Tourism and Technology: What the future holds for travel distribution?

mobile.pngThe development of digital media technologies, particularly the internet and social media are offering a wide range of possibilities to the travel industry. These latest technological advances have enabled many travel businesses, including airlines and hotels to manage their distribution channels in a more efficient and economical way.

With the changing landscape of travel e-commerce and the ubiquity of IT solutions which gather, store, and analyse data in a variety of ways; airlines have improved their ability to monitor their performance across channels. Very often, they are in a position to quickly adjust offers. Their prices are usually based on a variety of situations and circumstances, as they optimise communications and transactions.

By using big data and analytics on their customer behaviours, many travel businesses are taking advantage of channel-based distribution. Hence, the distribution networks have come a long way from the ticket counter. Evidently, travel and tourism businesses are leveraging themselves with data-driven marketing, as they seek new customers and prospects. For example, they may increase their profitability from high-yield customers as they are using elaborated pricing and revenue management systems. The travel distribution is evolving from its current passive, rigid, and technology-centric state to a more flexible, dynamic, and passenger-centric environment which we call ‘Active Distribution’.

Any changes in the tourism distributive systems may be stimulated by external macro factors such as politics and trade, global and national economies, technological innovations and access to them, et cetera. The airline industry could also be effected by increased competition from low-cost carriers, merger and acquisitions, and fuel costs, among other issues. However, the commercial future of the tourism industry may also be influenced by other factors, including travel distribution.

Tourism businesses can possibly become even more effective in how they sell their products and services, particularly if they deliver positive customer experiences. Tourists perceive value in customer-centric businesses. Most probably, in future, there will be significant improvements in terms of technologically enhanced customer services.

Tomorrow’s businesses will be serving passengers from geographically-diverse regions.  There will be more travellers from emerging markets and developing economies. The travel distribution systems will have to cater for senior citizens, as there are aging populations in many countries.

The distributive channels must be designed to accommodate a divergent nature of users. Tourism service providers and their intermediaries have to provide engaging, intuitive shopping experiences that tap into the traveller’s discretionary purchases.

The businesses will need to embrace new technologies and flexible distribution processes, as outmoded distribution components will be replaced. It is envisaged that the distributive systems will be increasingly relying on mobile devices as these technologies enable consumer interaction with speech and voice recognition software.

The tourism businesses will leverage themselves with artificial intelligence which could facilitate dynamic pricing as well as personalisation of services.

The distributive  systems could interface with virtual  reality software to help businesses merchandise their products in captivating customer experiences.

The third-party retailers will continue to form part of the distribution mix. However, many service providers will be using their direct channels to reach their targeted customers.

There will probably be fewer market intermediaries and online travel agencies will see significant declines.

It is very likely, that airlines will not have to pre-file volumes of defined fares through third-parties as they may not rely on inventory buckets to manage their selling capacity. The airlines must recognise the need to invest in new internal selling systems. Today’s passenger service systems lack the flexibility that airlines require. They are not adequate enough to serve  the airlines’ flexible and dynamic sales environments. These systems could be replaced with modular retailing platforms. Full Retailing Platforms (FRPs) will allows airlines to take back the control they require to be better retailers through any distribution channel (IATA, 2016).

However, Google, the multinational technology company, could be playing a much larger role in travel distribution. The technology giant could participate in, and possibly disrupt the tourism industry if it becomes an online travel agency. whether through acquisition or by launching a product of its own. In fact, its travel product, Google Flights is increasing in popularity among travellers.

Moreover, there have been recent developments in online payment facilities. Undoubtedly, there will further improvements in this area, as well. Payment providers like M-Pesa, Alipay, and PayPal will probably become more important.

In the foreseeable future, the travel marketplace will surely introduce new technologies and capabilities as multiple venture capital firms are increasingly investing in disruptive innovation.

There may be new businesses which could penetrate the market, including private air service operators who could provide “on-demand” airline services; alternatively, technology companies could develop or acquire their meta-search engines or online travel agencies.

Undoubtedly, the travel and tourism businesses need to find ways that intentionally overturn decades of outdated, distribution practices. The distribution community can choose to innovate and disrupt, or allow others to be leading innovators.

