developments have changed the Internet and consequently the way people and companies communicate. „Web 2.0‟ is the second generation of the World Wide Web and is characterized by enhanced opportunities to create dynamic, user-generated content and online social networks, where people can interact with other individuals and companies. People can share information such as personal experiences and pictures etc. and establish new “relationships” with other individuals and companies. Thus, the technological developments have affected the consumer behavior, which especially is apparent in the Travel Industry in general, among here the Danish Travel Industry. Consumers can nowadays conduct in-depth information search 24/7 due to the penetration and speed of broadband connections. Therefore, consumers are able to obtain enormous amounts of information in their travel planning by using the vast content available on travel agencies‟ websites, travel-related sites such as TripAdvisor, search engines, and social networks. With the improved searching methods it has become more transparent for customers to evaluate the various travel services and alternatives although they cannot be truly evaluated before they are experienced. The assessment of travel services such as airline tickets, accommodation, and car rental entails risk-factors such as intangibility and high costs, which have led to the importance of risk, trust and commitment for consumer behavior regarding travel services. The implications of the Internet have led to consumers‟ demands for online communication in addition to traditional offline communication by telephone and face-to-face interactions. As a result of the internet being increasingly used in the Travel Industry with regard to information search and purchase, new competitors have emerged in the form of online travel agencies such as Expedia. While many traditional travel agencies have acknowledged and accepted the impact of the Internet, others have been forced to shut down business. Due to the aforementioned technological and consumer behavioral implications, the aim of the study was to establish whether a consumer‟s online communication with a travel agency and other consumers has an impact on the consumer‟s relationship to a given travel agency. The approach for the study was to examine the potential impact that online communication can have on the consumer‟s feelings of risk, trust and commitment towards a given travel agency. Subsequently, the study set out to investigate how the outcome of risk, trust and commitment affects the relationship between customer and travel agency. The study found that the online communication can affect the relationship in a positive as well as negative way. The outcome depends on the online communication‟s ability to reduce the consumer‟s perceived risk, increase his or hers trust in the travel agency, and strengthen the commitment to the travel agency. The outcome seems strongly related to the customer‟s needs and preferences which can vary and differentiate from other customers. Thus, segmentation can be a useful tool to optimize a travel agency‟s online communication. The findings show links between online communication, perceived risk, trust, commitment, and relationship. In addition, the study showed a dynamic aspect, where the customer‟s experiences with previously travel-related online communication can affect future travel decisions, and may even result in online word-of-mouth. The dynamic process can develop into a self-reinforcing process where perceived risks are reduced, trust is increased, and commitment is strengthened, which has a positive impact on the relationship, which subsequently can help optimizing the online communication to become risk-relieving and lead to further trust and commitment with a positive influence on the relationship. To sum up, the changes within technology and consumer behavior have led to increased opportunities for travel agencies to integrate customer information, relationship marketing and online marketing. According to the study findings, it can be of great value for travel agencies to increase their focus on online communication with relationship marketing in mind.
|Educations||MA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||77|