Visitor’s impact on destination image: Using visitor-generated content (VGC) through mobile technologies as a tool for sustainable collaborative communication
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The role played by a tourist destinations image in the process of decision-making and choice is significant. (Frais, et al. 2011; Beerli and Martin, 2004; Chen and Kerstetter, 1999; Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a; Milman and Pizam, 1995; Woodside and Lyonski, 1989). However there is currently very little International information linking online visitor generated content (VGC), mobile technologies and Destination Image, and there has been no related published research within the Irish context. Armano (2010) outlines that content found online in relation to a destination can be owned, earned, paid or shared content such as VGC. The Internet comprises of various types of web platforms that can be classified into organic, induced, or autonomous information sources (Llodrà-Riera et al. 2015). Destination image is categorized by Hyun & O’Keefe (2012) as Organic Image, Induced Image and Actual experience. Technology needs to be the key instrument to innovate and enhance co-creation of the tourist experience, and thereby create richer experiences and add value for the consumer (Govers 2002). This research will focus on social and cultural representations of destinations as represented through VGC on e-platforms using mobile technology. Online platforms currently available to travelers will be assessed and critical success factors identified. The focus of this research will be on VGC and how it is utilized before, during and after visiting a destination. It will identify what factors motivate visitors to create digital content. A blended mixed method approach will be adopted for this postgraduate research. The primary method will rely on an exploratory study of VGC with quantitative and qualitative research methods, Utilizing a content analysis approach of tourist e-platforms and field research to identify current trends, patterns and emergent themes in context of international literature. A large representative sample of holidaymakers and national tourism businesses will accomplish this. The research will identify and assess domestic and international tourist’s use of mobile technology in the context of VGC. The research will also identify motivations behind VGC and any potential barriers to using mobile technology as encountered by tourists such as availability of WIFI, roaming charges and reception. The data gathered will identify if there is a need to improve and develop technological e-platforms in terms of functionality for the tourism industry, and if so to make appropriate recommendations. The intent of this research is to contribute to new knowledge on the impact of VGC on Destination Image. It seeks to improve our understanding on the changing landscape of e-platforms due to the proliferation of mobile technologies. Furthermore, there is a gap in knowledge specific to VGC via mobile technologies and its impact on destination image. The research will bridge this gap by examining VGC such as images, reviews, blogs, podcasts etc. The research will generate baseline findings on visitor-generated content in an Irish context. VGC will play an increasing role in Destination Image with social and cultural representations of a destination being shaped by a collaborative online narrative.
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