 

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The Customer Satisfaction of American Tourists

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Amid incidents like the recent United Airlines overbooking debacle or Delta’s spring break computer outage that may have tainted the respective airlines’ reputation and image, an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), that was conducted between April 2016 and March 2017, indicated that passengers were satisfied (with an ACSI score of 75%) with the levels of airline service. However, United’s violent removal of a passenger was captured on social media, but is not reflected in the ACSI results as it occurred after the completion of data collection. United’s incident did cause a fall in the company’s stock price. For the time being, it is still unclear how much impact this specific incident will have on future passenger satisfaction as United already has the lowest score among the full-service, legacy airlines. Industry leaders, including; JetBlue scored 82%, Southwest 80%, and Alaska Airlines 78% were among those successful airlines, according to ACSI. Very often other carriers, including legacy airlines are falling behind in terms of customer satisfaction. Yet, the most dissatisfied passengers are those who are only opting for low-price above anything else. In this case, the ultra-low-cost operators Spirit and Frontier were among those airlines who have mostly suffered from a reduction in customer satisfaction, when compared other airlines (ACSI, 2017).

Major airlines like Delta and American are increasingly competing more aggressively on price. However, although they may offer low ticket prices; they cannot afford to deliver a low-quality service. According to ACSI, in the last three years, Spirit has consistently ranked last in terms of passenger satisfaction, although the airline did improve last year (up from 54% in 2015 to 62% in 2016). However, the airline did not build upon its gains in 2017. Spirit’s efforts to improve customer relations and punctuality did not pay off, as yet, as their passenger satisfaction currently stands is 61%.

In a similar vein, in 2016, guest satisfaction with hotels was 76%, according to ACSI, this score was 2.7% higher than the previous year. This growth was driven by gains for smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Evidently, with the rise of online hospitality brokers, like Airbnb; travellers had more choices than ever before, forcing hotel operators to compete on both price and customer service.

Hilton guests were the most satisfied (81%), and in the second place, Hyatt and Marriott scored 80%. Marriott’s Starwood brand came third (79%), closely followed by InterContinental (78%). Best Western, La Quinta and Choice that were in the range of 76% to 74%; while the combined score of all other smaller hotels and B&Bs were up by 3% to 74%. Wyndham (71%) lagged behind most of the major hoteliers, but G6 Hospitality (Motel 6) was ranked in the last place (65%). These results indicated that many prestige hotel brands, including JW Marriott were topping the charts (85%), while upscale Hilton Garden Inn and Hyatt Place have shared the next spot at 84%. Starwood’s Aloft, part of the Marriott family, scored 83%, alongside Hilton’s Embassy Suites Hotels.  With 76%, Wyndham Baymont Inn & Suites was top-rated among midscale properties, whist Days Inn (67%) was the best economy brand. However, Super 8 from the Wyndham family had the lowest-ranked chain in the industry, at 63%.

The customer satisfaction levels with travel websites for booking flights, hotels and car rentals stood steady at 79%. Expedia gained 4%, as it rose to 80%. Other brands of the Expedia family, Orbitz also gained 1% to 78%. Whilst Travelocity lost 1% to 77%, which is in line with its competitor Priceline (77%), which lost 5% from the last year’s score. These ACSI (2017) reports were based on the findings from 8,660 customer surveys that were duly collected between April 18, 2016, and March 19, 2017.

(Source) ACSI (2017). ACSI: Low-Cost Carriers Lead Legacy Airlines for Passenger Satisfaction https://www.theacsi.org/news-and-resources/press-releases/press-2017/press-release-travel-2017

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Valuing Word-of-Mouth Publicity and Online Reviews

A very important function of public relations and publicity is to promote the corporate image and reputation of a business. The “image” is the total sum of impressions on the company. For instance, a casual act by an employee can appraise or damage the corporate image in the eyes of a single customer or caller on the phone. However, the major elements of corporate image include; the core business and financial performance of the company, the reputation and performance of its brands (i.e. brand equity); its reputation for innovation or technological process; policies toward employees; external relations with customers, shareholders, and the community, and; the perceived trends in the markets in which the business operates.

