Travel Information Search on the Internet: An Exploratory Study Bing Pan National Laboratory for Tourism and eCommerce Department of Leisure Studies University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Advisor: Dr. Daniel R. Fesenmaier
Introduction Overall structure • Problems/background • Literature review • Conceptual framework • Methodology • Results and conclusions • Implications
Problems/Background • Tremendous development of the Internet and widely use of the Internet as a source for travel information • Information overload • Finding relevant information • The vocabulary problem (Furnas, Landauer, Gomez & Dumais, 1987 ) • Understanding of the users is essential! • Research on travel information search is scarce; most are survey research • Adolescence era of information technology • The goal of Man-Computer Symbiosys (Licklider, 1960)
Travel Planning and Information Search • Travel planning is (Jeng, 1999): • A hierarchy of decisions which involves a set of sub-decisions, for example, destination, travel partners, accommodation, dining and others; • Multi-facet, dynamic and contingent process. • People use different combinations of information sources searching for travel information (Fodness & Murray, 1998) • The use of different sources depends on the cost and benefit of accessing certain information sources (Ratchford, Talukdar, & Lee, 2001)
Information Seeking and the Internet • Information search on the Internet as navigation through hypertext • Navigational task vs. information task (Kim and Hirtle, 1995 ) • Information search experience and domain knowledge contribute to successful and satisfactory information search (Hsieh-Yee, 2001)
Information Seeking and the Internet • Information Foraging (Pirolli & Card, 1999) • Information searchers use proximal cues to identify important information for further exploration or consumption • Information Scent (Chi, Pirolli, Chen and Pitkow, 2001) • Information searchers identify valuable information from the “snippets” of proximal cues
Mental Models and Information Search • Mental model as intermediate construct; • Semantic mental model vs. mental model in HCI; • Declarative Knowledge vs. Procedural Knowledge (Anderson, 2000); • Using semantic networks to represent semantic mental models (Collins and Quillian, 1972; Doerfel, 1998)
Mental Models and Information Search • The mismatch between user’s mental model and system’s conceptual model contribute to usability problem (Norman, 1986); • The polyrepresentation of concepts in the languages between the users’ cognitive space and the information system is a major issue when designing an effective information system interface (Ingwersen, 1996). • Mismatch between travel information searcher’s mental model and the semantic model of travel information space..
A Conceptual Model of Travel Information Search on the Internet • Traveler’s semantic mental model includes destination, travel partners, accommodation, dining and others • Choices of links are based on the relative value of information scent: the link anchors (texts or pictures) • Navigation process and reading process • Search process can be broken up into different episodes; each episode targets at a sub-problem • Travel experience, computer and Internet experience, and the experience of using the Internet as travel information source, contribute to the congruence of mental model between travelers and the conceptual model of information space; and the further congruence of models will contribute to the satisfactory travel information search/travel planning process.
Semantic Mental Model Destination Tropical Disneyland South Theme Parks Activities Museums Shopping Exciting Art Scuba Diving Boating Florida
Travel Experience Traveler’s Mental Map Process Satisfaction Computer and Internet Use Experience Tourism Information Map Outcome Satisfaction The Experience of Using the Internet as Travel information Source Conceptual Model Common Concepts
Main Goals of Research • Understand the process and the structure of travel information search on the Internet; • Discover the congruence and discrepancies of semantic mental model of travel information searchers and the semantic model of tourism information providers; • Examine the extent to which the discrepancy of semantic models of travelers and tourism information providers contributes to the satisfaction of information search on the Internet; and travel experience, computer and Internet experience, and the experience of using the Internet as travel information source, contribute to the congruence of the two semantic models
Research Procedure • Pilot study (May - June, 2002) • 5 subjects • Formal experiment (September, 2002) - 15 diverse subjects (Eveland, & Dunwoody, 2000 ) • Sources for measuring consistency: • Websites visited • Traveler's semantic models • Travel experience and Internet use experience
Research Methodology An travel planning experiment on the Internet regarding a weekend trip to a designated destination (San Diego, CA) Setting: 1. Using a web browser on a workstation located in the National Laboratory for Tourism and eCommerce; 2. A tester will carry out the pre-experiment survey, interviews, experiments, and post-experiment questionnaire. Tasks: 1. Choose/identify their activities and accommodation during their 2 day vacation to San Diego, CA. 2. Need to write a short essay regarding their travel plan 3. One-hour is the maximum length of travel planning 4. One subject will be randomly selected to win two round-trip airline tickets
Travel Experience Traveler’s Mental Map Process Satisfaction Computer and Internet Use Experience Common Concepts Tourism Information Map Outcome Satisfaction The Experience of Using the Internet as Travel information Source ResearchProcedure Travel experience, computer and Internet use experience, the experience of using Internet as travel information source Research Procedure Goals Phase I: Analysis of the process I. Pre-experiment Survey Obtain 1. Demographical variables; 2. Travel experience; 3. Computer and Internet use experience; 4. The experience of using the Internet for travel planning purpose SNA on transcripts of interviews Phase II: Comparison of two semantic models II. Pre-experiment Interview Obtain traveler’s initial semantic mental model regarding one destination prior to travel planning III. Travel Planning Experiment Obtain information search protocol in order to: 1. Understand the process of travel planning on the Internet; 2. Explore tourism information space regarding one destination Protocol Data SNA on web pages Phase III: Modeling Satisfaction Satisfaction IV. Satisfaction Survey Obtain satisfaction (including process satisfaction and outcome satisfaction) Reasons for satisfaction V. Post-experiment Interview Understand the Internet as travel information source; understand the satisfaction of travel information source; clarify the ambiguities of information processing.
