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In the 1960s, internet was used to applying computers for sharing information on research and development in scientific and military fields. In 1962 a global network of computers was proposed by Licklider of MIT. The developing progress of using internet continued till 1991 when Tim Berners Lee proposed the concept of HTML .With the advent of the web browser, the internet has grown to become a information supplier and in the recent years a commercialization tool. The origin of the commercial use of internet mostly contained of vendors providing basic networking products, and basic internet services. Nowadays Internet is used as an global information infrastructure for supporting other commercial services (Baggio, 2007; Wu, 2010).In the last decades the performance of organizations and their competing way have influenced by internet (Porter, 1993). On the other hand internet has created a new economic environment for doing business, providing rapid communication of information, accessible globally and negligible cost (Rayman-Bacchus & Molina, 2001). Internet provides a great deal of information directly accessible at low costs on prices, products and gain opportunities. The efficiency of internet has been increased by the multiplication of infomediaries offering easier access to the information, the creation of shopbots comparing prices or selecting sites according different choice criteria(Smith & Brynjolfsson, 2001).
Tourism and internet
Tourism is particularly adapted to highlight the nature of the upheavals implied by the development of internet in service activities and it was one of the primal industries applying internet and electronic commerce (Buhalis, 1998; O’connor & Frew, 2008). Internet has enabled tourism industry to broadcast tourism and travel related information to customers all around the world , in a direct, cost minimizing , and time effective way(Buhalis, 1998; Inkpen & Board, 1998; Poon, 1993; Sheldon, 1997).
“The era of mass communication has transformed the tourist gaze”( Rayman-Bacchus and Molina 2001 p.592).The develpoment of the internet empowered the new tourist who is becoming knowledgeable and is seeking exceptional value for money and time. Internet is not only a source of information but also an important vector of transactions. Online sales is growing considerably in tourism industry (Jeong & Ohand Mary, 2003; Weber, Murphy, Schegg, & Murphy, 2005).The number of online sales is increasing dramatically with a large number of successful online booking platforms in the different areas of tourism such as transportation, accommodation, package deals or regional offers(Gratzer, Werthner, & Winiwarter, 2004) and most tourism organizations such as hotels, airlines, and travel agencies have applied internet technologies as part of their marketing and communication strategies (Buhalis & Law, 2008).
The result of an European study about the use of internet in tourism showed that the use of internet for marketing purpose is more common in touism industry comparing with other industries. Finding showed that among tourism related industries, air travels and hotels apply internet marketing more than others. More than one in three tourist enterprise in Europe( or twice as many as in other sectors combined) sell their products online and this share is increasingly rapidly (European Commission 2003). Internet marketing is suitable for tourism services because of their intangibility as well as high price, risk, and involvement levels. By online searches, travelers can access to more in-depth materials and deeper content compared with conventional promotional agents(Govers & FM, 2003). Internet is the most popular channel to research information, find the best price and reservation for travelers (Laudon & Traver, 2001).
Countries use internet to promote tourism to gain advantages such as (Buhalis & Law, 2008) :
Enhancement in the competitiveness and performance of tourism industry businesses ,creating opportunity for selling tourism product to potential tourists , displaying information at electronic speed, Distribution costs are decreased and an increasing proportion of internet users are buying online and tourism will gain a larger and larger share of online customer market.(Lu & Lu, 2004), Direct communication is created between tourism suppliers and tourists for purchasing services and also requesting information. As a result travel suppliers can understand each customer’s needs, and therefore target each customer individually and deliver tailor-made products(Buhalis & Law 2008). It is needless to say that it is essential that in order to obtain competitive advantage, a tourism enterprise/destination must use IT well before its competitors otherwise it would not be able to achieve any competitive advantage. For example American Hospital Supply made an innovative use of online order entry terminals before its competitors and captured lion’s share of market (Eraqi, 2006). Several tourism organizations/destinations have exploited IT in their pursuit of competitive advantage. It is, however, not necessary that a tourism organization/destination achieving competitive edge will always sustain it because their competitors can copy IT easily and quickly and new IT capabilities are also available to every competitor in the market(O’Brien, 1992). However, tourist business sector managers need to align IT strategies to their business strategies and take the dimensions of e-quality into consideration such as performance, features, reliability, durability, serviceability, conformance, perceived quality and aesthetics (Madu & Madu, 2002) when making decision related to the use of IT for effective tourism strategic marketing(Eraqi, 2009) Tourism organization/destination management must understand that IT is only a tool and competitive advantage can only be achieved via creative and innovative use of that tool (Morrison et. al. 2000; Fuchs 2004).
In addition to these advantages , it is suggested that public agencies involved in tourism development also are increasingly using the internet. These agencies use internet to promote the attractions of their respective nations, enhancing the economic benefits by :hypertext links to commercial service providers, varying degrees of interactivity ; and 3) accessibility in multiple languages”( Rayman-Bacchus and Molina 2001).
