Social media impact on leisure travel: The case of the Russian market and the challenges for the Cyprus Tourism Industry. Preliminary Findings


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This presentation was delivered in the 3rd Annual Euromed Conference of the Euromed Academy of Business, November 4th-5th 2010, at Nicosia, Cyprus.
The paper was submitted in the form of an abstract and is published in the Conference Readings Book Proceedings.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business

Social media impact on leisure travel: The case of the Russian market and the challenges for the Cyprus Tourism Industry. Preliminary Findings

  1. 1. Social media impact on leisure travel: The case of the Russian market and the challenges for the Cyprus Tourism Industry Preliminary Findings John Fotis, PhD Researcher, PT Lecturer School of Tourism, Bournemouth University Dr. Nicos Rossides, Chief Executive Officer MASMI Research Group Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis, Established Chair in Tourism, School of Tourism, Bournemouth University
  2. 2. Web 2.0: Users as content creators Web 2.0 “empowered” consumers by enabling them to generate their own content through a range of devices and platforms that are easy to use. A significant number of consumers are now able to use the web, not only as recipients of information (Web 1.0 era), but also as information and content creators for others.
  3. 3. Phenomenal success of social media • Facebook (2010): +517m users • Twitter (2010): 160m users; 90m tweets/day • Flickr (2010): 5bn pictures; +3000 pictures /min • Blogs worldwide: +200m • Youtube (2010): 2bn videos seen/day; 24hrs of videos uploaded/min • Foursquare (2010): 3m users
  4. 4. Definitions “ applications, platforms and media which aim to facilitate interaction, collaboration and the sharing of content” (Richter & Koch 2007) “activities, practices and behaviours among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media. Conversational media are Web-based applications that make it possible to create and easily transmit content in the form of words, pictures, videos, and audios. (Safko and Brake 2009) ”...a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010)
  5. 5. Cavazza 2009
  6. 6.
  7. 7. Social media and tourism SM seem to change significantly the way individuals plan and consume travel: • 82% of US online consumers have checked online reviews, blogs and other online feedback for their travel related purchasing decisions (eMarketer, 2008). • TripAdvisor (2010), hosts over 40 million user-generated reviews and opinions, used by more than 40 million website visitors per month.
  8. 8. Social media are becoming increasingly important in tourism • Experiential nature / complexity / high cost of tourism products • Potential tourists rely on others’ experiences for their decision making, decreasing uncertainty and increasing the exchange utility • Social media enable storytelling, a usual post-travel engagement to a larger audience, while providing a sense of belonging in virtual travel communities. • The content of on-line communities is perceived as similar to recommendations provided by friends, family members or even “like-minded souls” becoming vital information source to potential tourists.
  9. 9. Research Purpose • To investigate the role and impact of social media on how Russian holidaymakers plan and consume holidays • To explore determinants of acceptance and usage levels of SM as marketing and communication tools, by the Cyprus tourism industry.
  10. 10. Rationale of context Russia has the most engaged social networking audience worldwide in terms of time spent /user (ComScore 2010): 34.5 million Russian internet users (74.5% of the online population) visited at least one social networking site, spending an average of 9.8 hours /visitor during the month ranking it #1 among all countries in social networking engagement. Russia is Cyprus’... • Second most important incoming holiday market • Most promising market in terms of per capita tourism receipts
  11. 11. Research objectives To measure Russians’ holidaymakers: 1. Exposure to SM before, during and after their trip; 2. Level of influence that SM have on their holiday plans 3. Level of trust / credibility towards SM, in relation to traditional sources of holiday related information. QuantiQuali To explore among Cyprus tourism industry’s stakeholders 4. The perceived importance of SM as marketing tools, 5. The underlying reasons determining acceptance and usage level of SM as part of their organization’s communication tools.
