Developing mobile services: A look at first-time and repeat visitors in a small island destination
Purpose: This paper aims to examine and identify important attributes for mobile applications (apps) that might dictate tourist preferences for the apps on a small island destination. Guided by the Task Technology Fit (TTF) theory, the study considers the tasks performed, technology characteristics and individuals’ characteristics in determining the mobile apps attribute set. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses a conjoint methodology within a case study approach framework. The conjoint analysis allows for assessing preferences from different consumers regarding the objective characteristics of products or services that facilitate the optimal design of product development. Optimal product development is a challenge for destinations, as they strive to achieve and sustain optimal market positions. Mobile apps may empower destinations in this endeavor. The case study approach imparts a context-dependent knowledge that facilitates a more nuanced understanding of consumer preference of use. Findings: The results of the conjoint analysis suggest a strategic mapping of the most important attributes including type of content information, coupons and location awareness in defining apps product development. Within each attribute, the study also identifies the significant characteristics of a mobile application that are preferred by tourists. This ranking exists irrespective of familiarity with the destination (first-time and repeat visitors). Research limitations/implications: The implication is that revealed preferences anchored in conjoint analysis provide a powerful approach to optimize product development in a small island destination. From a practical perspective, the findings suggest that the developments of a mobile app for a destination must concentrate on fostering spending and consider the app as a new marketing channel. From a theoretical point of view, the current study highlights the usefulness of using the conjoint analysis and the TTF theory as an overarching framework in mapping a multi-attribute decision-making space that influences tourist judgment and preference of use. The conjoint method applied in the study enables researchers to clearly identify a combination of various mobile app attributes that are most influential on tourists’ choice and preference of use. The guiding framework, TTF theory, allows the conjoint product designs to go beyond the technology characteristics to include tasks performed by tourists and their individual characteristics. Originality/value: This study is the first to apply a conjoint analysis within the TTF theoretical framework in the context of a small island destination when assessing tourists’ use preferences toward mobile applications, while at the same time investigating whether any differences exist between first-time and repeat visitors. The study demonstrates that complementing the nature of the task (traveling) with context-specific interface and interactive features is an important area of inquiry that can benefit from adopting conjoint analysis.