Tourists’ Information Queries in Online Travel Forums: A Comparative Analysis of Visitors to Tanzania and South Korea.

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University of Dar es Salaam
A person visiting a destination needs information about the place to better have a well-planned trip and satisfied with the trip. This study attempts to examine tourists’ information queries in online travel forums by comparing USA visitors to Tanzania and those to South Korea. The study examined and compared travel information needs (functional and hedonic), the number of replies to information needs, and the duration of membership in travel forums of USA visitors to Tanzania and South Korea. Data were collected through content analysis. For empirical examination; posts for queries on Tanzania and South Korea made by USA visitors that were posted in the TripAdvisor travel forum between 1st May 2019 and 31st July 2019 were collected (n=200) and analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative content analysis was employed to capture the numerical data and thematic content analysis dealt with major themes in the query posts. The results reveal that there was no statistical significance with regards to travel information needs sought before traveling, duration of membership in the travel forum, and planning horizon. However, the USA tourists show differences concerning the number of replies, their level of the contributor, and the number of words with USA tourists coming to Tanzania having a greater number of replies and number of words as well as being at a higher level of contributor compared to those going to South Korea. USA tourists show differences concerning themes; amenities are motivated by souvenirs and need for communication services for visitors to Tanzania and South Korea. Itinerary focuses on trip plans driven by seasons of viewing wild attractions in Tanzania, and trip plans are motivated by cultural attractions in South Korea. Accessibility is driven by the need for service providers for intra-destination movements in Tanzania, and visitors to South Korea are motivated by the connection between the attractions. USA visitors to Tanzania are motivated to experience wildlife attractions and cultural attractions to South Korea. Accommodation in Tanzania is more of a remote place to stay and well-connected places to lodge near attractions for visitors to South Korea. The results suggest that DMOs managers and marketers in tourism promotion agencies have to increase visibility on travel forums to provide authentic and credible information to potential visitors. DMO managers should focus much on tourists’ primary information needs – functional needs because they significantly contribute to travel plans decisions. The online information searching behavior, travel and hospitality forums, social media, and mobile applications use in Tanzania still need more analytical studies to come up with results that may aid in improving marketing strategies to grab the global tourists’ market hence increase the number of visitors.
Information needs, TripAdvisor, Destination, and Marketing.