Interactive Voice Assistants for Travel Planning. Insights for Tourism Marketing Communication of Destination Management Organizations


Master's Thesis, 2020

110 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Excerpt

Table of Contents

Abstract

Table of Abbreviations

Table of Figures

List of Tables

1. Introduction
1.1 Statement of the Problem.
1.2 Purpose
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Research Method
1.5 Overview of the Thesis

2. Theoretical Foundation of Marketing Communications of DMOs
2.1 Functions and Tasks of DMOs
2.2 Trends and Challenges in Destination Marketing
2.3 Experience Design in Destination Marketing
2.4 Relevance of the UX for the Experience Marketing of DMOs
2.5 Designing the UX in Travel Planning

3. Definition and Application Fields of Intelligent Voice Assistants
3.1 Definition, Application Fields and Development of IVAs
3.2 Relevance of IVAs for Marketing Communication
3.3 Information Processing in Voice Content Marketing
3.4 Use of IVAs in Tourism Context
3.5 IVAs for Consumer Use

4. Tourism-specific Consumer Behavior of Different Generations
4.1 Target Market Analysis in Destination Marketing
4.2 Demographic Change as Challenge in Tourism Marketing
4.2.1 Consumer Behavior of Best Agers
4.2.2 Consumer Behavior of Millennials
4.3 Use and Consumption of IVAs by Different Generations

5. Acceptance and Influencing Factors of IVAs for Travel Planning
5.1 Explanation of Acceptance and -Models for Technological Innovation
5.2 Acceptance Factors of IVAs in Travel Planning
5.2.1 Factors of the Technology Acceptance Model
5.2.2 Factors of the Technology Acceptance Model 2
5.2.3 Factors of the Technology Acceptance Model 3

6. Interim Conclusion of Theoretical Foundations

7. Empirical Analysis
7.1 Research Method
7.2 Sampling
7.3 Quantitative Data Collection
7.4 Data Analyzing
7.5 Analysis and Results
7.5.1 Descriptive Characteristics of the Sample
7.5.2 Results of the Acceptance Factors of IVAs for Travel Planning
7.5.3 Sample Distribution
7.5.4 Results of the Hypothesis Test
7.5.4.1 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Fun
7.5.4.2 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Computer Anxiety
7.5.4.3 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Complexity
7.5.4.4 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Output Quality
7.5.4.5 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Subjective Norm.
7.5.4.6 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Perceived Ease of Use
7.5.4.7 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Perceived Usefulness
7.5.4.8 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Attitude Towards Use
7.5.4.9 Differences in the Acceptance Factor Behavioral Intention to Use

8. Conclusion
8.1 Answering the Overall Research Question
8.2 Discussion of the Results
8.3 Recommendations
8.4 Outlook

Bibliography

Appendix

Abstract

Current challenges in tourism marketing of Destination Management Organizations consist in the design of unique, emotional, and holistic travel experiences for [potential] visitors as well as in the use of new and innovative Information and Communication Technologies in order to distinguish themselves from other destinations, succeed in a highly competitive environment, reach [potential] visitors and their attention along all the touch points of a Visitor Journey, and especially in the phase of travel planning, get them excited about a destination, and be able to bind them to the destination [brand] in the long term. With the increased use of Interactive Voice Assistants by tourism providers, such as a Destination Management Organization, and the relevance of this innovative technology for marketing communications, the questions remains whether Destination Management Organizations can even reach their target groups through Interactive Voice Assistants and whether this technology is accepted by the target groups as a platform from which they can get their travel information. From an overall tourism perspective and against the background of demographic change, this includes the target groups of Millennials and Best Agers, both of whom are of increasing importance for the entire tourism industry and who differ in their travel, information and media usage behavior.

In the master’s thesis, the differences in the consumer behavior between these two target groups regarding the use and acceptance of Interactive Voice Assistants for travel planning are therefore examined in more detail. In order to answer the overall research question, factors for the acceptance and use of Interactive Voice Assistants for travel planning were identified with the help of an established model in the field of acceptance research. Based on these factors, a questionnaire was designed and carried out among people of different ages, to which Millennials and Best Agers can be assigned. The survey mainly revealed differences in the Perceived Usefulness and Attitudes of Millennials and Best Agers towards the use of Interactive Voice Assistants for travel planning. However, since this innovative technology hardly seems to be accepted by these two target groups, Destination Management Organizations need to develop an understanding of how Interactive Voice Assistants can continue to be used successfully, taking into account their relevance for marketing communication and their rapid development. This knowledge should be conveyed in the master’s thesis. Based on this understanding, further measures for marketing communication of Destination Management Organizations could be set up.

Table of Abbreviations

A Attitude Toward Using

AI Artificial Intelligence

ANOVA Analysis of Variance

ANTO Austrian National Tourist Office

AR Augmented Reality

BI Behavioral Intention to Use

BVDW Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft

cf. confer, compare, see, look up

DMAI Destination Marketing Association International

DMO Destination Management Organization

E Perceived Ease of Use

ed. Edition

Ed. Editor

Eds. Editors

et al. et alia

GDPR General Data Protection Regulation

Gen X Generation X

Gen Y Generation Y

IAB Interactive Advertising Bureau

ICT Information and Communication Technology

IT Information Technology

IVA Interactive Voice Assistants

n Sample size

p Significance level

p. Page

pp. Pages

PwC PricewaterhouseCoopers

SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciences

TAM Technology Acceptance Model

TRA Theory of Reasoned Action Model

U Perceived Usefulness

UNWTO United Nation World Tourism Organization

UTAUT Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology Model

UX User Experience

VCM Voice Content Marketing

Vol. Volume

VR Virtual Reality

WOM Word of Mouth

Table of Figures

Figure 1. Number of IVA distribution in voice-activated devices

Figure 2. Comparison of global market shares in the segment of smart speakers 2018 to 2025, excluding China

Figure 3. Frequency of use of different IVA functions

Figure 4. Frequency of visitors’ expected benefits from IVAs

Figure 5. Comparison of preferred travel information and booking channels by Best Agers’ frequency of travel

Figure 6. Technology Acceptance Model [TAM]

Figure 7. Technology Acceptance Model 2 [TAM 2]

Figure 8. Technology Acceptance Model 3 [TAM 3]

Figure 9. Sample

Figure 10. Sample distribution by age and gender

Figure 11. Sample distribution according to experience, age and gender

Figure 12. Sample distribution according to age, gender, and people from the personal environment who use IVAs

Figure 13. Sample distribution according to age, and the preferred IVA for travel planning

Figure 14. Sample distribution according to age, female sex, and the preferred IVA for travel planning

Figure 15. Sample distribution according to age, male sex, and the preferred IVA for travel planning

Figure 16. Sample distribution according to age, gender, and the preferred sources of information in travel planning

Figure 17. Sample distribution according to age, gender, and travel behavior

Figure 18. Sample distribution according to age, female sex, and travel behavior

Figure 19. Sample distribution according to age, male sex, and travel behavior

Figure 20. Computer Anxiety of IVAs for travel planning

Figure 21. Complexity of IVAs for travel planning

Figure 22. Output Quality of IVAs for travel planning

Figure 23. Perceived Ease of Use of IVAs for travel planning

Figure 24. Perceived Usefulness of IVAs for travel planning

List of Tables

Table 1. Percentage language understanding of selected IVAs in 2017 and 2018

Table 2. Means of the acceptance factors that have an influence on IVAs for travel planning

1. Introduction

Experience marketing has become increasingly important for the tourism industry in the recent years. This is partly due to the changed consumer behavior of the visitor because of higher demands on the product and service offer, the desire for added value, individuality, and independence. It also relies on the technological change and the interchangeability of the tourism offer due to increasing competition. Therefore, tourism providers such as Destination Management Organizations [DMOs], who act as coordinators and organizers of an entire travel destination and its offering, and who make a significant contribution to its development, need to design emotional, holistic, as well as unforgettable experiences for its visitors. With the design of experiences, a DMO succeeds in attracting the visitors’ attention, increasing their interest in the destination offer and persuade them to travel to the destination. In addition, DMOs have the opportunity to position and stage the brand of an entire travel destination unit in competition (Morrison, 2019, p. 6; Schobert, Steckenbauer, & Wagner, 2019, pp. 3-12).

