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Abstract

Over the last few decades, tourism has faced several challenges and opportunities mostly related to the tremendous rise of online social networks and tourist platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, etc.). The revolution brought about by Web 2.0 (or Travel 2.0) has radically changed the behaviour of tourists, who are now able to access information rapidly and to contribute in generating information to share with other users. The advent of the Internet has forced destinations to transform themselves to be more interactive, innovative and efficient as the online consumer is more active, demanding and in control. As a consequence, online reviews are becoming increasingly important, as they represent a significant information source both for the tourists and for the local management of tourism destinations. In this new scenario, religious tourism destinations should make an effort to manage tourists’ feedback, in order to adapt their offer to the needs expressed by their visitors. The aim of this research is to assess: how the ‘Sacred Mount of Oropa’ and ‘Sacred Mount of Orta’ (Piedmont Region, Italy) are perceived as religious destinations by tourists and; how local management should improve the quality of the offered experience based on this analysis. The methodology consists of a qualitative content analysis of a sample of reviews on TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) - 237 and 243 reviews respectively. TripAdvisor provides detailed, rich and relevant data which includes information about the visitors of the Sacred Mounts and information about their beliefs and expectations within their comments. In accordance with content analysis methodology, the study selected a manual coding process in order to transform non-structured information into a format that allows analysis, which is possible due to the nature of the reviews. This paper presents empirical findings on the importance of online feedback for a religious destination.

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