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UEF // University of Eastern Finland
ENTER2017, Rome, 24.-26.1.2017
Katja Pasanen & Juho Pesonen
Katja.pasanen@uef.fi
A cl...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Aim of this presentation
•How tourists choose their destination and how can a destina...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Theoretical background of the study
Traveller decision making process
•Traveller deci...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Traveller decision making process – choice set model
30.1.2017 4
All existing
destina...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
More recent approaches in travel decision making
• Travelers make various choices reg...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
• Information search is often closely linked to the
decision making process (Fodness ...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
•Searching has become an increasingly dominant mode in travelers' use
of the Internet...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
• Marketing has a potential to have an impact on intention to visit a
destination and...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Purpose of the study
•Tourist point-of-view: how available information
affects their ...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Study area
•Saimaa area, Savonlinna region
•Most important attractions:
– Olavinlinna...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Methodology
•Qualitative research
•Data collected in august 2016: 57 interviews
•Semi...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Methodology
12
•Semi-structured question form
– Efficient to collect comprehensive,
b...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Results
•Interviewed travellers
– 14 from German speaking Middle Europe, 12 from Medi...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
•Initially 1-2 potential destinations in
mind when starting the decision
making proce...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Information search before destination decision
•Internet, WOM and previous visit affe...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
– “We started to look for general information on internet, just to see what
places we...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Information search after destination decision
•Choosing the country is the starting p...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
– “Le Routard, the French guide book for travellers, was our most important
informati...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Information search concerning Savonlinna region
•Internet, guidebooks, WOM most often...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
– ”I had been thinking about Finland as I heard some
travel experience from my friend...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Before
destination
decision
Before
decision to
travel SLN
After
destination
decision
...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Conclusions – managerial implications
•Marketers need to know their customers
and the...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Conclusions – managerial implications
•The importance of WOM and eWOM
– Social media ...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
Theoretical contributions
•Understanding of how tourists choose the international des...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
References
Castañeda, J. A., Frías, D. M., & Rodríguez, M. A. (2007). The influence o...
UEF // University of Eastern Finland
References
Pesonen, J. (2011). Tourism marketing in Facebook: Comparing rural tourism...
Thank you!
Juho.pesonen@uef.fi (@eppuJ)
Katja.pasanen@uef.fi
www.uef.fi/mot
uef.fi
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A closer look at tourist information search behaviour when travelling abroad: what is the role of online marketing in destination choice?

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Information search and the decision-making process of tourists have received great attention in tourism research literature and both are considered to be important theoretical and practical topics. This study contributes to these topics by studying international tourists during their trip in a destination using qualitative interviews and by focusing on the role of online marketing in tourists’ decision-making process. Altogether 57 international tourists in Savonlinna, Finland were interviewed during summer 2016 to find out the factors that affected their decision to come to Savonlinna. The results demonstrate how important it is for destinations to understand their international customers and understand what is the destination they should actually be promoting. Banners and social media do not seem to play an important role in new customer acquisition, but search engine optimisation and content marketing as well as product quality are at the top of the list.

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A closer look at tourist information search behaviour when travelling abroad: what is the role of online marketing in destination choice?

  1. 1. UEF // University of Eastern Finland ENTER2017, Rome, 24.-26.1.2017 Katja Pasanen & Juho Pesonen Katja.pasanen@uef.fi A closer look at tourist information search behaviour when travelling abroad: what is the role of online marketing in destination choice?
  2. 2. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Aim of this presentation •How tourists choose their destination and how can a destination affect this choice with marketing? Structure of presentation •Theoretical background of the study •Purpose of the study •Methodology •Results •Managerial implications 2
  3. 3. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Theoretical background of the study Traveller decision making process •Traveller decision making is affected by multiple social, cultural and geographical factors (e.g. Decrop & Snelders, 2005) – Social/personal factors: age, education, occupation, personal history, situation in life, travel experience, personal resources, motives, opinions of family members, attitudes etc. – Situational factors: emotions, available information, side projects, time and money resources etc. 3
  4. 4. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Traveller decision making process – choice set model 30.1.2017 4 All existing destinations Awareness set Evoked set Dream set Unavailable set Available set Action / interaction set Final choice Inaction set Surrogate set Exclusion set Unawareness set MARKET Consideration Evaluation Constraints Contacting? Choice Sources: Crompton, 1992; Decrop, 2010
  5. 5. UEF // University of Eastern Finland More recent approaches in travel decision making • Travelers make various choices regarding their trip (destinations within a country, timing, trip type, activities, accommodation etc.) both off- and on-site in addition to destination choice  researchers should integrate these factors more into destination choice research 5 Future Dependency of Destination Choices in a Tour Trip (Fu, Zhang & Fujiwara, 2012). Off-site – On-site desicion making (Moore, Smallman, Wilson & Simmons, 2012 ).