The holistic and emotional experience includes, in addition to the design of the destination offering, the design of the User Experience [UX] at the touch points along the entire visitor journey of the tourist. From planning the trip to staying on-site, it is important to meet the expectations of the visitors through unique and attractive experiences in order to build up with them an emotional relationship and to bind them to the destination brand (ibid., pp. 16-17; Wagner, 2019, pp. 23-24). For DMOs, the UX design is particularly important in the phase of travel planning, since this can significantly influence the potential visitor’s travel decision behavior (Bolton, Gustafsson, McColl-Kennedy, Nancy, & Tse, 2014, pp. 253-274; Smallman, 2010, pp. 397-422). With increasing digitalization and the development of new Information and Communication Technologies [ICTs], numerous new and digital tools have arisen that can be used to design an UX in travel planning. So, DMOs have already begun using the innovative technology of Interactive Voice Assistants [IVAs] to design and provide such a unique UXs along various touch points. IVAs such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are voice-activated user interfaces that recognize and respond to the spoken word, therefore enable users to delegate actions and receive information, as well as support on decision-making processes. IVAs are based on the futuristic technology of Artificial Intelligence [AI], which learns with the increasing application by the users to recognize their preferences and to propose individual offers tailored to their needs. This form of individualization and personalization goes hand in hand with the collection of personal information and sensitive data, which is why the use of IVAs is associated by the user with a certain degree of uncertainty (Bittendorfer, Bunt, Grundner, Magnus, Riedel, & Salzlechner, 2019, pp. 328-333; Hanisch, & Sünkler, 2019, pp. 370-373; Hörner, 2019, pp. 7-12). Therefore, it is even more important for DMOs to process travel information appropriately in order to design an attractive UX at the touch point IVA and to offer added value to the visitor in order to conteract any suspicions. Information processing succeeds above all through the encounter of the user’s and potential visitor’s voice search requests, taking into account their consumer behavior and expectations of the use of IVAs in travel planning (Kreutzer, & Vousoghi, 2020, pp. 61-65; Kruse Brandão, & Wolfram, 2018, pp. 7-9).

1.1 Statement of the Problem

While the theoretical literature has occasionally dealt with the use of IVAs in marketing and tourism contexts, a handful of statistical results on the general use of IVAs, as well as numerous literature on the consumer behavior of tourists is available, there is no scientific discussion on the visitors’ expectations of using IVAs in travel planning. Despite the increasing use and spread of IVAs in tourism as well as their promising potential for marketing communications, it has not yet been researched and theoretically reviewed whether IVAs are a suitable channel for marketing communications of DMOs and whether DMOs can reach their target groups through the use of an IVA, and thus are able to design an attractive and positive UX at this touch point at all. So there are questions on the visitors’ perspectives regarding the use of IVAs in tourism-related concerns. Are they ready to use IVAs for travel planning? Do they even accept this new digital platform to gather information on the destination offer?

In addition, there is the problem that due to the demographic change and the associated increasing age of travellers, the generation 50plus [also known as Best Agers] has been a dominant target group in tourism for quite some years and is also seen as a promising future market. Best Agers are not only characterized by a high travel potential and strong purchasing power, but also by their vital, joyful spirit and their experience-oriented lifestyle. Although this generation is also said to have an increasing technological affinity and although technologies have become an indespensable part of their everyday life, they still play a rather small role compared to younger generations such as the Generation Y [also known as Millennials or Digital Natives] who have grown up with and are more open-minded to the use of digital technologies (Höllersberger, 2018, pp. 4-5; Laimer, 2015, p. 79; Peterleithner, 2015, p. 49). As recent studies of the Gallup Institut (2019) and the German Association for the Digital Economy [BVDW] (2017) have already recorded a primary use of IVAs especially by younger generations, it remains questionable whether tourism providers like DMOs are anyhow able to reach their dominant target group of Best Agers besides younger generations.

Since an understanding of the target group is essential for [experience] marketing and to guarantee the sustainable use of IVAs in DMOs, the master’s thesis will take a closer look on the consumer’s and therefore potential visitor’s acceptance of IVAs in travel planning. As the acceptance explains the consumer’s expectations, attitudes, and actual intent to use, relevant factors that influence the consumer’s acceptance of IVAs in travel planning shall be identified within the master’s thesis (Jockisch, 2009, p. 235). Due to the relevance for acceptance research, which hardly deals with the travel decision behavior of different generations, and because of the importance for the tourism industry, the focus lies on the expectations, attitudes and intentions of Best Agers. A scientific examination of their acceptance of IVAs for travel planning compared to younger generations such as those of the Millennials, is intended to provide insights into the use of IVAs in the marketing communication of DMOs.

1.2 Purpose

It is the aim of the master’s thesis to close the research gaps that indicate, which factors have an influence on the acceptance of IVAs in travel planning. Thereby, the focus is on the Perceived Ease of Use, the Perceived Usefulness, the Attitude Towards the Use and the Behavioral Intention to Use IVAs in travel planning because these factors can mainly explain the consumers’ acceptance behavior. It also examines the differences in the type of data collected between Best Agers and Millennials. Based on the research findings, implications for the effective use of IVAs and for the target group-adequate marketing communication in DMOs shall be derived. Ideally, those findings also contribute to a better consumer understanding in the tourism industry and expand the existing knowledge with new insights.

The theoretical foundation of this master’s thesis is based on a literature review in order to determine the current challenges of the marketing communication of DMOs, as well as the opportunities and risks of using IVAs from a consumer and a company perspective. These topics are then dealt with the tourism-specific consumer behavior of different generations, such as of the Millennials and Best Agers. The concept of acceptance and its connection to the intention to use IVAs [in travel planning] are also defined in more detail. Based on this, and with the help of current studies, possible factors that have an influence on the acceptance of IVAs in travel planning for different generations are going to be discussed. The theoretical literature review is followed by a quantitative survey of people of different age groups to determine the relevance of the defined factors for the acceptance of IVAs in travel planning. The findings will then be analyzed, interpreted, and implications, as well as recommendations for further research derived.

1.3 Research Questions

Out of the objective, the following overall research question can be derived, which the master’s thesis is intended to answer:

RQ: “What are the differences between Millennials and Best Agers in the factors that influence the acceptance of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning?”

On the one hand, this results in a few theoretical partial research questions, which are:

Theoretical PRQ 1: “Which factors play a role in the acceptance of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning among Millennials and Best Agers?”

Theoretical PRQ 2: “What role does the generation-specific acceptance of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning play for the experience marketing of Destination Management Organizations?”

And on the other hand, this results in the empirical partial research questions, which are:

Empirical PRQ 1: “To what extent does the Perceived Ease of Use of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning differ among Millennials and Best Agers?”

Empirical PRQ 2: “To what extent does the Perceived Usefulness of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning differ among Millennials and Best Agers?”

Empirical PRQ 3: “To what extent does the Attitude Towards the Use of Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning differ among Millennials and Best Agers?”

Empirical PRQ 4: “To what extent does the Behavioral Intention to Use Interactive Voice Assistants in travel planning differ among Millennials and Best Agers?”

