Author(s): Lai Sau Ling (ESCE)
This paper views the development of Web-based travel communities from the social capital perspective. The objective is to offer concrete information about this new Web 2.0 socialization and communication channel which can be applied to positively affect the travel industry's operation. Research was conducted through observations, secondary sources, participant observations, and almost a year of investigation of prominent travel-oriented social networking sites. The activities conducted by the participants in a travel community were found to be more relational and psychologically oriented. Travelers enjoy sharing stories and experiences with other members of the virtual community, hence their continuous participation in Web-based social networking communities. Moreover, the travel industry is information intensive, and with the countless options and intangible products complicating the selection and purchase process, it is often bewildering. Having trusted individuals to support the traveler's decision is thus inevitable and is significant consideration in strategic travel marketing and planning.