  6. 6. UEF // University of Eastern Finland • Information search is often closely linked to the decision making process (Fodness & Murray, 1997) • Travelers search for and use a lot of information before destination decision • Most of the information is for functional needs and reduces the risk that is present in destination choice (Jacobsen & Munar, 2012; Vogt & Fesenmaier, 1998) • Different travelers have different types of information needs • There are differences between travelers in information search behavior e.g. based on their familiarity with the destination or cultural background (Fodness & Murray, 1997; Money & Crotts, 2003) 6 Information search and destination decision making
  7. 7. UEF // University of Eastern Finland •Searching has become an increasingly dominant mode in travelers' use of the Internet (Xiang & Gretzel, 2010) •Social media has changed the way people search for and use information (Xiang & Gretzel, 2010; Öz, 2015) •According to literature eWOM and UCG has impact on destination choice (Castañeda et al., 2007; Jalilvand and Samiei, 2012) – Even among national tourism organisations social media is still largely experimental (Hays et al., 2013) – We are still in an exploratory stage when it comes to investigating the influence of social media on destination choice (Tham et al., 2013) •There is lack of empirical studies that include tourist assessments of possible impacts of social media on tourist information acquisition and search (Jacobsen & Munar, 2012) 7 Information search and destination decision making
  8. 8. UEF // University of Eastern Finland • Marketing has a potential to have an impact on intention to visit a destination and destination choice (Woodside & Lysonski, 1989) • It is important for destination marketers and managers to understand the traveller behaviour and information needs since – Increase in time cost to acquire information can cause tourists to look elsewhere (Gursoy & McCleary, 2004) – Marketers have the possibility to affect consumer choice of destination through marketing and/or social environment – Destinations have to balance their marketing resources to many different channels and target groups • Destinations need to know what is the role of marketing in different points of the information search and decision making process • We need more information in order to develop destination marketing and communication strategies to influence tourists' behaviour in a more efficient way 8 Information channels and destination decision making
  9. 9. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Purpose of the study •Tourist point-of-view: how available information affects their choice of international destination? •1) How tourists define the international destination they are visiting and •2) How international tourists perceive the role of destination marketing in their decision-making process 9
  10. 10. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Study area •Saimaa area, Savonlinna region •Most important attractions: – Olavinlinna castle – Lake Saimaa and lake nature – Linnansaari and Kolovesi national parks – Savonlinna Opera Festival Map: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Map_of_Finland-en.svg 10
  11. 11. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Methodology •Qualitative research •Data collected in august 2016: 57 interviews •Semi-stuctured recorded interviews •3 interviewers: interviews conducted in English, in Russia and in Japanese 11
  12. 12. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Methodology 12 •Semi-structured question form – Efficient to collect comprehensive, but comparable data •No word-by-word transcribing •Analysed by using Atlas.ti •Coded based on themes and structures that rose from the data – quantification of the data
  13. 13. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Results •Interviewed travellers – 14 from German speaking Middle Europe, 12 from Mediterranean Europe, 10 from France – 7 from Russia – 3 from Nordic countries, 3 from Great Britain, 3 from the USA – 2 from Japan, 2 from Netherlands and 1 from Israel. •26 - 40 years old (38 %), 41 - 55 years old (30 %) •First visit to Finland (63 %), first visit to Eastern Finland (83 %), Savonlinna region (85 %) •Nearly all the travellers on a tour trip – 35 in Finland – 16 added also Scandinavia, Baltic countries or Russia 13
  14. 14. UEF // University of Eastern Finland •Initially 1-2 potential destinations in mind when starting the decision making process: 20 mentioned only Finland •First some information about competing destinations, but quickly concentration on Finland •Destination country chosen quite intuitively 14 FINLAND? NORWAY? SWEDEN? NORDIC COUNTRIES? ICELAND? Decision making process
  15. 15. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Information search before destination decision •Internet, WOM and previous visit affects most when deciding on the destination – Family and friends mentioned often – Most often mentioned websites: Google, VisitFinland.com and Tripadvisor – More often Internet mentioned on general – SoMe mentioned only couple of times •Information relating to general information (nature, lakes etc.), possible nature activities and ease of traveling with kids 30.1.2017 15
