The Co-creation Process of the Online Image of an Italian World Heritage Site: The Sassi of Matera

  • Elena MarchioriEmail author
  • Canio Di Nardo
  • Marcello M. Mariani
  • Lorenzo Cantoni
Conference paper


This paper investigates the co-creation process of the online image of the Italian World Heritage Site “Sassi of Matera”, which has been inscribed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993. Despite the recent increasing success of the destination, Matera still lacks a strong online communication. To date, the Sassi of Matera have not a dedicated website for the promotion of the UNESCO heritage itself, while other online stakeholders are co-creating its online communication. The case study has been examined to provide an example of how the main stakeholders of a destination can contribute to the co-creation of its online image: hospitality industry, destination players, and user generated content (UGC) through the online word-of-mouth. Content analysis has been performed, revealing the main arguments expressed about the site, and the coverage of the UNESCO label among the concerned online publishers. The theoretical and managerial implications are discussed in the study.


Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites Online communication Sassi of Matera Co-creation Online reputation User generated content 


  1. Ali, A., & Frew, A. J. (2013). Information and communication technologies for sustainable tourism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Buhalis, D., & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet—the state of eTourism research. Tourism Management, 29(4), 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cantoni, L. (2013). Outline and “philosophy” of the UNESCO chair in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites. Retrieved from:
  4. Choi, S., Lehto, X. Y., & Oleary, J. T. (2007). What does a consumer want from a DMO Website? – A study of US and Canadian tourists’ perspectives. International Journal of Tourism Research, 9(2), 59–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. De Ascaniis, S., Gretzel, U., & Mistilis, N. (2012). What tourists want to know: An analysis of questions asked at visitor information centres. In Proceedings of CAUTHE 2012, 22nd Conference of the Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education, Melbourne, Australia, 6–9 February 2012.Google Scholar
  6. De Ascaniis, S., & Gretzel, U. (2013). Communicative functions of Online Travel Review titles. A pragmatic and linguistic investigation of destination and attraction OTR titles. Studies in Communication Sciences, 13(2), 156–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. De Ascaniis, S., Tritto, A., & Adukaite, A. (2014). Potential and implications for destination management of online travel reviews’ argumentative analysis: The case of domestic and international tourism market in Jiuzhaigou National Park China. Travel and Tourism research Association Asia Pacific (TTRA APac) Chapter 2014 Conference. Melbourne, Australia. December 4–5, 2014.Google Scholar
  8. De Capua, A., & Dunham, J. F. (1993). Strategies in the discourse of advice. Journal of Pragmatics, 20(6), 519–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. De Jager, K. (2009). Co-creation as a strategic element of tourism destination competitiveness. Breda University of Applied Sciences.Google Scholar
  10. Gretzel, U., Fesenmaier, D. R., Formica, S., & O’Leary, J. T. (2006). Searching for the future: Challenges faced by destination marketing organizations. Journal of Travel Research, 45, 116–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gross, M. J., & Brown, G. (2006). Tourism experiences in a lifestyle destination setting: The roles of involvement and place attachment. Journal of Business Research, 59(6), 696–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kim, W. G., Limb, H., & Brymer, R. A. (2015). The effectiveness of managing social media on hotel performance. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 44, 165–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Law, R., Leung, R., & Buhalis, D. (2008). Information technology applications in hospitality and tourism: a review of publications from 2005 to 2007. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 26(5), 599–623.Google Scholar
  14. Marchiori, E., & Cantoni, L. (2012). The online reputation construct: Does it matter for the tourism domain? Journal of Information Technology and Tourism, 13(3), 139–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mariani, M. M., Baggio, R., Buhalis, D., & Longhi, C. (2014). Tourism management, marketing and development: The importance of networks and ICTs. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D., & Ladkin, A. (2013). Experiences, Co-creation and technology: A conceptual approach to enhance tourism experiences. Proceedings of Cauthe 2013: 546–555.Google Scholar
  17. Pine, J. B., & Gilmore, J. H. (1999). The experience economy: Work is theater and every business a stage. Cambridge: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  18. Schieder, T., Adukaite, A., & Cantoni, L. (2014). mobile apps devoted to UNESCO world heritage sites: A map. In Z. Xiang & I. Tussyadiah (Eds.), Information and communication technologies in tourism 2014 (pp. 17–31). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Tussyadiah, I. P., & Fesenmaier, D. R. (2007). Interpreting tourist experiences from first-person stories: A foundation for mobile guides, ECIS 2007 Proceedings. Retrieved May 3, 2013 from
  20. Tussyadiah, I. P., & Fesenmaier, D. R. (2009). Mediating the tourist experiences access to places via shared videos. Annals of Tourism Research, 36(1), 24–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tussyadiah, I. P., & Zach, F. J. (2012). The role of geo-based technology in place experiences. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(2), 780–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. UNESCO. (1972). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, adopted by the general conference at its seventeenth session in Paris, November 16, 1972. Retrieved May 20, 2013 from
  23. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. (2013). Operational guidelines for the implementation ii of the world heritage convention. Paris, pp. 20–24.Google Scholar
  24. Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2008). From goods to service(s): Divergences and convergences of logics. Industrial Marketing Management, 37, 254–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Yoo, K. H., & Gretzel, U. (2008). What motivates consumers to write online travel reviews? Information Technology and Tourism, 10(4), 283–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Marchiori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Canio Di Nardo
    • 2
  • Marcello M. Mariani
    • 2
  • Lorenzo Cantoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Communication SciencesUSI – Università della Svizzera italianaLuganoSwitzerland
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze AziendaliUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

Personalised recommendations