Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effects of Consumer-Generated Media on Vietnamese Travelers' Decision Making - Mediation Analysis of Perceived Credibility and Trust

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effects of Consumer-Generated Media on Vietnamese Travelers' Decision Making - Mediation Analysis of Perceived Credibility and Trust

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study investigates the factors influencing consumer perception of credibility of online travel-related information on online communities, especially on online social networks and, in turn, the degree to which the perception of online information credibility affects trust and travel decision making. Online and offline surveys of Vietnamese consumers were conducted with a total of 328 individuals responding to questionnaires regarding the determinants of consumer perceptions, online trust and the use of online information for travel decisions. The findings show that online social network use is widespread in travel information exchanges and the degree of perception of online information credibility by the consumer has a positive effect on trust, as well as on the travel decision of the consumer.

Keywords: Consumer-Generated Media, Perceived Credibility, Travel Decision Making, Trust and Social Network

1. INTRODUCTION

Tourism is an information-intensive industry1. Therefore, travelers usually pay attention to the activity of information search to satisfy their information needs. Pan and Fesenmaier2 listed nine key concerns regarding travel planning, namely: travel partners, destination, trip budget, activities, travel dates, places visited, transportation providers, trip length and food. Fesenmaier and Jeng3 found that travelers generally search for online travel-related information in the pre-travel stage in order to minimize the risks of making an unfavorable travel decision. Web 2.0 sites such as blogs, social network sites and review sites have been emerging as the central hub for travelers to search for online travel-related information for their trip plan4. With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, travelers today can actively collaborate with peers in creating, using and diffusing travel information through the Internet, what is called travel-related consumer-generated media. Consumer-generated media (CGM) becomes an important online information source for travelers in the context of travel decision-making5, 6. In America, CGM is especially important since trip planners often rely on others' experiences for their travel decision-making. Indeed, a study reported that more than 80 percent of American travel product purchasers were influenced by various types of travel-related CGM including videos, reviews, blogs, social networking media comments or other online forms of feedback in the context of a travel purchase intention7. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, travel information search related to CGM use is not the most popular online activity. According to a study of Vina Research, a Vietnamese market researcher, more than 70 percent of surveyed Vietnamese travelers responded that they gather travel information from friends, family members and travel agencies, while only about 14.4 percent look up information from online tourism communities and social network sites8. However, the 89.2 percent of Vietnamese travelers who are younger than 30 years old said that they are interested in online sharing activities such as posting photographs, video and commenting on tourism services in the post-travel stage8. Therefore, it is predicted that travel-related CGM will be preferred and become an influential source for travel decision making in the near future.

Even so, there are increasing numbers of online travelers who use GCM, especially Facebook or backpacker forums, for sharing, discussing and exchanging their trip experiences, CGM is often perceived as less trustworthy than traditional tourism information channels. The study of Smith, Menon & Sivakumar9 indicated that the information credibility issue is mostly concerned in travel-related CGM due to information source anonymity. In addition, the credibility is also influenced by the quality of the information and the expertise of source providers. Online information credibility is defined as the degree to which online consumers evaluate online information or posted messages on CGM to be trustworthy10, 11 Evaluating the credibility of a CGM source is more difficult than evaluating information from traditional channels due to the weak quality control mechanism of the third party in the online environment12. …

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