Research Proposal – Travel 2.0: A Portrait of the Future of Travel and the Online Travel Landscape

September 7, 2009 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

Overview

With the boom of travel websites and communities connecting travelers on the Internet, the bricks-and-mortar tourism industry is on the decline. At the same time, the online travel landscape is thriving. Will the process of actually traveling—booking a hotel room, scheduling a flight, and using all of one’s senses to explore a new destination—be eliminated?

In the past, people could only look at pictures of foreign lands or famous cities in magazines, or book a hotel room and hop on a flight. With the evolution of the Internet, all that has changed. Now, if one wants to experience the grandeur of Mt. Fuji, all he or she has to do is log on to the Internet and search for pictures, webcams, and peer reviews. He or she could even go into Second Life and take a virtual vacation with a complete hotel stay and everything. Can virtual reality rival and eventually trump actual travel?

My research will address specifically the following: 1. What does the Web 2.0 online travel landscape look like now? 2. What Web 2.0 tools are making users’ experiences educational and pleasurable, gaining websites loyal visitors?  3. What might the landscape look like in the future? 4. Will there be any value in actually traveling in the future?

More Detailed Questions Driving My Research

Is the role of travel agent obsolete, and if not, how has it changed with new Internet technologies? What are travelers expecting to find when they go on the web? What travel sites are popular and why? How can the Internet be harnessed to bring travel experiences to those who are disabled or can’t afford to travel? Are there specific ways to bring these members of the population into the fold?

How I Plan to Conduct Research

  • Look at the following types of websites: Travel deal publishing sites (SmarterTravel, Travelzoo, etc.); travel review websites (TVtrip); online travel communities (TravelPod, VirtualTourist, Traxo.com, etc.). — I will look at what makes each of these websites unique and creates visitor loyalty.
  • Explore avant-garde travel websites like Wonder Rotunda, Google City Tours, and GoogleMapsRoadtrip.com. — These avant-garde sites tend to focus on a niche market. Wonder Rotunda, for example, describes itself as a “virtual, educational theme park” and is geared toward children ages 7-12 and their parents.
  • Explore the Web 2.0 tools used on travel sites – live cams, webcams, Google Earth, Ustream.tv, podcasting, youtube.
  • Look at the websites of interactive marketing agencies working specifically for travel marketing like USDM.net and CreateWanderlust.com.– How are these sites promotion actual travel on the Web; if so, how? Are they promoting virtual travel; if so, how?
  • Review articles from iMediaConnection.com about the travel market. — The iMediaConnection articles focus on the business side of things, so they provide some consumer surveys as well as background
  • Possibly conversing with community users on various travel sites about their experience with Web 2.0 travel.
  • Look at “virtual vacations” on SecondLife, and go on one myself time-permitting.

Preliminary Sources and Experts

  1. Articles from iMediaConnection.com: “Online Travel’s Future is Now” by Cree Lawson; “DM Tactics Benefit Travel Marketers” by Leah Woolford; “Have Brand Loyalty, Will Travel” by Nancy W. Bryan; “How Consumers Use Online for Travel” by Jeffrey Grau”.
  2. Pages from www.asta.org, The American Society of Travel Agents’ website.
  3. Articles from PRWeb and MarketWire about “Travel 2.0”.
  4. USDM.net founder and CEO Leah Woolford.
  5. Many more!
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Entry filed under: COM 530- Theory & Analysis, research.

Is There Value in Actual Experience Over Virtual Experience?

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