ANALYSIS OF ELECTRONIC WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING IN THE PROMOTION OF TOURISM IN THE MOUNT CAMEROON REGION OF CAMEROON
|TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT|
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The invention of the Internet in the year 2000 and the growth of social media changed traditional WOM by bringing it to an electronic level which transformed it into e-WOM. Despite the importance of e-women in the promotion of tourist destinations across the world, there seems to be a lack of awareness of its true potential in the MCR. The main objective of this study was to assess the potential of E-Word-of-Mouth Marketing (E-WOMM) in the promotion of tourism in the Mount Cameroon Region (MCR). The study employed the use of both primary and secondary methods of data collection.
The research instruments used by the researchers to generate data for the study objectives were interview guides and questionnaires methods. A secondary source of data includes internet sources as well as published and unpublished materials, journals, websites and articles. The data processing and analysis were done using a descriptive statistical technique which includes frequency table and percentage analysis.
Findings reveal that e-women have promoted tourism in Mount Cameroon Region (MCR). The study further purpose some recommendations which include; To boost the business environment and generate revenue for the government, the root cause of the Anglophone crisis should be looked at and concrete measures are taken to solve the crisis which has lasted for five years with enormous losses in terms of income and assets, The government should work in close collaboration with potential investors in the implementation of tax duties given the fact the government could lose out investors if they increase high taxes.
Electronic word-of-mouth (E-WOMM) has witnessed a true revolution and it became an important way for an easy and quick trade. By the late 1990s, a lot of organisations started adopting some form of e-WOMM. However, the use of e-WOMM in the 1990s was mostly by a large organisations, financial institutions and publishing houses. It was until early 2000 that the tourism industry started adopting e-WOMM (Ibene & Obi, 2001). The revolution of technology offers new ways to communicate interactively and connect individuals (Gvili and Levy, 2016).
The invention of the Internet in the year 2000 and the growth of social media changed traditional WOM by bringing it to an electronic level which transformed it into e-WOM (Mishra, 2016). New channels such as online/discussion forums, blogs, wikis, recommendation sites, online comment boards, social networking sites, digital-virtual worlds, review sites, online e-retailers and the company´s brand and product sites made it possible to provide information on different forms such as text, picture, video or animation (Mishra, 2016). The introduction of Web 2.0 technologies and the increasing practice of user-generated content (UGC) made the creation of electronic consumer networks/groups, built solely on trust and social ties, a possibility. Consumers then use these groups to share recommendations (e-WOM) and act upon the information shared by others (Amblee & Bui, 2011). E-WOM Marketing communication has evolved in conjunction with technologies and has now reached a point where it is no longer seen as a tool (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016). In the 21st century, the world market has been supported by a market system that uses electronic infrastructure. Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) is acclaimed to be the most potent form of interpersonal influence as compared to any other traditional advertising media platform like the newspaper, radio or television (Cheung & Thadani, 2012). E-Word-of-Mouth communication secures the reputation of companies and share its perception with a prospect using the internet and other digital media, expand brand awareness, provide more positive associations, increase consumer loyalty to a brand, brand equity is insured through e-word-of-mouth, increase sales volumes can be maximized and increased profitability is attainable (Eze, Nnabuko & Etuk, 2014).
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Europe are fast adapting to the changing technological advancement and they are using the internet for their e-WOMM operations making them the leading tourism industry in the world today (Evans, et al, 2000). The most used internet platforms by customers for e-WOMM in Europe are telephone, e-mail, worldwide web-www, intranet, and online reservations-CRS, accept credit cards and virtual reality (VR). For example, over 50% of London and Netherlands tourism organisations customers currently using these e-WOMM platforms to spread messages to tourism organisations have testified that the use of e-WOMM has a positive impact on tourism destinations such as the promotion of the brand identity and image of the tourism destinations and tourism industry, it has made Europe become the most leading tourism country in the world (Evans, et al, 2000).
The arrival and expansion of the internet in Asia have extended consumers’ options for gathering product information by including other consumers’ comments posted on the internet and has provided consumers opportunities to offer their consumption-related advice by engaging in electronic word of mouth (e-WOM). For example; the development of Internet usage in China is increasing and of high value, Chinese customers tend to gather and spread information about tourism destinations through the internet (E-WOMM platform) like social networking sites (Twitter.com, Facebook.com), online brand/shopping sites (Amazon.com, Snapdeal.com), online consumer review sites (Epinions.com), online discussion forums (UKbusinessforums.co.uk), blogs (Blogger.com), RenRen and WebChat, among other (Cheung & Thadani, 2012) to promote their tourism destinations. Also, Singaporeans who use the Internet for e-WOMM more often experience a greater influence on consumer behaviour, promotion of the tourism destination by creating a positive brand about the destination, allows them to exchange their evaluation and experiences on the internet and amplify digital process, (Duan & Whinston, 2008).
