Academics recently identified a lack of research regarding who should guide interactions in virtual social networks when risks appear. Data shows that organizers are usually less active than other users in this context, which can lead to negative reactions among attendees. This research examines if and how virtual social network communication guided by an official source (vs a nonofficial source vs control group) reduces perceived crime risks and trust before the event, leading to lower ambivalence and higher intention to attend. The study was conducted in Colombia, a country where many individuals face this type of risk.
First-year university students (N = 210) from Colombia were invited to a “Welcome Cocktail”. Two weeks before the cocktail, they were divided into three groups (70 per condition) to receive information. In Group 1, participants were invited to be part of a WhatsApp group administered by one of the organizers. In Group 2, they participated in a WhatsApp group administered by a student. Group 3 was the control (i.e. no virtual communication established before the event). One week after the meeting, they were gathered again and answered a questionnaire, which measured perceived crime risk, trust, ambivalence and intention to attend.
Participants in the WhatsApp group administered by an official source perceived lower risk and higher trust in the organizers, which led to lower ambivalence towards the event and higher intention to attend it. The relationship between ambivalence and intention to attend is moderated by the nationality of the participants (locals vs foreigners), such as, at equal levels of ambivalence, foreigners show lower intention to attend the event.
This is the first study that compares different approaches on a virtual social network to reduce perceived crime risk in event management. The results present new findings on how the presence of an official source can mitigate this risk, and which potential attendees (i.e. locals vs foreigners) are especially benefited from it. The findings are particularly useful for managers in regions where attendees face crime risks every day, and might feel low trust towards public and private institutions, such as in Colombia.
Luna-Cortes, G. (2023), "The use of virtual social networks during the anticipatory phase to reduce perceived crime risk and increase trust in organizers", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEFM-12-2022-0097
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