Adoption of Social Media by SMTEs in China
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study aims to investigate the impact of social media on small and medium sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) in China, and to assess factors associated with the adoption of social media by SMTEs in China. Little specific attention has been paid in the literature to the impact of social media on SMTEs and the diffusion of best practices of social media adoption among SMTEs. There are still fewer examples where these themes are explored in the context of China. The original contribution of this research is to demonstrate how social media adoption is taking place in SMTEs in China. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis are employed in a mixed methods approach. Questionnaires surveys completed by owner/managers of small and medium sized hotels (n=92) and travel agencies (n=48) in Beijing are analyzed alongside 13 semi-structured interviews (8 hotels and 5 travel agencies). The results demonstrate that social media has been applied in SMTEs in China, and makes a significant contribution to marketing and advertising, product distribution, as well as communication with customers. A problem common to SMTEs is their inability to monitor the effect of social media utilization, and to estimate return on investment. Therefore, this study suggests that demonstrating the return on investment in social media is a critical factor in business planning around social media implementation, reinvestment and improvement. In terms of social media adoption, this study highlights that the impetus for business innovation can come from non-business related lifestyle experiences, as well as from owner/managers’ perceived business benefits. In addition, a range of important factors associated with social media adoption are identified, namely owner/managers’ related factors, social media related factors, customer related factors and resource related factors. Different attitudes towards using social media are the outcome of complex decision making processes. The experimental attitude can shift to an active attitude, when owner/managers are confident in benefiting from social media or when they enjoy social media related work. Limited knowledge and resources, as well as previous experiences of failure, may hinder their further social media implementation and the development of improvement plans, whilst their experimental attitudes or active experimental attitudes shift to ‘wait and see’ attitudes.
PhD in Management Studies