Gathering pre-purchase information for a cruise vacation with virtual reality: the effects of media technology and gender

Abstract
Purpose This study aims to apply theory on consumer learning in virtual experiences to compare how media technologies (i.e. virtual reality [VR] and standard websites) and users’ gender influence the ways in which tourists gather pre-purchase information. Design/methodology/approach A laboratory experiment with fully immersive VR was conducted to examine consumers’ behavior in gathering pre-purchase information. The sample comprised 128 consumers who had taken a cruise vacation or who were considering purchasing a cruise package in the near future. Findings The results generally reveal the central role of the feeling of presence, which, in turn, positively impacts users’ enjoyment and aspects of consumer learning (i.e. brand attitude, product knowledge and purchase intent). In particular, the results suggest that compared with standard websites, VR facilitated the tourists’ learning as consumers, especially among women, who tend to dominate the information-gathering stage of planning family vacations. Practical implications The results imply that travel agencies and tourism centers working with cruise vacation companies should incorporate VR to make their offers more attractive, especially to women. Originality/value The study was the first to apply theory on consumer learning in the cruise tourism industry, specifically to compare fully immersive VR devices versus standard websites and gauge the effect of gender
Description
Bibliographic reference
Martínez-Molés, V., Jung, T.H., Pérez-Cabañero, C. and Cervera-Taulet, A. (2022), "Gathering pre-purchase information for a cruise vacation with virtual reality: the effects of media technology and gender", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 407-429