1.4 Research Method

For the empirical analysis a quantitative survey method was utilized, using a standardized questionnaire, which was distributed via both online and offline channels. Since the standardized questionnaire is suitable for the subjective assessment of non-observable behavioral backgrounds and for the derivation of general statements, it is a popular measuring instrument in acceptance research (Homburg, 2017, pp. 257-259). The questionnaire was created based on the theoretical literature and comparable studies in the field of acceptance research. In exception of some initial and final primarily close-ended questions, as well as the collection of demographic data such as gender and the required age criterion, mainly statements on the previous defined influencing factors of acceptance were formulated, which the respondents were able to rate on a 7-point Likert scale. The data was then analyzed using univariate and multivariate methods. Frequency analyzes and comparisons of means, as well as a sample distribution, the one-way analysis of variance and the Kruskal-Wallis test were used to evaluate and interpret the results.

1.5 Overview of the Thesis

The present master’s thesis is divided into an eight-stage structure. Within the theoretical literature review, the problem is dealt with, followed by an introduction to the foundations of the marketing communication of DMOs, the definition and application fields of IVAs, the tourism-specific consumer behavior of different generations and target groups in tourism marketing, as well as the examination of the term of acceptance and common models in the field of acceptance research. A closer look on these various areas shall give a greater understanding of the reseach topic and should provide a basis to answer the theoretical partical research questions. After the literature review, the empirical research method is presented and further knowledge gained from the findings and the evaluation of the data. Finally, the results are then interpreted and discussed in the conclusion, as well as the empirical partial and overall research questions answered. The conslusion is followed by some recommendations and an outlook.

2. Theoretical Foundation of Marketing Communications of DMOs

In order to answer the theoretical research questions it is necessary to create an understanding of the current challenges that marketing communication of Destination Management Organizations [DMOs] have to face. To develop a basic understanding, a scientific examination of the relevant topics and terms in this context is required. They provide a theoretical basis for the present master’s thesis, which is why they are considered in more detail in the following chapter.

2.1 Functions and Tasks of DMOs

The understanding of a DMO’s central functions and areas of responsibility has changed over the past few years. Originally, a DMO was understood as a destination marketing organization that promoted the entire touristic product and service range of a destination with the help of classic advertising measures. This included the offer of individual tourism providers such as hotels, restaurants, art and cultural institutions, adventure and leisure providers, craft businesses and transport providers. However, dealing with central strategic questions about creating one’s own brand identity or positioning and segmenting the destination largely fell by the wayside. Over time, DMOs have devoted themselves to these issues and increasingly taken on management tasks in order to coordinate and implement cross-destination measures (Pike, 2008, p. 100). The World Organization for Tourism [UNWTO] defined that the tasks of a DMO lie not only in the promotion of a destination using marketing measures, but also in the development of a sustainable tourism industry, in the coordination of all efforts by individual tourism providers, and in meeting the expectations of tourists (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p. IX).

The definition of the UNWTO precedes today’s understanding of DMOs and their central functions and areas of responsibility, which can be summarized as follows: DMOs have an organizational and coordination function for the marketing and development of a destination. Their tasks include anticipatory actions and the consideration of macroeconomic changes, as well as the integration of all industry-related interest groups, the long-term planning, research, and development of the tourism offer as well as the continuous monitoring and evaluation of all tourism efforts (Morrison, 2019, p. 6). As a result, the understanding of a DMO as a destination marketing organization has developed to a destination management organization.

Nevertheless, destination marketing is still seen as an important aspect of destination management because marketing a destination as the sum of its tourism providers is complex, as well as its positioning in the competition is a challenge in itself. Destination marketing does not take place in a self-contained, but rather multi-layered tourism system that is influenced by various internal and external factors, be they political, economic or socio-cultural origin (Birdir, S., Birdir, K., & Dalgic, 2018, pp. 1-3; Morrison, 2019, pp. 6-7).

2.2 Trends and Challenges in Destination Marketing

Based on the diverse internal and external factors that influence destination marketing, the Destination Marketing Association International [DMAI, now Destination International] has identified a handful of global trends that will have a long-term effect on the marketing concepts of tourism destinations and that will challenge DMOs in designing their marketing activities. In addition to designing individual travel experiences, these trends include the adaption to technological developments and the marketing of a destination despite increasing socio-political pressure. A summary of the trends and their associated challenges for the marketing communication of DMOs is provided in the following.

In the future, the concepts of destination marketing will need to create unique travel experiences for visitors in order to be able to meet their individual requirements and needs. DMOs therefore need to create and market corresponding travel experiences that ultimately contribute to increasing tourism earnings. It is also important to inspire tourists, encourage them to recommend a destination and visit it again. A DMO can take advantage of the multitude of new information and communication channels through which visitors can be addressed specifically and according to their preferences. Therefore, DMOs are recommended to adapt and optimize their marketing processes and procedures with regard to the development of the most modern and innovative technologies, which above all can generate additional knowledge about the visitor’s travel behavior. The processing and provision of travel information will also take place via DMOs as central service and contact point for visitors. In an environment that is becoming increasingly complex and characterized by information overload, a DMO must win the attention of the tourist. Therefore, it is all the more important that the information to be conveyed is congruent. Tourists must rely on the information and they must be able to be sure of their travel decisions based on it. However, not only the complexity of the environment, but also its fast pace and its uncertain economic development require of future marketing concepts of tourism destinations to be flexible and agile. In order to be able to react to macro- and microeconomic changes, the preparation and application of suitable marketing strategies is essential for DMOs. Worth mentioning is also the socio-political pressure that DMOs have to withstand due to climate change. In the future, a DMO must succeed in balancing the commitment to combat environmental problems and global warming with the intelligent marketing of a destination (Morrison, 2019, pp. 2067-2068).

2.3 Experience Design in Destination Marketing

Facing these trends and the associated challenges, DMOs find themselves confronted with the increasing design and marketing of travel experiences instead of or at least together with the destination offer. Current developments in the field of digitalization and new ICTs (cf. Chapter 3), as well as changes in the visitor’s consumer behavior (cf. Chapter 4) are causing increasing competition within the tourism industry, which is seen globally as an important sector of the economic growth. In order to be able to gain a sustainable competitive advantage within the intensified competitive situation, it is therefore advisable for tourism providers such as DMOs to focus their marketing communication on the design of unique experiences for visitors. Apart from classic marketing measures, promotion campaigns, the use of advertising brochures or the appearance at trade fairs and specialist events, the staging and dramaturgy of a tourism destination and its brand positioning is required in order to win the visitor’s attention and to be able to fully exploit the potentials of a strong and successful destination brand, such as customer loyalty and Word-of-Mouth [WOM]. Designing experiences, a destination can polarize and differentiate itself from its competitors. Hence, experience design is already seen from a scientific-theoretical perspective as of the core tasks of a DMO (Schobert, Steckenbauer, & Wagner, 2019, pp. 3-17).

In [destination] marketing, the term experience is understood as a collection of individual perceptions, feelings, thoughts and observations, which can arise from the consumption of products, services or activities and are evaluated as self-contained or coherent. A memory of this sort of collection also shapes the experience. In addition, there are different dimensions that differentiate the experience according to its intensity and the active or passive participation of the visitor. Therefore, experiences can result from passively perceived impressions of the environment, as well as from the active participation in something. The complete immersion of the visitor or a performance can also be understood as experience (ibid., pp. 4-5).

How exactly can such unique travel experiences be created? The key is to convey emotions. So DMOs need to rethink their marketing communications, distancing from modern toursim marketing and focusing even more on the management of destination brands. Emotions can help to build a trusting bond between the destination brand and visitors, provide them a positive brand image and consequently persuade them to become loyal brand supporters. In contrast to the methods of traditional marketing strategies, emotional experiences can be used to convey brand values with which visitors can identify, establish a connection to the destination brand and link the brand with the destination offer. For visitors, the destination brand promises a range of products that can be felt through emotional experiences (ibid., pp. 5-12).

