. percent of the females had household incomes over
(3) Delineate the underlying cognitive dimensions of Website $60,000. Regarding employment, over 75 percent of the
information attitudes and preferences, and assess gender males and about 65 percent of the females were self-
differences with regard to these dimensions. employed or in full-time employment. Chi-square tests
showed there were signiﬁcantly difference in demographics
between men and women. It was observed that males
4. Methods tended to have higher education and household income
The data used for the study were obtained from the One-way ANOVAs tests (Table 3) revealed men were
Internet Tourism & Travel 2001 Study conducted among likely to have more vacation trips and nights away from
2470 North Americans between November 8th and home than their female counterparts. A signiﬁcant mean
December 18th, 2001 for the Canadian Tourism Commis- difference (po0:1) was also found in ‘‘the number of
sion (CTC). The survey was conducted in both the US and business trips made.’’ On average, men tended to have
Canada primarily to evaluate online travel purchase more frequent and longer trips than women did. The result
behavior. Respondents were randomly selected from showed, in particular, there was more difference between
telephone directories and interviewed by telephone on a men and women in the number of business trips than for
wide range of travel behavior questions. A Computer vacation trips. In terms of primary decisions for trips,
Aided Telephone Interface (CATI) system was used to about 63 percent of women were the primary trip decision
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makers; that was signiﬁcantly higher than their male behavior’’ variables (i.e., online hours per week, experience
counterparts. of Web use, and hours for trip planning) and 13 ‘‘attitudes
toward different on/off-line information sources’’ variables
5.2. Gender differences in online trip planning behaviors and were the dependent variables, and gender was the indepen-
attitudes dent variable. The results revealed signiﬁcant mean differ-
ences (po0:05) for ‘‘online hours per week,’’ ‘‘experience of
The gender differences in online trip planning information Web use,’’ and four attitudinal variables toward information
behaviors and attitudes were ﬁrst examined by employing sources (see Table 4). No signiﬁcant differences (po0:05)
one-way ANOVA tests. In this analysis, the three ‘‘online were found for ‘‘hours spent online planning trips’’ and the
nine other attitudinal variables.
The results indicated that females spent more time on the
Proﬁle of respondents
Internet per week and had stronger positive attitudes
toward both on/off-line information sources. However, the
Characteristic Frequency (%) Chi-saure results seemed to suggest that females’ longer hours online
did not transfer to longer online planning trip hours. It was
noted that men had more experience with Web use. This
Age 69.22ÃÃ could be explained by men generally starting to use the
18–29 96 (12.2) 49 (9.0) Internet earlier than women because of social factors such
30–39 199 (25.3) 107 (19.6) as different types of employment or higher levels of
40–49 232 (29.4) 149 (27.3)
50–59 189 (24.0) 146 (26.7)
education. In terms of online travel channels, females
Over 60 72 (9.1) 95 (17.4) attached more value to channels such as ‘‘general
Websites’’ and ‘‘ofﬁcial destination Websites’’ than their
High school 128 (16.3) 50 (9.2)
male counterparts. Females also gave higher ratings to the
Some college 266 (33.8) 129 (23.6) value of printed materials such as brochures and travel
College graduate 245 (31.1) 195 (35.7) guidebooks. Other channels such as TV, newspapers, and
Post graduate 148 (18.8) 172 (31.5) travel agents showed no signiﬁcant differences by gender.
Annual household income 69.22ÃÃ
Less than 24,999 104 (13.6) 36 (6.8) 5.3. Factor analysis on attitudes towards travel Website
25,000–59,999 324 (42.4) 158 (29.8) functionalities and contents
60,000–99,999 217 (28.4) 161 (30.4)
100,000–149,999 71 (9.3) 101 (19.1)
Over 150,000 48 (6.3) 74 (14.0) To examine the dimensions underlying the perceived
importance of contents and functionalities of destination
Websites, a principal components factor analysis with
Self-employed 78 (9.9) 67 (12.3)
Employed full-time 416 (53.0) 355 (65.3) Varimax rotation was performed on the 11 categories of
Employed part-time 66 (8.4) 9 (1.7) information. The 11 items yielded three factors with
Homemaker 101 (12.9) 0 (0) Eigenvalues greater than 1.0 (Table 5). These factors
Student 26 (3.3) 19 (3.5) explained 54 percent of the variance and were labeled:
Retired 67 (8.5) 84 (15.4)
‘‘interactive features,’’ ‘‘search features,’’ and ‘‘information
Unemployed 31 (3.9) 10 (1.8)
scope.’’ Factor loadings and communalities for all 11 items
ÃÃ po0:01. were greater than 0.59 to 0.41. The reliability alpha values
Trip behaviors and primary decision maker by gender
Trip behaviors Gender F-value p-value
Number of vacation trips in last yeara 3.04 3.20 4.16 0.04
Number of business trips in last yearb 1.35 2.26 55.37 0.00
Number of nights away on recent trip 7.50 8.10 3.99 0.05
Primary decision maker 7.22 0.00
I am the primary decision maker 437 (62.5%) 262 (37.5%)
I share the responsibility 351 (55.3%) 284 (44.7%)
Once (1), four (4), more than 5 (5).
