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Tourism Management 26 (2005) 561–570
Online shopping motivations and pleasure travel products: a
Srikanth Beldonaa,*, Alastair. M. Morrisonb, Joseph O’Learyc
Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, East Carolina University, 322A Austin, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
School of Consumer & Family Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
Department of Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Services, Texas A&M University, TX, USA
Received 31 October 2003; accepted 1 March 2004
The purpose of this study was to examine purchase motives of pleasure travel components of low and high complexity in a Web
environment. Motives to buy travel components of a typical pleasure vacation were differentiated using the economics of search framework
and mapped using correspondence analysis. Findings showed a uni-dimensional solution that was named informational/transactional. While
purchase of activities, accommodation, events and attractions demanded more informational contexts behind purchase; purchase of car
rentals and airline tickets were driven by transactional contexts. Theoretical and marketing implications are discussed.
r 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: Shopping motivations; Product complexity; Search characteristics; Online travel purchase behavior
1. Introduction to inherent individual consumer characteristics. For
example, convenience, price comparison, and lower
Apart from accommodations, ﬂights and car rentals, prices were identiﬁed as the three main reasons why
the growth of travel offerings on the Internet now Internet users buy travel products online (Starkov &
include vacation packages, cruises, events, tours and Price, 2003). A key question to ask here is ‘‘What are the
attractions (NYU/Phocus Wright Report, 2003). In fact, customer motivations that differentiate the purchase of
there is a gradual shift amongst travel technology low and high complex travel products? Based on these
vendors to move beyond accommodations, ﬂights and motivations, one can identify the relevant features and
car rentals to encompass cruises, destinations and others capabilities required of online travel websites.
(NYU/Phocus Wright Report, 2003). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relation-
While the industry faces this transition, the authors of ship between consumer purchase motivations across low
this paper ﬁnd no evidence of research, empirical or and high complex travel products. Consumer purchase
otherwise that addresses online buying behavior of motivations are grounded in consumer behavior theories
complex travel products. Many studies have evaluated across both ofﬂine and online contexts, and more
demographic, Internet usage and behavioral predictors of speciﬁcally travel marketing. The paper then discusses
online travel purchase behavior (Bonn, Furr, & Susskind, the theoretical and practical implications of the ﬁndings,
1999; Weber & Roehl, 1999; Morrison, Su, O’Leary, & and suggests directions for future research. The study is
Cai, 2001; Beldona, Morrison, & Ismail, 2003). However, largely exploratory in nature.
facets of travel products such as events, attractions, tours
and packages have their own unique product character-
istics. Arguably, perceived risk behind the quality of each
2. Conceptual background
of these services can signiﬁcantly vary.
Therefore, the propensity to buy the range of low to
2.1. Overview of travel products
high complex travel products will also largely vary due
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-252-328-2190; fax: 1-252-328- The tourism market place is not well deﬁned as it
4276. involves an amalgam of heterogeneous businesses
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (S. Beldona). services such as transport, accommodation, restaurant
0261-5177/$ - see front matter r 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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and retailing (Carlsen, 1996). This is compounded by the In the online context, the most compelling motivation
absence of a meaningful taxonomy in literature that can became the convenience to shop 24/7 from the luxury of
delineate key characteristics between travel products. At one’s home (Swaminthan, Lepkowska-White, & Rao,
a broad level, travel products can be classiﬁed based on 1999). In the travel context, where many components
complexity. Flights, accommodation, and car rentals may make up for the travel experience, this combination
can be categorized as products of low complexity, of convenience, immediacy and rich information is
whereas land-based vacations, cruises and tours can be highly effective. For example, websites like Travelocity
considered products of high complexity. and Expedia provide aggregated services such as ﬂights,
Economics of information theory (Nelson, 1970; accommodations, and car rentals that are aimed at
Darby & Karni, 1973) categorized products into search, being a one-stop-shop built around convenience.
