Best social media management case: Consumer Behavior in Tourism

Travel services are mostly considered experience products (Cohen 1979; Uriely 2005; Moscardo 2010; Sundbo and Sørensen 2013), mainly intang...

Travel services are mostly considered experience products (Cohen 1979; Uriely 2005; Moscardo 2010; Sundbo and Sørensen 2013), mainly intangible (Murray and Schlacter 1990; Gremler et al. 1994) whose quality is difficult to be evaluated prior to consumption (Rosen 2000, 2009; Dye 2000; Zeithaml et al. 2012). These features determine high customers’ involvement in buying decision practices and a consequent high-risk perception that usually generates a longer and more complex consumer behavior process (Murray and Schlacter 1990; Laroche et al. 2004). Furthermore, purchases of travel services more and more take place in the online environment where consumers’ behavior has specific features (Viglia 2014).

In order to analyze how consumers buy tourism services, a brief review of the theories regarding purchasing process are presented. According to the decision-making studies, the traveler buying process consists of five stages: need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior (Kotler et al. 2010; Zeithaml et al.
2012).

Another perspective of analysis of the tourists’ planning process (travel planning theory) suggests a temporal perspective based on a process generally composed by three phases: pre-trip, during-trip, and post-trip (Engel et al. 1990); the anticipatory phase, the experiential phase, and the reflective phase (Craig-Smith and French 1994; Jennings 1997, 2006).

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The first approach (decision-making studies) is supposed to be more related to people deciding for a single purchase (Jun et al. 2007), while the second one (travel planning theory) considers travel planning as more complex in nature as it implies interrelated actions about a combination of many services at the same time to achieve multiple goals (Stewart and Vogt 1999; Dellaert et al. 2014). Hereafter, we will try to integrate the two aforementioned approaches (decision-making studies and travel planning theory) considering the stages need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives and booking/purchase as part of the pre-trip phase (anticipatory), the consumption as part of the during-trip stage (experiential), and post-consumption as part of post-trip (reflective).

Travel planning starts with the recognition of a need that can be generated by internal and external stimuli. Therefore, previous experience guides the customer toward a specific product that he or she knows could satisfy that specific need. Moreover, suggestions of other people, commercials, or other marketing stimuli can influence the customer’s identification of which activity could satisfy that need (Kotler et al. 2010).

After having recognized their needs, people try to find information about goods and services able to grant satisfaction. Consumers generally employ both personal and nonpersonal sources in order to obtain thorough information (Zeithaml et al. 2012). Personal information comes from word-of-mouth spread by family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc., while nonpersonal information is represented by both online and offline commercial sources (corporate website, advertising, salespeople, etc.) and public/third parties sources (official classifications, customers reviews, ratings, rankings, awards, etc.) (Kotler et al. 2010).


We already discussed in the previous chapter the higher credibility of word-of mouth (offline and online) versus corporate communication in driving consumers behavior. Personal and public sources of information, meant as experiences of other customers (both friends and strangers) and quality indicators (rating, ranking, etc.), can help customers reducing the perception of risk. However, with the broad diffusion of information technology, we can identify an overlap between the concepts of personal and public sources of information. In fact, online reviews of other customers are personal information that comes from friends and/or strangers on online public platforms. above image shows a classification of main online sources of information according to two dimensions: the generator of information (consumer/ firm/third parties) and the property of the website where the information is displayed.

Online information can be generated by customers (actual customers and prospects) who post content on their social media profiles, on those of other people (friends or bloggers), on the corporate website, blog, or social media page, as well as on third parties websites (i.e., OTAs, meta-search websites, travel review websites, and travel blogs). An interesting case is that of OTAs and meta-search websites that generally offer different kind of information on the basis of consumer generated communication flows. A first type is the authentic content published by the customers themselves: reviews, scores, photos, videos, etc. A second category is represented by the overall rating and the ranking generated by the elaboration of single customers’ scores by means of a specific algorithm.

Online information can be generated also by firms on their corporate websites, blogs, social media pages (social networks and content communities) as well as on third parties websites. For example, online advertisements, responses, and content published on TripAdvisor, posts on travel blogs, or different kind of content (textual, visual) published by companies on online distribution channels. With the spread of social media, firms can also have the opportunity to communicate with users on their social media personal profiles. For example, Facebook users who “like” a brand page will receive directly posts containing specific information that, in turn, can be shared with their network of friends (advised posts). In this case, information generated by a firm, if able to engage customers creating the willing to share it, can then turn into personal information of friends. Furthermore, opportunities to customize social media advertisements on the basis of different target markets allow companies to obtain an increasing presence on customers’ personal profiles.