A few examples indicate that experience design has already arrived in the marketing communication of DMOs. National DMOs such as Switzerland Tourism rely on adventure databases with numerous unique tips and tours that are intended to provide visitors with an unforgettable holiday experience (Switzerland Tourism, 2020). The Austrian National Tourist Office [ANTO] also tries to make its brand tangible by communicating feelings instead of activites via various touch points to its target groups. In addition to its visuals, a special sound brand, as well as a special fragrance were created to convey visitors the scent experience of a vacation in Austria (ANTO, 2020a). And together with the Vienna Tourist Board, an interactive city walk was developed. Using Augmented Reality [AR] glasses from Bose, one can go on a tour in the footsteps of Ludwig van Beethoven. The composer leads through the city of music via an integrated audio guide and offer a unique sound experience by providing valuable tips and surprising sound effects (Vienna Tourist Board, 2020a).

2.4 Relevance of the UX for the Experience Marketing of DMOs

There seem to be no limits when it comes to designing experiences. For destination marketing, however, it should be noted that the design is not exlusively based on the emotionalized brand positioning and staging of the tourism offer such as various attractions, entire city centers or landscapes. Nor do these experiences result exclusively from the visitor’s perception and reaction to the destination brand and offer. For visitors, the experience takes place the very first time they get in contact with the destination brand, at a so-called touch point. Therefore, a DMO must also consider the extent to which modern communication channels can be used in order to design these touch points, and therefore, unique experiences, which inspire and convince potential visitors to choose a destination for leisure or business travels. Experience design thus encompasses the entire experience with all its forms and therefore includes the design of the User Experience [UX], too. The UX is a term that has been used in academic literature and in practice since the beginning of the 2000s, bringing the user’s interaction at the touch point to the fore. The UX is based on the user’s reactions and behavior at the touch point, as well as on the user’s expectations of the channel’s performance and its usability. For DMOs, the identification of those behaviors and expectations plays an important role in order to be able generate added value for visitors by designing the UX at the touch point, adapted to the visitor’s needs (Keller et al., 2017, pp. 75-85; Schobert, Steckenbauer, & Wagner, 2019, pp. 23-24; Bone et al., 2017, pp. 269-289).

The constitution of the destination offer generally differs very much from other consumer goods. Given the fact that the destination offer combines numerous tourism products and services, there is a multitude of different touch points through which the visitor can get in contact with a destination brand. These touch points are located along the entire customer journey, from the inspiration and information phase, through the booking or purchase to the subsequent consumption phase (Norton, & Pine, 2013, pp. 12-14; Seppälä-Esser, 2017, p. 44; Stickdorn, & Zehrer, 2009, pp. 2-5). In the tourism industry, however, one speaks of a visitor journey, which ideally consits of the steps of travel planning, booking, preperation, arrival, the stay and the subsequent evaluation of the travel experience, possibly a return and the recommendation to third parties. The visitor journey is a model that was originally presented by Lane (2007) and is based on the visitor’s satisfaction of a mix of experiences one makes thoughout the entire journey. Since a tourist encounters with a bundle of different organizations and businesses during a trip, each and one of them can represent a mediator or a barrier to positive experiences and can thus affect the tourist’s desire to return to a destination. A collaboration and interaction of these different organizations throughout the entire journey of the visitor can have a positive influence on the visitor’s experience and also on a growing market share of the destination (Darcy, & Dickson, 2012, p. 344; Frost, Laing, & Taylor, 2017, p. 27).

2.5 Designing the UX in Travel Planning

Of all these different touch points, those within travel planning are of particular interest for destination marketing. The decision-making process in destination marketing is given an important role since in practice, due to the high risk and uncertainty in travel decisions, it often does not go beyond the step of planning a trip. As already mentioned, the design of emotional experiences leads to a valuable relationship of trust between the visitor and a destination brand. This emotional connection functions as the basis for a deeper relationship, which also affects the rational decision-making behavior of visitors. By designing emotional experiences at the touch point, a DMO is thus placed in an advantageous position to essentially influence visitors’ travel planning and be able to control their decision-making process (Bolton, Gustafsson, McColl-Kennedy, Nancy, & Tse, 2014, pp. 253-274; Smallman, 2010, pp. 397-422). For this reason, the UX design in travel planning is the subject of the present master’s thesis and the further examination of the research topic.

For the [experience] marketing of DMOs, it is first of all necessary to identify relevant touch points in the phase of travel planning. It is equally important to take into account the visitors’ behavior and their expectations of the touch point and the channel they are going to have an interaction with. Focusing on its visitors, it enables DMOs to design and improve the UX. It also enables visitors to participate in the experience design and to become co-producers of a holistic experience. Thus, the visitors’ involvement in the experience design has an advantageous effect on establishing a trusting and emotional bond between them and the destionation brand (Gursoy, & Sotiriadis, 2016, p. 7). However, not only the visitors’ behavior and their expectations have to be taken into account when designing the UX in travel planning. It is also highly recommended to consider the environment of an experience. This means that DMOs not only have to identify relevant touch points, but also need to deal with them in more detail. They must build up an understanding of which interaction channels are preferred by consumers and potential visitors in travel planning. In addition, they must build up an understanding of how these channels work and how they can be used efficiently in order to reach their visitors at the touch point, as well as to be able to elate them (Ratajczak, 2016, p. 31; Seppälä-Esser, 2017, pp. 43-44).

In summary, it can be said that DMOs must focus on the design of unique and emotional experiences for visitors in order to position a strong destination brand, gain a sustainable competitive advantage and meet current challenges such as the increasing development of ICTs and the changing concumer behavior of tourists. Orientation and alignment on the consumer and therefore potential visitor behavior and expectations not only enable DMOs to optimize the experience design, but also to actively involve the consumer in shaping it. Through the perceived experience and the emotional connection to a destination, consumers ideally become advocates of the destination [brand]. Since experience design is not only limited to the destination offer itself, but also includes the environment of an experience and thus all touch points at which a visitor can get in contact with a destination [brand], the importance of the UX design along the entire visitor journey and especially in travel planning must be highlighted.

3. Definition and Application Fields of Intelligent Voice Assistants

Digitalization and the rapid development of ICTs are accompanied by new opportunities for destination marketing to differentiate from the competition, which is why numerous tourism providers, including DMOs, are nowadays pursuing a sustainable digitalization approach. Digitalization and the use of innovative ICTs influences how tourism providers can get in contact with visitors and how they can design touch points along the visitor journey (Kruse Brandão, & Wolfram, 2018, p. 13). Especially in recent years, the trend around the use of the innovative technology of Interactive Voice Assistants [IVAs] have developed, which is why the following chapter explains the technology and specific applications of it (Bittendorfer, Bunt, Grundner, Magnus, Riedel, & Salzlechner, 2019, p. 330). The scientific discourse thus focusses on marketing communication [of DMOs] and the use of IVAs in the tourism industry. In addition, the opportunities and risks of this technology are presented from a consumer, as well as a company perspective.