E-WOMM penetration rates in Africa remain low compared to other global regions, the main means of internet connection in Africa is Mobile, as fixed connections make up less than 10% of the total internet subscriptions in many countries throughout the continent, such as Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia (World Bank, 2013). There are more than 400 million internet users in Africa, which is the second-largest internet-user population on the planet. For example, the growth of Internet usage in Nigeria continues to increase, recording over 90% growth from 2000 to 2008 and up to 2016. For example, tourism organisations and service providers allow their Consumers’ comments on their products through Twitter, MMS, Facebook, YouTube and other electronic means or the internet (Eze, Nnabuko & Etuk, 2014). E-WOMM helps Nigeria’s tourism industry to harness much faster national growth by exploiting unique opportunities available in the global knowledge space, offering growth opportunities to most tourism organisations by way of an increase in production and sales, the transformation of their business processes via networking thereby gaining competitive advantage (Omodafe & Obuseh, 2021).
Cameroonians are gradually adapting to technologies such as social media like Facebook, Whatapps, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and LinkedIn to promote Cameroon’s tourism industry (Ngoungouo, 2017). But the speed of e-women in Cameroon is very low compared to other countries. The use of these technologies for e-women in Cameroon has contributed significantly to the tourism industry in Cameroon like it has led to the growth of the Cameroon tourism industry, due to the positivity customers who visit Cameroon as a destination spread using social media; it has made Cameroon be Nike name as “Africa Imunature”,
This is also common with tourism destinations in the MCR where customers and people of the MCR are also using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp through focus group discussions, Youtube and other apps to talk about the rich tourism assets in the Region. Even though they use these various means to promote tourism online through e-wom, the rate at which it is been used is low as most people spend their time on these social apps doing their private things.
Despite the importance of e-women in the promotion of tourist destinations across the world, there seems to be a lack of awareness of its true potential in the MCR. Also, the lack of official Destination Management Systems (DMSs) and Destination Management Images (DMIs), lack of customer interactive feedback (wom) features of existing official DMSs, poor integration of local stakeholders in DMSs and the social media, lack of any e-wom.
There have been no efforts by DMOs/authorities and researchers to evaluate the availability of women on various online platforms like companies’ websites, social discussion groups like Whatsapps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube among others and its impacts on promoting the tourist attractions like mount Cameroon, the white sandy beach, the slave trade market among other in the MCR could be a mixed blessing. When destination authorities and service providers can not have access to customers’ feedback; it will result in negative consequences on the competitiveness of the offerings vis-a-vis rivals that integrate tourist’s feedback in their conservation and destination’s services/packages.
There are many research works on the internet in Cameroon and e-commerce in Cameroon such as Bakehe et al (2017) focused on “Internet Adoption and Use in Cameroon”, and Ngoungouo (2017) studied “The use of E-learning platforms in the Cameroonian school system” and Ntwoku, Negash & Meso (2017) that focused on “E-business adoption by Cameroon SMEs” among others. The above works did not assess the potential of e-WOM in promoting tourism in the MCR which the current study wishes to fill. It is only in recent years that the attention of researchers has been drawn toward the importance of E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism. It is therefore against this background that the researchers are prompted to investigate the potential of e-WOM in the promotion of tourism in the Mount Cameroon Region.
How can e-WOMM contribute to the promotion of tourism in the MCR?
What is the state of e-WOMM in the MCR?
What are the positive impacts of E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR?
What are the problems associated with E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR?
How can destination management and service providers effectively exploit E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR?
To assess the potential of E-Word-of-Mouth Marketing (E-WOMM) in the promotion of tourism in the Mount Cameroon Region (MCR).
- To examine the state of E-WOMM for the MCR.
- To analyse the positive impacts of E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR.
- To investigate the problems associated with E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR.
- To propose measures destination management organisations (DMOs) and service providers can adapt to better utilise E-WOMM in the promotion of tourism in the MCR.