This is an excerpt from one of my latest publications.
Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A., Troise, C. & Kozak, M. (2023). Functionality and usability features of ubiquitous mobile technologies: The acceptance of interactive travel apps. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-12-2021-0345 Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366633583_Functionality_and_usability_features_of_ubiquitous_mobile_technologies_The_acceptance_of_interactive_travel_apps.
Prior studies relied on specific theoretical frameworks like the Interactive Technology Adoption Model – ITAM (Camilleri and Kozak, 2022), elaboration likelihood model (ELM), information adoption model (IAM) and/or technology acceptance model (TAM), among others, to better understand which factors are having an impact on the individuals’ engagement with digital media or information technologies.
In this case, this research identifies the factors that are influencing the adoption of travel apps, in the aftermath of COVID-19. It examines the effects of information quality and source credibility (these measures are drawn from IAM framework), as well as of technical functionality, relating to electronic service quality (eSERVQUAL), on the individuals’ perceptions about the usefulness of these mobile technologies and on their intentions to continue using them on a habitual basis (the latter two factors are used in TAM models), to shed light on the consumers’ beliefs about their usability and functionality features.
This study suggests that consumers are valuing the quality of the digital content that is presented to them through these mobile technologies. Apparently, they are perceiving that the sources (who are curating the content) were knowledgeable and proficient in the upkeep and maintenance of their apps. Moreover, they are appreciating their functional attributes including their instrumental utility and appealing designs. Evidently, these factors are influencing their intentions to use the travel apps in the future. They may even lead them to purchase travel and hospitality services. Furthermore, they can have an impact on their social facilitation behaviors like positive publicity (via electronic word of mouth like online reviews, as well as in-person/offline), among other outcomes.
This contribution implies that there is scope for future researchers to incorporate a functionality factor in addition to ITAM, IAM and/or TAM ‘usability’ constructs to investigate the individuals’ dispositions to utilize technological innovations and to adopt their information. It confirms that the functionality features including their ease of use, responsiveness, organized layout and technical capabilities can trigger users to increase their app engagement on a habitual basis.
The results from this study reveal that the respondents hold positive perceptions toward interactive travel apps. In the main, they indicate that these mobile technologies feature high quality content, are organized, work well, offer a good selection of products and are easy to use.
This research posits that mobile users appreciate the quality of information that is presented to them through the travel apps, in terms of their completed-ness, accuracy and timeliness of information. Yet, the findings show that there is room for improvement. There is scope for service providers (and for the curators of their travel apps) to increase their credentials on source trustworthiness and expertise among consumers.
The results suggest that information quality had a more significant effect on the respondents’ perceived usefulness of travel apps than source credibility. Moreover, they also suggest that consumers are willing to engage with travel apps as they believe that they offer seamless functionality features, including customization capabilities and fast loading screens. Most probably, the respondents are cognizant that they offer differentiated pricing options on flights, hotels and cars, from various service providers. They may be aware that many travel apps also enable their users to access their itineraries even when they are offline and allow them to keep a track record of their reward points (e.g. of frequent flyer programs) on every booking.
In this day and age, consumers can utilize mobile devices to access asynchronous content in webpages, including detailed information on tourism service providers, transportation services, tours to attractions, the provision of amenities in tourist destinations, frequently answered questions, efficient booking engines with high resolution images and videos, quick loading and navigation, detailed maps, as well as with qualitative reviews and quantitative ratings. Very often they can even be accessed through different languages.
A number of travel apps allow their users to log in with a secure, random password authentication method, to keep a track record of their credit card details and past transactions. Most of them are also sending price alerts as well as push notifications that remind consumers about their past searches. These services are adding value to the electronic service quality as opposed to unsolicited promotional messages, that are not always related to the consumers’ interests.
Generally, customers expect travel and tourism service providers to respond to their online queries in an instantaneous manner. They are increasingly demanding web chat services to resolve queries, as soon as possible, preferably in real time.
Tourism and hospitality service providers are already using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) software, to improve their consumers’ online experiences and to emphasize their brand positioning as high-quality service providers. In the foreseeable future, it is very likely that practitioners could avail themselves of Metaverse technologies that could teleport consumers in the cyberspace, to lure them to book their flight, stays, car rentals or tours. Online (and mobile) users may be using electronic personas, called avatars to move them around virtual spaces and to engage with other users, when they are in the Metaverse.
This interactive technology is poised to enhance its users’ immersive experiences, in terms of their sensory inputs, definitions of space and points of access to information, particularly those that work with VR headsets. Hence, travel and hospitality businesses could avail themselves of such interactive technologies to gain a competitive advantage.
You can access this paper in its entirety, via: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366633583_Functionality_and_usability_features_of_ubiquitous_mobile_technologies_The_acceptance_of_interactive_travel_apps