Chalwon Kim (2004) did a research to recognize problems and solutions related electronic commerce in the tourism industry in Korea. Inform. The findings showed that benefits of e-commerce from the view point of cutomers are : providing easy access to information on tourism services, providing better information on tourism services and providing convenience for customers. This research suggested that security of the e-commerce system and user-friendly web interface are the two key factors for successful tourism e-commerce practice
Representation of tourism place in the internet
In the tourism industry creation and promotion of destination images is the specific aspect of place representation. A destination image is the “picture” which those promoting a country-government travel bureaus, airlines, hotels, service industries, and travel companies- wish to portray to outsiders, particularly foreign tourists(Jenkins, 1999). The destination image reflects how the promoter views the country and what aspects of its people, landscape, and culture they wish to recognize. In tourism industry promoters ary to present positive of the country’s history and attractions, to attract visitors. Guide books, brochures, maps and websites are the products using by promoters to entice visitors(Price, 2008).Because of the popularity of using internet as the primary information source, among tourists ,travel information mediums, such as travel websites are important destination image indicators. The number of tourists that use internet to find destination information is increasing dramatically . In the other hand internet has become the major information source for traveler (Doolin, Burgess, & Cooper, 2002; Gursoy & McCleary, 2004; Price, 2008; Wiig). A website looks to be a major tool to conduct business in the tourism field( and, probably, it will be the only one in the future) tool to conduct business in the tourism field (Doolin, et al., 2002). Jackson and Purcell (1997 p. 220) note that the internet allows users (i.e. tourism companies) to present information to their target audience “without an intermediary to censor or structure the data in either content or form.” In their analysis of the websites of states once part of Yugoslavia, they found that the states used symbolic imagery and text to “strengthen the user’s perceptions of place” (Purcell,1997 p.235).So tourism providers need to understand how to maximize the persuasiveness of their websites. In the other hand the principal role of destination website is affecting travel- related decision making, converting potential tourists to real visitors .
Because of high competition among travel and hospitality , market leaders and followers should differentiate their websites by developing creative measures to attract and satisfy customers (Pastore, 2001). Pastore (2001) noted that leading travel companies have been absorbing online customers, gaining purchase decisions and building a satisfying experience , so creating customer loyalty and repeat purchase intention. It is essential for tourism companies to use new technological development and fullest potential of internet by continuously redesigning their websites ,creating ease of use and more personalization(Baloglu & Pekcan, 2006; Connolly, Olsen, & Moore, 1998). Because of high rate of competition among tourism industry, importance of website design as a marketing medium is becoming increasingly important . Web should not be only considered as an communication channel for decreasing physical interaction but also as an advertising medium(Rowley, 2004). Effective web design leads to attract, entice, and retain the online traveler(D. Kim, Morrison, Taylor, & Lee, 2004). There are some factors which, contributes to the proliferation of travel on the internet including: making websites easy to use, improving the tourism website information, improving the functionality of travel sites like advance check in, printing of flight status check and using the software that has designed to anticipate users’ wants based on their travel history and preferences (Transportation Group International, L.C.,2002).
Doolin, Burgess, and Cooper (2002, p. 557) state that”the internet, which offers global reach and multimedia capability, is an increasingly important means of promoting and distributing tourist information. Destination websites have developed to market and promote local, regional, or national destinations(Blain, Levy, & Ritchie, 2005; Palmer & McCole, 2000).After introducing first travel websites in the mid-1990s (Blain, et al., 2005), gaining these benefits were expected including: increasing market share, absorbing new customers, retaining more customers and increasing customer satisfaction (Sussmann & Baker, 1996).
