STHM examines the role of online media in South Pacific tourism
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Postgraduate students Karushma Sharma and Mani Mate.
It has been observed that different forms of online and social media have been transforming the tourism industry in the South Pacific.
The most recent School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) research colloquium at The University of the South Pacific (USP) brought together various tourism stakeholders to discuss three ongoing postgraduate research projects in this context.
The first presenter, Marica Kalou who currently works as an administrative assistant at STHM, examined tourist satisfaction attributes of ecotourism in an online and offline nexus. Based on a case study of Matava, Fiji’s Premier Ecotourism Resort, she analysed tourist interviews and TripAdvisor reviews. This study employs Llosa’s Tetraclasse model to gain a deeper insight of the elements that influence visitors’ satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels.
The second presentation was by Mani Mate who worked in the hotel industry in the Cook Islands for over ten years prior to taking up postgraduate studies at USP. As part of his managerial roles, he was responsible for the management of the hotels social media accounts. His postgraduate research draws on a study of Aitutaki hotels, Cook Islands, and analyses how negative reviews are managed in an online environment.
Mr. Mate argued that online complaints on social media platforms and review sites can have a negative impact on consumers' evaluations. Drawing on service failure and recovery, electronic word-of-mouth, complaint handling and reputation management literature, Mr. Mate examined how Aitutaki hotel managers respond to negative online reviews, particularly on TripAdvisor.
STHM postgraduate programme leader, Dr Alexander Trupp, explained that online and social media play an increasing role in many aspects of tourism, including marketing, decision-making behaviour and customer feedback.
These research projects he noted, are important and contribute to the emerging body of knowledge on tourism and online media in the South Pacific.
The final presenter, Karishma Sharma, has worked in various positions in hospitality, design, marketing, and customer relations in both Fiji and Australia over the past decade and currently works as teaching assistant at STHM.
Ms Sharma’s research titled ‘An investigation of social media marketing performance of Fiji’s hotel industry’ evaluates the marketing performance of 105 hotels in Fiji on various social media sites, according to the Digital Marketing Framework.
In her presentation, she identified the major problems regarding the social media marketing efforts of hotels, the implications behind these problems and provided recommendations for improvement accordingly.
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