experience and credence types based on how consumers The travel decision-making process is a complex
evaluate them. Products with search qualities can be multi-stage process layered along a hierarchical set of
fully evaluated prior to purchase, whereas experience- activities (Fesenmaier & Jeng, 2000). Here too, conve-
based products must be ﬁrst purchased and consumed nience can serve as a key driver of the travel planning
before the consumer is able to evaluate. Darby and process. On the Internet, consumers can self-build a
Karni (1973) extended this to include credence goods combination of various complementary travel products
which consumers can never fully evaluate even after with relatively less difﬁculty when compared to the
purchase and consumption. Zeithaml (1981) integrated traditional context. However, the Internet can add to
this categorization to marketing, and posited that the complexity of the process too because of the
services exhibit more experience and credence qualities plethora of sources needed to coordinate and piece
due to their unique characteristics namely intangibility, together this process. For example accommodations can
non-standardization and inseparability. be bought from accommodation sites, intermediaries,
Bringing the realm of travel products within this airlines, discounts, and even destination sites. Of course,
categorization provides cues on the nature of search and the level of detail provided by each of these websites
purchase in the online medium. On the Internet, travel varies based on what the core and secondary offerings
suppliers can provide greater detail on features of are.
products using a wide array of tools. Depending on Website characteristics and purchase intentions are
the type of product, these may be comparison charts, better explained under the framework of the Technology
virtual tours, video and graphics in video as well as still Adoption Model (Davis, 1989; Davis, Bagozzi, &
image formats. Flights, accommodations and car rentals Warshaw, 1989). Lee, Park, and Ahn (2001) expanded
are standardized services that can be placed within the on the original TAM model and introduced an e-Com
easier to evaluate context as there are more known adoption model that included perceived ease of use,
parameters of tangibility (Zeithaml, 1981; Mittal, 1999). perceived usefulness, perceived risk with products/
In contrast, complex travel products such as cruises, services, and perceived risk in the context of online
land-based vacations, tours, activities and attractions transaction. An easy to use travel website would imply
can be arguably placed in the difﬁcult to evaluate aspects such as navigability, efﬁciency, consistency and
context. Prior research also indicates a linear relation- compatibility (Morrison, Taylor, Morrison, & Morri-
ship between perceived risk in a service and the son, 1999). Another aspect of the website that relates to
extent of detail of search in services (Murray & perceived ease of use is the information, features and
Schlacter, 1990). functionality available on the site. This is especially the
case with complex products such as tours, packages and
2.2. Consumer motivations to shop cruises, where consumers seek exhaustive information
before making the purchase decision. Online service
At a fundamental level, consumer motivation to shop encounter satisfaction was higher when information
is best explained by motivation theory, which contends content at the web site was deeper (Shankar, Smith, &
that cognitive or affective motives seek individual Rangaswamy, 2000).
gratiﬁcation and satisfaction (McGuire, 1974). Several Research on efﬁcacy of websites is extensive, with
studies have evaluated consumer motivations to shop many works aimed at evaluating a diverse range of
across a range of contexts such as malls, mail order providers in the hospitality industry (Kasavana, 1997,
catalogs, and supermarkets (Bellenger & Kargaonkar, 2001; Morrison et al., 1999). However, speciﬁcs of
1980; Gehrt & Shim, 1998; Darden & Ashton, 1974/ website effectiveness such as technical performance are
1975). Shopping motivations in the generic grocery outside the context of this study. This study is structured
context can be distilled into shopping contexts namely around an intermediate meeting ground that has
overall savings, convenience, information seeking, social consumer motivations and website characteristics at
interaction, and shopping experience (Rohm & Swami- two ends of the continuum. While on one hand, it deals
nathan, 2004). with underlying motivations, it also matches these with
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S. Beldona et al. / Tourism Management 26 (2005) 561–570 563
salient features of travel websites that guided consumers man & Colby, 2001). In this context, broadband users
to buy the travel product in question. Put differently, (early adopters) were found to show greater likelihood
this study is about websites providing speciﬁc web of buying travel products online compared to narrow-
shopping capabilities (push) to satisfy (pull) relevant band users who are typically late adopters (Beldona,
consumer motivations. Kline, & Morrison, 2004).
