A new perspective on tourist information search: Discussion in couples as the context

Fred Bronner, Robert de Hoog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Information-search for vacation decision-making can occur in two different contexts: an individual one, in which one forms one's preferences, and a social one in response to discussions with partners and family members. This paper focuses on the latter.

Design/methodology/approach: By means of a longitudinal study the research investigates the main topics of discussion in couples, and the information sources couples use in their discussion. Furthermore, the research investigates whether the information sources used depend on the nature of the sub-decision – search-determined or experience-determined – the couples discuss.

Findings: The research finds that there is considerable discussion between partners and that the amount of discussion varies in relation to the type of sub-decision. During these discussions, the use of different information sources is widespread. More generally, the study confirms the overall importance of the social context: information sources used in the social context are different from sources used in the individual context. The research does not confirm the expected relationship between the nature of a sub-decision and the type of information source used. As the decision process proceeds over time, the role of objective information sources increases in discussions.

Research limitation/implications: Compared with the classical individual approach to researching tourist information search, the social context of information-searching needs other market research data, to provide insight into the topics of discussion. Tourism marketing messages in a social decision context should be directed to significant others, as these messages are likely to be used as important information sources during the joint vacation decision process in couples. In this respect, the use of electronic word-of-mouth offers new opportunities for vacation marketing.

Originality/value: A new perspective on information search: the relevance of social contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-143
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2011


  • Decision making
  • Information media
  • Information searches
  • The Netherlands
  • Tourism


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