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Research Proposal - An Evaluation Of The Impact Of Social Networking On Travel Websites


Research Proposal

Project Justification

The courses undertaken have provided an adequate foundation for examining and analyzing issues in social networking on travel sites. Social networking involves websites that refers to online place wherein some end users might create profile and build particular network that connects to other users, generated concerns among players in the tourism and travel business zones. Amicably, several travel agency sites support maintenance of tourism based social networks and or destination related activities. Indeed, social network sites implies to such webbased services that allow travel agencies to create clientele profile within information system, as well as articulate list of website users with whom they share imperative connection, the nature of website connections may vary from site to site. Networking emphasizes relationship initiation, possible on travel sites, forms of computer aided communication, the social network can help travel websites be more customer oriented and effective as a means of putting perspectives in the front line (Haythornthwaite, 2005) linked social network as critical organizing feature of travel websites labeling. There deal with impact of communication media and Internet on connectivity between people along series of social network of media use upon exploration for travel business zone, studies by Haythornthwaite (2005) have explored use of available media among members of academic research group and among distance learners, there were about media use as well as about the strength of the tie between communicating pairs revealed that those more strongly tied used more media to communicate than weak ties thus, showing configuration of different tiers of media use supporting social networks of different ties strengths. Further suggest that certain media support different kinds of information flow; and the importance of organization-level decisions about what media to provide and promote (Haythornthwaite, 2005).

Presence of coursework and preliminary review of literature, there will be a need to develop interests pertaining to the subject and the researcher will look forward to put specific knowledge and skills into practice and contribute to the existing body of knowledge. The study would provide an opportunity to understand social networking and its impact on travel agency business, the type of social network will be website adaptation, for example online ticket purchasing, schedule booking that work well with travel business, as such networking ways duly incorporated in e-business .


There was then a tight response to changing business environments, from the base of realizing performance as well as competence in the area of information technology to recognize positive process of social networking that works well with travel agency business through website applications and execution, there can account to IT developments and keeping network related projects on the right approach. Travel businesses need to utilize competent standing such as through careful investment tenets in several Information Technology (IT) tools such as e-ticketing presence and realization, in order to remain competitive and increasingly sophisticated, for example, Hong Kong airlines by means of IT, it is accessible for the customers to use travel sites in booking flights and other related events that involves social relationships with the management of the airline. Furthermore, the study of internet service can be in competitive nature for more sophisticated cues as people can benefit from travel sites by joining social systems such as checking weather and travel information and so on. Thus, realizing that high speed network technologies add merits to the travel business service, media function is being enhanced by realization of fast transmission assumption (Bapna et al., 2001; Budish and Takeyama, 2001; Liao and Hwang, 2001). Another example, ‘fitfortravel’ is a website that has been developed by the National Health Service, Scotland for the provision of travel health information for people traveling abroad from the UK. The site has gained immense popularity as travelers find the information provided highly valuable (NHS Scotland, 2009). Illum et al. (2009) suggested the potential of virtual communities in tourism research. The presence of social networking impacts travel websites in terms of value creation and creation of brand identity for example, in media and advertising provided might affect networking ways, through brand creation and identity travel businesses can integrate effective visual contexts online along with realistic network technology as clientele can send emails and view schedules, serving what they look for on travel sites, creation of social networks in tourism (Lemmetyinen & Go, 2009). Another impact can be about website usage as being driven by networking pressure and known factor of which social networking have committed relationships to the travel websites under certain conditions like the adaptation of e-business in supplier relationships along with e-communication stature (Andreu et al., 2009).

The advent of “Web 2.0” has led to a series of new web services. Social networking has benefited from new internet technologies and new user behavior to become the poster child of web services. Questions on social sites include how they create value for users and how users capture it. Studies have examined revenue generation on social network sites through advertising, subscription, and transaction models. Key value drivers include user volume, willingness to pay, trust in peers and the platform (Enders et al., 2008). Research efforts have been directed towards understanding behavior of online customers. Bai et al. (2008) studied the impact of the quality of a website on customer satisfaction and intentions to purchase. They found that the quality of a website had a direct and positive impact on purchase intentions of customers. However, customer satisfaction has a mediating effect.

There has been an increase in the number of people using travel websites to plan their itineraries and acquiring travel information. Travel websites provide diverse services such as travel information and products through the internet. A strong competitive environment has led travel websites to improve the electronic service quality (e-SQ) of their sites in order to profit from customer transactions on their websites. Evaluation of e-SQ could be treated as a multiple-criteria decision making problem. An approach to this problem is the determination of degrees of importance or criteria, and identification of critical criteria to evaluate service quality (Hu, 2009).