Perceived usefulness of a website can also be gauged Attitude towards a medium can also serve as a strong
by the website’s ability to attract existing customers and predictor of marketing exchange, and is also integral to
provide services such as redemption of rewards or miles technology adoption theory (Parasuraman & Colby,
points (Shankar et al., 2000). Results show that loyalty 2001). For example, broadband users are considered to
to the service provider is higher when the service is be progressive, success oriented, and ahead in the
chosen online than ofﬂine (Shankar et al., 2000). Many technology adoption curve (Jackson, Montigni, &
hospitality and travel organizations have leveraged the Pearce, 2001). Grounded in the theory of reasoned
web’s capabilities to provide interfaces for customers to action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), it suggests that
manage their rewards. For example, Marriott has attitudes can be used to predict behavioral intentions
marriottrewards.com and provides unique services to and behaviors.
its members on its website. Customers can access and There have been other studies that have supported
book online, while simultaneously keeping score of their online experience or tenure as a key determinant of
points or miles earned. online buying behavior (Bellman, Lohse, & Johnson,
Loyalty practices and policies enhance responsive- 1999; Ratchford & Talukdar, 2001; Beldona et al.,
ness, availability and convenience to the customer, who 2003a, b). Findings indicate that greater the number of
in turn may choose these speciﬁc websites for repeat months/years the user spent online combined with
purchases. Degeratu, Rangaswamy, and Wu (2000) higher frequency of Internet usage; greater was
found that brand names become more important online the likelihood of buying (Bellman et al., 1999;
in the case of low-involvement products as opposed to Weber & Roehl, 1999; Beldona et al., 2003, 2004).
high-involvement products. In a study of retail grocery Additionally, domain-speciﬁc consumer innovativeness
products, ﬁndings indicated that consumers did more was found to moderate frequency of usage as an
screening of information on the basis of brand names antecedent of online purchase behavior (Citrin, Sprott,
online as opposed ofﬂine (Andrews & Currim, 2000). In Silverman, & Stem, 2000).
the case of travel products, one may argue that However, delving a little further into the Internet
standardized products such as ﬂights, accommodation, experience reveals a more evolving construct. Under-
and car rentals can be considered to be within this standing Internet experiences is grounded in the ability
context, where the brand name could be a major draw to process information effectively. This in turn is
for purchase. inﬂuenced by education, intelligence, product experi-
Low prices can also be one of the reasons as to why ence, relevant knowledge, and message difﬁculty (Ma-
people buy online. It has been found to be a major cInnis & Jaworski, 1989). Hoffman and Novak (1996)
driver of online travel purchasing (Starkov & Price, found that experienced users were attracted to techni-
2003; PhocusWright Report, 2000). Price sensitivity is cally advanced sites with novel features that present
higher online, but this is due to online promotions more challenges. Alwitt and Hamer (2000) posit that
being stronger signals of price discounts (Degeratu consumers increase their control with more time spent
et al., 2000). on the Internet, and in turn develop ﬁner expectations of
their interactions with businesses in general. Findings
2.3. Internet experience indicated an inverted ‘‘U’’ relationship between web
usage expertise and consumers’ expectations of service
Technology adoption theory also has been used to providers, where consumers with moderate levels of web
explain purchasing propensities on the Internet. The usage expertise have higher expectations than do
technology adoption cycle states that when a technology consumers with low or high levels of web usage
is introduced in the market, its adoption stages are expertise. Hammond, McWilliam, and Diaz (1998)
characterized by ﬁve segments, namely explorers, showed prior experience is an important moderator of
pioneers, skeptics, paranoids, and laggards (Parasura- users’ attitudes towards the Web, although its inﬂuence
man & Colby, 2001). There are individual characteristics is not linear. The heaviest users are enthusiasts for the
that go to distinguish each of the above segments. medium, while moderate and light users perceive it as a
Segments vary based on a combination of optimism, source of information, but not for entertainment or fun.
