Conceptualizing the impact of geographical ignorance on online trip planning

Wayne W. Smith, Pan Bing, Xiang Li, Grace Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this study, 28 participants with little geographical knowledge of the destination were asked to plan a week-long trip to China online. The participants were asked to create a detailed seven-day itinerary outline with activities or attractions they would like to participate in or visit, as well as restaurants in which they would like to dine. The participants were given a computer with internet access to conduct an online search to complete this task. Interestingly, despite an overall lack of geographical knowledge about China, few employed geographical learning techniques during the experiment. Specifically, most participants surrogated geographical knowledge for 'geographical imaginations' and they delegated geographical learning to dependence on recommendations from outside sources for their place knowledge. The results of this paper illustrate how participants' lack of their geographical knowledge and skills affected their trip planning, the strategies they used to cope with the ignorance and the effects on their trip plans. As a result of this research, recommendations to tourism marketers about how to address customers' lack of geographical knowledge are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-368
Number of pages19
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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