3.1 Definition, Application Fields and Development of IVAs

The technology on which today’s IVAs are based actually goes back to the development of computer technology, the use of the first computing machines and thus the first human-computer interfaces from 1941. Since then, a lot has happened in the field of computer technology and it has taken a firm place in people’s everyday and private lives. IVAs are picking up on this evolution and intensifying it (Hörner, 2019, pp. 1-5). The latest development in the field of ICTs are characterized above all by the fact that the physical user interface fades into the background and communication mainly takes place via the intuitive use of gestures, looks and voices. Technologies based on it such as Augmented Reality [AR], Virtual Reality [VR] and IVAs, are revolutionizing how people interact with their environment and, inevitably, how companies communicate with their customers (Aichner, Maurer, Nippa, & Tonezzani, 2019, p. 1). The technology and use of IVAs have developed significantly in recent years, which is why they have increasingly come into the focus of consumers and companies.

What exactly is an IVA? In principle, it is a technology that is based on Artificial Intelligence [AI] and that can process voice commands. With the help of complex algorithms and machine learning techniques, a data center recognizes human speech, can separate it from background noice and convert it into computer-readable words, after which text analysis and content processing take place. In this way, the innovative technology of IVAs can understand language, receive commands or questions and react to them. The range of using IVAs is diverse. On one hand, the technology is used for applications [apps] that convert the spoken word into text and can thus assist people with disabilities and special needs. On the other hand, IVAs can also be found in apps on smartphones or in devices such as smart speakers, cars and washing machines (Bittendorfer, Bunt, Grundner, Magnus, Riedel, & Salzlechner, 2019, pp. 328-333; Gentsch, 2019, p. 187; Hanisch, & Sünkler, 2019, pp. 370-373; Hörner, 2019, pp. 7-12). What distinguishes IVAs it that they do not need a graphical user interface or additional hardware such as a computer mouse or a keyboard. Only the intutitive use of human language enables this technology to be operated, which frees hands and sight to devote oneself to other activites. This can certainly make life easier in everyday situations. The intuitive use of human language does not even require to learn special skills in order to operate and use IVAs. In addition, the access to IVAs is independent of the location. It is sufficient to be within earshot of this technology (Hörner, 2019, pp. 1-5).

As it can be seen in Figure 1, the world’s most famous known IVAs currently include Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana, which led the overall market for IVAs in 2019. Microsoft Cortana is integrated into Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 operating system and can thus already be used on more than 400 million devices. Google Assistant is also preinstalled in its own Android operating systems and is therefore available in around 80 countries and in more than 25 languages on over a billion devices. Siri can be found as an integrated IVA in Apple’s mobile devices. And Alexa is available on more than 100 million output devices, including those of the so-called Amazon Echo product family and third-party hardware such as of Bose.

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Figure 1 . Number of IVA distribution in voice-activated devices. (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, p. 23)

IVAs are often used interchangeably with smart speakers, which is due, among other things, to Amazon’s extensive marketing campaigns and investments for its Echo devices. It is therefore also understandable why Amazon has been the market leader in the smart speaker segment with a share of 61.5% since 2018. Devices from Chinese manufacturers are excluded from this comparison. The smart speakers Google Home (24%), Apple HomePod and other market competitors (14.5%) have a much lower market share, as it can be seen in Figure 2. However, the market research company Loup Ventures predicts for the future that Google devices will overtake those of Amazon in terms of their market share. Also the spread and distribution of smart speakers from the manufacturers Google and Amazon will increase to around 1.2 billion devices by 2025.

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Figure 2 . Comparison of global market shares in the segment of smart speakers 2018 to 2025, excluding China. (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, p. 24)

Previous sales figures for smart speakers also illustrate the trend around the spread and use of IVAs. Comparing the second quarter of 2018 with that of 2019, one can see an increase of 55% in sales, which corresponds to a total sale of 26.1 million more smart speakers. In addition, sales of $ 7,125 million US dollars are forecast for 2024 (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, pp. 23-24; Statista, 2015).

It might be that the performance of an IVA is still in need of development and that the technology of IVAs is far from mature, but IVAs are constantly learning and developed further to adapt to human-like interaction (Hörner, 2019, p. 1). Recognizing and understanding human language nowadays works quite well. In an annual survey by the market research company Loup Ventures in July 2019, the Google Assistant already recognized 100% of the 800 test questions from the areas of navigation, shopping and infotainment. It also answered 93% correctly compared to 83% for Siri and 80% for Alexa (Loup Ventures, 2019). Table 1 shows that this was not the case in previous years.

Understood Query Answered Correctly

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Table 1 . Percentage language understanding of selected IVAs in 2017 and 2018. (Loup Ventures, 2019)

3.2 Relevance of IVAs for Marketing Communication

The use of IVAs does not only pay off for the manufacturers and platform operators that were already mentioned. Third-party providers can also program applications, so-called voice apps, and make them available to customers and users of IVAs via digital platforms such as the iTunes AppStore or the Google PlayStore. The use of IVAs is thus no longer limited to the functions offered by the manufacturers. And that makes the use of IVAs so interesting for companies and brands. IVAs create a whole new, rapidly developing ecosystem with interactions between those companies and brands that make content available, the users of IVAs, the manufacturers or plaform operators, and the experts who are familiar with the development of voice apps (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, p. 25). As a company, using innovative technology such as IVAs, and being able to use and implement it effectively within the firm, requires an intensive examination of the technology, as well as the development of an understanding that IVAs are not just a medium or a channel in the conventional sense, but rather a whole ecosystem of, among others, competing market players, development and consulting firms affected by it. Therefore, a company should consider which specific characteristics IVAs are made of, which advantages and disadvantages the technology offers and which opportunities and risks arise from possible application fields. Does an IVA have the potential to change a company’s service portfolio or even entire business models? Or is the use limited to just a few application ideas in individual business areas? Such considerations have to be taken into account when using IVAs for one’s own business (ibid., p. 29).

There is no doubt that the possibilites for using IVAs in the corporate context are diverse. In addition to the product-related use and the use for internal process optimization, the most important areas of application include marketing communications, which consider above all how IVAs can be used for the customer communication (Hörner, 2019, pp. 33-34). In marketing communications, IVAs are mainly used as a media channel that enables interactive touch points between customers and companies, products or brands. In this context, the pursuit of strategic approaches, especially Voice Content Marketing [VCM], plays an important role. VCM is a sub-area of content marketing in voice-controlled electronic media such as IVAs. The difference to classic marketing and advertising measures is that communication content is tailored to the interests and needs of the customer. At VCM, the main focus of the marketing activities is on the content that has been edited and prepared for voice output that informs, advises and entertains the customer. Thus, content about the offered products and services, brands or the company itself becomes irrelevant. The goals are to win the customers’ attention and to bind them to the company or brand through a selfless service offering. This subsequently has a positive impact on business success and, in the medium or long run, also on the company’s turnover. In addition to this understanding of a customer-oriented marketing communciation, companies also need to have in mind that IVAs are primarily used by the user to get information and assistance. So, IVAs are designed for the use of supportive, advisory, and informative communication and not for the use as a sales or distribution channel. VCM and especially the dynamic VCM with dialogues and conversations between IVA and users are thus establishing themselves as marketing approaches for companies that use IVAs (ibid., pp. 115-117). Within marketing communcation, IVAs are also suitable for the provision of customer services such as the product information and advice (ibid., pp. 158-160). A trend study by the consulting and IT service company Capgemini indicates that those companies, which already use IVAs, experience higher cost savings, better customer loyalty and higher customer satisfaction (Capgemini, 2019).

