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Social Sciences
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Thesis
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Topic:

Customer Search Behavior (Thesis Sample)

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The task was to research on how customer search behavior in an online setting affects their adoption of the online booking of travel services. The thesis involved the analysis of various constructs such as attitude, perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and perceived trust and how they relate to the customer internet search. The sample is a vivid illustration of my ability to craft an outstanding and well-written thesis based on the given topic.

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Content:

Customer Search Behaviour and Adoption of Online Booking/Purchase of Travel Services
Name
Institution
Date
LITERATURE REVIEW
1 Attitude
Attitude is an outcome or the products of behavioral beliefs and the outcome evaluations. On the other hand, the subjective probability that the behaviour is associated or yields a particular outcome is the behavioral belief (Resources, 2014). The attitude towards a specific behaviour refers to the extent of reaction (negative or positive) of an individual towards an action. According to the theory of planned behaviour (TRP) and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), the intention and the attitude of the customer can be predicted (Chang et al., 2005). In his research Chang et al. (2005) observed that the online purchasing intention and behavior of the customer is impacted positively by attitude.
Attitude is a multi-construct comprising principal constructs perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. The perception that an online system is easier and offers the flexibility required by the customer positively influences customer intention. As noted by Noh (2008), favorable attitude by a client towards a brand means that the consumer searches more for the product online. On the other hand, an unfavorable attitude implies little search or complete avoidance of the product. Based on their attitudes, customers searching online for information on travel services can be viewed as problem solvers or as fantasy seekers. Customers who perceived online shopping as solving their travel problems use the means for convenience and efficiency. The attitude of these consumers on the effectiveness of online shopping is what drives their intentions. In contrast, consumers who derive fantasy from online booking are motivated by the customer experience inbuilt in online booking systems. They view it as an additive to the travel service that forms their primary intentions.
From the analysis, the impact of attitude on customer online intentions can be classified into two: utilitarian and hedonic. Problem-solving customers are described as utilitarian. In this case utilitarianism defines the usefulness and the perceived ease of use of the booking service. On the other hand, customers seeking fantasy besides service are described as hedonic (Close, 2012). Thus, it can be concluded that:
H1: Attitude towards using the internet for searching information on travel products will have a significant impact on customers’ search intention.
1 Key antecedents of Attitude (perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness)
Perceived Ease of Use
The perception by the customer that the use of online booking service will be free from effort constitutes what is described as the "ease of use" (Khosrowpour, 2003). That is, the easiness of the internet as a booking medium. The use of minimal effort in securing travel services among online bookers is a significant factor that contributes to their frequent use of online services. According to Khosrowpour (2003), the ease of use as outlined in the TAM determines the usefulness of the service. As a result, it influences the attitude of customers to shop online. This is because it is the behavior of consumers to utilize minimum effort while shopping that they perceive as the ease of use. Thus, the more effortless the technology, the higher the likelihood of being used by customers. Further, TAM also notes that continued customer interaction with the system significantly contributes to the ease of use and attitude.
Thus, it can be hypothesized that:
H2: The perceived ease of use of the Internet when searching for information on travel products will have a significant impact on a customer’s attitude.
Perceived Usefulness
On the other hand, the customers’ perception of the usefulness of the internet for searching for information has an impact on their attitude. Usefulness is defined as the users’ subjective probability that utilizing a particular system will increase his or her job performance (Annie, 2007). In this context, the customer perception on using the online platform for booking services to improve his or her performance amounts to usefulness. The use of online travel services improves their purchasing experience. Previous research by Koufaris (2002) indicates that the perception of the usefulness of the online services influences the attitude of the customers towards online booking services. It also influences their intentions to purchase online.
The usefulness of online booking services as a construct comes in two ways; convenience and saving time. The convenience offered by online travel services is a major ingredient in motivating customers’ attitude to online services (Information Technology & Tourism, 2006). However, the consumer’s intention to the online service is tied more to its usefulness than their attitude. A negative affection by customer towards a service does not necessarily imply it is useless to him or her. As such, the customer utilizes the service that is useful to him or her even though he or she does not like it. Thus, it can be hypothesized that:
H3: The perceived usefulness of the Internet when searching for information on travel products will have a significant impact on a customer’s attitude.
2 Subjective Norms
Subjective norms refer to the consumer perception regarding the use of online services by the opinion of the referent group (such as colleagues or friends) (Lin, 2007). Research indicates that subjective norms have a significant influence on behavioural intention of the customer (Resources, 2014). In the context of travel booking, family and friends are influential in the decision-making process of the booking person. Additionally, subjective norms are considered one of the critical constructs in determining how users make decisions in adopting or using online travel bookings. This subject remains widely unstudied.
Further, the performance of an individual in the particular behaviour is as a result of his or her behavioural intention which is determined by both attitude and subjective norms. A person wishing to book travelling services may be compelled to use the online booking services because of the advice they received from a friend or colleague.
According to Matei et al. (2010), subjective norms can be divided into two; external and interpersonal influences. The latter relates to influences emanating from family, friends, or colleagues. External influences are associated with expert opinions, the mass media, and other non-personal information. Matei et al. (2010) notes that the information from friends and close people significantly influences the booking decisions of those using the online services. Thus, on the basis of the review, we can conclude hypothetically that subjective norms have a positive impact on customer's search intention. Thus, it can be predicted that:
H4: Subjective Norms relating to use the internet for information search for travel products will have a significant impact on customers’ search intention.
3 Perceived Behavioral Control
Perceived behavioral control (PBC) refers to an individual control over performing a behaviour and recognizes the need to consider situational obstacle in predicting the behaviour (Resources, 2012). The PBC is a construct of theory of perceived behaviour (TPB) and reflects a person’s perception of the ease or difficulty in implementing behaviour. The relationship between perceived behavioural control when using the internet for searching information on travel services and the intention is based on two factors. First, an increase in behavioural intention and the probability of booking using online services is as a result of an increase in perceived behavioural control. Second, PBC directly influences the behaviours to the extent that perceived control reflects actual control (Resources, 2014).
Further, the theory of perceived behaviour notes that perceived behavioural control influences an individuals’ behavioural intention. When a person believes that there exist significant situational obstacles related to a behaviour, the confidence in the individuals’ behaviour weakens. As a result, the individual intention reduces so as to avoid disappointment (Resources, 2012). In the context of online booking, the instability of the system to serve many bookers may serve as a hindrance to the use of online booking services. As such the perceived behavioural control when using the internet for searching information may have an adverse impact on the customer's search intention.
On the other hand, the perceived behavioural control may also influence actual behaviour to the extent that it accurately reflects the control that actually exists (Ajzen, 2002). For instance, if online booking presents security as perceived by the customer, the customer intention to utilize the service is increased and thus the perceived behavioural control has a positive impact on the customers purchasing intention. Hence, it can be hypothesized that:
H5: Perceived behavioral control when using the internet for information search for travel products will have a significant impact on customers’ search intention.
4 Perceived Convenience
Perceived convenience by customers is defined in terms of time savings and removal of both spatial and geographic constraints. The elimination of these hindrances creates a purchasing convenience especially for online bookers (Hung et al., 2013). From an economic perspective, the convenience comprises five dimensions: time, place, acquisition, use, and execution (Brown, 1989). If the customer perceives an online booking service as time saving or ticket booking can be done at any time and place, his or her behavioral intention to purchase will be influenced...
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