Public relations and publicity support other marketing tools, and could be seen as the backbone of the promotional mix. The success achieved by the other elements of the mix could easily be damaged or reduced by bad public relations or negative publicity, something which is undesirable to the businesses. Very often, the businesses cannot control the favourable or unfavourable messages about products or services that appear in online reviews. If for some reason, the business receives bad publicity, its role in this area moves to that of damage limitation. For example, many airlines and large hotel chains may have a section within their PR department to engage with online communities. This section will usually handle publicity issues, including negative reviews.

Recently, we are increasingly witnessing an surge in businesses’ engagement with online communities, including consumers. User-generated ratings and reviews provide relevant information on the business products and their levels of customer service. For instance, many prospective customers read reviews before choosing which places to visit, to stay or to eat. Very often the online ratings and reviews will have an effect on their consumer behaviours. It is likely that prospective customers will be mainly influenced by negative reviews, rather than by positive ones. Many studies indicate that individuals will read consumer reviews before shopping.

Presently, there are millions of online reviews that are related to travel and tourism. Digital platforms which provide travel-related content (are generated directly by users) concerning destinations, attractions and businesses. For instance, TripAdvisor provides travel related reviews and opinions on accommodation establishments, restaurants and attractions. In addition, many websites, which are traditionally known as booking engines, including; Booking.com, Airbnb.com, et cetera also provide reviews that are integrated in their presentation of properties, restaurants and other amenities. A distinction should be made between reviews and rating: Reviews will generally include qualitative comments and descriptions, whilst ratings usually feature quantitative rankings corresponding to degrees of user satisfaction. The ratings may be part of a review.

Sometimes internet users may noticce that there may be controversial reviews online.  Occasionally, the tourism service providers claim that they were subject to unfounded negative ratings. Moreover, many businesses may be blackmailed by consumers, as they threaten to write negative reviews unless their demands are not met. In a similar vein, consumers have also reported cases of unfounded positive ratings of services or unverified negative criticism. Online users are increasingly paying more attention to these contentious issues.

Recently, The World Committee on Tourism Ethics has elaborated its recommendations for the responsible use of ratings and reviews on digital platforms. Their recommendations are addressed to three main groups of stakeholders, namely: online platforms (operators like TripAdvisor or Yelp) service providers (businesses that are listed on these platforms); and users (consumers).

Digital platforms that incorporate reviews and ratings for their products and services need to ensure the accuracy, reliability and credibility of their content. Online platforms should undertake all reasonable measures to ensure that individual reviews reflect the real users’ opinions, findings and experiences. The provision of publicly available information though digital media involves a certain degree of trust, therefore the veracity of the reviews is essential for the integrity, reputation and good functioning of such platforms. Whilst it is not always easy to verify the authenticity of user generated content, the digital platform should have quality control mechanisms and processes to ensure that their reviews are clear, accurate and truthful, for the benefit of prospective consumers.

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Call for Chapters: Strategic Perspectives in Destination Marketing

This edited book will be published by IGI Global (USA)
Proposals Submission Deadline: August 31, 2017
Full Chapters Due: November 30, 2017


Introduction

This book provides a broad knowledge and understanding of destination marketing and branding. It presents conceptual discussions that cover the operational and strategic perspectives of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry sectors. At the same time, the readers are equipped with a strong pedagogical application of the socio-economic, environmental and technological impacts of tourism and its related sectors. The course content of this publication prepares undergraduate students and aspiring managers with a thorough exposure of the latest industry and research developments. Covering both key theory and practice, it introduces its readers to tourism issues in a concise yet accessible way. This will allow prospective tourism practitioners to critically analyze future situations and make appropriate decisions in work place environments.

Objective

This book is a concise and authoritative guide on tourism and its related paradigms. It provides a thorough understanding on destination branding and marketing. Therefore, the readers of this publication will better comprehend the marketing processes, strategies and tactics within the travel, tourism and hospitality contexts. It also highlights the latest trends, including; etourism, destination marketing and tourism planning for the future. The style of this book and extensive use of case studies, illustrations and links maintain the reader’s interest through visual aids to learning.

