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A netnography study of Saalbach Hinterglemm, based on Instagram Data

An eTourism Research project by: Veronika SurkicRichard Mükisch, Elza KaiumovaOguzcan Gumus blog1

A large proportion of people use social media to find travel ideas. In this blog article, it is made clear how important it is to know which brand image the customers have of the respective company or the destination to be traveled to. It is much more common with just a few clicks on Instagram to search for a destination and make about experience and impressions there. We illustrate with the help of a content analysis on Instagram why this can be of great benefit in the private sector. According to mediakix, Instagram is one of the most used social media platforms in the world. 

The number of Instagram followers is soaring by the second. According to the Influencer Marketing Survey, Instagram has been nominated as the most strategically important social media channel for influencer marketing by 2019. It would be reckless not to leverage such a “live” platform for the interests of one’s business, considering that the major social networks have long been used more than successfully to promote brands. Naturally, the tourism industry has not missed out on this opportunity to promote tourist destinations. 

The importance of Instagram
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Importance from the economic point of view
According to Varkaris (2017), it is a fact that customers form a credible picture of their future destination. However, to distance ourselves from the theory here, let’s take a look at the business figures. According to Brandwatch (2020), by 2020 there were approximately 1 billion monthly active users and 95 million photos are generated on a daily basis. It is also clear in this context that user-generated content is considered very honest and reliable by customers. (Mangan, 2021) Furthermore, we can make use of financially important key figures such as return on investment via the reputations of social media. The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens has already taken its steps in this regard, incorporating social media into its financials, marketing and customer support (Adrian Stehr, 2021).

The promotion of tourist destinations is time-consuming and requires a large-scale analysis. The positive leverage the range of the DMO, UGC content can be used which is not covered by the DMO but still matches the desired Image. 

This should be repeated and carried out over certain periods and not only in the initiation phase. Social media marketing professionals know how much effort and what impact actions and campaigns have on customer buying power. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others” is one of the reasons why we have conducted a case study of Ski Resort Saalbach Hinterglemm. This aimed to analyze the content, which was posted on Instagram. As a basis for this, data from Destinations Management Saalbach and User Generated Content, which was collected in the period of the winter season 19/20. 

As the proverb says, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others” 

Recommendations & Research Approach
To conclude the theoretical part here, we can confirm that the brand image has been adopted by users in their content. This is clearly illustrated in the following example using an image of a Word Cloud. The basis for this example is the image description of each user. To increase the credibility of the brand and thus the intention of the users, the story offered by the users should match the one offered by the DMO. This also increases the rate to visit the destination again or recommend it to others (Jiménez-Barreto et al., 2020). 

Basic word cloud overview of the DMO textual descriptions shows that the topics are winter and snow, promotion of Salzburgerland and Skicircus areas, the slogan ‘Home of lässig’ and the events FIS Alpine World Cup in Saalbach and the Freeride World Tour. 

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As a recommendation from our side, we can pronounce the following. The first step should be market research on the brand image of the destination. In the next point, the exact wording of a # or slogan should be determined. This must then be memorized in the minds of users and guests over a period of time. After several campaigns have been completed, the final step of data analysis can be done to show how successful the market research and marketing campaigns have been in the past. 

This was our Research Workflow:
Our research design was quite complex, as we analyzed image data and textual data with machine learning approaches.

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Click image to enlarge

Sources:  

Adrian Stehr, M. B. (20. 01 2021). Killarney Hotels Limited. Von The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens: https://www.thedunloe.com/ 

Larsen, H. (2018, June 1). The ‘mental topography’ of the Shanghai city brand: A netnographic approach to formulating city brand positioning strategies. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, pp. 90-101. 

Jiménez-Barreto, J., Rubio, N., Campo, S., & Molinillo, S. (2020). Linking  the online  destination  brand   experience and brand  credibility with tourists’  behavioral  intentions toward a destination. Tourism Management, 79, 104101 

Lund, N., Cohen, S., & Scarles, C. (2018, June 1). The power of social  media  storytelling  in  destination  branding.  Journal  of Destination Marketing & Management, pp. 271-280. 

Mangan, M. (2021, January 21). Hospitality Net. Retrieved  from Hospitality Net: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4071855.html 

Varkaris, E., & Neuhofer, B. (2017, January 1).  The influence  of social media on the consumers’ hotel decision journey. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, pp. 101-118. 