Destination websites have been and continue to be challenged online particularly with regard to their level of sophistication, quality of websites, diversity of travel websites, as well as online marketing and promotion (Hudson & Lang, 2002). The result of a study done by Choi, Wong and Fesenmaier (2006) revealed that design of destination websites, promotional strategies and customer relationship management programs have effects on success of web-marketing strategies. Tourism websites use online marketing in different capacities. For instance ,Hudson and Lang(2002) stated however ease of use factor that enables visitors navigate quickly through websites ,has noticed only in few tourism website designs. Another example is that some destination websites are still use elementary level of website features, without style and elegance , displaying information in a brochure-like mode, and low level of interaction ( Wang & Fesenmaier, 2006). For instance destination websites should have deep information mostly regarding to attractions, shopping, restaurants, accommodation, and directions. It is worth considering that some tourism websites have advanced and effective features compare with their competitors. Interactivity , personalization, e-commerce related capabilities , and recommendation capabilities are some ways to increase the level of sophistication of travel websites (Wang & Fesenmaier,2006). Furthermore, “the content of tourism destination websites is particularly important because it directly influences the perceived image of the destination and creates a virtual experience for the consumer” (Cooper 2002, p. 157). When visitors are new to the website and destination, experience and judgments made from surfing the website influence the overall image of the destination and the decision making process of whether or not to travel to the destination. If the destination image portrayed on the website is not satisfactory or the website is not well-designed and contains insufficient information, travellers are less likely to form a good impression towards a destination which, in turn, negatively influences the decision making process. There is a relationship between a positive experience and judgment formed through interaction with the destinaqtion website and actual visiting (Bar, Neta, & Linz, 2006; Borkenau & Liebler, 1992; Kenny, Horner, Kashy, & Chu, 1992; Zebrowitz & Collins, 1997). For example Wu (2010) analyzed 61 local tourism government websites in China and evaluated the effectiveness of the local tourism e-government with content analysis from the following aspects: website usage, administrative agencies, administration affairs, information service, administration service online and website design. The research suggested some improvements for the tourism government including: providing electronic map, connect telephone and multi media for download, building bbs or forum for advice, improving declare online for tourism practitioners and setting up feedback mechanism, making the website more attractive to enhance the usage efficiency.
It is important to indentify which factors lead to the success of a website. Web design is a key factor for the website success (Flavian, Gurrea, & Orús, 2009) and it is necessary for companies to compete in the extremely competitive World Wide Web (Liang & Lai, 2002; Ranganathan & Ganapathy, 2002; Tan & Wei, 2007). The website designing has been studied from different points of view(Childers, Carr, Peck, & Carson, 2001; Hoque & Lohse, 1999; S. Kim & Stoel, 2004; Liang & Lai, 2002).Web designing is “the process of creating an artefact with structure of form which is planned, artistic, purposeful, and useful”(cato 2001 ,p.3). A successful website is the attractive, trustworthy, dependable, and reliable for customers (Liu & Arnett, 2000). From a consumer point of view , all these characteristics should be considered in website designing in order to increase online visits or purchase intensions (cato 2001). Following this concept Flavian (2009) did a research to identify website aspects that influence users’ perceptions and behaviours from a marketing point of view .An extensive literature review was developed emphasising the special role that web design could play in the interaction user-interface. Besides, the methodology related to benchmarking allows firms to know the best practices and to learn some key lessons for developing their business online. The research proposed a guidelines for the development of successful e-commerce websites. Appearance ,Navigation, Content and Shopping process are the key aspects that shoud be considered in order to improve e-commerce websites. In the guidelines some tools have introduced for each aspect . Guidelines are basis for development of websites but some website designers without considering visitors’ needs , only notice to challenges of technology, designing sophisticated websites (Zhang 2005). Industry experts and consultants have proposed different frameworks and guidelines for designing commercial websites , but there is no unified view on its key characteristics .The key characteristics of commercial websites can be divided to design and content. Information, features and offering services by website consist content, while the way of presenting content to customers refers to website design(Huizingh, 2000). Buying process can be divided to two stages: information evaluation and information search. Purchase decision process is affected by the content of website. The website information should be sufficient for decision making, but not too much , resulting in information overload (Taylor & Joudrey, 2004). Users should be allowed locate and select merchandise that best satisfies their needs. Not only information content but also navigation tools influences the usefulness of websites. Navigation toolslike search engines help users to locate merchandise and related information in a website (Krug, 2005).For example users of Cdnow.com can search based on the song title, album title and artist name.
Before final purchase decision , consumers tend to evaluate of alternatives. Online shopping creates the opportunity to comparison of alternatives. Decision aids have positive influence on online purchase decisions .Some websites like Excite and My Simon offer decision aids , helping users for making product-price comparisons. For instance in Dell’s web site (www.dell.com) , consumer custom build a computer and compare prices for different computer configurations. Another example is Priceline website which offers calender as a decision aid. Decision aids can be useful in tourism destination websites. For instance destination website n can offer tools for trip-price comparisons based on different accommodations etc. Another significant different between traditional retailing and online selling is related to the extent of interaction between customer and seller. Commercial websites should serve electronic interactivity by means of email and frequently asked questions (FAQs),answering questions about products and services or payment. However consumers visit websites with FAQ more than websites without it, FAQ section and interactive email are not seen in many websites. Traditional FAQ sections helped users a little ,offering no assistance and information), flexible interactioninterface, etc(Yang, 2009).