This publication is written in an engaging style that entices the curiosity of prospective readers. It explains all the theory in a simple and straightforward manner. It often makes use of short case studies that are carefully drawn from selected tourism businesses. Descriptive cases set the theory in context as they have been chosen to represent the diversity of the industry – ranging from small travel agents to large legacy airlines or multi-national hotel chains. This book reports on the global tourism marketing environments that comprise economic, socio-cultural and environmental issues. It explains how technological advances have brought significant changes to the tourism industry and its marketing mix. Moreover, it features interesting illustrations, including diagrams and color images. Notwithstanding, this book will also provide direct links to further readings on the web to aid both teaching and learning.

Target Audience

This book introduces the students and aspiring practitioners to the subject of destination marketing in a structured manner. It is primarily intended to undergraduate and / or post-graduate students in tourism (including tourism management, hospitality management, airline management and travel agency operations). It is also relevant to destination management organisations, tourism offices, hoteliers, inbound / outbound tour operators, travel agents and all those individuals who are willing to work within the dynamic tourism industry.

Academics in higher education institutions including universities and vocational colleges, small tourism business owners, tourism and hospitality consultants, non-profit tourism organizations, policy makers and legislators.

Recommended Topics

  • An introduction to the tourism industry
  • The structure and organization of the tourism destinations
  • The tourism marketing environment
  • Political, legal and regulatory forces in destination management
  • Economic effects of tourism marketing
  • Socio-cultural issues and destination branding
  • Technological advancements and information systems for travel marketing
  • The environmental impact of tourism.
  • Branding the tourism product
  • The tourist destinations and visitor attractions
  • The hospitality sector, hotel and catering
  • Tourist transportation
  • Pricing Tourism Products And Revenue Management
  • Market and Demand
  • Pricing Approaches
  • Pricing Strategies
  • Tourism Intermediaries And Online Distribution Channels
  • Destination Management Organisations
  • Tour operators
  • Retailing tourism
  • Tourism amenities and ancillary services
  • Promoting the tourism product
  • Advertising tourism destinations
  • Public relations and publicity in destination marketing
  • Direct and online marketing
  • Building customer relationships for repeat tourism
  • Word of mouth, the importance of reviews and ratings in tourism marketing
  • Sustainable and responsible tourism in destination branding
  • Destination marketing: the way forward
  • Tourism planning and development
  • Tourism strategies for destinations
  • Measuring marketing effectiveness
  • What future for the tourism industry?

Submission Procedure

Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before August 31, 2017, a chapter proposal of 1,000 to 2,000 words clearly explaining the mission and concerns of their proposed chapter. Authors will be notified by September 15, 2017 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by November 30, 2017, and all interested authors must consult the guidelines for manuscript submissions at http://www.igi-global.com/publish/contributor-resources/before-you-write/ prior to submission. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.

Note: There are no submission or acceptance fees for manuscripts submitted to this book publication, Trust in Knowledge Management and Systems in Organizations. All manuscripts are accepted based on a double-blind peer review editorial process.

All proposals should be submitted through the eEditorial Discovery®TM online submission manager.

Publisher

This book is scheduled to be published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference,” “Business Science Reference,” and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit http://www.igi-global.com. This publication is anticipated to be released in 2018.

Important Dates

Proposal Submission Deadline: August 31, 2017
Notification of Acceptance: September 15, 2017
Full chapter Submission: November 30, 2017
Review Results to Chapter Authors: January 31, 2018
Revised Chapter Submission from Chapter Authors: February 28, 2018
Final Acceptance Notifications to Chapter Authors: March 15, 2018

Inquiries

Mark Anthony Camilleri, Ph.D.
Email: Mark.A.Camilleri@um.edu.mt

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Integrated Reporting: Valuing the Financial, Social and Natural Capital

The end of year financial statements usually focus on financial capital, whereas organisational performance relies on resources – such as the expertise of people, intellectual property that was developed through research and development, and interactions with the environment and the societies in which they operate.  In this light, Integrated Reporting (<IR>) was developed to fill such reporting gaps. The IR Framework categorises different stocks of value, including; Financial Capital; Manufactured Capital; Intellectual Capital; Human Capital; Social (and Relationship) Capital; as well as Natural Capital.

