Featured Topic: Time for a getaway?

The start of a new year is fast approaching and bringing with it the summer holidays for those living in countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like New Zealand, where the SBP headquarters are located. This is a prime time for travel—or if you live north of the equator, it’s not too soon to start planning your summer vacation in June/July!

Li and Tsai (2013) described international tourism as “exotic, offering exposure to foreign cultures, and, in comparison to domestic tourism, much higher in novelty and risk” (p. 328). Is greater novelty important to you when choosing a travel destination or are you keen on the security that comes with vacations a little closer to home? And do you prefer to ask for recommendations from family and friends, read brochures or consult with travel agents, or search websites according to specific criteria, such as this year’s most popular locations or where to go for an adventure that’s off the beaten track? 

The Internet is a key source of information on all things travel, but the accessibility and quality of the information provided varies across websites and blogs. Travel agents are experts in the field and offer many resources for travel recommendations—are their websites as reliable as their office-based agents? To answer this question, Lee, Han, and Hwang (2017) assessed users’ perception of serviceability of several online travel agency websites in the US and reported that secure transactions and quick responding are the factors that lead to the highest levels of user satisfaction. Further, Lee, Hsiao, and Lu (2015) found that the two main features influencing users’ trust in travel blogs are the blog platform’s visual appeal and information adequacy. They also noted that women display greater trust in blog platforms with better operational efficiency, whereas this factor does not have a significant influence on user trust among men.

Personality influences all aspects of our lives; motives for travel are no exception. Li, Lu, Tsai, and Yu (2015) found that people with the personality trait of high extraversion “enjoy social activities and prefer to undertake leisure activities in groups” (p. 82). Thus, they may prefer to travel to cities with larger populations and many group-based activities, as opposed to smaller centers with fewer opportunities for socializing. Highly extraverted people are also more likely to take their animal companions along with them on vacation, as reported by Hung, Chen, and Peng (2011).

Optimism is another personality trait that influences travel preferences. Lee (2013) found that highly optimistic people undertake healthcare-related travel for both hedonic (e.g., healthy meals and spa activities) and utilitarian (e.g., low-cost health checks) reasons. In contrast, more pessimistic people have low purchase intention for travel, regardless of whether the type of vacation on offer is hedonistic or utilitarian. 

Have you already started planning a vacation for 2020? Find a destination that’s a good fit for you by signing up for a personal subscription to SBP, which will give you access to the more than 6,000 papers we’ve published in the fields of social, behavioral, and developmental psychology.

Impact of extraversion and sensation seeking on international tourism choices – Cheng-Yu Li and Bi-Kun Tsai, 2013, 41(2), 327–334.

Developing a matrix for assessing serviceability of U.S. online travel agency websites – Kwang-Woo Lee, Heesup Han, and Jinsoo Hwang, 2017, 45(1), 115–126.

Gender differences in antecedents and consequences of trust in an enterprise’s travel blogs – Chi-Lung Lee, Kuo-Lun Hsiao, and Hsi-Peng Lu, 2015, 43(2), 269–286.

The impact of extraversion and sensation seeking on tourist role – Cheng-Yu Li, Shiao-Yuan Lu, Bi-Kun Tsai, and Keh-Yuan Yu, 2015, 43(1), 75–84.

Psychological and behavioral predictors of taking pet companions when traveling – Kuang-peng Hung, Annie Huiling Chen, and Norman Peng, 2011, 39(6), 721–724.

The influence of personality traits, health knowledge, and product attributes on intent to purchase Taiwan’s healthcare tourism products – Yi-Chih Lee, 2013, 41(3), 395–410.