Finally, online information can come from third parties organizations of associations, travel clubs, and tourist guides, generally existing also offline, that offer official ratings, hotel information, destination and attractions descriptions, etc. (e.g., Forbes Travel Guide, American Automobile Association-AAA, Lonely Planet, etc.).

At the end of the step of information search, customers have identified a set of alternatives: a group of products considered acceptable options in a certain product category. The product is composed by different attributes that are evaluated on the basis of subjective factors, depending on the importance given to each attribute according to customer’s needs and wants (Kotler et al. 2010).

After the evaluation of different alternatives, the customer decides to buy or not to buy. Sometimes purchase intentions can be affected by other factors, hardly under the control of the company: attitudes of others and unexpected situational factors may influence customers’ final decision to purchase. For example, the behavior of other members of the family could influence the decision about a holiday or an unexpected expense could have an effect on the decision if make holiday that year, or simply on the selection of destination. Also in case of the actual purchase decision, the perception of risk can persist because the customer generally books or purchases the service in advance respect to the actual vacation period. In this case, especially when there is a significant amount of time between the booking/purchasing action and the actual consumption, post-purchase behavior plays a key role because customers may try to find elements able to reassure themselves about the decision taken.


Considering this characteristic of travel services, post-purchase behavior can be divided in post-decision behavior and post-consumption behavior. This distinction is particularly important because the influence of other sources of information or situational factors could affect the post-decision stage, interrupting the customer behavior process with the booking cancelation before the actual consumption, or even with a no-show.

The consumption stage in the service sector is a process composed by various stages and activities, characterized by interactions between the consumer and the companies involved in the service delivery (Zeithaml et al. 2012). In fact, during a travel experience, the customer interacts with different stakeholders present throughout the service delivery that mediate the overall experience (Wang et al. 2012): companies (transportation companies, hotels, travel agents, local attractions, etc.), different employees of the companies according to the kind of service experience (check-in, food and beverage, etc.),4 and other people (customers, residents, etc.). For example, in the case of a hotel stay, the guest’s experience could be influenced by the presence of noisy customers that disturb the check-in process or the dinner at the hotel restaurant. Therefore, all these interactions affect customers’ perceptions and consequently their service quality evaluations of the overall experience (Zeithaml et al. 2012). In other words, customers are partners of the company and participate in the consumption co-producing the service (Prahalad and Ramaswamy 2004).

At the end of the consumer purchasing process, there is the post-consumption stage in which the evaluation of the service quality takes place. In particular, customers compare expectations and perceptions as a progressive process starting from the first stages of the booking process, and arriving at a final and overall customer satisfaction judgment that considers perceived service quality, the price/prices paid, personal factors, and situational factors (Zeithalm et al. 2012). On the basis of the satisfaction/dissatisfaction evaluation, customers may activate a positive or negative word-of-mouth and decide if becoming loyal. In the case of cognitive dissonance, which comes from a disconfirmation caused by post-purchase conflict, the customer could stop buying the product (exit) or give voice to dissatisfaction (voice) (Hirschman 1970) and take actions in order to reduce dissonance (Oliver 1980, 1993); for example, complaining and developing online and offline negative word-of-mouth.

The Travel Experience

Tung and Ritchie (2011) define a travel experience as “an individual’s subjective evaluation and undergoing (i.e. affective, cognitive, and behavioral) of events related to his/her tourist activities that begins before (i.e. planning and preparation), during (i.e. at the destination) and after the trip (i.e. recollection).” As we know from the literature, different people can desire different kind of tourist experiences (Cohen 1979) and, as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, the evaluation of their quality comes from a comparison between expectations and perceptions. According to the approach developed by Parasuraman et al. (1985), Zeithaml et al. (1993), expectations are influenced by personal needs, previous experience, word of mouth, explicit service promises (e.g., advertising), implicit service promises (i.e., price, tangibles), transitory service intensifiers (e.g., emergences, services problems), and situational factors (e.g., bad weather, a strike, etc.) while perceptions are influenced by the result of the service delivery and external communication to the consumers. However, this approach is more related and applicable to single services, provided by different services operators, and does not consider the systemic nature of the company and the global perspective of analysis of the tourism experience (Mauri et al. 2013). Moreover, the satisfaction judgment comes from a subjective and emotional response to the various aspects of all the services
provided (Otto and Ritchie 1995) that compose the overall tourism experience.