  16. 16. UEF // University of Eastern Finland – “We started to look for general information on internet, just to see what places we could visit, our time, do we have time to visit this place. With in a day we had a very good view on internet on the general website of Finland www.VisitFinland.com. I think, with very amazing photographs, it was really convincing.” Male, Italy, 22 – “We collected information from my friends, my network, and internet of which country would be easier to travel with kids, and everything.” Male, Spain, 26 – “We found a guide book that recommends a round trip in Finnish cities. We've been revolving around this guidebook, and later we added Baltics to complete our tour plan.” Male, France, 27 30.1.2017 16 Information search before destination decision
  17. 17. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Information search after destination decision •Choosing the country is the starting point of more in-depth information search in order to make other decisions concerning the trip: destinations, things to do etc. •Information channels and searches get more versatile •Internet, guidebooks, OTA and SoMe after the destination decision, when looking for deeper information – Most often mentioned websites: Google, transportation websites, VisitFinland.com – SoMe: Tripadvisor, Booking.com, online diaries/reviews – Maps and guidebooks also important •Information relating to transportation, distances, routes, flights, car rentals, accommodation, sights, canoeing, national parks 30.1.2017 17
  18. 18. UEF // University of Eastern Finland – “Le Routard, the French guide book for travellers, was our most important information source. Information for the accommodation I looked on TripAdvisor, booking.com, hotels.com and Airbnb.” Female, France, 51 – “We searched our driving roads. We rented a car. We referred to Lonely Planet (a guide book), and so many info on internet. Google and TripAdvisor for example.” Male, USA, 68 – ”Then we decided what kind of trip we want to do, and we need a car in Finland. We searched on internet if there is any similar route that has been done by other tourists.” Male, Italy, 22 – “First it was about the visa (to Russia), and after we organized it we organized the rest. We looked quite a lot information about Oravi and Linnansaari area, about how to do this trip. Canoeing opportunities, tents, about rental equipment, all that practical stuff.” Male, Switzerland, 35 30.1.2017 18 Information search before destination decision
  19. 19. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Information search concerning Savonlinna region •Internet, guidebooks, WOM most often used when considering destinations within a country – Traditional WOM and guidebook/internet/WOM recommendations gave the first push to consider Savonlinna – After that concentration on other channels – Internet: Google, VisitFinland.com, Tripadvisor, national park webpages – Only few mentioned destination web pages – SoMe still not mentioned very often •Information relating to things to do and see, canoieing, national parks, Olavinlinna castle 30.1.2017 19
  20. 20. UEF // University of Eastern Finland – ”I had been thinking about Finland as I heard some travel experience from my friend (in his country.) The friend said that Savonlinna is a good place with beautiful scenery, and he explained about the historic castle, and so decided to come.” Male, France, 27 – “During our travel planning this time, we already knew about Savonlinna by Lonely Planet.” Male, USA, 68 – “I saw it (the information) on TripAdvisor searching keywords with "sightseeing Finland”.” Male, USA – “We visited website of Savonlinna, tourist visit www.savonlinna.fi and website of the national park Linnansaari.” Male, Italy, 22 30.1.2017 20 Information search concerning Savonlinna region
  21. 21. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Before destination decision Before decision to travel SLN After destination decision After deciding to travel to Savonlinna At destination At Savonlinna e-mail 0 0 5 1 0 1 eWOM 4 2 9 2 0 1 Guidebook 8 10 12 13 2 0 Internet 24 21 30 18 1 1 Magazines, leaflets, brochures 3 2 0 0 1 2 Map 1 0 4 2 1 1 OTA 2 2 12 2 0 0 Photos/pictures 2 2 2 2 0 0 Previous visit 13 6 0 0 0 0 SoMe 5 3 12 3 0 1 Some company webpage 1 5 2 2 0 0 Travel agency 0 0 2 2 0 0 TV/radio/video 2 1 0 0 0 0 VisitFinland.com 5 3 2 5 0 0 WOM 14 8 6 8 5 2 Tourist info 0 0 0 0 3 1 21
  22. 22. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Conclusions – managerial implications •Marketers need to know their customers and the destination they are visiting – It was Finland, not Saimaa region or Savonlinna •Important to concentrate visibility on search engines and collaboration with national tourism organisation – Key words •Also need to acknowledge the importance of travel guidebooks 22 “Actually I got the confidence to come here since there was the possibility to book online and I could check the availability every now and then. We planned our own routes by ourselves. For me it is important that I can plan and book everything by myself without the necessity to contact anyone.”