3.3 Information Processing in Voice Content Marketing

With the relevance of VCM for customer-oriented marketing communication of companies and brands, those firms wonder on how to prepare voice content. Depending on whether one decides to address one’s own customers directly via an IVA or to design a voice app as a third-party provider, this results in different marketing approaches for preparing and processing voice content. The first option offers the preperation and presentation of information from the Internet or special databases, whereas the second one applies to the design of one’s own voice content and the associated investment and development effort. Creating company-owned voice apps requires technical know-how and financial resources for the development and further application of the app. Creating voice content, first requires a focus on selected subject areas in which the voice app and the customer could possibly have a dialogue. Within these areas, companies need to choose specific topics that can be processed into voice content. However, choosing a topic requires also the identification of customer behavior, interests, and even entire parts of life in which a company could offer support with an IVA and its voice app. When processing the topics for voice apps, it is important that the content will go beyond the mere use of a company’s product range, brand-related information and advertising, as this is the crucial point in the design of voice content. It rather need to be informative, supportive, entertaining, and should add value to the customer. And after defining the selected subject areas and topics, dialogues can be built upon the conceptual content (Hörner, 2019, p. 130).

For the technical implementation and design of these interactive touch points, it is therefore necessary to build up an understanding of customer behavior and their expectations in order to be able to draw conclusions for the processing of pertinent [voice] content (Kruse Brandão, & Wolfram, 2018, pp. 7-9). Based on the identified topics, interests, and needs of the customer, significant key words and combinations can be determined that are considered important for the customer’s use of IVAs and voice search. For example, there is a difference whether a user asks for the “cheapest flight” or the “fastest connection” to a destination and thus voice content have to be processed accordingly. As a company identifying the customer’s search intent, it helps to have a look at requests, utterances and comments that take place in service centers, on websites or social media networks, among other things. What information is needed and which answers are seen as particularly helpful? Companies have to put themselves in the shoes of their customers, understand their specific intentions and meet their behavior and expectations with tailored voice content. Thus, the interaction at the touch point IVA will become a positive experience and voice search, as well as the use of IVAs will rather be accepted (Kreutzer, & Vousoghi, 2020, pp. 61-65).

3.4 Use of IVAs in Tourism Context

Since IVAs are already able to support various business processes and areas, companies are advised to deal with IVAs and consider how to benefit from them as soon as possible and not leave the examination of this innovative technology to the competition. It is therefore no wonder that more and more companies have begun using IVAs for their business purposes (Hörner, 2019, p. 5; Kreutzer, & Vousoghi, 2020, p. 61).

In tourism, there are already some concrete cases of IVAs that are used along the visitor journey. In the inspiration and information phase, which equates with travel planning, IVAs already play an important role because they understand the visitor’s preferences and therefore can provide individual suggestions for inspiration and information (Jung, & Niemeyer, 2018, pp. 44-67). For example, due to the availability of the IVAs Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the intelligent headphones by Bose, the Beethoven city walk initiated by the ANTO and the Vienna Tourist Board (cf. Chapter 2.3) inspires not only people in Vienna, but also those ones in New York. The city walk is offered in the metropolis and inspires New Yorkers for a vacation in Austria by visiting locations related to the country, such as a Viennese coffee house in the middle of Manhattan (Vienna Tourist Board, 2019a). The Vienna Tourist Board also designed a radio play for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to let potential visitors hear stories and anecdotes on Beethoven’s life and work, as well as recordings by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in order to give them a glimpse of what might await them in the music city of Vienna (Vienna Tourist Board, 2019b).

With online travel agencies like for example Expedia, Kayak or Swoodoo, major players in the travel industry have provided voice apps from the very beginning, through which information about flights, hotels or rental cars could have been obtained and also booked directly (Jung, & Niemeyer, 2018, pp. 44-67). Flixbus was one of the first European long-distance bus providers to launch its self-developed voice app in autumn 2017, which provides information on bus connections, departure times and prices. For booking a bus trip, the IVA sends customers an e-mail link with detailed information on further proceedings (Flixbus, 2017). Also Deutsche Bahn provides information on train connections, departure times and prices via its voice app (Deutsche Bahn, 2018). Airports like those in Frankfurt or Heathrow offer passengers the opportunity to receive necessary flight informations by voice command. Thus, it is possible to easily find flight numbers and have live flight updates, which makes travelling more relaxed (Frankfurt Airport, 2018; Heathrow Airport, 2018). The voice app of the airline Virgin Australia even offers check-in and an automatically generated e-mail for passengers, including the boarding pass (Virgin Australia, 2018). There are obviously different ways in which IVAs can become very useful when planning and booking a trip. For example, if one would like to check the availability of accommodations or if one would like to be reminded of travel dates and arrival times. The use of an IVA seems comparable to the classic web search, only that the technology and smart devices work via voice control.

In addition to the information and booking phase, the on-site experience offers also great opportunities for voice control. Google Trips and Booking Experiences are using IVAs that offer location-based added value for visitors. The voice control in these cases is not yet fully developed, but in consideration of the rapid technological development in the field of AI, improvements shall soon become apparent. Since an IVA can be integrated in smart devices and since it is able to respond to the user’s voice search requests and needs, the use of IVAs in the tourism industry opens up further opportunities to satisfy the visitor’s desire for individual experiences. In cooperation with Amazon and Apple, the American hotel brands Aloft and Wynn already offer hotel rooms that can be voice-controlled according to the guests’ needs and preferences. So, instead of calling the front desk, guests can use IVAs right away to control shutters, air conditioning, lights, the TV, order something from the room service, buy tickets for an opera performance or just play their favourite music. These kind of experiences have also been secured in the hotels of Marriott International. In cooperation with Amazon, smart speakers installed at the hotel rooms provide additional recommendations for activites at the hotel, as well as activites in and around the travel destination. Such options provided by IVAs, not only improve guest service, but also contribute to a positive travel experience for tourists. Moreover, the accommodation-sharing site Airbnb and the low-cost airline Ryanair are already experimenting with IVAs and destination ticketing, which shall enable ticket sales in various locations. Given the fact that IVAs are designed for multilingual use, they also help to counteract language barrieres. Thus, foreign languages are no longer an obstacle in the travel destination and IVAs, such as the translator ili, can be used for simultaneous translations in order to communicate with the locals (Bittendorfer, Bunt, Grundner, Magnus, Riedel, & Salzlechner, 2019, p. 333; Glaap, & Heilgenberg, 2019, p. 145; Hennig, 2018, p. 34; Jung, & Niemeyer, 2018, pp. 54-57).

IVAs seem to be relevant in quite every phase of the visitor journey. All the more it is important that each and every tourism provider processes information and data accordingly to the visitors’ preferences and their voice search requests in order to provide tailored voice content along the entire visitor journey. A DMO can also jump on board the digital train and launch its own voice app including the content of all individual trourism providers within a destination. To name a few, Dresden, Seefeld and Lake Wörthersee have recently developed their own regional voice apps in order to provide visitors with extensive information on how to get there, as well as on activitites, events, and weather forecasts. Visti Orlando was one of the first DMOs to use AI to answer complex travel questions of its visitors. Their voice app acts like a digital travel assistant, which one could ask for suggestions on unforgettable location-based experiences and POIs. However, creating a voice app for entire destinations is extremely complex and requires the strategic efforts of a DMO in order to gather, adapt and prepare the content of all the individual tourism providers and their product and service range. In addition, finding and downloading such a voice app could be a challenge for the user in itself, but searching for specific voice and tourism-related content is much more difficult. This is why DMOs would have to identify the visitor’s needs, preferences and preferred content in order to prepare and structure the voice app accordingly (Hartmann, 2018; Jung, & Niemeyer, 2018, pp. 45-46).

3.5 IVAs for Consumer Use

After taking the company perspective predominantly in the previous explanations, the consumer perspective shall be determined in the following, which focuses on the user's concrete expectations and concerns regarding the use of IVAs [in travel planning]. As the technological functionalities of IVAs have already been shortly described in Chapter 3.1, there will be a closer look on the consumers’ preferred functions of IVAs in the following. Figure 3 illustrates the most frequently used functions of IVAs by US citizens, including the collection of information, playing music, setting alarms and timers. Further functions such as playing games, sending messages or shopping are also possible via IVAs, but have not been used much when the survey was conducted in January 2019 (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, pp. 25-26).

