A conceptual model of consumers’ online tourism confusion

Allan Cheng Chieh Lu, Dogan Gursoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This study aims to develop a conceptual model demonstrating the antecedents and outcomes of consumers’ online tourism information confusion. Design/methodology/approach – A deductive approach was utilized to propose eight variables as antecedents of online confusion and five confusion reduction strategies as outcomes of consumers’ online tourism confusion. The underlying mechanisms in which these variables might lead to consumers’ online tourism information confusion are elaborated using elaboration likelihood model (ELM) (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986) as the major theoretical underpinning. Findings – The model indicates that consumers could experience overload, similarity and ambiguity confusion when the information acquired is too much, too similar and/or too vague. In addition, as suggested by theELM(Petty and Cacioppo, 1986), online users who are low in learning orientation, price consciousness, cognition need and Internet experience and high in ambiguity tolerance are more likely to experience confusion because of their lower motivation/ability to process external stimuli. Research limitations/implications – One limitation of this study is the lack of empirical test of the proposed model. Another limitation is that only five individual characteristics that might make online consumers prone to confusion were included. Other variables related to individual differences that could influence confusion should be explored as well. Practical implications – This paper provides valuable implications for online tourism marketers to address consumers’ confusion during information search process. Five individual characteristics proposed as important antecedents of consumers’ confusion can be utilized by online tourism marketers to develop customized online communication strategies for different segments. Originality/value – This paper is one of the few studies that connect the concept of consumers’ confusion to the online tourism field as well as discuss the concept of consumers’ confusion through the integration of information provider and recipients’ perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1320-1342
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 10
Externally publishedYes


  • Information processing
  • Internet experience
  • Online information confusion
  • Online travel information search
  • Social media
  • Tolerance for ambiguity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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