Once (1), four (4), 5–10 (5), 11–15 (6), 16–20 (7), more than 20 (8).
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ANOVA test for gender comparison of information search behaviors and attitudes
Behaviors and attitudes Gender F-value p-value
Female (n ¼ 788) Male (n ¼ 546)
Online hours per week 3.68 3.39 13.57 0.00
Experience of online useb 4.49 4.61 4.03 0.05
Hours spent online planning tripc 3.95 3.91 0.28 0.60
Value of ‘‘been there before’’ in choosing destinationd 3.56 3.49 1.67 0.19
Value of ‘‘info center’’ in choosing destination 3.29 3.17 1.20 0.27
Value of ‘‘relatives/friend living there’’ in choosing destination 3.51 3.40 1.84 0.18
Value of ‘‘recommended by friends’’ in choosing destination 3.33 3.14 5.48 0.02
Value of ‘‘general Website’’ in choosing destination 3.61 3.43 10.74 0.00
Value of ‘‘ofﬁcial Website’’ in choosing destination 3.64 3.50 3.17 0.07
Value of ‘‘travel magazine’’ in choosing destination 3.05 2.88 2.36 0.13
Value of ‘‘general magazine’’ in choosing destination 2.78 2.42 2.62 0.11
Value of ‘‘newspaper’’ in choosing destination 3.06 2.72 1.50 0.23
Value of ‘‘TV’’ in choosing destination 3.09 2.85 1.05 0.31
Value of ‘‘travel agent’’ in choosing destination 3.37 3.33 0.03 0.85
Value of ‘‘brochures’’ in choosing destination 3.40 3.09 10.64 0.00
Value of ‘‘travel guide books’’ in choosing destination 3.57 3.37 6.33 0.01
2 h or less (1), 3–4 (2), 5–10 (3), 11–20 (4), 21–30 (5), more than 30 (6).
less than 6 months (1), 6 months to 1 year (2), 1 to 2 years (3), 3–4 (4), 5–6 (5), more than 6 years (6).
less than 1/2 hour (1), 1/2 to 1 hour (2), 1–2 (3), 3–5 (4), 6–10 (5), more than 10 h (6).
Measured on a 4-point Likert-type scale: not at all useful (1), very useful (4).
Principal components factor analysis for attitudes toward destination Website functionality
Constructs and items Factor Loadings Communality Item Means
1 2 3 Female Male F-value
Importance of wireless capability 0.79 0.64 1.16 1.16 0.00
Importance of multi-media effects 0.74 0.58 1.36 1.29 4.73*
Importance of chat room 0.71 0.51 1.17 1.13 2.73
Importance of e-newsletter 0.65 0.47 1.46 1.48 0.22
Importance of searching by keyword 0.78 0.62 2.35 2.15 19.72**
Importance of searching by location 0.77 0.61 2.55 2.42 11.14**
Importance of searching by activity 0.67 0.49 2.35 2.27 4.78*
Importance of easy to surf 0.62 0.41 2.52 2.35 16.94**
Importance of planning the entire trip 0.75 0.61 2.33 2.20 10.83**
Importance of comparing price 0.71 0.53 2.80 2.71 9.08**
Importance of saving personal proﬁle 0.59 0.47 1.97 1.77 19.52**
Eigenvalues 3.22 1.60 1.13
Variance explained 20.99 19.32 13.70
Reliability coefﬁcients 0.73 0.70 0.51
Measured on a 3-point Likert-type scale: not too important (1), somewhat important (2), very important (3)
for the three factors, designed to check the internal tance of multi-media effects;’’ ‘‘importance of chat room;’’
consistency of the items within each factor, provided and ‘‘importance of e-newsletter.’’ search features was
adequate support for internal consistency (0.73, 0.70, and labeled as the second factor; Which included high loadings
0.51 for interactive features, search features, and informa- for ‘‘importance of searching by keywords;’’ ‘‘importance
tion scope, respectively). of searching by location;’’ ‘‘importance of searching
Interactive features were represented by a total of four by activity;’’ and ‘‘importance of easy to surf.’’ the
variables; ‘‘importance of wireless capability;’’ ‘‘impor- third factor; Information scope had high loadings for
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‘‘importance of planning the entire trip;’’ ‘‘importance of 5.5. Factor analysis on visit frequencies to travel-related
comparing price;’’ and ‘‘importance of saving personal Websites
A principal components factor analysis with Varimax
rotation was performed on visit frequency to 15 categories
5.4. Gender comparison of travel Website functionalities and of information in order to examine the dimensions under-
contents lying the content of destination Websites. The 15 items
identiﬁed three dimensions with Eigenvalues greater than
In the next phase, a series of one-way ANOVA tests were 1.0 (Table 6). These factors explained 85 percent of the
performed on each of the measurement items under on the variance and were labeled: ‘‘pleasure and logistics,’’
three constructs to identify mean gender differences in ‘‘transportation and weather,’’ and ‘‘testimonials.’’ Factor
attitudes towards destination Website functionality and loadings and communalities for all 15 items ranged from
contents. Under the ‘‘interactive features’’ construct, the 0.59 to 0.75. All factors had relatively high reliability
results revealed a signiﬁcant mean difference (po0:05) for coefﬁcients, ranging from 0.61 to 0.94.
