This paper aims to explore the phenomenon of online vacation rentals (OVRs) (a new source of e-business travel growth) and how the concept of sense of place is presented by tourists' online reviews.
The initial assumption for this exploratory study is that OVRs bring both material and intangible advantages to the individual consumer and to the community of homeowners. Using a qualitative approach, within the conceptual framework of a sense of place, multidimensional meanings presented by tourists' online reviews of their travel experience and home rentals were explored.
The findings point to a sense of place constructed through affordances of place, home and a functional sense of place. They seem to indicate that these testimonials come from a close-knit virtual community; although the site is open to all, it is primarily used by British-to-British. The data reveal neither any salient expression of social interaction between these tourists and the local community nor any references to the cultural context, thus pointing to the dimensions of security and familiarity and to the absence of any travelling-to-learn motivation.
It remains unclear whether sense of place, as defined here, is the outcome of the limitations induced by the channel and textual genre. Future research on this virtual community, via interviews and questionnaires, could clarify this question.
The analysis of this new form of tourism and the innovative design of this research, based on textual analysis of free elicited data, are the main contributions of this paper.
Received 15 February 2012. Revised 29 March 2012. Accepted 17 April 2012.
Afonso Dias, J., Perdigão Ribeiro, F. and Correia, A. (2013), "Online reviews of short-term visits: exploring sense of place", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 364-374. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-02-2012-0006Download as .RIS
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