  23. 23. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Conclusions – managerial implications •The importance of WOM and eWOM – Social media presense of a destination is taken for granted •Need to take care of the quality – of information – of services •No action set – Important to get all the required information from the internet and other sources without contacting destination 23 “One argument was that organizing this by using internet was easier than archipelago, Oravi (district of Savonlinna) is well organized compared to other companies. I did not want to contact ten different destinations, so well organized web pages seals the deal.”
  24. 24. UEF // University of Eastern Finland Theoretical contributions •Understanding of how tourists choose the international destination they are visiting. – Internal information search seems to play a greater role when tourists are placing destinations into their consideration set (Decrop, 2010) and online marketing of destinations is crucial when tourists are choosing the destination from an evaluation set. – Functional information especially (Vogt & Fesenmaier, 2008) still seems to be in the forefront of tourist information search. •This study is one of the few studies that collect data on tourist information search and decision-making using qualitative research methods in the destination during the holiday of an international tourist. 30.1.2017Esityksen nimi / Tekijä 24
  25. 25. UEF // University of Eastern Finland References Castañeda, J. A., Frías, D. M., & Rodríguez, M. A. (2007). The influence of the Internet on destination satisfaction. Internet Research 17(4): 402-420. Crompton, J. (1992). Structure of vacation destination choice sets. Annals of Tourism Research, 19(3): 420-434. Decrop, A., & Snelders, D. (2005). A grounded typology of vacation decision-making. Tourism management, 26(2): 121- 132. Decrop, A. (2010). Destination choice sets: An inductive longitudinal approach. Annals of Tourism Research, 37(1): 93-115. Fodness, D., & Murray, B. (1997). Tourist information search. Annals of tourism research 24(3): 503-523. Gursoy, D., & McCleary, K. W. (2004). An Integrative Model of Tourists' Information Search Behaviour. Annals of tourism research, 31(2): 353-373. Hays, S., Page, S. & Dimitrios Buhalis (2012). Social media as a destination marketing tool: its use by national tourism organisations. Current Issues in Tourism, 16(3): 211-239. Jacobsen, J. K. S., & Munar, A. M. (2012). Tourist information search and destination choice in a digital age. Tourism Management Perspectives 1(1): 39-47. Jalilvand, M. R., & Samiei, N. (2012). The impact of electronic word of mouth on a tourism destination choice: Testing the theory of planned behavior (TPB). Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy 22(5): 591-612. Money, R. B., & Crotts, J. C. (2003). The effect of uncertainty avoidance on information search, planning, and purchases of international travel vacations. Tourism Management, 24(2): 191-202. Moore, K., Smallman, C., Wilson, J., & Simmons, D. (2012). Dynamic in-destination decision-making: An adjustment model. Tourism Management, 33(3): 635-645. 30.1.2017 25
  26. 26. UEF // University of Eastern Finland References Pesonen, J. (2011). Tourism marketing in Facebook: Comparing rural tourism SME’s and larger tourism companies in Finland. In ENTER 2011. pp. 537-546. Pesonen, J. (2013). Information and communications technology and market segmentation in tourism: a review. Tourism Review 68(2): 14-30. Tham, A., Croy, G., & Mair, J. (2013). Social media in destination choice: Distinctive electronic word-of-mouth dimensions. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 30(1-2): 144-155. Vogt, C. & Fesenmaier, D. (1998). Expanding the Functional Tourism Information Search Model. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(3): 551-578. Wu, L., Zhang, J., & Fujiwara, A. (2012). A Tourist’s Multi-Destination Choice Model with Future Dependency. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 17(2): 121-132. Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism management 31(2): 179- 188. Öz, M. (2015). Social media utilization of tourists for travel-related purposes. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 27(5): 1003-1023. 30.1.2017 26
  27. 27. Thank you! Juho.pesonen@uef.fi (@eppuJ) Katja.pasanen@uef.fi www.uef.fi/mot uef.fi

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