only one measurement item: ‘‘importance of multi-media ‘‘Pleasure and logistics’’ consisted of nine items; ‘‘attrac-
effects’’. Under the ‘‘search features’’ construct, all four tions,’’ ‘‘events,’’ ‘‘accommodation,’’ ‘‘package tour,’’
items (‘‘importance of searching by keyword,’’ ‘‘impor- ‘‘entertainment,’’ ‘‘activities,’’ ‘‘local information,’’ ‘‘ﬂight’’
tance of searching by location,’’ ‘‘importance of searching and ‘‘restaurant.’’ The second domain of ‘‘transportation
by activity,’’ and ‘‘importance of easy to surf’’) showed and weather’’ contained four variables including ‘‘weath-
signiﬁcant gender differences (po0:01). For the informa- er,’’ ‘‘map,’’ ‘‘transportation,’’ and ‘‘rental cars.’’ The third
tion scope construct, all three items (‘‘importance of domain of ‘‘testimonials’’ includes two items: ‘‘testimo-
planning the entire trip,’’ ‘‘importance of comparing nials’’ and ‘‘general information.’’
price,’’ and ‘‘importance of saving personal proﬁle.’’)
differed by gender (po0.01). Noticeably, all signiﬁcant 5.6. Gender comparison of patronage frequencies to travel-
mean differences indicated that females consistently had related Websites
more favorable perceptions. This is consistent with
previous studies which found that men are classiﬁed as Gender differences with regard to visit frequencies to
heuristic processors and women are portrayed as compre- various travel-related Websites were identiﬁed by using
hensive information processors (Meyers-Levy, 1989). one-way ANOVA tests (Table 6). Under the ‘‘pleasure and
Principal component factor analysis for the number of visits on travel-related Websites
Constructs and items Factor loadings Communality Item means Item means per unit cost
1 2 3 Female Male F-value Female Male F-value
Pleasure and logistics
Attraction 0.91 0.94 1.77 1.74 0.16 0.66 0.57 8.63**
Events 0.88 0.89 1.54 1.51 0.43 0.57 0.47 16.42**
Accommodation 0.86 0.84 1.97 2.13 6.56** 0.75 0.69 2.83
Package tour 0.83 0.81 1.20 1.21 0.01 0.44 0.37 15.95**
Entertainment 0.81 0.89 1.43 1.33 4.71* 0.52 0.41 28.83**
Activities 0.80 0.90 1.45 1.49 0.99 0.54 0.46 10.54**
Local information 0.71 0.87 1.40 1.31 4.04* 0.50 0.40 26.07**
Flight 0.67 0.75 0.90 0.93 4.75* 0.64 0.58 2.76
Restaurants 0.62 0.85 1.57 1.45 6.74** 0.58 0.45 25.35**
Transportation and weather
Weather 0.89 0.83 1.54 1.66 4.44* 0.54 0.47 5.70*
Map 0.75 0.82 1.79 1.66 7.78** 0.68 0.52 29.69**
Transportation 0.72 0.90 1.37 1.41 0.84 0.49 0.43 9.50**
Rental cars 0.70 0.89 1.36 1.48 6.30** 0.50 0.47 1.31
Testimonials 0.89 0.85 1.13 1.13 0.01 0.41 0.34 23.30**
General information 0.59 0.77 1.59 1.67 2.18 0.58 0.53 4.57*
Eigenvalues 10.11 1.48 1.20
Variance explained 45.11 26.32 13.84
Reliability coefﬁcients 0.94 0.78 0.61
Measured on a 3-point Likert-type scale: once (1), 2 or 3 times (2), more than 3 (3).
