Online Travel Media and Touristic Experience: Examining the Psychological Effects of Technology Affordances

Open Access
Choi, Youngjoon
Graduate Program:
Recreation, Park and Tourism Management
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 14, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Benjamin Daniel Hickerson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Benjamin Daniel Hickerson, Committee Chair
  • Deborah Lee Kerstetter, Committee Member
  • Alan R Graefe, Committee Member
  • S. Shyam Sundar, Committee Member
  • media technology
  • affordance
  • touristic experience
  • modality
  • agency
  • navigability
With the development of media technology, online travel media have expanded and transformed the formally established conceptualization of touristic experience. Drawing upon technological perspectives of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), this dissertation aimed to articulate the distinctive psychological effects of certain technology affordances on multiple dimensions of touristic experience. In particular, this dissertation adopted a variable-centered approach to explain the underlying mechanism to elicit positive touristic experience. Three separate papers were proposed and developed with the overarching theme of media technology effects on touristic experience. In Chapter 2, a conceptual framework was designed to articulate the main effects of technology-centric variables (i.e., modality, agency, interactivity, and navigability) on three dimensions of touristic experience in a virtual environment: a) the quality of virtual experience, b) the formation of tourist destination image, and c) the evaluation of a web interface. Three groups of variables (i.e., user-, content-, and situation-centric variables) were also included as potential moderators in the relations between antecedents (technology-centric variables) and consequences (touristic experience). In Chapter 3, a computer-lab experimental study was conducted to examine two technology affordances a) determining the way of presenting pictorial information of a destination and b) creating the spatial structure of a virtual environment: modality and navigability. The effects of modality and navigability were discussed in terms of virtual travel experience and behavioral intention to visit and recommend a destination. By conducting an online experimental study, Chapter 4 articulated the sources of online travel information in terms of specialization, endorsement, and other users’ star rating to understand its ontological functions and psychological effects in destination marketing. The findings supported the structural relationships between source-related visual cues, cue-induced perceptions, information credibility, and destination images. Combining three papers that investigate the psychological effects of online travel media, this dissertation is expected to provide meaningful theoretical contributions to tourism literature and provide important practical implications to tourism providers, web designers, and tourists. By proposing a theoretical framework and supporting empirical evidence, this dissertation provides foundational guidelines to conduct future studies on the effects of online travel media on touristic experience.