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Abstract

Although previous research has examined the social interactions between online travel community users, they did not adequately show the process and pattern of online interactions between locals and tourists due to methodology limitations. Accordingly, this study examined how friendships between locals and travelers are made through online travel communities, and also investigated the role of an offline meeting in building online friendships. Data were collected from CouchSurfing.com, a hospitality exchange network. Consequently, Social Network Analysis (SNA) revealed that locals and tourists build friendships in an online community through offline events. Thus, it can be argued that the online friendships between locals and tourists in an online community are likely to be formed after a face-to-face meeting, not only by online interactions. Thus, by using the nature of online friendships, an online travel community can design a consumer-centric website.

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The Use of Social Network Analysis to Examine the Interactions between Locals and Tourists in an Online Community

Although previous research has examined the social interactions between online travel community users, they did not adequately show the process and pattern of online interactions between locals and tourists due to methodology limitations. Accordingly, this study examined how friendships between locals and travelers are made through online travel communities, and also investigated the role of an offline meeting in building online friendships. Data were collected from CouchSurfing.com, a hospitality exchange network. Consequently, Social Network Analysis (SNA) revealed that locals and tourists build friendships in an online community through offline events. Thus, it can be argued that the online friendships between locals and tourists in an online community are likely to be formed after a face-to-face meeting, not only by online interactions. Thus, by using the nature of online friendships, an online travel community can design a consumer-centric website.