TripAdvisor Restaurant Reviews: Topic Modelling of Tourists’ Dining Aspects based on GLOBE Model societal Culture

An eTourism Research Project by: Angela Pagiri, Ruihong Liu, Barbara Prodinger, Fabian Wettinger, and Inna Milashevskaia  

Most of our lives are greatly impacted by tourism. And not just because we have been studying it for three semesters. No, living in Salzburg we are surrounded by tourists (well, maybe not now, but you know what we mean), we work in tourism, we hear about it in the news and we spend our spare time travelling. Dealing with tourism so much, we couldn’t but wonder about how satisfied our guests really are. When they dine out in restaurants, do they get the experience they wished for? Do they all want the same, or does the lady from Tokyo pay attention to different things than the student from Barcelona? How are we going to know? That’s where our idea started forming. We realized that there are ways to find out. Even better, they are actually very accessible! Think of TripAdvisor. You can find thousands of reviews of restaurants in Salzburg there. If only one had the time to read them all. This is how we started to learn everything about getting hold of large amounts of data. How to source them from travel review portals, how to analyse them with machine learning and how to build a tool from it for everyday use in restaurants or at destination management organisations. 

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The question that had outlined the process of our research and study was the following: “Which aspects of the dining experience are important for visitors in the city of Salzburg according to their cultural backgrounds?”

Therefore, we as students and authors, took reviews from TripAdvisor to hand. Within these reviews tourists express their dining experiences, so-called “user-generated content”. A software called “Octoparse” allowed us to extract the data. For the analysis, the summer season 2019 (1st of May to 31st of October) has been taken into account. With the extracted data, machine learning came into place. A software named “Orange” allowed us to analyse the unstructured text document. With an open-source data visualization and topic modelling, distinct themes could be formed. The “GLOBE” cultural framework was then taken to group the review data into cultural/societal clusters. These were used for the analysis of the results and findings to explore the particular aspects that have been mentioned the most in each cultural cluster. 

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What our workflow looked like in Orange

The study demonstrated that overall, the most important aspects are (as we called them) “staff”, “food-menu items”, “value for money”, “restaurant physical appearance”, “food authenticity”, “overall service”, “menu offers”, “food quality”, “atmosphere” and “recommendation”. The priority of these aspects varies in the ten distinct cultural clusters by GLOBE. Such information is highly valuable for restaurant owners and other tourism providers as well as Destination Management Organisations. Now, their products and services can be adapted, customer service improved, and promotional texts, images and videos tailored to the different preferences with unprecedented precision. Further studies could be expanded nationally or internationally and other fields, such as accommodation providers or attraction managers could benefit from this research in similar ways. 

What makes a destination beautiful? – An analysis of Instagram pictures

An eTourism Research Project by: Diana Hauser, Antonia Leopold, Leonie Hauser, Hasini Uthpala Ganewita

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Does beauty really lie in the eye of the beholder? This question already indicates that beauty and aesthetics are highly subjective. But is this really true? When comparing a sunny picture of a beach with a dark photo of a mountain, which one will be perceived as more aesthetic and generate more likes on social media? This question has been asked throughout history and the research community has dealt with aesthetics in various areas of studies, such as architecture, marketing, or landscape analysis. However, in tourism, not many researchers have yet explored the relationship between destination pictures and aesthetics.

That´s where our contribution comes in. We were looking at 400 selected images posted on Instagram with the hashtag #beautifuldestantions, which was chosen because 49,7 million posts were tagged with this caption. The large number of posts shows the great popularity of using the hashtag to describe beautiful destination pictures. In a survey 200 participants were asked to rate these images according to how aesthetically pleasing they perceive the content of the pictures, e.g., a bridge, a beach, or a river. In addition, participants were asked to rate their perceived influence of five chosen visual elements of design: colour, focus, angle of view, line, and light.

In our analysis we found out that pictures showing natural elements such as nature, mountain, wave, watercourse, ocean, and beach were perceived as more aesthetically pleasing than pictures representing human-made elements such as architecture, landmark, and city. The findings suggest that the content of pictures subconsciously influences perceived aesthetic perception. Additionally, we discovered that the visual elements light, colour, angle of view, focus and line have different levels of influence for different picture contents. For example, while light seems to influence pictures showing a watercourse, it does not do so for pictures displaying a coast. Overall, colour was found to be the most influential element, while focus was the least influential.