Studies by Statista Austria (2019a) and the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers [PwC] in 2018 reflect a similar picture, from which one can emerge that IVAs are mainly used for basic tasks, since the technology can better process simple voice commands. However, especially in travel planning, such basic tasks could include simple settings of travel date reminders or the call up of weather reports in the travel destination. In addition, IVAs are also used beacuse of pure curiosity, which often comes with the invention of new and innovative technologies.

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Figure 3 . Frequency of use of different IVA functions. (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, p. 26)

The same study by PwC has also indicated that IVAs are primarily used to make life easier. So, users see the advantages of IVAs in the quick access to information, in time saving as consumers can do other activities while using IVAs, in voice control that does not require any use of additional hardware, in the speech recognition even from afar, in the spoken response of IVAs that does not have to be displayed on screen, in the delegation of tasks, in the control of connected devices, and in a learning AI technology that constantly improves in the automatically recognition of one’s own preferences and requirements, and therefore can easily propose individually tailored offers (PwC, 2018).

It is especially the AI technology that adapts the performance of IVAs to almost human-like communication and interaction. Some studies indicate that users initially feel unfamiliar using IVAs, but quickly set complex expectations for their performance and adaptability. So, one of the most important benefits expected from IVAs is the human-like interaction between the user and the computing machine of an IVA. Since the technology is not yet fully developed, understandably there are some weaknesses when it comes to the ability of IVAs to learn and adapt to human communication. Among others, IVAs still are not even close to human empathy. However, the consumer is demanding and expects a funtioning dialogue, which is why IVAs’ difficulties in adapting to human interaction are often subject of criticism. Consumers weigh up to which extent voice commands are correctly understood and carried out, and to which extent the robot’s actions resembles to human interaction (Bennewitz et al., 2019, p. 131). Further benefits attributed to IVAs are their accessibility, ease of use and speed with which they can solve problems and meet one’s own needs through voice input and interaction. In addition, IVAs’ convenience of a comfortable use on demand represents a benefit, which should persuade the user to continue solving problems by voice. Of course, these benefits are not only interesting for consumers and potential visitors, but also for tourism providers who should consider IVAs’ specific system features and their benefits when developing ideas for possible appflications fields (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, pp. 27-28; Kreutzer, & Sirrenberg, 2019, p. 144).

However, IVAs do not only have advantages, but also disadvantages. Restrictions that affect the penetration and use of IVAs are the lack of transparency among manufacturers and platform operators when it comes to the processing and protection of data. For the user it is not entirely clear where, to what extent and for what purpose voice inputs are processed. There is a great fear that confidential information and sensitive data will be intercepted and processed in any form or misused by third parties. Europe’s largest telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom uses this uncertainty for its advertising campaigns of its own smart speaker Hallo Magenta. They aggressively advertise with data storage only in Europe, as well as with the possibility for users to be able to delete data at any time. Primarily, the responsibility of transparent and plausible information about data storage lies with the provider, which should also ensure that personal data records can always be checked and deleted. Since 2018, IVAs such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have been offering the deletion of personal data by the user itself.

In addition to the lack of transparency regarding data protection, the use of IVAs in public also raises some concerns of users. IVAs are often used by several people, since the use of IVAs is no longer tied to one specific person and a primary user account. IVAs are thus able to recognize the users by their voice and assign them individual preferences and interests. This basically differentiates them from the interaction with smartphones or computers. IVAs are not used privately, nor silently, which means that information can be heard by several people. And very few want to discuss confidential information aloud in public. Of course, this problem can be counteracted by instead using smartphones, tablets, computers and specific wearables such as smart watches and headphones that also include an IVA. Nevertheless, this problem seems to be a limitation for many users. The same applies to the display of information that is no longer shown on any screen. This is why providers are gradually trying to counteract the problem by expanding the product range to devices with an integrated IVA and screen (Kahle, & Meißner, 2020, pp. 28-29). Another disadvantage comes from the immature technology, which makes it difficult for the user to formulate complex voice commands. As a result, voice commands can be interpreted incorrectly or not at all. The same applies if the user speaks indistinctly or with accents, dialect or background noises. In addition, the user’s voice control on the voice-based user interface is completely subconscious and intuitive. If voice commands that have been programmed and entered for the activiation and operation of IVAs are not precisely formulated, users go through the handling of an IVA according to the trial and error principle and have to find out for themselves how to use an IVA, since there is usually no clear instructions manual for indiviual voice commands. Hence, the risk increases that the operation will be abandoned after a while and the voice controll no longer used by consumers (Kreutzer, & Sirrenberg, 2019, p. 117).

Based on the consumer expectations and concerns, as well as the specific system features of IVAs, tourism providers such as DMOs are wondering what added value potential visitors will get from the use of IVAs in tourism matters. As illustrated in Figure 4, a survey by Statista Germany from 2017 indicated that tourists expect IVAs above all to make everyday life easier. They are also expecting shorter waiting times in hotlines, less time spent in front of the screen when planning and booking trips, and better advice on travel decisions based on personalized offers and more extensive information (Statista, 2017).

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Figure 4 . Frequency of visitors’ expected benefits from IVAs. (Statista, 2017)

Apart of that, there is hardly any scientific examination of IVAs in travel planning or of the consumer benefits from using IVAs in tourism-related concerns. Despite the theoretically relevance and some specific applications of IVAs in the tourism industry (cf. Chapter 3.4), experts are not sure whether IVAs can revolutionize the travel market or not. For example, the question remains whether IVAs are able to replace human travel advisors with AI substitutes in the future and whether they can make significantly better recommendations.

4. Tourism-specific Consumer Behavior of Different Generations

Since an understanding of the target group and its behavior is important for [experience] marketing and the sustainable use of IVAs in DMOs, the following chapter takes a closer look on the tourism-specific consumer behavior of potential visitors. In the context of travel planning, this includes a more detailed examination of the visitors’ travel, information and media usage behavior. However, it has to be taken into account that the consumer behavior of potential visitors can also be subject to contradictions and paradoxes. This becomes especially clear from the consideration of different generations. Hence, in order to position a strong [destination] brand that can be firmly anchored in the consciousness of potential visitors, the consumer behavior of different generations must be understood (Baetzgen, 2019, p. 24). Due to this fact and against the background of the demographic change, the increasing age of tourists, and thus the growing importance of the generation 50plus for the tourism industry, the focus of the following theoretical discussion and analysis is on the travel, information and media usage behavior of the generation 50plus. Their consumer behavior is compared to that of the younger Generation Y, who is not only increasingly using IVAs in general, but is also likely to become increasingly important for the tourism industry in the coming years (Peterleithner, 2015, p. 49; Steinecke, 2019, p. 56).

4.1 Target Market Analysis in Destination Marketing

Determining visitors’ consumer behavior is already a challenge, since the identified behavioral characteristics stem from individual motives and therefore have no general validity and can not be automatically attributed to each individual visitor. [Destination] marketing therefore defines and analyzes specific target markets. However, this is done individually for each destination and goes hand in hand with the marketing strategy and the communication planning of a DMO. Depending on how the destination marketing is designed, the target market is formed (Abfalter, & Raich, 2004, p. 208). Each destination is unique in its offer, therefore sets different marketing priorities, requires a specific interaction and use of marketing instruments and consequently also communicates with different target groups, which in turn are defined and segmented via socio-demographic, psychological and behavior-related characteristics (Winkler, 2015, pp. 105-117). Therefore, the target market analysis must take into account criteria such as the age, income, and marital status, as well as the behavior, attitude, and communication-related characteristics that are considered relevant for the visitors’ consumer behavior and the communication planning of the [tourism] provider. Those criteria should give a most precise possible presentation of the target group and thus the recipients of a communication process. Furthermore, the criteria should be useful for the design of communication instruments and the adequate addressing of the consumer, and in this case the potential visitor (Bruhn, 2016, p. 58).