innovativeness, discomfort, and insecurity in attitudes Novelty as a construct has also been categorized as a
towards the technology. The important aspect about key value driver in online consumer behavior (Amit &
technology adoption is that each segment develops over Zott, 2000). How a person buys is largely driven by the
time to become a viable customer segment (Parasura- novelty of the purchase occasion, an aspect relevant to
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the Internet when viewed as a technological innovation. Table 1
This means that novelty of purchasing may itself be a Table of online shopping motivations
driver, but may wear off as repeated purchases occur Reasons for purchasing at the website
over a period of time. Subsequent visits to a website may
1. Ability to use rewards/travel points
have marginal effects on purchasing as the shopper may
not register the stimuli that played a persuading role 3. Detailed information
during earlier visits (Park, Iyer, & Smith, 1989). On the 4. Ease of booking
contrary, the likelihood of purchasing may increase 5. Familiar with company
through increased familiarity with purchase system in 6. Offered independent ratings of product (e.g. hotel star rating)
7. Low price
place (Beatty & Ferrell, 1998). This paradox is best
8. Recommendations by friends/family
explained by the theory of consumer innovation, which 9. Testimonials on site/chat line/online bulletin board
in itself can play a signiﬁcant role in how novelty is 10. Other reason (specify)—
dealt with in the purchase process (Hirschman, 1980).
Consumer innovation is largely driven by innate
personality characteristics in every individual (Hirsch-
man, 1980). and recoded back to any of the six chosen categories
based on the response given. A total of 44 observations
were added into the contingency table based on this
3. Methodology and analysis recoding from the open category.
User skill level was used as a control or moderating
Data for this study came from a November 2001 variable. This was constructed using a combination of
survey conducted by the Canadian Tourism Commis- three variables namely online tenure, type of Internet
sion (CTC). The survey was conducted using telephone connection and the extent to which multimedia applica-
and respondents were randomly selected from telephone tions are used such as Acrobat, Flash, Quicklime,
directories in the United States and Canada. A Windows Player. Users who have spent more than 3
computer-aided telephone interface (CATI) system was years on the Internet, have broadband connections and
used to record responses. Initially, the number of cases use more than two multimedia applications were
representing the US was 1364 and that of Canada was categorized as high-skilled users. Low-skilled users were
1161. To ensure parity in the sample size for comparable categorized if they had spent less than 3 years online,
representation within the analysis, the number of US have narrowband connections, and use less than two
cases was randomly scaled down to 1145. This led the multimedia applications.
total number of cases to be used for analysis to be 2306. Correspondence analysis using multi-way tables was
Questions for the speciﬁc analysis to be done were chosen as the statistical technique to analyze the data. It
drawn from a pool of questions that sought dichot- is a statistical method to depict associations between two
omous (1=yes, 0=no) responses on the reason for or more categorical variables. It provides a visualization
purchasing at a particular site as opposed to another of the association along with some referential statistics to
site. The question posed was ‘‘For your trip to determine the number of dimensions prevalent between
DESTINATION (subject speciﬁc and mentioned earlier the associations. In effect, it is a geometric technique that
in questionnaire), what is the main reason that you draws from the row and column points in the
purchased your airfare at SITE (selected in an earlier contingency table, and place categories (levels) of the
question) versus another site? The list reasons are variables as points in low-dimensional visual space, so as
provided in Table 1. A ‘‘select all that apply’’ option to best ﬁt their associations in the table. Put differently,
was given for respondents to answer. A more detailed correspondence analysis is a sophisticated technique that
list of frequencies is presented in the contingency table gives a powerful representation of association between
created in Table 2. The 10th category called ‘‘other’’ categorical variables by giving a comprehensive view of
recorded open responses. Only six categories were the data (in the contingency table) for effective
chosen for ﬁnal analysis namely ability to use rewards/ interpretation.
