Young media-induced travelers: online representations of media-induced travel conversations
Scarpino, Michelle Renee
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In recent years, destination marketers have experienced increasing pressure to compete in niche marketing, where critical analysis of each unique target market?s consumer needs is essential for marketing success. Destination marketers spend considerable time and financial resources identifying, characterizing and accommodating consumer needs in niche markets. Meanwhile, consumers are utilizing all aspects of information technology to plan, book, and better inform their travels. Youths? growing participation and influence in the travel and tourism industry has received moderate attention both conceptually and empirically. Furthermore, despite the increasing availability of travel information online, youths? predisposition toward media usage and their growing propensity toward travel and tourism, there has been relatively little to no attention paid towards young travelers? use of the Internet as a multifaceted travel information source. This thesis focused on broadening our knowledge of young travelers online travel information search behavior within the context of media-induced tourism. Taking a netnographic approach, this study explored how electronic word-of-mouth regarding travel destinations, products and services is mediated through Internet technology, specifically how online communities and online discussion forums are utilized as important venues, which support conversations among travelers (Wang, Yu & Fesenmaier, 2002; Wang & Fesenmaier, 2004). Study results supported previous arguments that online communities and social networking play an important role in mediating travel information search and decision-making, especially for youth, fan culture and media-induced tourism. The overall findings, limitations to this study, suggestions for future research, and practical and theoretical implications are discussed.