Online Travel And Tourism: A Case Study

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Since the nineties, Sheldon (1997) and Werthner and Klein (1999) noticed a great influence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on online travel and tourism. Technological innovation, and subsequently the advent of e-commerce, introduced remarkable challenges and opportunities for tourism and hospitality industries. The progressive development of the Web 2.0 and the social media network have completely changed the travel industry (Buhalis, 2003).
The aspects affecting this scenario can be summarized in three macro-factors, as follows:
1. Globalization process – On one hand, transport infrastructure development and emergence of new tourism destinations have determined a “confluence” of the world travel market. On the other hand,
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Structural mutations of tourism demand – Demographic factors that affect social changes have caused an important variation in the traveler’s profile, leading to demand segmentation. Nowadays tourists have different needs, preferences and motivations to traveling, such as self-fulfillment, discovery and socialization desires. Thus, we have witnessed to the emergence of new specific segments, like eco-tourism, adventure tourism, cultural creative tourism and enogastronomic tourism (Antonioli Corigliano and Baggio, 2010).
Tourism is the most profitable business sector of the e-commerce channel (Longhi, 2008) and it generates products considered as intangible, experiential, and perishable (Xiang et al., 2015). The online hospitality industry produces and distributes tourist services through the digitalization of all the operations that constitute the value chain of travel industries (Hikkerova, 2010).
Over the last two decades, the diffusion of the Web has driven to a frequent use of the online platform in travel planning and decision-making due to more availability of wireless devices (MacKay and Vogt,
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Specifically, search engines are progressively becoming a funnel where to implement travel-related information searching. As a consequence, companies should optimize their search tools for social media content (Xiang and Gretzel, 2010). Social networks (e.g. Facebook) have specific search tools to empower organizations to employ them as a distribution channel.
Social media play an important role in providing travel information also in other ways, for instance through online reviews on webpages, which are a type of user-generated content (UGC).
Therefore, UGC is a powerful information source for consumers and some factors that persuade buyers to read online reviews on websites are:
1) enthusiasts (Kastner and Stangl, 2012); 

2) mavericks (Kastner and Stangl,
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