Objectives – Recently, there has been a growing interest in User-Generated Content (UGC) and in particular Web 2.0 as one of the most important sources of information for consumers making a purchasing decision. Their influence is especially important within the hospitality and tourism industry, composed of intangible products that are difficult to evaluate prior to their consumption, because, by their nature, they are largely based upon experience and search qualities. As a consequence, Web 2.0 can potentially become one of the most important and effective marketing channels for operators in this sector. However, the real awareness, use and attitude of tourist operators towards Web 2.0 tools remain in actual fact unclear in existing literature. Moving on from a review of national and international literature on Web 2.0 within the tourism sector, the aim of this study is to contribute towards filling this gap. To achieve this, the study analyses how managers within the Italian hospitality sector a) are aware of the various Web 2.0 tools and use them, b) believe that these tools can affect their business (i.e: awareness, image, occupancy rate, request, etc.) and c) encourage customers to post their reviews on-line and subsequently to check these reviews. Methods – This study is based on an empirical and quantitative investigation that was carried out by sending a questionnaire by e-mail (on-line survey) to a sample of operators within the Italian hospitality sector. Results – The study indicates that there is a good level of awareness of the various Web 2.0 tools, although this differs according to the different types of tool. It also shows that the Italian hospitality sector is late regarding its use of Web 2.0 for their marketing and promotion operations, probably because – as our empirical investigation would seem to indicate - they do not yet have a good or clear understanding about the way Web 2.0 can affect their business. It is only necessary to highlight the fact that many managers stated that no one in their company replies to either positive or negative on-line reviews. Conclusions – This study seems to show that operators within the Italian hospitality sector are late regarding their use of Web 2.0 applications for their marketing and promotion operations. This is because managers do not have as yet either a good or a clear understanding 2 about the way Web 2.0 can influence tourists’ behaviour and consequently their own business, despite the numerous studies that have documented this well. To sum up, as other studies have highlighted, this research suggests that in Italy most tourism companies are at an early stage in applying Web 2.0 concepts and tools to their business. To conclude, significant work could/should be carried out to increase the use of these tools and to improve the competitiveness of the Italian hospitality sector within international tourist markets.
Awareness, use and attitude of the tourism enterprises towards the web 2.0: and empirical analysis on the Italian Hospitality sector / DEL CHIAPPA, Giacomo. - (2011). (Intervento presentato al convegno International Conference Marketing Trends tenutosi a Paris nel 20-22 January).