The target market analysis for various DMOs can be indicated using the examples of the Vienna Touris Board and the ANTO. The Vienna Tourist Board defines its target groups based on strategic considerations of market cultivation for 2020, which have a premium orientation, a focus on the supply of the Viennese population, and a seasonal unbundling of guest flows. Hence, the Vienna Tourist Board addresses potential visitors who are enthusiastic about a high-quality destination, its premium offers, and its claim to a sustainable development. The tourist board’s marketing activities are even addressing those potential visitors who can contribute to the quality of the destination with their own cultural diversity and their behavior. These criteria and the use of specific Limbic®-types that explain a deeper understanding of behavior, living conditions, attitutes and motives result in the specific target groups of open connoisseurs and performers, as well as special segments such as the luxury, LGBT, and business guest (Vienna Tourist Board, 2020b). The ANTO, on the other hand, differentiates for the nationwide promotion of the travel destination Austria based on so-called Sinus-Meta-Milieus®, which summarize the value orientations, lifestyles, and consumption preferences of people and which result in the target groups of young professionals and established post-materialists. Thus, this target market analysis is primarily based on an age-specific distinction (ANTO, 2020b, c).

4.2 Demographic Change as Challenge in Tourism Marketing

Within the tourism industry, the target market analysis is very much influenced by the increasing age of the tourist. Due to demographic change, increasing life expectancy, changes in the population structure and thus the changing range of products and services offered by tourism providers, the generation 50plus [also known as Best Agers] has been the dominant target group in tourism marketing for several years (Peterleithner, 2015, p. 49; Pompe, 2012, p. 19). According to surveys by Statista Austria (2019b) and the research community for holidays and travel FUR, this generation is also considered as an important future market in the tourism industry. At the beginning of 2019, one of the largest age groups in Austria was represented by the 50- to 64-year-olds with around 1.9 million people. A nationwide increase of 8.4% in this age group is forecast by 2030. By then, there also should be over 1.2 billion people worldwide that belong to this target group. Recently, around 43% of all trips undertaken by the generation 50plus were recorded and with 13.53 million trips a year, they are number one in comparison to other generations (ANTO, 2020d; Wiener Sozialbericht, 2015, p. 29).

The term Best Ager is mentioned several times in scientific literature on [tourism] marketing and tries to describe a potential demand segment. However, a few concrete defnition approaches make it clear that this target group is still not very well explored. The target group is characterized by people in their best years who have similar needs and who follow the guiding principle of better aging, and thus focus on maintaining their own health and well-being. It is not easy to find a specific age for this target group because the specification of the ‘best years’ is based on a very subjective perception. However, the scientific literature increasingly equates the term Best Ager with the generation 50plus. What is more decisive for Best Agers, however, is less the age than the specific demands and characteristics of this target group, which also need to be taken into account from the perspective of the marketing communication by tourism providers in order to enable a target group-specific approach and to be able to design the range of their products and services (Peterleithner, 2015, p. 49; Pompe, 2012, p. 19). However, not only the consumer behavior and ability of Best Agers is of interest for the marketing communication of tourism providers. Younger age groups such as the Generation Y [in marketing communications also known as Millennials], who were born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, will gain increasing importance in tourism in the coming years due to their demand and consumer behavior. Although they do not yet belong to the main target groups in tourism, their consumer behavior leads to a changing awareness within their generation and thus shapes it sustainably. They already represent 15% of the Austrian population and are therefore anything but a niche market (Brinkmann, Melchiorre, & Sonnenberg, 2019, p. 9; Steinecke, 2019, p. 56; Strobl, 2018).

It is worth mentioning that the following description of the travel, information and media usage behavior of Millennials and Best Agers cannot, of course, be attributed to every single person within the respective generations. However, many similar behavioral characteristics can still be attributed to them and can therefore be used to develop new perspectives for DMOs in order to design new structers for their range of products and services.

4.2.1 Consumer Behavior of Best Agers

Best Agers would probably describe themselves as a young-at-heart target group who want to go through life independently. Compared to previous generations, Best Agers live their lives significantly more active and do not just stay at home. This can be professional, health-related, but also socially justified. Material safeguards are just as important for them as emotional security and thus intact relationsships with friends and relatives. Communication and a social life are essential, if necessary also to prevent loneliness. Best Agers are therefore happy to be mobile, taking into account that environmental obstacles do not restrict their mobility. These include, for example, problems with accessibility and noice pollution (Pompe, 2012, p. 36; Gassmann, & Reepmeyer, 2006, p. 41, Statista, 2019c).

For the majority of Austrian 50- to 60-year-olds, travel is the top priority when it comes to leisure activities, which is reflected in an increased travel intensity compared to younger generations. On average, Best Agers take 1.4 vacation trips per year. That is three times more than the rest of the population. A third travels once, around 50% even two or three times a year (Krieb, & Reidl, 2001, p. 146; Statista, 2009a). In addition, the target group has more time available, but they use it wisely and do not want to waste it. Most of them have worked a lot in life and do not want to miss out on traveling when they retire. They want to treat themselves and enjoy life. Preference is given to package tours, a short, attractive and barrier-free arrival to the travel destination, as well as people with whom social interaction can take place. In these aspects, however, needs for comfort, convenience, security, and information must not be neglected. To meet these demands is very appreciated by Best Agers. There is also a corresponding price paid for this kind of quality, since the target group has an above-average income and is willing to spend it. The target group is financially and temporally independent, but critical and demanding in what they should invest their money and time (Gassmann, & Reepmeyer, 2006, p. 206; Krieb, & Reidl, 2001, p. 146).

Best Agers are keen to buy and consume, which makes them an ideal target group for marketers in tourism. According to a study by the media agency Cast, the extent of this target group’s willingness to consume is distributed differently. There are around a third of best agers who hardly use media, a third who are in turn very consumer-friendly and open to advertising messages, and a remaining thrid who are rather skeptical about advertising content and therefore particularly appreciate high-quality content (Gundelach, & w&v-Media Group München, 2012, p. 86; Geyer, Runia, Thewißen, & Wahl, 2015, p. 157). The Institute for Market, Opinion and Social Research as well as Marketing Consulting TNS Infratest has developed a typology for the target group of Best Agers based on different values. According to TNS Infratest, Best Agers can be devided into more passive elderlies, cultural active people, and experience-oriented active ones. The former tend to live in seclusion, are less active and tend to be older. The culturally active ones are interested in cultural offers and, above all, appreciate the social contact. And the experience-oriented like to try out new things and have much more vitality and endurance (Petras, 2006, pp. 67-69).

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Title
Interactive Voice Assistants for Travel Planning. Insights for Tourism Marketing Communication of Destination Management Organizations
College
FH Vienna  (Kommunikation, Marketing & Sales Management)
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2020
Pages
110
Catalog Number
V906965
ISBN (eBook)
9783346224781
ISBN (Book)
9783346224798
Language
English
Tags
Destinationsmarketing, Künstliche Intelligenz, Sprachassistent, Tourismus, Marketingkommunikation, Destination Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, Voice, Tourism, Marketing, Communication, Experience Marketing, User Experience, Akzeptanz, Acceptance, Technology Acceptance Model, Google Assistant, Amazon, Alexa, Apple, Siri
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Bianca Nemeth (Author), 2020, Interactive Voice Assistants for Travel Planning. Insights for Tourism Marketing Communication of Destination Management Organizations, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/906965

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