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logistics’’ construct, the results exposed a signiﬁcant mean past research assertions about women being more exhaus-
difference for two measurement items at po0.01 (‘‘accom- tive in information search than men.
modation’’ and ‘‘restaurant’’), and three items at po0:05
(‘‘entertainment,’’ ‘‘local information,’’ and ‘‘ﬂight’’). 6. Conclusions and implications
Under the ‘‘transportation and weather’’ construct, two
items (‘‘map,’’ and ‘‘rental car’’) at po0:01, and one item This research demonstrates that there are signiﬁcant
(‘‘weather’’) at po0:05 showed signiﬁcant gender differ- differences between females and males in terms of attitudes
ences. For the ‘‘testimonials’’ construct, it was observed toward travel Website functionality and scope as well as
that no items were signiﬁcantly different. Out of the eight actual online information search behavior. The results are
gender signiﬁcant items, women tended to patronize more consistent with the gender difference arguments from
of sites that contained ‘‘entertainment,’’ ‘‘local informa- previous research regarding how females and males process
tion,’’ ‘‘restaurant,’’ and ‘‘map’’ information while men information in different ways. For instance, it was
were more likely to seek information related to ‘‘ﬂight’’, observed that females attached higher values to a wider
‘‘accommodation’’, ‘‘rental car’’ and ‘‘weather’’. Given the variety of both online and ofﬂine information sources while
fact that women held consistently more favorable percep- choosing travel destinations. More speciﬁcally, this result
tions towards Web-based information, the results of the supports the gender difference argument that females are
ANOVA tests appear to imply that females’ high positive more exhaustive and elaborative in external information
attitudes did not reﬂect proportionally on their actual search (Meyers-Levy, 1988). Compared to their male
information search behavior. This could potentially be counterparts, females are more likely to have favorable
explained by the economics of information theory (Stigler, attitudes towards different types of Website functionalities
1961). The economics of information theory suggests and scope of contents. Moreover, based on ‘‘item means
that information searchers would acquire information per unit cost,’’ it was observed that females are also more
till the point where the marginal cost of acquiring involved in online information search, visiting more travel
additional information equals or exceeds the marginal websites and visiting them more frequently. This is also
beneﬁt (Stigler, 1961; Goldman & Johansson, 1978; consistent with previous computer mediated communica-
Urbany, 1986). That is, the differential levels in the tion (CMC) studies. A number of studies have empirically
perceived costs of information search and the expected assessed gender differences in CMC as a main research
beneﬁts of that search activity would guide individual focus (independent variable) (Allen, 1995; Hiltz & Johnson,
consumers’ search behavior for information. Within the 1990). Hiltz and Johnson (1990) found that females viewed
context of travel information search, different number of CMC more favorably than males and that they had
trips and trip costs would inﬂuence the amount of traveler stronger online information needs for women than for
information search. As noted before, males, on average, men. Coupled with the fact that females do not have as
had more trips than females had, and it naturally caused much experience in online searching as males, it seems that
more information search needs. In this sense, even though the need for user-friendly functionalities and a wider scope
males’ general perceived importance of information was of information contents are more important issues of
lower than that of females on some items, males’ concern for women.
information search behaviors were a little higher or, at According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project
least at the same level as females due to the higher number (2004b), women have reached parity with men in the
of trips and trip costs. Internet population. In the year 2000, about 60 percent of
Dividing trip expenditures by the number of Websites Internet population was men and about 40 percent was
visited, a group of variables indicating ‘‘mean number of women. In February 2004, the gender ratio among Internet
visits per unit cost’’ was constructed. The purpose was to users has shifted to 50 percent men and 50 percent women.
evaluate gender differences in the actual amount of In this sense, the ﬁndings of this research have practical
information sought per se without the confounding effect implications for women’s participation in Web-based
of trip cost. Signiﬁcant gender mean differences at po:01 marketing communications, and their use of the Internet
were observed for 10 items (‘‘attraction,’’ ‘‘events,’’ in general. The ﬁndings of this research also seem to
‘‘package tour,’’ ‘‘entertainment,’’ ‘‘activities,’’ ‘‘local suggest that while most Websites may be gender-neutrally
information,’’ ‘‘restaurant,’’ ‘‘map,’’ ‘‘transportation,’’ designed both in terms of functionality and content,
and ‘‘testimonial’’). Two items showed signiﬁcant mean women may actually be likely to use them more than
difference at po:05 (‘‘weather,’’ and ‘‘general informa- men do, since men in general do not resort to external
tion’’). Noticeably, all signiﬁcant mean differences showed information as much. Consequently, females’ more positive
that females consistently had higher item visit means per attitudes to Website functions require marketers to have
unit cost. This implies that females have not only higher more appropriate Web marketing strategies. In today’s
perceived importance attached to the functionalities as well competitive e-environment, the placement of appropriate
as contents of Websites, but also had higher number of messages on a Website in an appropriate manner is
visits to various travel Websites, when information amount paramount to success. The appropriateness of the content
is measured at per unit cost level. This is consistent with as well as the presentation of the message, however, hinges
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