Tourists considering overseas travel 'trust' a destination like London would provide a positive experience, says new research from QUT researchers.
Consumer behaviour experts from QUT Business School investigated the effectiveness of the official tourism website, Visit London, for tourists choosing the city as a destination to explore.
Their findings, published in the Journal of Strategic Marketing, have implications for the global travel industry amid an emerging trend to 'personify' places to build long-term bonds with tourists.
Professor Brett Martin said the research investigated psychology in tourism and the same principles could be applied other tourism-related websites.
"The key is to generate trust," Professor Martin said. "People who are looking online at holiday information need to trust the information.
"If they do, then they have a more positive attitude towards the destination.
"This is more important than making people feel happy."
Professor Brett Martin said study participants were told to imagine London as a person and rate what human characteristics they thought would represent the UK capital.
The survey of 515 ready-to-travel Australians rated London as a destination based on its vibrancy, contemporary, competence, sophistication and sincerity.
Professor Martin said the results showed London as a brand destination that was trusted, and as a result more desirable for tourists to invest their holiday dollars.
He said trust was created when a destination showed aspects of competence such as success, leadership, confidence, independent and intelligent.
"It turns out that when people regard a destination as competent they see the tourist organisation as more trustworthy," he said.
"This is more important than showing images that are unique and glamorous," he said.
Professor Martin said holiday destinations which conveyed an individual brand personality could create a set of particular associations in the tourist's mind and influence their choice to visit or not.
"The takeaway for managers is to think about a destination as a person and ask what sort of personality should be conveyed, then promote competence and communicate trustworthiness," he said.
"A glossy picture or a logo doesn't carry as much weight for tourists making a decision whether to visit a destination or not," Professor Martin said.
It's estimated 20 million international visitors flock to London every year.
The research was co-authored by QUT's Dr Hyun Seung Jin.
A pdf of the journal article can be provided upon request.
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