Hospitality and Tourism Management Professor Phil Xiang recently attended the ENTER 2017 eTourism Conference held in Rome, Italy. He presented his research paper on “Assessing Reliability of Social Media Data: Lessons from Mining TripAdvisor Hotel Reviews.”
Dr. Xiang’s specialty is online tourism marketing. He teaches HTM 4354: IT & Social Media in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Dr. Xiang has researched the application of social media in the tourism industry as well as utilizing text mining to study search engines.
“Using social media data (e.g., product reviews in sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Expedia) for conducting research has become trendy in numerous fields of study including hospitality and tourism. A potential problem with this type of research is the lack of understanding of the extent to which the data represent the target population one intends to understand” said Xiang. “In this study, we developed a machine learning algorithm to predict one’s travel purpose based upon hotel reviews. Results show there is plenty of noise in the data; also, the algorithm responded differently to different tourist cities. This suggests that, when we use social media data (e.g., online reviews) for research purposes, we must carefully process and sample the data in order to come to valid conclusions.”
Dr. Phil Xiang explained the importance of studying IT in the tourism industry. “Information technology (IT) helps connect the supply and demand of travel and tourism. Particularly, consumers need a lot of information for decision making and throughout the entire travel process. Considering the tourism product is intangible, experiential and perishable, IT is thus, understandably, crucial in facilitating the travel process. Social media is important because it allows travelers to share their “stories”, which become the so-called electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM). “
In addition to the award for his research paper, Dr. Xiang is the new editor of the Journal of Information Technology and Tourism. He will not only work with the editorial board to manage the daily operations of the journal, but also oversee the strategic direction of the journal and help engage the community-at-large on behalf of the journal.
For more information on the HTM Department visit our website.