‘In what way has media technology changed how we plan our international travel experiences?’
It was the summer of 2014, and instead of migrating to the beach, seventeen-year-old Rhi sat hunched at her computer desk, wading through the contents of countless travel websites. I was planning my European holiday of a lifetime, and there was no way the perfect deal would escape me. Over the coming months, I managed to organise the entire trip from that chair, going on to have the most incredible- and surprisingly inexpensive – overseas adventure.
Whilst some may struggle to comprehend how an inexperienced teenager could possibly compete with a seasoned travel agency, my anecdote is not unique. Many travelers are now opting to plan their holidays online, without physical ‘expert’ assistance. In fact, the travel and tourism industry has the greatest number of online transactions, with social media engagement being found to significantly increase sales (Inversini & Masiero 2014, p. 3).
From the first week of Media, Audience, Place, my understanding of media usage has been challenged. Grappling with the idea that media is spatial in nature, I found it difficult to develop a media project that would encompass this concept. That was until I was reminded of my love of travel in the most ironic way…
As I procrastinated this very project, an ‘on this day’ Facebook notification popped onto my screen, reminding me of my international travel years before. Whilst I chuckled at the irony of media showing me a place I’d rather be, I also began to apply the ideas we had been shown in class to my own experiences.
The desire to travel is a universal one, and it is widely agreed that the development of media technology has substantially changed how we plan and execute our overseas holidays (Sigala, Christou & Gretzel 2012; Ruzic & Bilos 2010; Tham 2013). There is not, however, a great deal of information that is specific to Australia, as a geographically remote nation.
I intend to undertake ethnographic research in this area, to determine whether young Australians prefer to book through physical travel agencies, or if they instead favour online alternatives when travelling abroad. It would also be interesting to note whether the chosen destination influences how participants plan their holiday.
To conduct my research, I plan to use both survey and interview methods, as this will allow me to gain valuable quantitative and qualitative information. The survey will determine how a wide range of individuals have planned and executed their past holidays, whereas the interviews will allow me to gain a greater depth of information from a reduced number of participants.
Ethnographic collaboration will greatly enhance this project, as it helps ensure accurate information is collected from participants. The final research project will be morally and ethically responsible, as I will allow the participants to guide and inform the discussion, without making assumptions based on their age or outward appearance (Rappaport 2008, pp.2-3). All due care will be taken to not offend or misrepresent stakeholders, who will contribute on an optional basis right throughout my research.
The answers discovered through this research will hopefully provide an understanding of how millennials choose to organise their holidays, which can assist online companies and agencies to better meet the travel needs of young Australians.
Inversini, A & Masiero, L 2014, ‘Selling rooms online: the use of social media and online travel agents,’ International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 272-292.
Ružić, D & Biloš, A 2010, ‘Social media in destination marketing organisations (DMOs),’ Tourism & Hospitality Management, pp. 178–190.
Sigala, M, Christou, E & Gretzel, U 2012, Social media in travel, tourism and hospitality: Theory, practice and cases, Ashgate Publishing, Surrey.
Tham, AGJ 2013, ‘Social media in destination choice: Distinctive electronic word-of-mouth dimensions,’ Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, vol. 30, p.44.