points, availability, detailed information, ease of book- Correspondence analysis is a widely used technique in
ing, familiar with company and low price. Independent marketing research. It is used to examine similarities and
ratings, recommendations, and testimonials were three associations between attributes and brands. In tourism
other categories discarded from the analysis because of marketing literature too, correspondence analysis is
the low frequency counts that they reported. Only 4.3% becoming a much used technique (Gursoy & Chen,
cases reported independent ratings as a reason to buy, 2000; Chen, 2000). As a statistical technique of choice,
5.1% reported recommendations, and 1.18% of the correspondence analysis is very useful when associations
cases reported testimonials as a reason for purchase. between two or more multi-level categorical variables
Open responses in the ‘‘other’’ category were analyzed have to be examined. In tourism marketing speciﬁcally,
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Multi-way table of user skill level, travel product and online shopping motivation
Travel product component Rewards Availability Information detail Ease of booking Familiarity Low price
Low user skill level
Flights 83 129 85 183 109 208
Activities 3 26 32 42 7 15
Attractions 3 31 25 31 8 16
Car rentals 28 72 53 112 68 113
Events 1 33 28 37 5 19
Accommodations 32 147 179 217 75 147
Tours 2 14 16 21 3 15
Packages 5 26 22 38 8 30
High user skill level
Flights 70 74 76 142 78 129
Activities 3 15 16 18 7 12
Attractions 7 10 12 19 5 10
Car rentals 34 49 46 84 43 81
Events 4 25 29 28 8 14
Accommodations 29 97 113 141 24 82
Tours 1 8 6 12 1 3
Packages 7 16 15 24 9 24
it is an extremely useful application because of the large explained by each dimension. These are called singular
number of categorical variables used for analysis. values, and they should be greater than 0.20 to be
Correspondence analysis derives commonalities accepted as a viable dimension (Hair et al., 1998).
amongst categorical variables akin to principal compo- Singular values for dimensions extracted indicate
nents analysis for continuous data (Garson, 2001). a uni-dimensional solution with a 0.23 value for
However, it must be mentioned that correspondence dimension I.
analysis is purely an exploratory technique, and that A total chi-square statistic is also provided (236.074)
statistical signiﬁcance of relationships should not be as a measure of association between the rows and
assumed (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998). columns, and the number of dimensions extracted.
Table 2 illustrates the multi-way table to be analyzed. Dimension I explains for 83.32% of the variance of
This multi-way table shows frequencies of a three-way the cumulative solution. Tables 4 and 5 provide more
cross tabulation matrix comprising user skills (two detail to understand the actual decomposition of the
levels), travel product component (eight levels), and variance based on individual contributions of column
reason to purchase (six levels). A multi-way table can be and row points in the contingency table. Table 4 outlines
analyzed in correspondence analysis using an approach the travel services, and how they correspond to the
called ‘‘stacking’’ (Friendly, 1995). A three-way table, of dimensions. Coordinate values of each travel compo-
size I Â J Â K can be sliced into I two-way tables, each nent are shown in column 2 across both dimensions.