Putting the findings into practice, they can be used by DMOs to improve their social media presence and increase their online coverage by having the knowledge of what exactly in a destination picture is perceived as aesthetically pleasing. When taking pictures, content specific images can be combined with new knowledge about their combination with visual design elements and can therefore create more likes.

Can VR substitute travel during COVID-19? Our presentation at ENTER21

The fourth and last presentation at the ENTER21 Conference was entitled: “Virtual Reality as a travel substitution tool during COVID-19” and presented by Daniel Sarkady. This research uses a structural equation model to analyze if VR has the potential to substitute travel during the pandemic. Well done Daniel! The full paper can be downloaded here!

Best Paper Award – 2nd Place

Yesterday Joanne presented our paper “Tourist experiences at overcrowded attractions: A text analytics approch” at ENTER 2021 and already today we can be happy about the 2nd place at the Best Full Paper Award. It fills me with pride when I see what kind of achievements you can bring your students to, especially when you consider that master students can prevail against old-established professors.

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Tourist Experiences at Overcrowded Attractions: A Text Analytics Approch – the Presentation @ ENTER21

Joanne Yu presented our paper “Tourist Experiences at Overcrowded Attractions: A Text Analytics Approch” at the ENTER 21 Conference. We did an analysis of 5000 English TripAdvisor posts each, for the most 10 popular tourist attractions in Paris. We did an Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and Sentiment Analysis (Vader) and got some quite interesting insights… Just have a look!

If you want to reach our full paper (nominated for the Best Paper Award this year), download it here.

Motivation to post on Instagram while traveling – the ENTER 21 presentation

Sintija Kursite just did a great presentation on behalf of her research group (eTourism Research – 3rd Semester Master) and me. We did a Structural Equation Modeling and a Cluster Analysis about Instagramers and their motivation to post on Instagram while traveling.  The ENTER Prodeedings are open access this year, so just download our paper here.

ENTER 2021 – we are coming!

I am proud of the research I can do with my Master’s students. Next week we will be presenting no less than 4 papers – including a best paper nomination at the ENTER-Conference 2021 (Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism).

The proceedings will be published as open access this year. Check: https://lnkd.in/eXp_jFb

#research #tourism #students #science #

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eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: WeChat

by Aleen Dam & Fabian Wettinger

We, that is the Master course of Innovation & Management in Tourism at FH Salzburg, were given the task to research about different touristic solutions in an IT context. Our university of applied sciences has a strong focus on e-tourism, so learning and researching about these topics is an essential part of our student lives. In our current subject called E-Tourism Solutions, we discover the many different actors in this field, in order to gain a proper overview in this seemingly endless jungle of suppliers.

Finding a topic – or rather deciding on one of the countless topics available – wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until the first round of presentations that my group partner Aleen and I decided to focus on WeChat. Some of our classmates had shown us the touristic use of AliPay, so we made it our goal to present its counterpart WeChat and its payment service.

So, what is WeChat? In case you are not Chinese and/or you have never lived in China, chances are you might not be familiar with it. 90% of its 1.16 billion monthly active users live in China. There, where Facebook is forbidden, WeChat filled the void of social media back in the day. What started as a simple messenger service soon grew bigger and bigger. So-called mini-programs were added constantly. A mini-program is basically what we know in Europe as an app. They are developed and provided by other companies than WeChat, which offers its application as a platform for them to be used at. Those mini-programs have all sorts of functions and they make WeChat the Swiss army knife of social media: Anything you have a separate application for on your phone is most likely included as a mini-program inside of WeChat. Do you want to book a hotel? Use the booking engine of WeChat. Do you want to hire a taxi? WeChat will do that for you. Do you want to shop online? Use the online shops inside of WeChat and pay with WeChat Pay. Do you want to find a train connection? Find it and book the ticket on WeChat. Do you want to play games on your phone? Buy and play them inside of WeChat. Do you want to find a date? Filter and talk to available WeChatters nearby who want the same. Do you want to order a dish in the restaurant? Place your order on WeChat and pay for it at the same time, without any contact with the waiter. You want to – ok, I think you get the picture. The connection from the outside world to the WeChat application is usually formed through QR-codes: Whenever you want someone to use your service on WeChat, just stick a QR-code to an obvious place and it will guide them to whatever WeChat-function you wish.

