Purpose
As online travel marketing is evermore gaining importance, in particular regarding the pre-purchase presentation of travel destinations, it is imperative to examine how various media can engage consumers. The purpose of this paper is to identify how three prominent virtual representation media in tourism marketing differ regarding their potential in engaging customers. In particular, the authors examine whether they differ in the levels of interactivity, vividness and telepresence they elicit; and the impact of these dimensions on flow, enjoyment and online purchase intentions. The authors hereby focus specifically on millennials, who represent an important target market for the travel industry and are hard to reach via traditional media.

Design/methodology/approach
This study presents a between-subjects experimental design comparing three virtual representation media portraying New York City, namely, photographs, 360° video and virtual reality (VR). The findings are analysed with ANCOVA analysis and PLS path modelling.

Findings
The findings reveal that various media indeed generate different levels of customer engagement. In particular, VR scores the highest on all dimensions, with interactivity having the largest effect on consumers’ perception of telepresence. Such higher levels of telepresence in turn positively affect purchase intentions via mediation through flow and enjoyment.

Research limitations/implications
Future research should examine whether these findings are impacted by moderators, like consumer characteristics (e.g. socio-demographics, personality traits) and destination types.

Practical implications
This study provides guidelines for tourism providers seeking to promote their sites in innovative and effective ways, in the anticipatory stage of the customer journey.

Originality/value
This study identifies interactivity as the most important driver for consumers’ perception of telepresence in the context of pre-travel tourism information. Moreover, the findings also reveal the mechanisms behind enhanced customer engagement via various media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1988-2017
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume53
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • telepresence, virtual reality, flow, customer engagement, enjoyment, online travel purchase

ID: 48997356