Traveler Decision Making in Online vs. Offline Buying Behavior: A Contrasting Perspective

Traveler Decision Making in Online vs. Offline Buying Behavior: A Contrasting Perspective

Souvik Roy, Amar Raju G., Dennis Joseph
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9783-4.ch002
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The growing preference of consumers to search for information and make web purchases in travel and tourism context is forcing a number of enterprises to go online. Looking at the complexity that already lies in offline decision making, attracting consumers online, understanding their psychology, and making them purchase is becoming a stringent job for the marketers. Though significant research work has been done in terms of adoption of website services for travel websites, a comparative understanding of the offline and online purchase decision-making process of the consumer and how that can be leveraged in making the consumer loyal through continuous usage of the website services still needs an in-depth understanding. In this chapter, the authors have tried to differentiate between online and offline behavior and proposed a model based on intention adoption and continuance framework which will surely provide insights to both the academicians and marketers/website developers in terms of improving the online buying behavior of consumers in travel and tourism context.
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Understanding consumer behaviour has been a key area of concern for academicians for several decades, however decoding the nuances of consumer buying have over time become more and more complex especially with the growing emergence of online travel related services (Olsen & Connolly 2000). Although the steps in consumer decision making that persuades consumers in the offline world are applicable in the online platform also, still there are differences which needs to be highlighted in a specific manner. The change in the context and medium makes a huge psychological impact on the consumer behaviour making it more challenging for the marketer to understand the online consumer decision making process (Rayman-Bacchus & Molina, 2001). On one hand a consumer may walk into a store look at every option and may decide to buy online a concept called as show-rooming or vice versa a concept known as web-rooming, where a customer checks the products or services online but decides to make the purchase offline making it more complex for the marketers to formulate an integrated marketing mix strategy (Holm, 2006). However understanding this contrasting behaviour is critical for marketers as many companies are accessible to consumers through both offline and online mediums (Chatterjee, 2001).

Consumer purchase decision making procedures are made out of a few factors that impact buyer decision for specific items and services. Travellers may pick lodging, depending on its area, brand name, different offices, service quality, price, loyalty program, and quality evaluations by past visitors. Value delivery is an essential concept in retaining clients be it online or offline. Past research has discovered that value is directly connected with behavioural expectations in all kind of industries and travel & tourism is not an exception to it. In this way, it is vital for hoteliers to examine the key predecessors affecting the procurement goals in order to positively impact clients from the pre-buying stage itself. Arranging a trip includes a worldly, dynamic, progressive, and multistage unexpected choice process (Starkov, 2001). Information needs and information seeking strategies can be accepted to fluctuate for various stages in the decision making process (Li et al., 2013; Litvin et al., 2008). Likewise, travel arranging includes a huge number of factors for which decision choices should be made.

Advances in data innovation and the presentation of new techniques for correspondence have prompted progressively critical changes in consumer behaviour. These progressions have created a stir in organizations marketing strategies and business administration, particularly in the travel business. The Internet enables potential visitors to accumulate data about lodging pleasantries and facilities in a utilitarian nature since they can think about costs without reaching a hotels sales representative or travel operator and set up their travel agendas while seating in front of a screen. As a result of high penetration of web-based business, effectively receiving a more successful internet business channel has turned into a huge issue for travel organizations.

Online business in hospitality and the travel industry has advanced in later a long time from the fundamental offers of less-complex items, for example, carrier tickets, lodging and auto rentals, to grasp more complex items including excursion bundles and travels. While the business condition for the travel business proceeds to be in motion, the quick multiplication of new items and services makes it always a troublesome for firms to get it what clients want and will pay for. Making things much additionally difficult, potential market contributions in the travel business have become progressively perplexing due in extensive measure to propels in data innovation that enable clients to look at and deliberately evaluate the relative expenses and advantages of various choices. Though recently travel enterprises have reacted to the open doors offered by online business by creating sites to take full preferred standpoint of the viable and inventive business employments of the internet but still it is in infancy stage with quite a bit of learning curve to attain competitive advantage in this continuously evolving business opportunities offered by information technology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web 2.0: The second stage of improvement of the internet, characterized mainly by the change from static web pages to dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social media.

Target Audience: A particular group or intended audience at whom a product or a service such as holiday package is aimed through company-related communication.

Consumer-Generated Content: Consumer-generated content (CGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on the internet.

Tourism: Tourism is a complex set of industries including accommodation, recreation and entertainment, food and beverage services, and transportation services for business, leisure, or other purposes.

Social media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Consumer Behavior: Consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and all the actions associated with buying, use and disposal of goods and services, including the consumer's emotional, mental, and behavioral responses that revolve around these activities.

Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM): Any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the internet.

Hospitality Sector: The hospitality industry is a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, food and drink service, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise line, traveling, and additional fields within the tourism industry.

Online shopping: This is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a vendor over the internet from the seller’s website or a third party website using a web browser.

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