Barbara Neuhofer: Technology Enhanced Tourist Experiences

Barbara Neuhofer was awarded the ITT PhD Student of the Year Award 2013

Researcher: Barbara Neuhofer

Barbara Neuhofer is currently a PhD Researcher at the John Kent Institute in Tourism and eTourismLab at Bournemouth University, where she writes her thesis about “Technology Enhanced Tourist Experiences: a holistic exploration of how technology can enhance the tourist experiences.” She has written and co-authored publications, including academic journal articles, conference papers, book chapters and book reviews on tourist experiences, experience co-creation, ICTs in destination marketing management and the use of ICTs use in the tourism and hospitality industry. For her academic achievements, Barbara was awarded the 2nd Place for the Best PhD Proposal at the ENTER2012 Conference, she received the prestigious ITT PhD Student of the Year 2013 Award and was one of the 15 winners of the International PhD Student Competition 2013.

The notion of creating unique and memorable experiences for consumers constitutes a prevalent concept in the tourism industry. However, two major shifts are significantly changing the theoretical framework of the tourist        experience. Experiences are transforming as  a) consumers are increasingly empowered to co-create their own      experiences and b) information and communication technologies (ICTs) are implemented as a catalyst of change enhancing the tourist experience.

Despite the amount of literature recognising these impacts, challenging the current nature and understanding of the tourist experience, there is evidence for a major lack in understanding, conceptualisation and empirical exploration of this change.

Therefore, this doctoral study aims to fill these gaps by considering these advances and conflating the hitherto     separate theoretical streams of the tourist experience, co-creation theory and ICTs to conceptualise and develop a holistic understanding of a new type of experience, the Technology Enhanced Tourist Experience. In order to do so, this doctoral study aims to explore how the tourist experience can be enhanced by information and                    communication technologies through consumer-company experience co-creation throughout all stages, i.e. pre/during/post phases, of the travel process.

A qualitative mixed methods strategy is adopted comprising three major sequential phases of research, including:

a) a content analysis to identify the granularities of the tourist experience,

b) a case study to understand the process of how experiences can be enhanced through ICTs from a company    perspective

c) semi-structured in-depth interviews to understand this process from a consumer perspective.

This three-fold combination of qualitative methods is essential to triangulate data, explore all critical elements of this study and to allow developing a holistic theoretical understanding of the Technology Enhanced Tourist              Experience.