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© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

Now you might ask yourself who is the genius mind behind this universal tool that seems to solve all everyday problems. Could it be Zuckerberg, or Wozniak maybe? The answer is far less glamorous: WeChat was developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company famous for its computer games, payment service, artificial intelligence, and other related products. Said payment service (TenPay) has been integrated into WeChat as WeChat Pay and has since grown to become serious competition to AliPay. If you are familiar with Google Pay or Apple Pay, WeChat Pay is comparable with similar options to pay both in the online and the tangible world.

With its massive popularity in China and the many functions that it offers, it is obvious that approximately 20 Million Chinese businesses and state institutions rely strongly on WeChat to get and keep in contact with their customers, to sell their products and to spread information. The tourism industry is no exception: Chinese accommodation, traffic and leisure providers market their products through WeChat and make themselves part of their customers’ lives.

So why don’t European tourism providers use WeChat to get in contact with their Chinese guests? Could it be because of moral doubts? It is no question that WeChat has many flaws, among them their data transfer to the Chinese government, which it uses to control its people. Or their factual social media monopoly in China, which makes it just too tempting to abuse the power that comes along with such a position. But Facebook, which is widely accepted in the tourism field, is no saint either – its utter failure when it comes to stopping fake news and the rise of extremist movements worldwide due to its algorithms (echo chambers) just being two examples.

Keeping this in mind, it might simply be a lack of awareness, that it only takes one more social medium in one’s communication portfolio to address millions of potential Chinese tourists. Little steps are being made in implementing WeChat outside of China: Many European and American Airports offer WeChat Pay as a payment option in their shops. But we are still far from German train information and tickets being available on WeChat or from finding vacation homes in remote Austrian valleys through its booking engine.

Yet there are a few examples which might function as a guiding light: The German city of Hamburg runs Hamburg House in Shanghai, a kind of cultural and touristic embassy. They use WeChat heavily to spread promotional videos and articles written in the Chinese language, for example about the recently completed Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

In Austria, the national tourist office also uses WeChat in order to communicate with potential Chinese tourists. Furthermore, they collaborate with Schönbrunn castle in Vienna to develop ticketing functions: WeChat users can now purchase visitor tickets in advance on WeChat and redeem them onsite through a QR-code, as it is custom in China.

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© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

There is even an example within the eyesight of Salzburg: The German county of Berchtesgadener Land has witnessed a growing number of Chinese tourists, eager to see attractions such as Lake Königssee, the infamous Eagle’s Nest and the picture-perfect village of Ramsau. In order to get in contact with them, the destination management organization Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (BGLT) decided to get active on WeChat in 2015. In collaboration with an expert they set up a WeChat account with several functions: There is an FAQ-section, answering the most common questions among Chinese tourists, such as where to find local milk, how to experience “Alm”-feeling without much effort and where to buy traditional Bavarian clothing. Also, there is a chatroom for tourists to share experiences, a dictionary with the most important translations into German and basic information about tourist attractions, like how to get there and opening hours. As touchpoints, the BGLT placed posters with information in Chinese and WeChat-QR-codes at tourist hot spots.

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© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

So what is it that convinced the BGLT or the Austrian National Tourist office to implement WeChat? The Chinese are a promising tourist group due to China’s economic development. Therefore, one must deal with their needs in order to win them as customers. To the majority of Chinese mobile phone users, WeChat is an important part of their lives and it offers great opportunities to tourism providers: You can be part of the entire customer journey in just one channel – use it for advertisement, communication, booking, transportation, payment, information and sharing memories. Life can be so easy.