Pine and Gilmore (1998) propose a change of paradigm from the service delivery approach to the creation of an experience. According to the above mentioned authors, people cannot have the same experience because it comes from the interactions (moments of truth) with the service providers (especially front office employees), and is influenced by the state of mind of each individual (emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or intellectual) and of other customers present during the service supply (Lehtinen and Lehtinen 1991; Lin et al. 2001; Orsingher 2003; Ekinci and Dawes 2009). Therefore, tourist experience cannot be linked to a temporal dimension (Jennings 2006): expectations and perceptions are dynamic because they continue to change due to the interactions activated during the service supply and the influence of the competitive environment (Fournier and Mick 1999; Seth et al. 2005). The tourist constructs his or her personal experience combining subjectively the different fragments of the supply provided by the travel operators (Uriely 2005) during the whole travel process. Urry (1990) coined the term “tourism gaze” to describe how the tourists subjectively interpret the destination.

This new paradigm considers the experience as the result of a co-creation process in which all actors collaborate to value creation (Prahalad and Ramaswamy 2004).7 With the development of new technologies, this is no more only a result of a co-creation between the company and the consumer but it is increasingly affected by the relationship among consumers (Grönroos 2008).

Some authors in the past conceptualized the tourist experience as something in contrast with everyday life (Cohen 1979; Uriely 2005). Since the 1990s, the distinction between these two concepts has gradually decreased due to the development of new media and technologies (Neuhofer et al. 2013). In fact, Internet-based systems mediate the travel experience by means of user-generated content (UGC) that tourists can share (videos, photos, etc.). In this way, the tourism practice can be more and more accessible within everyday life without necessarily moving toward a specific destination (Jansson 2002; Uriely 2005; Tussyadiah and Fesenmaier 2009; Wang et al. 2012). Social media that allow sharing UGC operate as virtual “media of transportation” acting on imagination of tourists (Tussyadiah and Fesenmaier 2009).

Jennings and Weiler (2006) identified two different kinds of mediators of the tourism experience: personal (i.e., other tourists, tourist providers, local governments, and communities) and nonpersonal (design, signage, esthetic, and settings). With the development of ICTs, researchers give more and more attention to new kinds of technology-based mediators generally connected to the Internet and to new devices: the well-known smartphones, digital cameras, and new mobile devices like Google Glass or Apple Watch (wearable devices). The UGC created by tourists around the world can be shared on social media and affects, in this way, the travel experience of other people. This can happen in all the steps of the travel process: in the planning phase, because a video can stimulate the traveler’s imagination about a destination; during the trip: when travelers are searching for interesting things to do at the destination or for sharing; and then at home, alone or with others, in the phase of recollection of the experience. Videos have been demonstrated to be mediators of travel experiences able to “generate a mental pleasure through imagination that bring to life people’s dreams and fantasies of visiting” a certain destination giving them also the opportunity to re-experiencing the past (Tussyadiah and Fesenmaier 2009). 

Also Wang et al. (2012) underline the importance of new IT devices as mediators of travel experience. In particular, smartphones provide different kinds of services that can enrich the tourism experience in all the steps of the travel planning process. But the during-trip stage is generally the most influenced by location-based services (find restaurants, download Apps about the destination as a tourist guide, etc.) and entertainment services (share photos, videos, etc.) provided by mobile devices.

Social Media Influence on Travelers’ Planning Process

Social media influence travelers in all the steps of the customer purchasing process (Schindler and Bickart 2005; Christou and Nella 2012), before, during, and after holidays, but with a different extent and diverse objectives (Fotis et al. 2012). Several recent academic studies have pointed out the impact of UGC on travelers decision making and purchasing processes (Buhalis and Law 2008), especially with reference to information searching, holiday planning, and purchase decisions (Gretzel and Yoo 2008; Litvin et al. 2008; O’Connor 2008; Sidali et al. 2009; Vermeulen and Seegers 2009; Ye et al. 2009). A study of comScore (2013) found that, even if OTAs are the most visited websites during the travel process (80 % of travelers interviewed), 26 % of travel buyers were exposed to travel-related content on Facebook.

Before going on reading, consider that the propensity of people to use social media in various stages of travel planning can change according to cultural and age differences, as demonstrated by a few academic studies (Cox et al. 2009; Fotis et al. 2012; Wilson et al. 2012).

