Emotional elements as part of the digital tourism experience
Keywords:Digital tools, Webpages, Customer experience, Tourism service, Emotions
Digital tools and platforms are often considered to improve customer experiences. Especially during the pandemic, businesses engaged with digital tools, e.g., marketing, sales, communication and experience creation. However, using digital solutions is often considered to solve all the challenges and problems, and the emotional and human touch needs to be remembered. With the requirements of multi-channelled communication, customer encounters are becoming more and more challenging. Technical excellence is not enough, but understanding customer behaviour and emotions is crucial. The age of the customer challenges companies to create experiential digital services instead of mere efficiency. Digital customer experience includes value proposition, human-centred innovation, and experiences (Tussyadiah 2014) along all the touch points of the digital customer journey (Zomerdijk & Voss 2010). These can be analysed with the sensorial, emotional and behavioural dimensions of Gentile et al. (2007) to understand the elements that create a customer experience. Gentile et al. (2007) also noticed that customer involvement and commitment were more substantial if several dimensions were present in the service. This paper studies the emotional customer responses to one webpage to determine the triggers creating emotions and thus resulting in actions. Laboratory experiments and thematic interviews were used as a method to help to form digital tourism experiences better. As a result, it can be stated that there is much to do to create positive emotional effects instead of frustration and anger. The study showed that even the pragmatic dimension failed in customer experience, and the sensorial dimension settled with vision. Even though this study functioned as a pilot for future research, it provided insights to the companies and increased the understanding of applying Gentile's dimensions of customer experience. While the tourism and hospitality industry is considered an experienced business, adding all the customer experience dimensions to the online channels and communication is recommended to increase customer involvement and, thus, customer loyalty.
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