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The new profile of the virtual tourist-traveller: communicative perspectives and technological challenges

Author

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  • Raffaella Folgieri

    (Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy)

  • Miriam Bait

    (Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy)

Abstract

Purpose – The wealth of information delivered on the web and the opportunity to access it using different platforms has led to a new profile of consumer of tourist information: a virtual navigator, who represents a hybrid figure between the tourist and traveler. These new kinds of users access the web not only to plan and organize their holidays, but also to search for virtual tours of places and events that, otherwise, they could not physically explore. The purpose of this study is to outline the (new) marketing and communication potential offered by web 2.0, by means of a specific case study, centered on the English version of the official Italian tourism website http://www.italia.it. Design – Our design has two parts: on the one hand, we will analyze, in the light of web 2.0, the profile of the virtual tourist-travelers: their requirements and most common searches, the implications of social apps and possible influence on traditional tourism communication; on the other hand, using the website http://www.italia.it as a starting point, we will investigate the functional aspects, together with the linguistic resources used to construct the image of Italy. In particular, examples of evaluative language are selected in order to shed light on the background knowledge the target audience is assumed to have. Methodology – In our study, two different approaches are combined in a multi-method analysis of the website, i.e. a technological/multifunctional analysis of usability and user experience (sentiment analysis), and a qualitative analysis of texts, within the framework of Discourse Analysis. Approach – In order to obtain more insight into tourists’ trends and preferences we developed a questionnaire. It allowed us to identify the most suitable technological tools to be used to enhance the tourist experience during a visit or a travel, but also in the search phase, prior to the travel. Findings – From the data collected and analyzed an interesting profile emerged, namely the virtual tourist-traveler. Preliminary results indicate that the search for the ideal touristic destination, the desire to go and experience new places is supported both by strategic, persuasive discourse and by technological choices. An increased use of web 2.0 tools contributes to enhancing the demand for more information and less advertising. Moreover, and surprisingly enough, these users make use of real-time communication tools – the so called “Twitter effect” – to report about their virtual experience as if it were real. A reason might be the need to compensate for the physical absence from the place or the impossibility to perform the trip. Originality – The innovative feature of our research lies in the results of the website analysis and the results of the questionnaires that contribute to identifying the new profile of the new virtual tourist-traveler. This represents an important stepping stone for future research in the field, both from the broad perspective of linguistic analysis, and from a technological point of view; both contribute to creating a seductive presentation of the destination, thus influencing tourist behavior and attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Raffaella Folgieri & Miriam Bait, 2014. "The new profile of the virtual tourist-traveller: communicative perspectives and technological challenges," Tourism and Hospitality Industry section7-1, University of Rijeka, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:tho:iscthi:section7-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raffaella FOLGIERI, 2011. "VR for cultural heritage valorisation: a communication problem," Departmental Working Papers 2011-16, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
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      More about this item

      Keywords

      Communication Technology; Tourism; Communication Strategies; Qualitative Analysis; Destination Image; Behavioural analysis; Sentiment analysis; Discourse Analysis; Evaluation;
      All these keywords.

      JEL classification:

      • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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