Pre-Trip Phase

The steps of the pre-trip phase lead the traveler to make decisions and create expectations about the upcoming tourism experience (Gretzel et al. 2006; Xiang et al. 2014). IT developments decrease search costs and increase the power of customers who can have a more active role during the decision process. Moreover, “traveler 2.0” (or “social traveler”) is a multi-device customer because of the simultaneous use of an extensive range of technologies and devices (Parra-Lòpez et al. 2012; Xiang et al. 2014). In fact, more and more people combine PC and mobile devices, especially in the stage of travel information search (comScore 2013).

Despite social media influence on all the consumer behavior stages, a recent study of Google Think Insights (2013) on both leisure and business travelers’ online activities shows a very high concentration of actions in the pre-trip phase. This is the ranking of top seven online activities of travelers interviewed:

1. research an upcoming trip;
2. read reviews from other travelers;
3. research a destination, flight, hotel, or vacation as a result of seeing an online ad;
4. brainstorm or start thinking about a trip;
5. watch a travel video;
6. request more information about an upcoming trip;
7. look at travel content or reviews by friends or family.

For what concerns the first step, the need recognition stage, social media can stimulate new ideas or influence the transformation process of a need in a specific desire. In the first case, Facebook, Twitter, or virtual communities can stimulate new travel ideas. A study of White (2010) demonstrates that travel-related photos generate an interest in friends that affects the travel plans. Another study of Fotis et al. (2012) confirms that social media in the pre-trip stage are mainly used to decide where to go and seek new ideas. For example, Pinterest in the settings options allows users to choose if receiving two kinds of emails: “stuff you may like” or “weekly inspiration.” Someone interested in travel could be inspired by a message about a new destination and then start gathering information about that. In other cases, someone could share online the need to “escape from every-day-life”
on Facebook or Twitter and friends could suggest how to find satisfaction (e.g., a weekend in a wellness center). A recent study of Google/Ipsos (2013) found that 68 % of interviewees begin to search online before having decided the destination where to go.

After this first step, customers start looking for information. Social media play a key role in this step. In fact, recent academic studies confirm the importance of online reviews (eWOM), and in general UGC, during the step of travel planning (Gretzel 2007; Anderson 2012; Xiang et al. 2014) because they can be particularly useful source of information for travelers (Pan et al. 2007). This is true especially in case of infrequent decisions characterized by high customers’ involvement and perception of risk, particularly when strong-tie sources of information are not available. In these cases, cognitive dissonance could occur and then travelers could invest more time in searching for information to reduce the perception of risk and dissonance (Tanford and Montgomery 2014). In these contexts, online comments, photos, and videos of other customers can help making decisions (Schindler and Bickart 2005). For example, in the case of a new destination, never visited before by the customer or by his or her friends, social networks and content communities become websites where the traveler can ask for other people experience. Sharing videos and pictures could decrease the perception of risk and positively influence the decision-making process. Moreover, also in this stage of information search, content communities like Pinterest and YouTube could be instruments to find inspiration for new potential destinations.

Generally, in the pre-trip stage customers look for information about accommodation and transportation (comScore 2013) but more and more Internet environment has become a place where people search also for other experiential travel products (attractions, shopping, and dining at the destination) (Fotis et al. 2012; Xiang et al. 2014). In this stage, customers’ reviews about travel operators (accommodation, restaurants, destinations) are rich sources of information that help travelers to identify a certain group of alternatives, narrowing down choices (Fotis et al. 2012). The development of mobile technologies has moved in part this research to the during-trip phase, especially in the case of high experience customers or already known destinations (Jun et al. 2007). For example, if you know already the attractions in a specific destination, you can plan your activities when you arrive there (i.e., restaurants, museums, weather forecasts, etc.). Moreover, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technologies allow customers to move easily when they arrive at the destination using maps and other Apps on their smartphones. This can reduce the necessity of finding information about local transportation, city guides, etc., before the departure. A recent study of Xiang et al. (2014) confirms an increasing number of people looking for information about the destination during the trip rather than in the phase of trip planning. However, recent studies confirm that information search about “activities to do” is a key issue both during the search of the destination and the consequent stages of travel planning (comScore 2013).

Information Technology (IT) has extended the amount of alternatives for travelers and the possibility to compare more easily the tourism offers. After having identified a set of alternatives, travelers compare them, trying to select the best choice. As said previously, hedonic/experiential goods like travel are characterized by high involvement and perception of risk. Moreover, sometimes customers can be exposed to cognitive dissonance if the information selected is inconsistent with their beliefs
or simply in case of uncertainty about the choice made. In these cases, social media can play a key role in order to confirm the travel decision made (Fotis et al. 2012).

