Thesis: Social Media and Tourism The Use of Socialization

Pages: 60 (15928 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 50  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Social Media  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] The practical implications of this study are that for strategic marketing, understanding one's audience and how and why they use a particular medium (in this case, social media) can have tremendous benefits. Not only does it enable one to use that same medium to tap into the minds and hearts of consumers, but also it enables the marketer to enhance his own marketing strategy so that

Background

Tourism in Serbia was a significant portion of the country's GDP prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1980s. Following that unstable time, the tourism industry suffered significantly in Serbia. However, with the arrival of the 21st century and relative political stability in the region, tourism has begun to pick up once more. The country's historical heritage, destination places, and events such as Exit Festival attract visitors from all over the world. Erdeji et al. (2013) found that

Serbia hosts a large offer of natural resources and a great diversity of scenic landscapes, from high mountains to valleys and plains. The Danube, which runs through Serbia for 588 km, with the Sava, the Tisza and the Great Morava compose a dense river network, attractive for all water activities in summer and autumn. Biological diversity of Serbia, both the ecosystem and species, is extremely high and attractive for tourism. Rural Tourism overnights represent 27% of total tourism overnights in Serbia. Tourism in Serbia is expected to increase with 3% over the next five years (p. 309).

With such deep pockets of tourism possibilities, the Serbian tourist industry is well-situated to take advantage of consumer interest in travel and potentially profit from the use of new media to draw those consumers to the country.

The Serbian government is committed to maintaining and developing the tourism industry going forward, according to the Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications (Ekapija, 2016). To help the industry achieve this aim, strategic marketing plays a substantial role. While there are various components of this strategy, the one that stands out in the Digital Era is the use of social media. How do travelers to Serbia use social media to plan their trips? How do organizations in the tourism industry use social media to appeal to consumers? Understanding the way in which these two groups view the phenomenon of social media usage can help to enable a deeper understanding of how social media can be used as a component in Serbian tourism's market strategy as well as the marketing strategy of tourist and hospitality organizations around the world.

To date, some organizations within the tourism industry are already using social media to help connect with consumers. Four Seasons implemented a marketing campaign that used Pinterest to help consumers connect with tourists and plan destination trips. The goal was to promote Four Seasons through the medium of Pinterest, uniting travelers with others and bridging them by way of the Four Seasons organization and its usage of Pinterest, a popular social media site. Go Pro is another organization that links travels with social media, using YouTube to upload travelers' video footage of trips that have been filmed using Go Pro cameras. The videos have hundreds of thousands of views online and show how corporate aims can be united to social media to help promote an organizational outcome.

For the Serbian tourism industry, any tool that can be of support in the rebuilding of the industry is something to consider for marketing departments within the tourism and hospitality organizations of that country. Serbia has a lot of attractions that still bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year and these tourists' use of social media is an untapped spring that could provide a great deal of data on how social media can be used to help the sector better achieve its goals.

Chapter Breakdown

Chapter One provides an introduction to the topic of this dissertation and describes the problem, the purpose of the study, and the background of the subject of social media and marketing.

Chapter Two provides a literature review of the relevant literature associated with social media and marketing usage.

Chapter Three describes the methodology utilized for this study and the process of analysis used to assess the findings.

Chapter Four presents the findings of the analysis.

Chapter Five discusses the findings in terms of the theoretical approaches utilized for this study and offers conclusions as well as recommendations both for the tourism industry in Serbia and for future research.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Process

Relevant literature for this study was obtained using Google Scholar as a search engine. Beel, Gipp and Wilde (2010) have shown that Google Scholar is a reliable search engine for obtaining studies because of its academic search engine optimization codes. It also provides users with a simple interface that is easy to employ even for advanced searches. Likewise, Schultz (2007) states that Scholar allows users to have "a simple way to access 'peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts, and articles from academic publishers' sites, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations" (p. 442). This finding has been corroborated by Jasco (2005), who notes that Google Scholar is "an excellent free tool for scholarly information discovery and retrieval" (p. 208). Thus, using Google Scholar, keywords such as "social media marketing" and "social media tourism industry" were used to obtain initial articles on the subject. These articles were used to create a snowball effect similar to snowball sampling, so that one article was used to help lead to another, using keywords obtained from it. In this manner a substantial number of studies were found that helped to provide a considerable understanding of the relationship between social media and marketing up to the current time.

Social Media and Marketing

Maurer and Hinterdorfer (2013) show that "travelers have to rely on images and descriptions regarding travel products and services" when making decisions about where to go and what to do (p. 213). Photo sharing social media platforms allow tourists to connect with one another to share photographic documents of travel and experiences. This presents an opportunity for the tourism industry and in particular for destination management organizations. The study used an online survey of Austrian destination management organizations to obtain data on how Pinterest may be used by these organizations to advance their business aims. The findings showed that while Pinterest is limited in terms of what it enables the tourism industry to do in terms of connecting with consumers, the potential for photo sharing social media sites to be used by marketers was viewed as great and seen by participants as a positive area for focus. This study was helpful in that it indicates a strong connection between the rise of social media as a new technology and the need for marketing in the 21st century to utilize new media to approach new consumers.

Wang, Park and Fesenmaier (2012) found that smartphones play a pivotal role in the mediating of the touristic experience. Because smartphones essentially act as portable computers, from which one can access all the information of the Internet, they are viewed as a store of valuable data and act as one's very own travel agent, personal tour guide, map, booking agent, etc. Mobile phones and smartphones have enabled tourists to become like their phones -- more mobile and smarter (Wang et al., 2012). Travelers use their smartphones for direction and can have their behavior changed by the suggestions of the information retrieved from their phones via the Internet. Informational needs are met by smartphones for travelers in search of instant information (Wang et al., 2012). The major finding of the study is that "the instant information support of smartphones enables tourists to more effectively solve problems, share experiences, and "store" memories" (Wang et al., 2012, p. 371). What the researchers note are the implications of this study include the ability of smartphones to change the dynamic of the tourist industry as it is a valuable resource for tourists. Understanding this relationship is essential to tourism promotion and marketing.

Bolton et al. (2013) have shown that there are a number of factors that marketers do know about Generation Y's use of social media -- but there are still many unknowns regarding this relationship. For one thing, Bolton et al. (2013) find that the majority of studies on Gen Y's use of social media are conducted in the United States and there is little evidence that sheds light on how other people in other countries are using social media. The determinants of social media usage need to be better understood according to this study and "drivers and outcomes of social-media use" have to be better assessed among a diverse group of people from multiple regions (Bolton et al., 2013, p. 245). The study uses individual factors and environmental factors to better understand differences in social media use among the population sampled for the study. Factors analyzed include economic, cultural, political, technological, emotional, social, and motivational… [END OF PREVIEW]

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