by: Maria Theresa C. Albaña
The popularity of blog narratives in tourism marketing has led to several researcheson travel blogs. However, majority focus on content, and reader comments have notbeen given substantial academic attention. This qualitative study explores how potentialtourists respond to travel blogs, as one of the popular online information sources anda well known communication platform in travel planning. The Attention, Interest, Desire,Action (AIDA) model was used to categorize 332 comments extracted from 43 travelblogs written about Apo Island, a small island destination in Dumaguete, Philippines. Afterdeveloping a thematic coding manual and analyzing textual data, findings revealed thatmajority of readers’ responses at almost 45% are attributed to attention. Likewise, marinewildlife and interaction with sea turtles emerged as the key elements from the responses.This provides valuable insight on the psychological phases that travel consumers gothrough in their decision making after being exposed to travel blogs as an online marketingcommunication platform and stimuli. Research findings also provide managerial insight andrecommendations which are of value to destination marketing organizations such as theimportance of the development and offering of value-added tourism related activities andthe use of strategic content in crafting online communication executions for the promotionof tourist destinations.
Keywords: Apo Island, AIDA model, travel blogs, eWOM, UGC, tourism marketing