To compare alternatives customers can use transactional or non transactional travel websites. Actually, nontransactional websites can have two different goals: reviewing and trip planning, and comparing the offers of different OTAs, airlines, hotels, etc. (meta-search) (Buhalis and O’Connors 2005). Every OTAs (Booking. com, Expedia, etc.), meta-search websites (i.e., Skyscanner, Trivago, Kajak, etc.), and social media/travel review websites (as TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, etc.) can give useful information for travel decisions. Comparing, ratings, rankings, travelers’ reviews, and visual content for each website and for each alternative, the traveler can come more precisely to a final decision. The main difference between OTAs and meta-search/travel review websites is the possibility for users to book directly the room. Meta-search and travel reviews websites are generally linked to OTAs or other travel operators where the transaction can be concluded. However, social media can affect customers’ purchase decisions and transactions even though the final operation will be concluded on another website. In fact, TripAdvisor for example can influence and address the booking choices of customers by means of the function “show prices” that compares prices of a few specific OTAs.9 At the same time, in the case of social networks like Facebook, a hotel corporate page could sometimes help customers in, not only interacting with the company, but also coming to final decisions (i.e., the option “book now”). In practice, they have a specific plug-in (that is very similar to the booking engine of the website) that gives users the opportunity to verify rooms availability in a specific period, than being transported to the website of the hotel only in case of actual booking/purchase. Moreover, the recent opportunity for customers to log-into TripAdvisor with the Facebook account allows them, during the stage of comparing alternatives, to identify possible feedbacks of friends included in their network. This can be very helpful to decrease the perception of risk and trust bias connected with eWOM, as explained in Chap.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, after the travel choice (that sometimes is only a reservation and not a binding decision), we have a moment called post decision in which the traveler could change something or improve the organization of the journey. In the meanwhile, main activities involving social media could be searching for information to reassure themselves about the choice undertaken
(customer reviews, ranking, ratings, etc.), or organizing activities at the destination (excursions and other leisure activities). During this phase, any unexpected situations or cognitive dissonance could influence travel planning with a few changes, especially in the case of nonbinding decisions (a free cancelation booking). A study of Fotis et al. (2012) found that a large majority of interviewees made some sort of changes to the original travel plan after having consulted online UGC.

The increasing trend to delay some kinds of travel decisions/purchases to the during-trip stage (especially for the “activities to do” at the destination), thanks to the development of mobile technologies, could be a risk for some travel companies. In fact, plans developed in the pre-trip stage could then change during the travel experience (Stewart and Vogt 1999; Jun et al. 2007). The ability of travel companies to convince customers purchasing the services since the pre-trip stage is a great
opportunity. Social media could be useful instruments thanks to the large amount of people who search for information on the web. Some transactional websites are working in this direction by means of partnerships with other travel operators. For example, when customers book a flight on the website of some airlines (e.g., Ryanair, EasyJet) before concluding the purchase process, the airline will offer them to book other services such as accommodation, car rental, airport parking, etc. This is a clear attempt to optimize sales already in the pre-trip phase. The same occurs in the case of meta-search websites and social media. For example, Lonely Planet allows travelers to plan and purchase hotels, flights, car rentals, adventure tours, sightseeing tours, and insurance by means of specific partnerships with Booking.com, Kayak,11 major car rental operators, WorldNomads.com,12 and some local travel companies. The traveler, after having planned the service and consulted ratings, rankings, and other community users’ reviews, can check availability and book the services also paying in advance on the specific travel partner website.

During-Trip Phase

Travelers continue to search for information and make decisions also during the trip. As mentioned before, with the development of mobile technologies the pre-trip and the post-trip stages can overlap thanks also to the increasing opportunity for tourists to be connected to the Internet during the journey. In fact, airports, hotels, transportation, restaurants, and entire destinations more and more allow customers to connect to the Net for free.