J Â K. In our case, the frequencies were sliced into Inertia is a term used in correspondence analysis to
two (high and low user level) tables cross-tabulated describe the variance of that point along the dimension
across travel product component (J) and reason to in contention (Hair et al., 1998). Each point is explained
purchase (K). along the dimensions in quantitative terms and these
values are illustrated in the column titled ‘‘explained by
dimension’’ in Table 4. The cumulative total of
4. Results variances explained by a point along the two dimensions
is then illustrated in the ﬁnal column titled ‘‘total’’. One
Proc Corresp from SAS Version 8.2 was used to will note that with the exception of packages amongst
analyze the data. In correspondence analysis, k À 1 low skill users (28.8%), all other travel components
dimensions are drawn based on the number of explained dimensions above the range of 50% of the
categories in the column of the contingency table variance. Hair et al. (1998) suggest that points that do
(Garson, 2001). With six reasons for purchase spread not contribute to the dimension over and above 50%
across the rows, ﬁve dimensions were drawn from the should be removed in the joint plot. In this case, it was
analysis as is evident in Table 3. Correspondence decided to drop packages completely from the analysis
analysis provides statistical measures of describing the even though one of its points (low skills) had explained a
number of dimensions, and the proportion of variance little more than 50%. This is because it complements
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Determination of dimensionality
Dimension Singular value Inertia Chi square Proportion explained Cumulative proportion
1 0.23264 0.05412 236.074 83.22 83.22
2 0.07562 0.00572 24.947 8.79 92.02
3 0.05181 0.00268 11.709 4.13 96.15
4 0.03862 0.00149 6.507 2.29 98.44
5 0.03186 0.00101 4.427 1.56 100.00
0.06503 283.664 100.00
Dimensions and their correspondence to travel products
Travel services Coordinates Contribution to inertia Explained by dimension Total
I II I II I II
Low user skill level
Flights 0.2540 À0.0221 0.2177 0.0156 0.9561 0.0072 0.9633
Activities À0.3860 0.0381 0.0789 0.0073 0.9370 0.0091 0.9461
Attractions À0.3200 À0.0698 0.0495 0.0223 0.8044 0.0383 0.8427
Car rentals 0.1704 À0.1365 0.0549 0.3330 0.5812 0.3727 0.9539
Events À0.4018 À0.0876 0.0841 0.0378 0.8947 0.0425 0.9372
Accommodations À0.1698 À0.0249 0.0974 0.0197 0.8393 0.0180 0.8573
Tours À0.2609 À0.0298 0.0205 0.0025 0.7903 0.0103 0.8006
Packages À0.1283 À0.0781 0.0090 0.0315 0.3914 0.1449 0.5363
High user skill level
Flights 0.2416 0.1033 0.1407 0.2434 0.8323 0.1521 0.9844
Activities À0.1856 À0.0337 0.0104 0.0032 0.7888 0.0260 0.8148
Attractions À0.0294 0.2128 0.0002 0.1144 0.0173 0.9035 0.9208
Car rentals 0.1843 0.0307 0.0485 0.0127 0.9669 0.0268 0.9937
Events À0.3339 0.0247 0.0510 0.0026 0.8785 0.0048 0.8833
Accommodations À0.2368 0.0878 0.1155 0.1501 0.8490 0.1167 0.9657
Tours À0.3965 0.0370 0.0206 0.0017 0.6803 0.0059 0.6862
Packages 0.0532 À0.0229 0.0011 0.0020 0.2432 0.0451 0.2883
Dimensions and their correspondence to online shopping motivations
Online travel search modes Coordinates Contribution to inertia Explained by dimension Total
I II I II I II
Rewards/points 0.4260 0.2163 0.2399 0.5850 0.7862 0.2026 0.9888
Availability À0.1667 À0.0515 0.0909 0.0821 0.7465 0.0713 0.8178
Information detail À0.3019 0.0537 0.2907 0.0870 0.9188 0.0291 0.9479
Ease of booking À0.0860 0.0176 0.0360 0.0142 0.7013 0.0294 0.7307
Familiarity 0.3239 À0.0766 0.2035 0.1078 0.8474 0.0475 0.8949
Low price 0.1891 À0.0580 0.1390 0.1238 0.8331 0.0784 0.9115
with the other corresponding low value in the ‘‘high 50% of the variance, with most in 80–95% range.
skill’’ category. Dimension I is explained by all six perceived catalysts of
Table 5 illustrates all six catalysts or drivers of purchase. This is the column that explains the contribu-
purchase. Just as factor loadings are used in conven- tion of points to inertia (variance) in percentage terms of
tional factor analysis to ascribe meaning to dimensions, a particular dimension. To visualize association of
so are ‘‘contribution of points to dimensions’’ used to points in low two-dimensional space, a correspondence
intuit the meaning of correspondence dimensions map displays dimensions that emerge from principal
(Garson, 2001). Clearly, all points explain more than components analysis of point distances (Garson, 2001).
