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Title: Analysing the factors affecting online travellers' attitude and intention to use consumer-generated media for travel planning
Authors: Ayeh, Julian Kwabena
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: Notwithstanding the growing enthusiasm about social media, empirical research findings suggest that the majority of Internet users are not using consumer-generated media (CGM) for travel planning (e.g. World Travel Market, 2010). Yet little is presently known about the relevant factors determining CGM usage for the specific purpose of travel planning. The aim of this study is to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the factors affecting online travellers' attitude and intention to use CGM in the travel planning context through a theoretical extension of Davis' (1989) Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). While TAM has been proven useful in explaining the use of Information Technology (IT) applications, it does not address the issue of understanding consumers’ behaviour towards newly emerging technologies such as CGM. Factors determining the acceptance of new IT are expected to vary with the technology, target users, and context (Moon & Kim, 2001). Based on literature review, additional constructs deemed to be appropriate to the CGM setting are introduced, and propositions are developed to enhance the understanding of travellers’ online behaviour. Given the complex scenario of travel information search in the current Web 2.0 environment, the proposed model adopts concepts from theories in other disciplines specifically, the theories of Homophily, Source Credibility, Motivation and Media Richness to explain the antecedents of the intention to use CGM for travel planning. To achieve the intended objectives, the study uses an explanatory research design to clarify "why" travellers would want to (or not want to) use CGM for travel planning. From a post-positivist perspective, the study adopts a quantitative approach for data collection and analysis involving the use of online survey questionnaire, and the application of the structural equation modelling technique of partial least squares for data analysis. Following an item screening test by a panel of scholars, the online survey questionnaire was tested with a pilot study (n=201). Subsequent principal component analysis and relevant procedures offered support for the validation of the constructs. An improved questionnaire was employed for the main survey of online travel consumers from Singapore and the USA. A total of 1,202 valid responses were collected, and the proposed structural model was tested using SmartPLS 2.0 (Beta) M3 software application after meeting cross-validation requirements.
The findings of this study provide strong support for the proposed structural model and the hypothesised relationships. The explained variances in the endogenous constructs and the results of StoneGeisser's Q² tests for predictive validity demonstrate that the structural model sufficiently reflects online travellers' attitude (R² = 65.6%; Q² = 0.551) and intention (R² = 56.2%; Q² = 0.482) to use CGM for travel planning. Also, 11 of the 12 established hypotheses were supported. The study found that perceived media richness, credibility and perceived ease of use were significant predictors of online travellers' perception of CGM usefulness. Perceived usefulness, in turn, significantly determines travellers' attitude and intention to use CGM for travel planning. Also, perceived enjoyment considerably influences perception of ease of use and attitude even as attitude serves as a prime predictor of intention. The study also found perceptual homophily as a principal antecedent of credibility. While credibility directly impacts attitude and perceived usefulness, its direct effect on intention was the only proposition that was not supported. Nonetheless, further investigation using the Sobel Test (Sobel, 1982) and the causal steps approach (Baron & Kenny, 1986) revealed that the mediation effects of attitude and perceived usefulness were responsible for this non-significant effect. A PLS-based multi-group analysis by means of Henseler's (2007) bootstrap test routine revealed interesting results about differences and similarities across countries, gender, and usage experience segments. Whereas the measurement and structural models were invariant across male and female sub-samples, significant differences were found in the structural model relationships as well as the explained variances regarding the country-specific models. The model performs better at explaining the behavioural intention of Singaporean travellers (R² =62.3%) than that of American travellers (R² =55.6%). In contrast, the country-specific model estimation is much more efficient in predicting US online travellers' perceptions of the usefulness of CGM (R² =53.2%) than that of their Singaporean counterparts (R² =42.7%). Comparison of group-specific effects further revealed significant differences at the structural level between sub-samples of online travellers who have previously used CGM for travel planning and those who were yet to do so. The study holds important implications for theory and practice. While extending the scope of information system adoption research to CGM in the travel planning context, this study validates the significant roles of perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and perceived enjoyment in predicting travellers' attitude and intention to use CGM for travel planning. The study introduces additional constructs (i.e. source credibility, perceptual homophily and perceived media richness) from the communication studies and marketing research that reflect the complex context of CGM application to travel planning. In this way, the study widens the application of the theories of homophily, media richness and source credibility, beyond single disciplines and particular cultural contexts. The present study also draws attention to differences in terms of the antecedents of usage in voluntary settings. For instance, factors such as perceived enjoyment and ease of use, which are known to have weaker effects in the conventional TAM literature, take on greater importance when it comes to CGM usage in the travel planning setting. This study further supports the appropriateness of the attitude construct in TAM research when investigating individual usage intentions in non-work place situations as attitude mediates the relationship between some of the cognitive factors and usage intention. Several managerial implications also emerge. The model might help managers understand how travellers' assess CGM websites. The study offers insights into the cognitive factors which determine travellers' decision to use CGM for travel planning, and which CGM platform managers need to give priority to as they attempt to leverage social media in hospitality and tourism settings. Also, by assessing group differences in the antecedents of online travellers' intention to use CGM for travel planning, this study may help to inform practitioners and marketers about the relevance of segmentation strategies in social media marketing.
Subjects: Tourism -- Social aspects.
Tourists -- Attitudes.
Hospitality industry -- Social aspects.
Social media.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xv, 455 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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