Examining the behavioral intentions of older adults as virtual tourists in the context of a Second Life destination
Dorinda M. Christian, Clemson University, United States
Clemson University . Awarded
Tourism opportunities are being promoted heavily on the web, yet one of the largest and most lucrative markets, older adults are least likely to use the internet. In an effort to explore barriers to and potential acceptance of technology for tourism experiences, this study followed closely ten older adults through a learning process with technology. Qualitative methodology was used to explore in-depth the experience of these older adults being exposed to online virtual world technology for the first time and exploring the process by which technology acceptance takes place. The findings indicate that online virtual world such as Second Life (SL) experiences have a high ease of use, and high perception of usefulness. However, with more immersed experiences, problems do rise due to inauthentic nature of SL. Overall the technology is not hard to learn for older adults, according to the study participants, and they did have a positive experience with the interactive nature of the virtual travel experience. They also saw benefits related to increased access to places that are difficult to reach physically for them. The Tourism industry may benefit from use of SL type technology as a tool to engage potential tourists. This study points to future research to prepare the tourism industry to take full advantage of this new cutting edge interactive technology in order to both market and maximize the tourist experience and increase satisfaction levels.
Christian, D.M. Examining the behavioral intentions of older adults as virtual tourists in the context of a Second Life destination. Ph.D. thesis, Clemson University.
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