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Understanding member identification in the online travel communities and member voluntary behaviors

Lee, Hae Young
Scope and Method of Study: The purpose of this study was to: (1) identify significant factors influencing online travel community members to interact with other members; (2) explore member participation behaviors in the online community; and (3) reveal highly beneficial online travel member voluntary behaviors that occur when members develop a sense of belonging to the community. Data were collected from members of online travel communities by conducting web-based online survey. Three hundred fifty two community members from 37 travel-related online communities participated in the survey. Using LISREL 8.5, the structural model was examined in terms of model goodness-of-fit, overall explanatory power, and postulated causal links.
Findings and Conclusions: Results indicated that travel involvement, social affiliation, and community benefits are significant factors that drive people into online community activities. The relationship between community benefits and community interaction varied depending on a member's observation level. Results also showed that membership progresses over time by confirming the sequential relationship of community observation to community interaction to community identification. Lastly, results of this study suggested that members' active observations with other members strengthen their sense of belonging to the online travel community, resulting in favorable member voluntary behaviors such as knowledge sharing, community promotion, and behavioral changes.