06-11: King Yin Wong
Chair: Mario Schaarschmidt
Marketing Travel Experience Through Virtual Reality
The tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. In order to compete in this dynamic and global industry, industry players are constantly looking for new ways to provide better customer experience. Tourism products are generally considered to be “confidence goods” which do not allow customers to try and test before making the purchase. Customers’ purchase decisions on “confidence goods” greatly depend on their confidence in the information provided by the service providers. It is common nowadays that tourism service providers rely on 2D interfaces such as brochures and multimedia video clips to disseminate product and service information to customers. These 2D marketing materials aim to increase customers’ confidence by offering them a better idea on what to expect as services are highly intangible and variable. The advancement of information technology, however, enables service providers in the tourism industry to further boost customers’ confidence in an innovative way. The emergence of virtual reality (VR) technology provides prospective customers an opportunity to "sample" the products before making their purchase decision. Over the past few years, tourism operators have seen the potential of VR and tried to adopt it in selling and promoting tourism products.
Previous study has suggested that experiencing a tourism destination in VR may positively influence one’s attitude toward the destination and also the intention to visit the destination. However, there is a lack of empirical studies testing and comparing the effects of 3D VR marketing and traditional 2D marketing. Given the high cost of developing VR content, it is important to understand the effects of VR marketing and its underlying mechanism. This paper intends to fill this void. The objectives of this research are threefold: 1. To test the marketing effectiveness of 2D and 3D interfaces used in the tourism industry; 2. To explore the best fit between these interfaces and levels of product complexity (e.g., a 3-night accommodation at a 3-star city hotel vs. a 3-night all-inclusive package at a leisure farm resort); 3. To provide guidance to the firms in terms of investing in VR marketing.
Through the lenses of Media Richness Theory and Embodied Social Presence Theory, we develop a research model to explicitly test the outcome of different marketing tools with different level of media richness and social presence. Furthermore, we examine the marketing effectiveness of these tools at two levels of product complexity. The theoretical contribution of this research is to extend the literature in service marketing and empirically validate the relationships between different marketing tools and their outcomes. This research also offers managerial implications regarding marketing planning to practitioners.