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Purpose – The virtual world environment presents new business opportunities for building destination images that allow customers to make an informed decision and initiate travel arrangements. The purpose of this study is to investigate the applicability of flow theory and the concept of involvement in understanding the impacts of virtual experiences of Second Life on people's travel intentions. Design/methodology/approach – Undergraduate college students at Clemson University were chosen as participants and data was collected in April 2009, entailing 42 usable surveys. Findings – The results validate the notion that flow is a useful and practical instrument to understand users' experiences while navigating the 3D virtual world of Second Life. The achievement of an engaging and pleasant experience in Second Life is influenced by three factors: the skills available to tackle challenging tasks, the perception of interactivity, and the degree of presence sensation perceived by customers. Furthermore, the findings indicated that flow experience mediated the association between involvement and people's behavioral intentions. Originality/value – This study is a stepping stone on the road to investigating new marketing media, as more systematic research is needed to investigate the virtual experience and its effects on how travelers make decisions.
Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 16, 2012
Keywords: Second Life; Virtual experiences; Involvement; Flow theory; Travel intentions; Consumer behaviour; Decision making
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