  12. 12. Design / Methodology / Approach Two stage research design: • Quantitative (Objectives #1, #2, #3) A questionnaire survey to MASMI’s online Russian panel (n=329) • Qualitative (Objectives #4, #5) A number of in-depth semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders of the Cyprus tourism industry.
  13. 13. Cyprus 9th in terms of consideration Q. Which countries did you consider? 48% 37% 24% 18%18% 15% 10%10%10%10% 9% 9% 9% 7% 7% 7% 7% 6% 6% 5% 5% 4% 4% 4% Base: Travelled P12M
  14. 14. Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt: top 3 destinations Cyprus ranked 23rd Q. Which country did you go to? 22% 16% 12% 5% 4% 4% 3% 3% 3% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% Base: Travelled P12M
  15. 15. Cyprus possibly missing opportunities • Cyprus has low conversion rates • Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Egypt have high conversion rates 68% 47% 45% 31% 25% 21% 21% 20% 16% 16% 15% 15% 10% Ukraine (24%) Belarus (10%) Turkey (48%) Egypt (37%) Italy (15%) Thailand (10%) Czech Rep (7%) Bulgaria (18%) Austria (9%) Tunisia (9%) Greece (18%) Spain (10%) Cyprus (9%) NB. Ratio from consideration to final decision (in brackets: %age consideration)Base: Travelled P12M
  16. 16. 12 days is the average length of stay Expected high influence from packages offered by travel agents 20% 18% 14% 7% 6% 5% 5% 3% 10 7 14 5 12 8 15 3 Base: All travelled in P12M Nights stayed
  17. 17. A high 73% visited SM when planning Q. Did you visit social media when planning your holidays 73% 10% 17% Yes No Cannot remember Base: All travelled in P12M
  18. 18. 63% use SM to find alternatives Q. Why did you use SM when planning? 63% 33% 45% 47% 56% To search for destination ideas To narrow down my destination choice To confirm that I made a good destination choice To seek ideas & info on accommodation options To seek ideas & info on leisure activities Base: All who used SM when planning Before deciding on destination After deciding on destination
  19. 19. Info from friends & travellers sought Q. Which of the following did you use, to find info about your holidays …? Base: All who used SM when planning 4% 7% 11% 12% 17% 36% 39% 40% 41% 41% 45% 64% 76% Advertisements in radio Advertisements in newspapers Advertisements in magazines Advertisements in TV Documentaries in radio Company owned websites Articles in newspapers Articles in magazines Travel agents Official tourism websites Shows or documentaries in TV Suggestions from friends and relatives Information and reviews provided by other…
  20. 20. Trust in friends, travellers & SM Q. How much do you trust holiday info found in …? Base: All who used SM when planning 23% 31% 34% 47% 57% 69% 92% Advertisements Travel agents Holiday documentaries Official tourism websites Social Media Holiday info from travellers Holiday info from friends NB. %age positive responses
  21. 21. SM influential on destination Q. How much were you influenced on choice of destination? 7% 5% 5% 15% 32% 22% 14% 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Base: All who used SM when planning NB. 7-point scale Ave. Score: 4.8 out of 7
  22. 22. SM influential on accommodation Q. How much were you influenced on choice of accommodation? 10% 5% 9% 16% 23% 20% 16% 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Base: All who used SM when planning NB. 7-point scale Ave. Score: 4.7 out of 7
  23. 23. 2 in 3 made changes based on SM info Q. Did you make any changes to your original holiday plans because of info you found in social media websites? 48% 15% 35% 2% Made a few changes Made significant changes No changes Not sure Base: All who used SM when planning
  24. 24. Experiences fed back to SM – a full circle Q. After holidays, for what reason did you use any social media websites? 78% 27% 28% 12% To share experiences/photos To provide reviews To get ideas for next holidays Did not visit/use any SM Base: All travelled in P12M
  25. 25. Important to keep in touch with friends Q. During holidays, for what reason did you use social media websites? 28% 18% 49% 15% 2% 31% To find out info on leisure activities To provide comments on experiences To stay connected with friends Used SM but not related to holidays I cannot remember Did not visit any SM Base: All travelled in P12M
  26. 26. In conclusion • Social media play an important role in travel behavior • Consumers are engaged throughout the process • Cyprus enjoys high consideration yet can do better in converting Pre During Post
  27. 27. John Fotis Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis Thank you Dr. Nicos Rossides