Travelers generally use multiple devices during the various stages of travel planning, but during the trip we notice a growing importance of mobile devices (especially smartphones) (Expedia, ComScore-Expedia Media Solutions 2013). Main activity is generally search for information about: weather/climate, restaurants/ reviews, activities to do (Expedia, comScore 2013).13 Searching for information on social media during the trip can also have the objective to reduce the perception of
risk and increase the perception of safety (Schroeder and Penninghton-Gray 2014). Especially, business travelers use mobile Apps and websites to take real-time decisions about transportation, hotels, restaurants, etc. For example the App “Tonight” of Booking.com and “Hotel tonight” were created with the objective of satisfying the need of travelers to rapidly identify a hotel nearby. The booking engine of the App is already set on “tonight” and users have only to decide the ranking according to popularity, proximity, price, and rating. But a vast range of location based mobile Apps allow tourists to take real-time decisions about various services at the destination. Foursquare, for example, locates services nearby the user who can share the position to his or her friends by means of the function “check-in.”

But the diffusion of mobile technologies has particularly affected the possibility for people to create context-related information (Buhalis and Foerste 2013) and to share real-time experience (Qualman 2009; Litvin 2008). Social media and short messages service (SMS) allow people to share text, photos, and videos. Social networks are particularly suitable for these activities, in fact, many of them ask users generally to share “what they are doing in that moment” with the network of friends. When
traveling, all days are full of new experiences to share: a post on Facebook or a new pin on Pinterest with the photos of the gorgeous typical dish you are tasting, or the beautiful view you are watching at. Tourism activities are highly related to visual content (photos and videos) that, when sent by mobile phones or posted on social media, become a sort of “new postcard.” However, Munar and Jacobsen (2014) found that old and new technologies sometimes overlap. In fact, in their study “old postcards” and “new-postcards” were equally used by travelers for holiday greetings. But “old postcards” convey new social meanings connected to: having a tangible souvenir that reminds the travelers’ the experience and the destination (Gordon 1986), or creating an emotional link that lasts in time with families and friends.16 A paper postcard of a beautiful holiday location could also be tangible evidence to represents a status and stimulate envy in other people (Pine and Gilmore 1998).

Another sharing activity of travelers during the trip is posting online reviews on travel review websites, such as TripAdvisor, giving scores, publishing photos and describing the experience. These activities could be a great opportunity for hotels that generally host the traveler for at least one night. For example, in case of a complaint the hotel staff could promptly intervene trying a service recovery when the customer is still at the hotel. However, this means a real-time management of social media by employees in charge of this task.

Despite a few studies pointed out a major use of social media during the pre-trip stage for searching information (Cox et al. 2009) and during post-trip phase for sharing activities (Fotis et al. 2012), recent research underlines the increasing importance of social media in the during-trip step of the travel planning process mainly due to the development of mobile technology (Munar and Jacobsen 2014; Xiang et al. 2014). This means a progressive move of some travel decisions from the pre-trip stage and the post-trip stage to the during-trip phase.

Post-Trip Phase

According to a recent report of comScore (2013), 45 % of travelers after the trip post travel-related content on social media and write online reviews. Multiple devices (especially laptops and smartphones) are used at the same time to publish photos and videos on social media, while the main device used to write a review is the laptop.

After coming back home, travelers evaluate the quality of the whole travel experience and develop an overall customer satisfaction judgment. This evaluation could determine the action of posting a review online on specific websites (e.g., travel review websites as TripAdvisor) for one or more services availed during the trip. In some cases, customers are also stimulated by means of an email
sent by the service provider or an intermediary a few days after the comeback. For example, OTAs send an email asking a quality evaluation to the customer about the experience: a questionnaire that asks customers to give a score for each service provided with a section where travelers can upload their photos and videos. Another example is that of TripAdvisor that provides companies (only those with a corporate page) with specific functions aimed at stimulating the publication of online reviews.

Despite the increase of real-time sharing during the trip, thanks to the improvements of Internet connectivity at the destination, sharing activities can continue also after the trip. The cited study of Fotis et al. (2012) on Internet users from Russia and the former Soviet Union Republics shows that 78 % of them share content on social media in the post-trip phase. In the same way, Murphy et al. (2010) found that the majority of young travelers interviewed usually share UGC about the trip on social media (Facebook) in the post-trip stage.

Facebook and Twitter could be helpful media to extend the effects of holidays in everyday life, sometimes with a little bit of sadness. In other cases, tourists use social networks to interact with the company sharing good UGC, this could be a sort of award for the company, or a way for complaining. In this last case, a proper complaint management processes is essential for a successful customer care (Kaplan and Haenlein 2011). The interaction with customers in this stage on social media, if properly managed, can be an opportunity to make a client loyal, developing a long-term relationship. The Sect. 3.4.3 will study more in-depth the motivations for sharing UGC and in general for spreading eWOM.

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