Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to examine visitors’ perceptions and relevant importance of social media when choosing a Mediterranean destination and also to explore the extent in which they believe it is important for them to belong to an online community with shared characteristics among its members. Design/methodology/approach– A stratified, based on nationality and gender, sample of 301 respondents of foreign arrivals of visitors in the Athens airport, Greece was collected in June and July 2014 based on the official Athens Airport Authorities Arrival Research. This is a partially exploratory research. Findings– Differences between age groups as far as the importance attributed to social media as sources of information about a tourism destination were found. The respondents, when using the internet for gathering information about a tourism Mediterranean destination, consider different online channels. Facebook is among the most important sources of information for them associated with the tourism destinations. Official web sites/blogs of the destination are the first source and photo sharing sites are the second most preferred source; sharing aesthetics of photos was found to contribute to the feeling of belonging to an on line travel community. Research limitations/implications– Further research will contribute to the development of greater understanding of the strategic approaches to social media and their use to promote a destination. Greek diaspora would be interesting to examine and geographical differences among groups. Practical implications– The paper denotes the importance for destination management organizations and companies, to fully employ the social media in their marketing efforts. Originality/value– The present study increases our understanding of the adoption of online and traditional communications in the visitor’s process for Athens, Greece, shedding light to the literature existing on the significance attributed to the online travel community belonging from visitors through sharing aesthetics of photos and associations of ideas based on age differences.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 7, 2015