Research Methods • Protocol analysis using transcriptions of information search behavior including information search activities, information processing, and computer use activities • Semantic network analysis using transcripts from interviews and text from full texts of web pages • Transcripts from interviews • Full texts of web pages from visited web sites • Correlation analysis using survey data and results from semantic analysis
Phase I: Results • 10 undergraduate students, 1 graduate student, and 4 researchers. • 19 to 45 years old with an average age of 25 years. • 6 subjects were men and 9 women. • 4 have been to San Diego at least once. • Most of them have used the Internet to check out destination, hotel and airline information. • Used computer from 4 to 28 years with an average of 14.3 years. They used the World Wide Web and email from 4 to 17 years with an average of 7.6 years. • An average of planning time of 36 minutes, with minimum time of 20 minutes and a maximum time of 55 minutes. • Visited from 7 to 26 web sites with an average of 15. Visited from 60 to 312 web pages, averaging 124 web pages. • 7 of 15 used a printer to print out information and organize information; 12 used a piece of paper; 3 used wordPad or Microsoft Word.
Understanding of the Process A Click Semantic Map
Phase I: Further Results • Internet is always used with other software and information organization and decision aid tools (other software, paper and printer). • Travel information search can be broken up into different episodes, in which each episode may encompass different web sites. • The model of navigation and reading process is too simple. The informational behavior involves searching, browsing, navigating, reading and information organization. • Information hubs are frequently used in the process. A information hub is a web page leading to a cluster of relevant web pages. People rely on information hubs to minimize inter-cluster information seeking cost and they are reluctant to change information hubs. • Experienced Internet users tend to use multiple clusters when searching for information. • Geographical information and time frame are not well represented. Travelers need information organization and travel planning in their minds or using decision aids; they need to switch between different attractions and online map web sites. • Certain places and attractions are not searchable, for example, hotel facing the sea, bars on the beach and etc.
Phase II. Comparison of Two Semantic Models Tourism Information Space Traveler’s Mental Model
Phase II. Comparison of Two Semantic Models Located in California, San DiegoCity is famous for its tours of harbor and Sea World. Here you can find discountinformation on cruises, tickets, various services, and maps. You can go to a shoppingcenter, a park, or a freeevent. We have many bestattractions toward different age groups with reasonableprice, such as missions, hospital buildings, and bay area. Most of them are close to bus stations. We have many famous museums, most of them are located at Balboa Park, including art museum. We know San Diego is a famous touristcity located in California. If I go there, I’d like to walk around the beaches and the city in the day. I’d like to watch people, see the little things around the city. I’d like to stay at good and nicehotels and places, dining at good and nicerestaurants. I also like to try different types of food. I’d like to look for attractioninformation, try to look for interestingmuseums. I also like to visit the big thing in San Diego, like the zoo. During the night I’d like to go to musicclubs.
Conclusions • Internet is used by travel information searchers in different ways and combined with different decision aids; • Travel information searchers use large quantity of web sites to search for tourism information and the information space they encountered are very diversified. • The process of travel information search on the Internet can be broken up into different episodes and each episode solves a sub-problem. • Information hubs are frequently used by searchers to minimize the inter-cluster information search cost. • Geographical information and time-constraints are two important information which obtruded the efficient travel planning on the Internet. • Semantics posed an important discrepancy between travelers and tourism information online. From a marketer’s perspective, online tourism information is too marketing-oriented and ignored the language of travelers.
Implications • Considering different use of the Internet • Use traveler’s language • More collaborations are needed between different groups of a destination • Provide decision aids with geographical information and time frame • Provide meaningful tourism ontologies for semantic webs and semantic data modeling • Dominance of language/shift of power • Provide novel and exciting information vs. fulfill user’s current goals