Exploring Motivations of Travel Knowledge Sharing on Social Network Sites: An Empirical Investigation of U.S. College Students

Exploring Motivations of Travel Knowledge Sharing on Social Network Sites: An Empirical Investigation of U.S. College Students
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  This article was downloaded by: [Memorial University of Newfoundland]On: 04 August 2014, At: 07:21Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Hospitality Marketing &Management Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: Exploring Motivations of TravelKnowledge Sharing on Social NetworkSites: An Empirical Investigation of U.S.College Students Yinghua Huang a  , Choton Basu b  & Maxwell K. Hsu ca  Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management , XiamenUniversity , Fujian, China b  Department of Information Technology & Business Education ,University of Wisconsin-Whitewater , Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA c  Department of Marketing , University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ,Whitewater, Wisconsin, USAPublished online: 13 Sep 2010. To cite this article:  Yinghua Huang , Choton Basu & Maxwell K. Hsu (2010) Exploring Motivations ofTravel Knowledge Sharing on Social Network Sites: An Empirical Investigation of U.S. College Students,Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 19:7, 717-734, DOI: 10.1080/19368623.2010.508002 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &  Conditions of access and use can be found at    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   M  e  m  o  r   i  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   f  o  u  n   d   l  a  n   d   ]  a   t   0   7  :   2   1   0   4   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   4   Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management  , 19:717–734, 2010Copyright ©  Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1936-8623 print/1936-8631 onlineDOI: 10.1080/19368623.2010.508002 Exploring Motivations of Travel KnowledgeSharing on Social Network Sites: An Empirical Investigation of U.S. College Students  YINGHUA HUANG  Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Xiamen University, Fujian, China CHOTON BASU  Department of Information Technology & Business Education, University of  Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA MAXWELL K. HSU  Department of Marketing, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA The emergence of Web 2.0 and Travel 2.0 has planted the concept of social networking firmly into the tourism industry. Given the increasingly large number of users on social network sites (SNSs)and their high level of interaction, this study explored the under-lying motivations and barriers of travel knowledge sharing onSNSs among undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. The results identified 3 major motivating factors that drive  young SNSs users’ intention to continue travel knowledge sharing. In contrast, privacy concerns and time issues were found to be the major barriers among those who were not involved in SNS-based travel knowledge sharing. The article also discusses implications  for developing strategies to understand and benefit from SNS-based travel knowledge sharing. KEYWORDS Motivations, travel knowledge sharing, social net-work site  The first author thanks the China Scholarship Council for awarding State ScholarshipFund (2007102024), which contributed to the completion of this article. Address correspondence to Yinghua Huang, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Xiamen University, P.O. Box 1317, Xiamen, Fujian 361005, China. E-mail:hyhua1111@hotmail.com717    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   M  e  m  o  r   i  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   f  o  u  n   d   l  a  n   d   ]  a   t   0   7  :   2   1   0   4   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   4  718  Y. Huang et al. INTRODUCTION Socialnetworksites(SNSs)recentlyemergedasanimportantmediaofInternetmarketing and tourism promotion in the travel industry (Litvin et al., 2008).Thisinnovativecommunicationtoolenablespeopletointeractwitheachotherbased on commonality of interests and has changed the nature of communica-tion among individuals, especially travelers. Using SNSs, numerous travelerscan communicate with strangers as peers, without time or geographical con-straints, for travel-related purposes. These activities include seeking travelinformation, maintaining connections, finding travel companions, providingtravel tips and suggestions, or simply having fun by sharing interesting travelexperiences with each other (Wang, Yu, & Fesenmaier, 2002).ThelargenumberofSNSsusersandtheirhighlevelofinteractionindicatethat travel knowledge sharing on SNSs would exert an influence on traveler’sdestination selection and trip-planning behavior, and consequently, on thefinancial performance of tourism destinations and corporations. Thus, it iscriticaltostudyhowmuchconsiderationtravelersgivesuchtravelinformationexchange on SNSs and what factors have the most significant impact.To examine the impact of SNSs on traveler decision-making, it is nec-essary to identify the key factors that induce travelers to seek or providetravel-related information on these sites. As Kollock (1999) points out, thebenefits provided in online social networks have the quality of public goods, which refers to goods that might benefit anyone, regardless of whether they have contributed to their production. To some extent, the power of SNSsdepends on the value of the information users exchange on the website.However, challenges exist for SNSs to maintain a large and balanced pro-portion of users actively adding information value by sharing ideas andproviding expertise, known as user generated content.The purpose of the present study is to explore the underlying motiva-tions and barriers of travel knowledge sharing on social network websites.In particular, this article fills a gap in the literature by: (a) identifying thefundamental motivations of U.S. undergraduate and graduate students toexchange travel information through SNSs; (b) testing whether motivationaldifferences can be discerned across types of users (i.e., gender, age, level of education, and household income); and (c) exploring reasons why youngcustomers do not share travel knowledge on SNSs. Findings are expected tofacilitate SNSs to enhance their offerings and retain loyal surfers. LITERATURE REVIEW SNSs as an Emerging Information Channel for Tourism The emergence of Web 2.0 or Travel 2.0 has thrust the concept of socialnetworking firmly in the tourism industry. Garton, Haythornthwaite, and    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   M  e  m  o  r   i  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   f  o  u  n   d   l  a  n   d   ]  a   t   0   7  :   2   1   0   4   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   4   Exploring Motivations of Travel Knowledge Sharing on SNS   719  Wellman (1997) define social networking as “a set of people (or organiza-tions or other social entities) connected by a set of social relationships, suchas friendship, co-working, or information exchange.” The wide applicationof Web 2.0 with its vast networking possibilities has been a powerful meansof expanding social relations as never imagined before. As Hargittai (2008) notes, SNSs provide web-based services that allow individuals to (a) construct a public or semipublic profile within a boundedsystem, (b) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection,and (c) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. Notably, SNSs have two functionalities which make themstand out from other related online services: (a) advanced tools for sharingdigital objects (e.g., texts, pictures, music, videos, tags, bookmarks, etc.); and(b) advanced tools for communication and socialization between members(Cachia, Compaˇnó, & Costa, 2007).There is a great variety in levels of interaction and “virtual socialization”among SNSs (Cascio, 2000). These assets also determine the informationthat can be extracted from them. Based on Cachia et al.’s (2007) typology,Figure 1 shows the classification scheme of SNSs discussed in this article.Generally, the more “modules” for cooperation there are, the more interac-tive the SNSs are. The basic module offers online access to recorded sharednetwork information. The second, more advanced module, allows partic-ipants to exchange digital objects; and the third offers the possibility tojoin and contribute to a community of interest (i.e., ideally directed towarda coordinated action). The fourth module allows members to reveal theirprofiles. Moreover, members can take on a virtual character in a full 3D sim-ulation. For example, TripAdvisor ( is among the mostsuccessful tourism SNSs facilitating the review of most hotels around the world and bringing together individuals via discussion forums. This systemprovides users with independent travel reviews and comments written by  OnlineAccess &ArchiveExchange of Digital Objects& CollaborationMember Profile& AdvancedNetworking ToolsVirtualLife1 st  strand (e.g., Yahoo Travel, Ctrip)2 nd  strand (e.g., Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, WAYN)3 rd  strand (e.g., MySpace, Facebook, Travelbuddy)4 th  strand (e.g., Second Life, HiPiHi) FIGURE 1  A classification scheme of social network sites (based on Cachia et al., 2007).    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   M  e  m  o  r   i  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   f  o  u  n   d   l  a  n   d   ]  a   t   0   7  :   2   1   0   4   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   4
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