Despite of internet technical developments Such as electronic signatures ,Security of the transactions is one of the common concern in online shopping . Since perceived security have direct effect on online buying intention , some commercial websites offer telephonic transactions or checks and individual accounts (Grabner-Kraeuter, 2002). As it mentioned above website design affects on attracting , sustaining and retaining the interest of a customer at a site. The design have the same importance that content have. Ease of navigation, page download time and improving the visual appeal of websites by using multimedia are the principals should take into consideration for website designing. Out of these factors , ease of the navigation is the most important one(Srikant & Yang, 2001).Today websites are becoming more complex and users have difficulties to find desired information, spending too much time ,surfing webs(Kilfoil, et al.). To reduce the amount of irrelevant information and information overload , the common used tool is site map. The website information structure is defined by map, helping users to adjust the scope of their search. Some websites offer personalized sitemap which helps visitors’ navigation (Toolan & Kusmerick, 2002). The other tool that websites can add to help users finding information is search toolbar. Despite the popularity of search toolbars, irrelevant and not sufficient information may be resulted(Han & Kamber, 2006). The third solution to prevent overload and unwanted information is intelligent navigation aid tools, dividing to recommendation systems and adaptive website techniques . Some recommendation systems are collaborative filtering, content-based recommenders, utility-based recommenders, knowledge based recommenders, and demographic recommenders (Guttman, Moukas, & Maes, 1998; Rich, 1979; Towle & Quinn, 2000). Other one is adaptive website.The word “adaptive” refers to “the ability of the website or tool to change its behavior based on the way it is used”(Schafer, Konstan, & Riedi, 1999).Two ways for building adaptive websites are: improving the website design as a whole or providing personalized navigation aid for individual visitors (Spiliopoulou & Pohle, 2001).
In the past information quality or usability have been considered as the most influential aspect of tourism websites for perusing visitors but now new strategies are needed to use website as a persuasive tool (H. Kim & Fesenmaier, 2008). Figure 2.4 shows the progress of technology design(Fogg, et al., 2002). Foggs (2002) noted that it is important to understand how persuasive design of destination websites can be used to support conversion rates (converting site viewers to site users and moderate users to heavy users)and to create favorable images of destinations. The website that successfully persuade travel information searchers elicit a click-though (the desired outcome), which gives the website a second opportunity to interact with the searcher . When they first view the website’s homepage, searchers automatically evaluate the website in terms of relevance and usefulness to their trip planning task.
Make Technology Persuasive
Make Technology Usable
Make Technology Functional
Figure 2.4 Progress of Technology Design
Persuasion is the principal role of destination websites and it is important to understand how to use website design to create favorable images of destination and convert more site viewers to customers .Design of the website can increase persuasiveness in order to influence Internet user’s beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes in the manner desired by Internet marketers (Fogg, et al., 2001). Zhang and von Dran (2002)(P. Zhang & von Dran, 2002) extended Herzberg’s dual structure model to an online context to investigate hygiene andmotivating factors in Web design. In accordance with Herzberg, Zhang and von Dran(2002) argued that websites should necessarily include hygiene factors to avoid user dissatisfaction, while motivating factors can be employed on an added-value basis to optimize user satisfaction and enjoyment. And collection), while additional features like credibility, fun/entertainment, visual attractiveness, multimedia, etc are persuasive factors since they enhance the experience affectively. Websites should always incorporate hygiene factors like like informativeness and usability, while additional elements (trustworthiness, inspiration, involvement, and reciprocity) of destination websites should be considered persuasive variables(Y. Zhang & Hiltz, 2003).
By contrast, good examples of a motivating factor are, multimedia features (virtual tour, podcast, etc.) that enhance website visitors’ satisfaction with their experience and motivate their return to the site. The absence of these features would not necessarily lead to dissatisfaction with the website, as long as hygiene factors are provided (Zhang 2000).
Kim (2008) studied the persuasive design of destination websites, proposing a conceptual model of first impression formation toward tourism destination websites .The influence of informativeness, usability, inspiration, involvement ,trustworthiness and reciprocity on tourists’ first impression were analyzed in this study. In the other word the purpose of the study was to investigate what persuasive design characteristics influence the formation of first impression toward destination websites. Result showed that informativeness is the most effective factor Perceived Persuasiveness. Destination websites must be informative and useful. In most cases, trip planners, however, tend to infer anticipated quality of information through website design. Thus, design of destination websites must be supportive for the contents. Certainly, informativeness must be conveyed, but a website that does not create a favourable impression at the beginning is typically not given a further chance to demonstrate its value. informativeness, inspiration and involvement have direct effects on a first impression, and impression is directly related to an intention to use the website for trip planning. These results suggest that the Limited Completion Group of trip planners is more influenced by the visual attractiveness of Web design and their choice of website is accordingly based on the extent of a destination website’s purely aesthetic appeal. In contrast, the Full Completion Group of trip planners is more likely to be influenced by the utility of destination websites. In other words, the more functional benefits the websites seem to provide, the more favorable their impression will be. This study identified six underlying dimensions of persuasiveness in destination websites, but it did not investigate the website elements that correspond to respective dimension of persuasiveness.
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