 

 

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has promoted the concept of integrated thinking and reporting. In 2013, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) released a framework for integrated reporting. By doing so, IIRC has paved the way for the next generation of annual reports that enable stakeholders to make a more informed assessment of the organisation’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects. IIRC has aligned capital allocations and corporate behaviours with the wider goals of financial stability and  sustainable development. Its framework established the following ‘Guiding Principles’ and ‘Content Elements’:

Guiding Principles

  1. Strategic focus and future orientation –gives an insight of the organisation’s strategy;
  2. Connectivity of information – provides a holistic picture of the combination, inter relatedness and dependencies between the factors that affect the organisation’s ability to create value over time;
  3. Stakeholder relationships – describes the nature and quality of the organisation’s relationships with its key stakeholders;
  4. Materiality – discloses relevant information about matters that substantively affect the organisation’s ability to create value over the short, medium and long term;
  5. Conciseness – provides sufficient context to understand the organisation’s strategy, governance and prospects without being burdened by less relevant information;
  6. Reliability and completeness – includes all material matters, both positive and negative, in a balanced way and without material error;
  7. Consistency and comparability – ensures consistency over time and enabling comparisons with other organisations to the extent material to the organisation’s own ability to create value.

Content Elements

  1. Organisational overview and external environment – What does the organisation do and what are the circumstances under which it operates?
  2. Governance – How does an organisation’s governance structure support its ability to create value in the short, medium and long term?
  3. Business model – What is the organisation’s business model?
  4. Risks and opportunities – What are the specific risk and opportunities that affect the organisation’s ability to create value over the short, medium and long term, and how is the organisation dealing with them?
  5. Strategy and resource allocation – Where does the organisation want to go and how does it intend to get there?
  6. Performance – To what extent has the organisation achieved its strategic objectives for the period and what are its outcomes in terms of effects on the capitals?
  7. Outlook – What challenges and uncertainties is the organisation likely to encounter in pursuing its strategy, and what are the potential implications for its business model and future performance?
  8. Basis of preparation and presentation – How does the organization determine what matters to include in the integrated report and how are such matters quantified or evaluated?

The ‘Guiding Principles’ underpin the preparation of an integrated report, whilst, the ‘Content Elements’ are the key categories of information that should be included in an integrated report according to the IR Framework. There are no bench marking for the above matters and the report is primarily aimed at the private sector; but IR could be adapted to the public sector and to not-for-profit organisations. The IIRC has set out a principle-based framework rather than specifying a detailed disclosure and measurement standard. This way each company sets out its own report rather than adopting a checklist approach. Hence, the report acts as a platform which explains what creates value to the business and how management protects this value. This gives the report more business impetus rather than mandating compliance-led approaches.

For the time being, the integrated reporting is not going to replace other forms of reporting but the vision is that large undertakings, including corporations, state-owned entities and government agencies, among others, may be expected to pull together relevant information already produced to explain the key drivers of their non-financial performance. Relevant information will only be included in the report where it is material to the stakeholder’s assessment of the business. The term ‘materiality’ suggests that there are legal connotations that may be related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, Yet, some entities out of their own volition are already including ESG information in their integrated report.

In sum, the integrated reports aim to provide an insight into the company’s resources, relationships (that are also known as the capitals) and on how the company interacts with its external environment to create value.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, ESG Reporting, Integrated Reporting, Stakeholder Engagement, sustainable development

A Conceptual Model of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

The corporate sustainability and responsibility concept is linked to improvements to the companies’ internal processes, including; environmental management, human resource management, operations management and marketing (Porter & Kramer, 2011; Fombrun, 2005; Maignan & Ferrell, 2004). At the same time, it raises awareness on the businesses’ responsible behaviours toward stakeholders, including the government, suppliers, customers and the community, among others (Carroll & Shabana, 2010; Freeman, 1984). The fundamental motivation behind this approach is the view that creating connections between stakeholders in the value chain will open-up unseen opportunities for the competitive advantage of responsible businesses, as illustrated here:

(Camilleri, 2017a)

Corporate sustainability and responsibility focuses on exploiting opportunities that reconcile differing stakeholder demands as many corporations out there are investing in corporate sustainability and responsible business practices (Camilleri , 2017b). Their active engagement with multiple stakeholders (both internal and external stakeholders) will ultimately create synergistic value for all (Camilleri, 2017a).

