A critical evaluation of information sources used in the tourist destination decision making process

Bell, R 2016, A critical evaluation of information sources used in the tourist destination decision making process , PhD thesis, The University of Salford.

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The tourism industry is one of the largest in the world; it is also an industry which is growing in terms of its overall contribution to global GDP and employment and in terms of the number of destinations which seek to attract tourists (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2015). Concurrent developments in information communication technology serve to amplify the tyranny of choice faced by tourist destination decision makers by providing greater information on the growing list of possible destinations, resulting in an ever more complex decision making process. The holiday destination decision is one which evoke high levels of product and purchase decision involvement, both of which encourage an extended, more comprehensive decision making process; this in turn elicits the collection and assimilation of greater amounts of information about the various alternatives. Information search, however, is limited by a number of factors (the time available to the decision maker and cognitive processing capacity being chief amongst the limitations), therefore the information about each destination that is critically analysed by the decision maker during the destination decision making process is not uniform. Understanding the role that the various information sources play (how they are perceived, whether they are used and whether their use influences the likelihood of the destination being chosen or not) during the tourist destination decision making process is important to professionals engaged in the marketing of tourist destinations. However, in the words of Choi et al (2012, p. 26) ‘there has been no empirical research attempting to explore information use patterns within the structure of the decision-making process in the tourism literature’. As a result, the aim of this research was to identify and evaluate a complete choice set model of the extended Destination Decision Making process and review critically the role of information sources within that affect the process. A web based questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data from a sample (judgement sampling was used due to the lack of a sample frame) who were asked (amongst other things) about the destinations that they considered during the destination decision making process, why they rejected destinations, which information sources they used to research the destinations and what their perceptions of the information sources were. The data collected were analysed using SPSS statistical software package. The findings confirmed the validity of the choice set model which was presented and tested within this research. The findings also demonstrated that a construct of ‘perceived utility of information sources’ exists which is a compound of the sources’ perceived level of bias, how up to date it is, how easy it is to access and the value that can be obtained through that source. An information sources’ perceived utility was found to be positively correlated to whether it is used or not. Furthermore, the results of this research identified statistically significant relationships between the use of an information source and the likelihood of the destination researched through that source being selected (or rejected), thus drawing a link between perceived utility, use of an information source and the likelihood of destination selection/rejection. Finally, the results of statistical analysis also showed that demographic differences affect the perceived utility of information sources, whether they were used in the destination decision making process and the likelihood of a destination being researched through the source being selected or not. The findings of this research can be used by professionals responsible for destination marketing who can establish the perceived utility of the information sources that they use amongst their target market in order to maximise the likelihood of their destination being selected.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Funders: Salford Business School
Depositing User: R Bell
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 09:24
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:29
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/39381

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