Internet research differs from research on internet users: some methodological insights into online travel research

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearch


Purpose – Online data collection is gaining momentum throughout the market research business. At the same time internet users and their online information and booking behaviour are becoming more and more important for the travel and tourism industry. This paper aims to investigate this issue. Design/methodology/approach The paper researches internet users' travel and information/booking behaviour through online surveys. However, this approach is prone to critical methodological limitations. One of the main issues in this respect is the question of proper definition of the universe and sampling procedures. The paper shows today's chances and limitations of sampling using listbased email invitations and online access panels. Findings Results indicate that sampling method and length of field time have a substantial influence on response rates. It can further be shown that results from online travel research differ from results obtained in facetoface interviews even when focussing on the same target group. Research implications As long as online research differs from research on internet users to such an extent, online surveys seem to be rather a good complement than a substitution for more traditional research methods. Originality/value The paper shows the limitations and chances of online travel research based on the unique comparison of data from a facetoface and online access panel surveys.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 10.04.2009