Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

The Influence of Tourism Experience Self-Congruity on the Use of Virtual Social Networks

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

The Influence of Tourism Experience Self-Congruity on the Use of Virtual Social Networks

Article excerpt

Introduction

Symbolic consumption has been analysed from different perspectives since the 1980s. Most of the research have focused on two variables in order to define this construct: consumer identity and the meaning of products in society (Belk, 1984; Clammer, 1992; Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Dittmar, 1992; Edson and Bettman, 2005; Fenollar and Ruiz, 2006; Ger and Belk, 1996; Landon, 1974; Lee, 2013; Lorenzi' 1991; McCracken, 1987; Park et al., 2010; Sun et al., 2014). In this context of analysis, researchers have traditionally studied the symbolism of tangible objects (Belk, 1984; Clammer, 1992; Dittmar 1992; Fenollar and Ruiz, 2006; Ger and Belk, 1996; Landon, 1974; Lorenzi, 1991). However, several studies have examined symbolic consumption in the area of tourism in the past few years (e. g. Chen, Leask and Phou, 2016; Kim and Jang, 2014; Kim and Jun, 2016; Kumar and Nayak , 2014; Servidio, 2015; Sharma and Shruti, 2015; Uchiyama and Kohsaka, 2016), and it can be observed that self-congruity is an important construct related to the symbolic consumption of tourism products and services (Ekinci, Sirakaya and Preciado, 2013; Nam, Ekinci and Whyatt, 2011; Chen, Leask and Phou, 2016).

Self-congruity is defined as the matching of the product's image with the consumer's selfconcept (Sirgy, 1982). The studies of this construct in the tourism literature can be divided into two different fields of research: (1) self-congruity and pre-trip decision making (e. g. Ahn, Ekinci and Li, 2011; Beerli, Díaz and Moreno, 2007; Litvin and Goh, 2002; Souza, 2015); and (2) self-congruity and post-trip travel intentions (e. g. Bosnjak et al., 2011; Kastenholz, 2004; Matzler et al., 2016). This paper focuses on self-congruity and post-trip behavioural intentions.

When it comes to post-trip consumer behaviour, some authors have recently pointed out the importance of the used of social media by tourists after their trips (e. g. Amaro, Duarte and Enriques, 2016; Correia, Kozak and Reis, 2014; Kim, Lee and Bonn, 2016; Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2012; Seidman, 2013). It has also been mentioned in the literature the need of research in this area, since "the research on the analysis of virtual social networks in tourism is now in its beginnings" (Hudson et al., 2015, p. 70) and "there is a need of analysis to examine the impact of virtual social networks in tourism" (Zeng and Gerritsen, 2014, p. 34).

There are several reasons that explain the use of social media by tourists during and after their trips. For example: sharing the experience with other tourists, getting information from friends and relatives, making contact with other people interested in traveling (Cabiddu, De Carlo and Piccoli, 2014), talking about an event and trying to convince friends and relatives to attempt it (Kim, Lee and Bonn, 2016), as well as other personal benefits, as, for example, having fun using their social networks (Amaro, Duarte and Enriques, 2016).

Some authors have also examined the importance of self-presentation by tourists in social media (Luo and Zhong, 2015; Maldonado, 2012; Martín and Torres, 2013; Sun et al., 2014). Regarding this particular motivation, there seems to be a connection between perceived self-congruity and tourists' intensity of the use of social networks (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011; Hudson et al., 2015; Kim and Jang, 2014; Manago et al., 2009) as well as there seems to be a relationship between both constructs and the social value tourists' perceive from the experience (Bond and Falk, 2013; Chung and Koo, 2012; Kim, Lee and Bonn, 2015; Lyu, 2016; Molz, 2013; Munar and Jacobsen, 2014; Shanahan, 2009). Therefore, this research focuses on tourism self-congruity and its influence on the use of social networks. Furthermore, the research analyses the connection between those constructs with perceived social value and tourists' revisit intention.

Literature review

Symbolic consumption

First historical references of symbolic consumption appeared in the literature at the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century (Flügel, 1930; James, 1890; Simmel, 1903). …

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