Understanding service quality in a virtual travel community environment
Technological innovations in the tourism industry have significantly influenced the communication channels between service providers and potential travelers. Virtual travel communities (VTCs) are now popular and influential venues for tourism information sharing, yet little is known about membership behavior. The purpose of this study is to test a new model of VTC beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors using structural equation modeling. The model integrates measures proven in traditional consumer behavior theory, such as satisfaction, trust, and brand attitude, with behavioral measures unique to the virtual domain, such as stickiness. The results of an online survey of members of C-Trip, a Chinese VTC, indicate that the quality of the community significantly influences member satisfaction and trust. However, trust does not directly influence site stickiness or intention to transact. Member satisfaction significantly influences site stickiness, whereas trust influences brand attitude, which in turn influences intention to transact. These relationships suggest a service blueprint for site owners to ultimately stimulate online transactions.
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