Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Digital Tourism and Changing Motivations for Travel

Working Thesis: The Digital Age has changed how we approach travel and how we experience new places. The use of social media, travel apps, online virtual tours, travel blogs, etc. has created a need for places and travel-related businesses to have an online platform. The abundance of online travel platforms has changed how travelers research their trips, book their trips, report on their trips, and review their trips. Understanding these changes and using the resources available through the widespread use of the internet can allow those who work in the tourism industry to provide more resources for travelers and grow the industry, and can allow travelers to customize their itinerary to create their perfect trip.

Relevance: This topic is relevant to digital culture because digital culture has influenced the processes of travel. It has even grown to have its own digital culture terms, which are e-Tourism and digital travel. These terms comprise all the various tools that have become available because of the development and constant progression of the internet. This topic is also relevant to those who travel frequently and those who work in the tourism industry. Being aware of the changing motivations for travel can help businesses cater to their customers more effectively and can help travelers capitalize on their resources to make the most of their trips.

Format: My paper will be in the format of a research paper. I plan to look at various web tools for travel, as well as articles and forums regarding digital travel. I will report my findings and integrate them with the latest literature on travel in the digital age.

Outlet: There are not many calls for papers on etourism. However, there are a few. The most famous one is the conference hosted by the International Federation for Information Technology and Travel and Tourism called the ENTER Conference. They have this conference yearly, and in 2014 it will be hosted in Dublin. Unfortunately, the submission date has passed for this conference. I am very much interested in submitting it for the 2015 conference, however. In the meantime, I hope to reach out to some travel blogs to see if they would allow me to post some of my findings as a guest blogger. Some blogs I am interested in submitting to are Toonz and Etourismishere.com. Both accept guest posts, and Etourismishere.com even seeks out those writing in the industry or about the industry in academia. I think I have a relatively good shot at making contact with at least one of these blogs, and I’m most hopeful about Etourismishere.com. I also hope to submit my paper to the English Symposium.

Curation: I have been keeping a steady curation of websites and articles related to digital travel. I have pinned some boards on Pinterest, followed some travel domains on Twitter and Instagram, and looked through some travel blogs to explore the visual aspect of a motivation for travel.

I have begun to follow some important names and groups in the industry, such as Damian Cook who is the founder of e-Tourism Frontiers. I also started following William Price, who is a Global Manager of eMarketing for South African Tourism. These two companies have been combining forces to host an international conference in Africa called the E-Tourism South Africa Summit. The most recent conference was in October of 2013 and it was held in Cape Town. It was here they “ brought together all the brightest and the best to share ways of harnessing digital technology and social media to grow the tourism industry.” These companies are the pace setters for digital travel, so I will be doing a lot of research on their websites, blogs, and forums. The fact that they are based in South Africa is very appealing and relevant to me because I will be traveling to South Africa next summer. I am wondering if I can get together some resources and somehow make a connection with them while I am there?

I also discovered that there is a think tank revolving around digital tourism. I found the notes for one of their recent meetings here. Reading these notes helped me realize how fresh this topic is. I am really excited to get my research out there and try to make a splash.

I have been keeping track of articles and big names in the world of academia as well. One man that I found that many other sources cite is Dimitrios Buhalis. He has written some articles (one of which you can find here) that have impacted the field of digital tourism.

Lastly, I found out that Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom is one of the top schools for tourism studies. They frequently have events regarding digital tourism. They have been a good resource for finding what other students are studying in the field of tourism.

Social Proof: I have tweeted at Damian Cook and have emailed Toonz to see if there would be an opportunity to share my findings there. I have not yet received any feedback, but I plan to continue to find groups to join and bounce ideas off of. I have joined some communities on Google + and I think the best way to engage is to comment on some of their posts. Once I do that, hopefully I can start some good discussions with those who know the industry. I am working on Stowaway Magazine, BYU's travel magazine, so I have bounced some ideas off members of my staff. They are very helpful resources since we are all working toward integrating digital means into our magazine to better engage our readers.

Next steps: 
1. Find a way to organize my research and integrate my personal findings with the research.
2. Engage more with the groups who are on the cutting edge of digital tourism. Try to formulate some good, though-provoking questions to ask and to start discussion. Connect with e-Tourism blogs and ask to guest post.
3. Write my paper. Use my own findings and experience along with citing credible sources in the field of digital tourism.
4. Workshop my paper with classmates. Discuss any further ideas with staff members of Stowaway.
5. Finalize paper and submit it to blogs and the English Symposium.