Date of Award

7-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Norman, William C

Committee Member

McGuire , Francis

Committee Member

Backman , Sheila

Abstract

Information search has been a topic of research for a multitude of studies across
several fields, including travel and tourism. However, information search on the internet,
especially in travel and tourism, has rarely been examined. As a result, this research was
undertaken to explore travel information search behaviors on the Internet.
This thesis uses information foraging theory (Pirolli & Card, 1999) as a basis to
examine online travel information search behaviors. In addition, other established
measures of online information search (Hodkinson, Kiel, & McColl-Kennedy, 2000)
were used to supplement findings based upon information foraging theory. Groups of
students from two different countries of origin (Belgium and the United States) were
compared based on the body of literature started by Hofstede (1980) on uncertainty
avoidance. Additionally, Students from the United states were compared when planning
trips over two different travel planning horizons (One week and three months) based on
the body of literature started by Gitelson and Crompton (1983).
Measures of information foraging were measured by frequency of use, and it was
found that such measures applied to online travel information foraging. It was also found
that the majority of additional measures were applicable to online travel information
foraging, with the addition of several measures found to be unique to the travel genre.
Additionally, with the use of independent sample t-tests, this research revealed several
significant differences in search behaviors between Belgians and Americans. Finally,
with the exception of one measurement, this research revealed that participants with
different travel planning horizons were not significantly different

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