Multinational organizations are under increased pressures from stakeholders (particularly customers and consumer associations) to revisit their numerous processes in their value chain activities. Each stage of the company’s production process, from the supply chain to the transformation of resources could add value to their businesses’ operational costs as they produce end-products. However, the businesses are always expected to be responsible in their internal processes, toward their employees or toward their suppliers’ labour force. Therefore, this corporate sustainability and responsibility perspective demands that businesses create economic and societal value by re-aligning their corporate objectives with stakeholder management and environmental responsibility. In sum, corporate sustainability and responsibility may only happen when companies demonstrate their genuine willingness to add corporate responsible dimensions and stakeholder engagement to their value propositions. This occurs when businesses opt for responsible managerial practices that are integral to their overall corporate strategy. These strategic behaviours create opportunities for them to improve the well-being of stakeholders as they reduce negative externalities on the environment.  The negative externalities can be eliminated by developing integrated approaches that are driven by ethical and sustainability principles. Very often, multinational businesses are in a position to mitigate risk and to avoid inconveniences to third parties. For instance, major accidents including BP’s Deep Horizon oil spill in 2010; or the collapse of Primark’s Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, back in 2013 could have been prevented if the big businesses were responsible beforehand.

In conclusion, the corporate sustainability and responsibility construct is about embedding sustainability and responsibility by seeking out and connecting with the stakeholders’ varied interests. As firms reap profits and grow, there is a possibility that they generate virtuous circles of positive multiplier effects (Camilleri, 2017a). Therefore, corporate sustainability and responsibility can be considered as strategic in its intents and purposes. Indeed, the businesses are capable of being socially and environmentally responsible ‘citizens’ as they are doing well, economically. This contribution explains the foundations for corporate sustainability and responsibility. Although this concept is still evolving; the debate among academic commentators is slowly but surely raising awareness on responsible managerial practices and on the skills and competences that are needed to deliver strategic results that create value for businesses, society and the environment.

References:

Camilleri, M.A. (2017a) Corporate Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Management: An Introduction to Theory and Practice with Case Studies. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319468488

Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.) (2017b) CSR 2.0 and the New Era of Corporate Citizenship. IGI Global, Hershey, USA. ISBN13: 9781522518426 DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1842-6 http://www.igi-global.com/book/csr-new-era-corporate-citizenship/166426

Carroll, A. B., & Shabana, K. M. (2010). The business case for corporate social responsibility: A review of concepts, research and practice. International journal of management reviews, 12(1), 85-105.

Fombrun, C. J. (2005). A world of reputation research, analysis and thinking—building corporate reputation through CSR initiatives: evolving standards. Corporate Reputation Review, 8(1), 7-12.

Freeman, R.E. (1984). Strategic Management: A stakeholder approach. Pitman, Boston, MA. USA.

Maignan, I., & Ferrell, O. C. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and marketing: An integrative framework. Journal of the Academy of Marketing science, 32(1), 3-19.

Porter, M. E. & Kramer, M. R., (2011). Creating shared value. Harvard business review, 89 (1/2), 62-77.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, Human Resources, Marketing, Shared Value, Stakeholder Engagement, sustainable development

The Technology Acceptance of Mobile Applications in Education

Dr Mark A. Camilleri from the University of Malta’s Department of Corporate Communication and Ms Adriana C. Camilleri, a PhD Candidate at the University of Bath (U.K.) have recently delivered a presentation of their latest empirical paper, entitled; The Technology Acceptance of Mobile Applications in Education during the 13th Mobile Learning Conference in Budapest, Hungary. More details on this highly indexed conference are available in this site: http://mlearning-conf.org/. An abstract of this paper is enclosed hereunder:

This paper explores the educators’ attitudes and behavioural intention toward mobile applications. Its research methodology has integrated previously tried and tested measures from ‘the pace of technological innovativeness’ and the ‘technology acceptance model’ to better understand the rationale for further investment in mobile learning technologies (m-learning). A quantitative study was carried out amongst two hundred forty-one educators to reveal their perceptions on their ‘use’ and ‘ease of use’ of mobile devices in their schools. A principal component analysis has indicated that these educators were committed to using mobile technologies. In addition, a stepwise regression analysis has shown that the younger teachers were increasingly engaging in m-learning resources. In conclusion, this contribution puts forward key implications for both academia and practitioners.