Components of e-travel service quality are information quality, security, website functionality, customer relationships and responsiveness.  These factors were found to have strong predictive capability with regard to customer satisfaction and loyalty (Ho & Lee, 2007). The effect of website information could be classified as substitution and enhancement. Lu et al. (2009) determined that enhancement occurs later than function, but develops faster and with greater force. Blake et al. (2005) determined that form and substantive discriminate between the level of innovativeness, and the level of internet experience.  Users with more internet experience display stronger preference for substantive features, but the level of experience does not differ with regard to form feature preferences. However, innovative shoppers revealed strong preference for form features.

As travelers have been increasingly planning and booking trips online. Attributes of online travel agencies that customers find important were finding low fares followed by security. Web features, user friendliness, security, and low fares influenced traveler’s perceptions (Kim et al., 2007)

Usability, reputation, and satisfaction had a significant influence on customer satisfaction.  Users with lower levels of familiarity were influenced by usability. However, users with higher levels of familiarity had direct influence on satisfaction from usability and loyalty (Casaló, 2008). The role of social media has been increasing as an important source of information for travelers. Xiang and Gretzel (2009) investigated the extent to which social media appeared in search engine results within the context of travel-related searches. Travelers’ use of search engine was simulated by using a set of keywords. Social media constituted a significant part of search results, and indicated that search engines were likely to direct travelers to social media sites such as Google search, Yahoo and some others. The presence and value of social media is imperative, implying that travel business is on the right track upon bridging social networking for purpose of travel business information online, the investigation of how online interactions matters for possible customers of tourism and agency field. In addition, social media can relate to the advancement of network technology such as travel website users and are rapidly moving from traditional access towards modern site system. Based on the statements, it can be that social media are continuously growing in importance from useful domain of online tourism to be adopted by travel business such as Hong Kong travel industry.  

There can allow social network features that determine website qualities are accessibility, speed, navigability, content and Web Assessment Index. Popularity on the internet and positioning in searches by search engine facilitate entry to markets. Users feel comfortable and secure in websites with good navigability increasing the probability of completing a transaction. Users feel that information on website must be accurate, innovative, updated and relevant to their requirements (Hernández et al., 2009). Internet based social media has enabled people to communicate with millions of people about products and services and companies that provide them. The impact of consumer communications has been greatly magnified in the marketplace. Social media has been considered a hybrid as it enables companies to talk to their customers, and simultaneously it enables customers to communicate directly with one another. This is in contrast to traditional marketing communications that is integrated with a high degree of control. Manager should learn to shape discussions of consumers in a manner that is conducive to the mission and performance goals of the organization. Methods include provision of networking platforms, user blogs, social media tools, and other promotional tools to engage visitors and customers (Mangold, G. & Faulds, 2009). Highly innovative travelers are influenced by their positive attitudes, while less innovative travelers relied on attitude and referral’s opinions for reducing uncertainty during online transactions. Lee et al. (2007) concluded that the propensity to shop for travel related products showed a decrease with increasing the referent’s social influence among highly innovative travelers. Cyr et al. (2007) suggested that perceived usefulness, trust and enjoyment influenced loyalty among consumers in e-Service environments. Thus, representations of tourist destinations could be analyzed for narrative and visual information to determine variations in information from various sources such as tour operators, travel agents, magazines and guides online. Variations could be caused by communication objectives and targeted audiences of information sources (Choi et. al., 2007).


a.    To be able to investigate IT and developments in social networking in the travel businesses.

b.    To identify social media and travel agency attributes as noted by social networking approach for travel business.

c.    To investigate scenario/cases of several travel business websites to determine techniques and approaches.

d.    Determine search engine optimization techniques used by travel websites, and user perception of top ranked website attributes based on a survey.

e.    Recommend good practices for social networking practices for travel websites


H1: There is positive impact and relationship of social media and travel agencies from social networks of travel business sites

H2: There is negative impact and relationship of social media and travel agencies from social networks of travel business sites

How to accomplish the objectives

a.         Investigate various sources of information in the internet and library coming from academic reviewed articles/journals such as Journal of Tourism Management and Tourism Management

b.    Conduct a review of literature of journals, and other sources of information

such as conference proceedings and white papers.

c.                                                                Conduct case studies of several travel web sites.

d.         The results obtained from the review of literature and case studies would be analyzed and summarized to identify social networking techniques and approaches used by travel websites.

e.         Recommendations based on good practices identified in the study would be included.

