Ms Alana Harris

Alana Iles

PhD Candidate-Tourism


Contact Details


(07) 4042 1066 (Australia)

+ 61 7 4781 4250 (International)


(07) 4042 1474 (Australia)

+ 61 7 4781 4019 (International)


PhD Topic

Word of Mouth communication in destination marketing: A comparative study of the caravan/camping and backpacker markets in Cairns.

PhD Dissertation topic

Word of Mouth (WOM) has long been accepted as one of the most powerful forms of marketing for destinations. Almost every survey indicates that visitors to a destination sought information from ‘family or friends’ yet it remains an under researched field.

Broadly there are two schools of thought on the management of WOM; the first is that WOM cannot be controlled but the consistent delivery of excellent service will result in a positive experience and, hence, positive WOM. The alternative view is that WOM can be stimulated, simulated, retarded, monitored and measured as part of a wider marketing plan. This research aims to start bridging this gap by developing a model which ties the overall destination service experience of a visitor with the propensity to engage in WOM activity, taking into account the characteristics of their segment.

The main objective of this research is to understand how and why different segments engage in WOM and the varying ways in which this takes place (verbal, virtual, SMS and other means).

Firstly in depth interviews will be used to investigate how the caravanning/ camping and backpacker segments use WOM taking into account the characteristics of those segments (including their values, expectations and motivating factors) then the two segments will be compared with particular focus on culture, use of technology and attitudinal difference between generations. Secondly a questionnaire will be administered using a series of scales that include significance of incidents, satisfaction, time and likelihood of WOM dissemination yielding measurements by which this understanding is tied to a destination experience.