Academic Focus Area: Destination Marketing, Branding and Social Media
Hometown: South Korea
Advisor: Dan McCole
With the rapid development of mobile devices and social media, tourist destinations, like many organizations wishing to influence consumer behavior through branding activities, have turned to the use of social media in marketing. Destination branding through social media is crucial to tourists’ decision making in both the planning stages of travel, as well as during the travel itself. However, with the spread of information technologies and devices, social media research, especially within the areas of destination branding, only recently has started to gain popularity. Although social media is becoming more important to the destination promotional mix, there appears to be a gap in our understanding of the effects of social media on destination branding in reality and empirical research. A strong need exists for examining the impact of social media on destination branding and for understanding how policy makers and entrepreneurs apply these to their decision making processes. I have been studying the existing research related to both destination branding and social media. Destination branding has been widely studied and has established literature and theories, but the social media literature is still emerging, with many studies being exploratory. Specifically, my dissertation research will focus on three research objectives:
Destination marketing researchers and practitioners must understand how tourists perceive the differences of destination branding delivered by different types of media, as well as how tourists’ behaviors toward social media differ from traditional. This understanding will allow policy makers in destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to make wiser decisions about marketing investments, and to create more effective messages for their destination branding when using social media. Furthermore, this research will extend the current literature of social media by examining, through an empirical approach, how destination branding through social media impacts tourists’ perception and intention.