Reasons for selecting this project and how my prior skills/knowledge plus the topics currently being studied will enable me to complete the project

         a.        The courses undertaken have provided a foundation to investigate and analyze issues that exist in social networking within a specific industry.

         b.        The study would provide an opportunity to understand techniques and the approaches for social networking within the travel industry.

          c.        Preliminary review of literature, developing interest in the subject, the researcher is looking forward to put skills and knowledge into practice and contribute to the body of knowledge.

         d.        The number of social networking projects that would be undertaken by travel businesses in the future is likely to increase, and this study would provide adequate preparation to undertake the challenges.


Andreu, L., Aldás, J., Bigné, E. *Mattila, A. (2009). An analysis of e-business adoption and its impact on relational quality in travel agency–supplier relationships. Tourism Management. Available online

Bai, B., Law, R. & Wen, I. (2008). The impact of website quality on customer satisfaction and purchase intentions: Evidence from Chinese online visitors. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 27 (3), 391-402

Bapna, R., Goes, P., Gupta, A. (2001), "Comparative analysis of multi-item online auctions: evidence from the laboratory", Decision Support Systems, Vol. 32 No.2, pp.135-53

Blake, B., Neuendorf, K. & Valdiserri, C. (2005). Tailoring new websites to appeal to those most likely to shop online. Technovation. 25 (10), 1205-1214.

Budish, E.B., Takeyama, L.N. (2001), "Buy prices in online auction: irrationality on the Internet?", Economics Letters, Vol. 72 pp.325-33.

Buhalis, D. & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet—The state of eTourism research. Tourism Management. 29 (4), 609-623.

Casaló, L., Flavián, C. & Guinalíu, M. (2008). The role of perceived usability, reputation, satisfaction and consumer familiarity on the website loyalty formation process. Computers in Human Behavior. 24 (2), 325-345.

Choi, S., Lehto, X. & Morrison, A. (2007). Destination image representation on the web: Content analysis of Macau travel related websites. Tourism Management. 28 (1), 118-129.

Cyr, D., Hassanein, K., Head, M. & Ivanov, A. (2007). The role of social presence in establishing loyalty in e-Service environments. Interacting with Computers. 19 (1), 43-56.

Enders, A., Hungenberg, H., Denker, H. & Mauch, S. (2008). The long tail of social networking.: Revenue models of social networking sites. European Management Journal. 26 (3), 199-211

Haythornthwaite, C. (2005). Social networks and Internet connectivity effects. Information, Communication and Society, Volume 8, Number 2, June 2005 , pp. 125-147(23). Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

Hernández, B., Jiménez, J. & Martín, M. (2009). Key website factors in e-business strategy. International Journal of Information Management. 29 (5), 362-371.

Ho, C. & Lee, Y. (2007). The development of an e-travel service quality scale. Tourism Management. 28 (6), 1434-1449.

Hu, Y. (2009). Fuzzy multiple-criteria decision making in the determination of critical criteria for assessing service quality of travel websites. Expert Systems with Applications. 36 (3), 6439-6445.

Illum, S., Ivanov, S. & Liang, Y. (2009). Using virtual communities in tourism research. Tourism Management. Available online.

Kim, D., Kim, W. & Han, J. (2007). A perceptual mapping of online travel agencies and preference attributes. Tourism Management. 28 (2), 591-603.

Lee, H., Qu, H. & Kim, Y. (2007). A study of the impact of personal innovativeness on online travel shopping behavior: A case study of Korean travelers. Tourism Management. 28 (3), 886-897.

Lemmetyinen, A. & Go, F. (2009). The key capabilities required for managing tourism business networks. Tourism Management. 30 (1), 31-40.

Liao, G., Hwang, F. (2001), "A trustworthy Internet auction model with verifiable fairness", Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, Vol. 11 No.2, pp.159-66

Lu, Z., Han,R. & Duan, J. (2009). Analyzing the effect of website information flow on realistic human flow using intelligent decision models. Knowledge-Based Systems . Available online.

Mangold, G. & Faulds, D. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons. 52 (4), 357-365.

NHS Scotland. (2009). fitfortravel. Available: Last accessed 27 October 2009.

Xiang, Z. & Gretzel, U. (2009). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management . Available online










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