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Fig. 1. Joint plot of online shopping motivations, travel products & internet skill use level. FTL=ﬂights (low skill), ACL=activities (low skill),
ATL=attractions (low skill), CRL=car rental (low skill), EVL=events (low skill), AML=accommodation (low skill), TOL=tours (low skill),
FTH=ﬂights (high skill), ACH=activities (high skill), ATH=attractions (high skill), CRH=car rental (high skill), EVH=events (high skill),
AMH=accommodation (high skill), TOH=tours (high skill), PT=rewards/points, AV=availability, IN=information in detail, ES=easy to use,
Also called the joint plot (Fig. 1), the plot reveals the may recall that the 2001 was a very deﬁning period for
relationships between online shopping motivations and the accommodation sector in the online segment
travel products of low and high complexity. First look (Starkov, 2001). During this period, hoteliers were
shows two distinct sides on the X-axis. While rewards/ struggling to provide price transparency on the Internet.
points, familiarity and price are positioned along one Many hotels had not yet effectively placed inventory
side, the other side of the same axis show the remaining online, and this reﬂects strongly on the visual map.
three namely ease of use, information detail and Another plausible reason for accommodations to fall
availability. Therefore, this dimension is suggestively within the informational is that the purpose of trip is
named transactional/informational. largely pleasure driven. One may contend that the
Clearly, ﬂights and car rentals purchases by both low nuances of accommodations for pleasure trips face
and high experienced users are strongly associated with relatively greater scrutiny as opposed to the same for
low prices and familiarity. On the other hand, events, business trips.
accommodation and tour purchases amongst experi- Highly skilled users attach more importance to
enced users followed by activities from less experienced detailed information when purchasing tours, accommo-
users appear strongly associated with detailed informa- dation and events online. In contrast, less skilled users
tion. Another cluster groups activity purchases among attach more importance to availability, when it comes to
less experienced users followed by accommodation buying accommodations online. Interestingly, a reverse
purchases from experienced users with the availability like situation exists when it comes to ‘‘activities’’, where
factor. high-skilled users consider availability as very important
When viewed holistically, the joint plot provides more compared to less skilled users who put information
than just an association of relationships in clusters. It detail ahead of everything else. While low-skilled users
delineates travel components based on consumer per- perceive detailed information as key to purchasing
ceptions of situational criteria attached to travel ‘‘tours’’ online, high-skilled users see availability as
services. For example, ﬂights and car rentals are more important in the same sector.
relatively more established sectors in the online travel
segment. These sectors have greater price transparency,
which drives consumers to seek more evaluative
information on that front. Familiarity is imperative to 5. Discussion and implications
these purchases as are reward points to be gained from
purchasing them online. In contrast, consumers attach Two key ﬁndings emerge from the study. Firstly,
more importance to availability, detailed information online shopping motivations of travel products of low
and ease of use to services that are not as yet established. and high complexity are distinctively different. Sec-
Interestingly, accommodations fall within this group, ondly, online shopping motivations vary depending on
along with activities, tours, attractions and events. One user skill levels. Importantly, user skills are a function of
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568 S. Beldona et al. / Tourism Management 26 (2005) 561–570
online tenure, type of Internet connection and the types events can improve their online availability. In fact,
of applications used to navigate the Internet. ﬁndings provide pointers on the behavioral antecedents
While purchase of less complex products such as of buying pleasure travel products on the Internet. This
ﬂights and car rentals are driven by motivations with is especially relevant given the projected growth in
transactional objectives, shopping motivations behind online sales of complex leisure products over the next
complex such as tours, activities and attractions are few years.