References:

Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (2016): WeChat-Kampagne erfreut chinesische Touristen im Berchtesgadener Land. Berchtesgaden. Retrieved from: https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/presse/ideen-texte-fakten/pressemeldungen/wechat-kampagne-erfreut-chinesische-touristen-im-berchtesgadener-land (15 May 2020)

CNBC LLC. (2017): What is Tencent? Englewood Cliffs. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5yFhJFqw5w (1 April 2020)

Österreich Werbung Wien (2019): WeChat im Tourismusmarketing. Vienna. Retrieved from:  https://www.austriatourism.com/blog/2019/wechat-onlinemarketing-in-china/ (15 May 2020)

Statista, Inc. (2020): Number of monthly active WeChat users from 2nd quarter 2011 to 4th quarter 2019. New York. https://www.statista.com/statistics/255778/number-of-active-wechat-messenger-accounts/

Stephan Mayer (2018): Welche Rolle spielt WeChat für den Tourismus in Deutschland? Shanghai. Retrieved from: https://socialmedia-blog.net/china/wechat-tourismus-deutschland/ (14 May 2020)

 Pictures:

Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (2016): WeChat-Kampagne erfreut chinesische Touristen im Berchtesgadener Land. Berchtesgaden. Retrieved from: https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-china.jpg
https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-wechat-screenshot.png
https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-wechat-chinesischer-tourist.jpg (15 May 2020)

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: ZOHO

ZOHO Corporation: flooding or conquering the market?

by Bozhena Vozniuk & Richard Mükisch

The crossroads

There are not so many privately-owned tech companies that can boast growing as exponentially and aggressively as Zoho – Indian company focusing on software development. Founded in 1996, initially as a CRM system, Zoho started expanding quite slowly having only reached 1 million users in 2008. However, in 2015 it served 15 million users already and, astonishingly, increased its customer base by 5 more million customers in 2016 – just in one year. In 2019 there were 50 million ZOHO users around the globe.

The product variety of Zoho also kept growing. The company mainly invests back into its R&D department, which is around 60% of its profit. There are more than 40 Zoho various web-based solutions tailored for almost any kind of enterprise as well as its managers’ need – and this number is continuously skyrocketing. Such a path can potentially lead both ways – incremental success or failure.

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Photo from Pexels – free stock photos

Adaptivity
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
W: Edwards Deming

ZOHO is one of the best examples of the company that has managed to adapt to the endless changes and current trends successfully. As mentioned above, the diversity and speed with which the corporation introduces its solutions into the market are worth recognizing. Offering multitude cloud-based, interoperable tools for any imaginable department (Zoho People for HR, Zoho Social for marketing, Zoho Books for accounting, Zoho Card Scanner, Zoho Backstage – the list can go on much further), ZOHO has also developed several business apps for Apple watch such as, for instance,  ZOHO Vault – managing passwords on the move.

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Photo from Pexels – free stock photos

Another solution, Zoho Creator, capturing the trend of individualization, enables customers to create and customize their apps without any prior coding knowledge. Moreover, new features keep coming every year. Just to illustrate a few, Zia Voice, AI-powered assistant, launched in 2018, can very well be competing with Siri whereas Zoho WorkDrive, a collaborative workspace introduced in 2019, reflects the sharing economy trend.

Covid19 crisis has only motivated Zoho to be even more flexible and responsive to its users’ necessities. Having adapted rapidly, Zoho started Zoho Remotely in 2020 giving working teams all over the world an opportunity to work productively from home. In order to support small businesses during the economic downturn induced by the pandemic, Zoho has initiated ESAP (Emergency Subscription Assistance Program) devoted to helping small business to survive by providing them with a free three months version of the product.

Perspectives

Undoubtedly, the corporation does not plan to slow down: a new tool, Zoho Show for Chromebook, is soon to be out in the market. So, what does this immense growth mean? Is Zoho rapidly transforming into another tech giant, a powerful market leader? Or what if the company continues expanding and, in the race to constantly innovate, neglect its core products? Even worse, with this tremendous growth, market saturation, leading to overall demand and, therefore, price drop, could be foreseeable. Well, as usual, only time can tell but for now, Zoho continues impressing. We do hope it stays this way.

Sources:

Backman, T. (2020, March 19). Small business Relief: Zoho introduces Emergency Assistance Program [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.zoho.com/general/blog/small-business-relief-zoho-introduces-emergency-assistance-program.html

Darpan, S. (2018, December 7). Zoho Corporation – the best Marketing Strategy example? Case Study [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.superheuristics.com/about-zoho-corporation-marketing-strategy/

Zoho. (n.d.). About us: Serious Software, Friendly Company. Retrieved from https://www.zoho.com/aboutus.html