The effect of online information search on image development: Insights from a mixed-methods study

Xiang Li, Bing Pan, Lixuan Zhang, Wayne W. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study explores the potential effects of online information search on tourists' destination image development. Specifically, the terms baseline image and enhanced image are proposed to distinguish the different stages of image development in tourists' minds before and after active online information search. A mixed-methods study, which asked college students to develop a one-week travel plan in China via online search, was designed. Results show that participants' overall image and affective image about China experienced significant and positive changes after online search, while cognitive image basically remained the same. Nevertheless, when asked to describe their image changes, most participants reported changes regarding their cognitive beliefs about China. Furthermore, the qualitative data evidenced the interaction between participants' online information search process and image development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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