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Unleashing Corporate Social Responsibility Communication in the Digital Era

Part of this article has appeared in Camilleri, M.A. (2017) Corporate Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Management: An Introduction to Theory and Practice with Case Studies. Springer International. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319468488

The corporate communication is dynamic on digital media as the global diffusion of social software like blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, electronic fora, webinars and social media networks have facilitated organisations, including businesses to attract prospects and consumer groups. The digital media could potentially speed up content marketing and increase direct interactions, dialogues and engagements with various audiences. Such interactive communications are often referred to as “viral” because ideas and opinions spread through the network via word‐of‐mouth and are usually perceived as highly trustworthy sources.

When organisations share information about their stakeholder relationships with online communities, they may find out that their followers (or friends) could also share their passion for laudable causes. Very often, there is a business case for corporate social responsibility as socially-driven enterprises and sustainable businesses could charge higher prices for their products or services, they may influence more people, and get more credibility, attention, customers; you name it. Therefore, they are encouraged to use digital media to stand out from the rest, reach out (to prospects, clients, followers, and experts), and engage (in networking and public relations events).

Online communication has potential to create a ripple effect that grows as it reaches wider audiences. Notwithstanding, social media has potential to empower users to engage with organisations on a myriad of issues. They also enable individual professionals or groups to promote themselves and their CSR, sustainability, responsible management, responsible corporate governance, responsible procurement, philanthropic and stewardship credentials et cetera, in different markets and segments.

Due to their apparent lack of gatekeeping and their symmetric two-way communication, the digital media are suitable for undertaking a corporate-public dialogue. However, open platforms like social media can also increase the complexities of the debates as they decrease the level of institutionalisation of the interactions between organisations and their stakeholders.

The social media has transformed the communicative dynamics within and between corporations and their external environment. These online networks are effective monitoring tools as they could feature early warning signals of trending topics. Therefore, digital media are helping business communicators and marketers to identify and follow the latest sustainability issues. Notwithstanding, CSR influencers are easily identified on particular subject matters or expertise. For example, businesses and customers alike have learned how to use the hashtag (#) to enhance the visibility of their shareable content (Some of the most popular hashtags in this regard, comprise: #CSR #StrategicCSR, #sustainability, #susty, #CSRTalk, #Davos2016, #KyotoProtocol, #SharedValue et cetera). Hashtags could be used to raise awareness on charities, philanthropic institutions as well as green non-governmental organisations. They may also promote fund raising events. Hence, there are numerous opportunities for organisations and businesses to leverage themselves through blogs and social networks as they engage with influencers and media. Modern tools like Scrivener make it easy to write and compile for formats including .mobi (Kindles) and .epub (iBooks). Guest blogging on respected industry websites is a great way to build reputation and authority, but also backlinks  are crucial for strong search engine optimisation. Moreover, regular contributions on blogs allow users to connect with others; by sharing ideas and opinions, they spread awareness on their promoted content. Businesses can make use of project management systems like Asana or Trello, or intranet tools like Interact or Podio to track the  effectiveness of their outreach campaigns. Their analytics tools could possibly reveal  which content had the biggest impact on the audiences.

Hence, social media is an unprecedented channel for connecting and sharing with millions around the planet (with an estimated 2.51 billion social media users worldwide in 2017). The ubiquity of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Google Plus over the past years has made them familiar channels for many individuals around the globe. These networks have become very popular communication outlets for brands, companies and activists alike. For instance, these networks have become popular tools that are used by millions of people to publish messages and to interact through conversations from their personal computers and mobile phones.

LinkedIn is yet another effective tool, particularly for personal branding. However, this social network helps users identify and engage with influencers. Companies can use this site to create or join their favourite groups.They may also use this channel for CSR communication as they promote key socially responsible initiatives and share sustainability ideas. Therefore, LinkedIn connects individuals and groups as they engage in conversations with academia and CSR practitioners.

