Virtual tours promote behavioral intention and willingness to pay via spatial presence, enjoyment, and destination image
Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising.
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) tourism provides individuals with a brief, but realistic, preview of travel destinations. Despite the increasing popularity of VR tourism in destination advertising, outcomes and underlying mechanisms of virtual tours remain underexplored. Guided by the theoretical framework of spatial presence perception, this experiment (N = 118) investigated how VR tourism affects behavioral intentions to travel to a physical destination depicted in the virtual world and people’s willingness to pay for the travel in the context of destination advertising. Results revealed that VR tourism led to greater spatial presence, enjoyment, destination image, behavioral intention to travel, and willingness to pay compared to reading an e-brochure. Spatial presence, enjoyment, and destination image mediated the impact of virtual tours on behavioral intention and willingness to pay, shedding light on the psychological mechanisms of virtual tours. Theoretical and managerial implications of VR tourism are discussed.