The Role of WOM in Affecting the Intention to Purchase Online: A Comparison Among Traditional vs. Electronic WOM in the Tourism Industry

The Role of WOM in Affecting the Intention to Purchase Online: A Comparison Among Traditional vs. Electronic WOM in the Tourism Industry

Ilenia Confente (University of Verona, Italy), Vania Vigolo (University of Verona, Italy) and Federico Brunetti (University of Verona, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8575-6.ch017

Abstract

Recent studies have focused on the influence of online word-of-mouth (WOM) on tourist behavior. However, the role of traditional versus online WOM on travel decisions remains to be expanded. This chapter addresses this research gap by empirically investigating the impact of offline and online WOM on travel decisions across four different cohorts: Generation Y, Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. In addition, it explores generational differences with regard to online booking intentions. Findings reveal that traditional WOM affects travel decisions by all cohorts, with a higher impact for the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generations. Online WOM has a higher influence for younger cohorts, who also show a higher intention to purchase online than older generations. Still, the results show that senior individuals are well aware of the possibilities offered by the Internet as both an information source and a purchase channel.
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Literature Background

Information Sources for the Tourism Industry

Tourists tend to use a combination of information sources to help them in their decision to book a tourism product (Snepenger, Meged, Snelling, & Worrall, 1990). Specifically, they can use both offline and online sources. Online information sources include both commercial sources (e.g., hotel websites, tour operators and websites) and peer-to-peer sources (online reviews or online WOM) (Luo, Feng, & Cai, 2005). WOM from family and friends has long been regarded as one of the major influential sources in travel decisions, and particularly, in hotel booking decisions (Bieger & Laesser, 2004). The following sections review a selection of offline and online information sources as possible drivers of online purchase intentions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Word of Mouth: An oral, person-to-person communication between a receiver and a communicator whom the receiver perceives as non-commercial, regarding a brand, product, or service.

Online Information Sources: Information consumers can collect from the online context which include both commercial sources (e.g., hotel websites, tour operators’ websites, etc.) and peer-to-peer sources (online reviews or online WOM).

User-Generated Content: Is defined as any type of content that has been created and shared by unpaid contributors. It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand itself.

Digital Divide: Is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don't or have restricted access. This technology can include the telephone, television, personal computers, and the internet.

Cohorts: Group whose members share a significant experience at a certain period of time or have one or more similar characteristics

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