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Micol Mieli



The value of travel guidebooks in the digital age


  • Micol Mieli

Summary, in English

Travel guidebooks are both travel information channels and objects of consumption. In contemporary tourism, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) make information abundant and mostly free of charge. Therefore, as tourists still buy them, there must be something that makes guidebooks a valuable object. This research aims at understanding the value of travel guidebooks in the digital age. The study was conducted through semi-structured interviews on a sample representing a population that, based on previous research, was likely to use destination-specific literature for travel information but is also accustomed to online information channels.

After a review of previous literature on guidebooks, which focuses on information search behaviour, consumer value theory was applied to analyse travellers’ evaluation of guidebooks, in relation to digital information channels. The results suggest that uses and value of guidebooks are strongly connected to emerging ICTs. Information needs are evolving due to technological development: the constant availability of online information has caused the temporal dimension of travellers’ information needs to shift so that decisions can be postponed until right before consumption, making the choice of channels and the collection of information more serendipitous. A consumer value perspective, applied to an object that has traditionally been studied only as an information channel and not as an object of consumption, allowed to identify the value dimensions associated with guidebooks, and the underlying reasons for their use. The value of guidebooks appears as an interactive, relativistic, preference experience and both utilitarian and hedonic value emerge from their use.

The study shows a changing reality of travel practice and information search behaviour. It highlights how the tools traditionally used to study information search behaviour are not sufficient anymore within a digitalised, consumeristic society.


  • Institutionen för tjänstevetenskap






Konferensbidrag: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • consumer behavior
  • guidebooks
  • information and communication technologies .
  • ICT
  • travel information search
  • Tourist information
  • Value

Conference name

The 27th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality. Tourism Implications and Dilemmas

Conference date

2018-09-24 - 2018-09-26

Conference place

Alta, Norway