driven by informational parameters. Speciﬁcally, re- The ﬁndings clearly indicate that lodging managers
wards/points and price grouped with ﬂights and car should strive to improve availability of rooms as well as
rentals, and motivations such as detailed information more information about the property and its surround-
and availability were largely associated with accommo- ings. Informational detail can be in the form of
dations, tours, attractions, activities and events. Greater proximity to shopping centers, surrounding attractions
information detail with products of high complexity can and related detail. Findings are more pertinent to resort
be associated with greater perceived risk as well as the managers because the context of this study is largely
need for more control too. Familiarity was more pleasure oriented. For managers of airlines and car
associated with less complex products, which can be rentals, ﬁndings emphasize the need for websites to have
attributed to the structural maturity of the industry in greater customer relationship management tools. Online
terms of the presence of established brands. customers of these products are looking for ways to
Low- and high-skilled Internet users are distinctively derive greater value from web based interactions. In
different. At the outset, one can generalize that high- many ways, this can be interpreted as enhanced control
skilled users place greater emphasis on information for customers so that they can effectively manage their
detail when it comes to travel products of high rewards programs.
complexity. This is illustrated by key associations of Findings of the study can also help in the develop-
this group with information detail in the case of ment of customer centric travel reservation systems. As
activities, events, tours and accommodations. However, the travel distribution system moves towards integrating
in the case of accommodations and activities, low-skilled various components of travel using common standards,
users were driven more by availability than other the results of this study can help in the design of systems
motivations. based on customer requirements of components. Future
One can explain the above phenomenon of avail- research can develop a comprehensive evaluation of
ability over detailed information using novelty theory travel components within one single system, and
(Amit & Zott, 2000). How a person buys is largely evaluate customer perceptions towards it.
driven by the novelty of the purchase occasion, an A big limitation of the study is the absence of
aspect relevant to the Internet when viewed as a ‘‘complementarities’’ as a driver of purchase. A few
technological innovation. This means that novelty of respondents in the open category did indicate that they
purchasing may itself be a driver, but may wear off or bought speciﬁc components simply because they were
improve with repeated purchases over a period of time. part of a larger package. Future research should
Repeat buyers will need stronger stimuli such as detailed investigate complementarities and the speciﬁc relation-
information compared to earlier stimuli (availability) in ships between the various components in it. For
this case that played a persuading role (Park et al., example, ﬂights and accommodations can be considered
1989). Again, a relatively less established segment such more complementary compared to ﬂights and other
as activities can attract more experienced users wherein services. Reason enough that Orbitz sells rooms as a
availability becomes very important. Less experienced value addition to its core service of ﬂights. Another
users seeking the same product may perceive greater risk limitation of the study is the inability to identify
and seek more information, a fact illustrated in the joint motivations speciﬁc to ‘‘packages’’. One may recall
plot. Future research can investigate this gap and from the ‘‘Findings’’ section that this component had to
speciﬁcally examine evolving purchasing behaviors be removed as it did not add substantively to the
based on experience in greater depth. dimensionality of the plot. Future research should
There are several implications for online and ofﬂine separately identify the key online shopping motivations
travel marketers in general. Travel marketers can use the of packages along with other complex products such as
ﬁndings in the areas of website design and promotional cruises, etc.
activities. Websites can be tailored more effectively to Although exploratory, this study paves the way for a
meet needs of users based on skill levels. For example, more detailed study of the drivers purchase in travel
websites can have alternative gateways based connection websites across all travel components. Several aspects
speed, as well as customized features based on identiﬁed can be studied such as the breadth of choices,
skill levels. Skilled users can be provided with detailed personalization, information representation, bundling,
informational content using multiple media. Destination testimonials and recommendations. A comprehensive
marketers who typically provide tours, activities and study that captures a wider range of constructs can
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