This study aims to examine, via social exchange theory and social representations, how online vacation rentals (OVR) connect tourists and owners. It also aims to understand the dynamics and representations between owners and tourists in Albufeira, one of the most popular counties in the south of Portugal, supported on the theories of representation and social exchange. More specifically this research is structured on the following question: how the consequents – engagement and personalization – are materialized in the testimonies and descriptions posted on the vacation rentals platform.
The initial assumption for this exploratory study is that OVR bring both material and intangible advantages for the individual consumer and for the community of homeowners. Drawing from netnography, using textual analysis, including the use of a corpus linguistics software program (WordSmith v.6), the authors aim to capture the multidimensional meanings presented by the tourists' online reviews of their travelling experience and home rental.
The findings suggest that sharing the same nationality can facilitate engagement and influence the decision-making process (selection of property). Furthermore, findings point to a sense of place construed through affordances of place, home and a functional sense of place. Personalization of services is perceived by tourists as a positive outcome, this being the result of a positive evaluation that properties have received.
The innovative design of this research, combining textual analysis and netnography of data reviews, and the analysis of this new form of tourism are the main contributions of this paper.
Received 29 July 2013 Revised 12 January 2014 Accepted 20 January 2014
Afonso Dias, J., Correia, A. and José Martínez López, F. (2014), "From information-sharing to vacation rental choices – the case of Albufeira, Portugal", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 35-47. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-07-2013-0049
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