In addition, Pinterest and Instagram enable their users to share images, ideas with their networks. These platforms could so be relevant in the context of the sustainability agenda. For instance, businesses could illustrate their CSR communication to stakeholders through visual and graphic content. These networks provide sharable imagery, infographics or videos to groups who may be passionate on certain CSR issues.

Moreover, digital marketers are increasingly uploading short, fun videos which often turn viral on internet. YouTube and Vimeo seem to have positioned themselves as important social media channels for many consumers, particularly among millennials. These sites offer an excellent way to humanise or animate CSR communication through video content. These digital media allow their users to share their video content across multiple networks. For instance,  webinars and videos featuring university resources may also comprise lectures, documentaries and case studies that could be created, distributed and shared online through Skillshare or Udemy.

The Internet and social media open platforms are shifting the power dynamics as they are putting forward the debates between business and society. Open platforms provide access to multiple stakeholders and facilitate two-way communication between participants. They increase the speed in communications as there are no gatekeeping mechanisms. Open platforms are therefore unique spaces in the emerging diversity and plurality of the sustainability agenda. Participants in social media can no longer be classified as formal, functional or institutionalised stakeholders (e.g., as customers or NGOs), Yet, they may be categorised in relation to their changing affinities with the specific issues under discussion.

In conclusion, despite the promise that digital media improves the efficiency and effectiveness of corporate communication between organisations and their publics,  the businesses’ implementation of online engagement is neither automatic nor easy. The dialogic features that are enabled by web pages, blogs, and other social media may not necessarily result in improved stakeholder relationships. The businesses may inevitably have to deal with legitimacy constraints as they manage online engagements in different contexts. At the same time, there are stakeholders, particularly customers who are  increasingly becoming more discerned about content marketing through digital media.

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Special Offer > Get 20% off this Springer business textbook on Corporate Social Responsibility

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*This offer is valid from 1st April to 1st May 2017.

This business text-book can be purchased from Springer or Amazon.

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About Mark Anthony Camilleri, the Author of Springer’s Corporate Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Management

The University of Malta’s promising academic, Dr Mark Anthony CAMILLERI lectures in an international masters programme run by the University of Malta in collaboration with King’s College, University of London. Mark specialises in strategic management, marketing, research and evaluation. He successfully finalised his PhD (Management) in three years time at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland – where he was also nominated for his “Excellence in Teaching”. During the past years, Mark taught business subjects at under-graduate, vocational and post-graduate levels in Hong Kong, Malta and the UK.

Dr Camilleri has published his research in reputable peer-reviewed journals. He is a member on the editorial board of Springer’s International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility and Inderscience’s International Journal of Responsible Management in Emerging Economies. He is a frequent speaker and reviewer at the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) Marketing & Public Policy conference, in the Academy of International Business (AIB) and in the Academy of Management’s (AoM) annual gatherings. Mark is also a member of the academic advisory committee in the Global Corporate Governance Institute (USA).

Dr Camilleri’s first book, entitled; “Creating Shared Value through Strategic CSR in Tourism” (2013) was published in Germany. This year Springer will publish his latest book; “Corporate Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Management: An Introduction to Theory and Practice with Case Studies” (2017). Moreover, he edited a U.S. publication, entitled; “CSR 2.0 and the New Era of Corporate Citizenship” (2017). His short contributions are often featured in popular media outlets such as the Times of Malta, Business2Community, Social Media Today, Triple Pundit, CSRwire and the Shared Value Initiative.

Mark’s professional experience spans from project management, strategic management, business planning (including market research), management information systems (MIS), customer relationship and database marketing to public relations, marketing communications, branding and reputation management (using both conventional tools and digital marketing).

His latest book can be purchased from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corporate-Sustainability-Responsibility-Environmental-Management/dp/3319468480 or http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9783319468488

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Filed under Business, Circular Economy, Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, digital media, Impact Investing, Marketing, Shared Value, Socially Responsible Investment, SRI, Stakeholder Engagement, sustainable development