4.1 Top Tourism Attractions Emerged from the Three Different Dataset
Self-declared top attractions:
Among the 23 participants, 15 declared to have visited the destination to which they were exposed to. In the post-questionnaire, where participants were asked to declare their preferred attractions after the free navigation on the official DMO website, the most cited ones were falling in 14 macro-themes (see Fig. 2), namely: Sports/Outdoor Activities, Lugano and the Lake (8 attractions each), Events/Concerts, Beaches/pools (6 attractions each), Nature, Shopping, Lake Maggiore (4 attractions each), Nightlife, Attractions (3 attractions each), Locarno, Culture/Museums, Accommodation, Gastronomy (1 attraction each).
Most viewed contents (eye-tracking data analysis):
The most visualized contents gathered from the heat-maps analysis resulted in the following 19 macro-themes (see Fig. 3), individuated thanks to heat-areas: Nature (100 visualizations), Sports/Outdoor Activities (47 vis.), Lugano and the Lake (39 vis.), Shopping (29 vis.), Site Attractions (28 vis.), Beaches/pools (27 vis.), Seasons (22 vis.), Nightlife (21 vis.), Culture/Museums (vis.), Events/Concerts (18 vis.), Other (18 vis.), Gastronomy (15 vis.), Lake Maggiore (10 vis.), Locarno (10 vis.), Transports (9 vis.), Ascona (7 vis.), Accommodation (4 vis.), Mendrisiotto (3 vis.), Bellinzona (1 vis.).
As part of the research, the same heat-areas were analyzed in terms of type of graphic elements. For the analysis, six types of graphic elements were considered: Picture, Picture with text, Text, Central text (that is, a main text –a title for example– presented at the centre of a page), Google maps tool, Google street view tool. The most viewed graphic elements resulted to be in order: Picture with text (no. 258), Text (86), Central text (66), Picture (54), Google maps tool (12), Google street view tool (5) (see Fig. 4).
Most Viewed Pages (DMO data):
According to the Web Analytics data provided by the DMO under study, filtered about online sessions of users aged 18–24 coming from the same province of the Italian respondents area, the first 10 pages which received more sessions are showed in the following table (Table 1):
4.2 A Comparison Between the Results Gathered from the Eye-Tracking Data vs Self-reported Attractions
From the eye-tracking analysis emerged that participants viewed mainly contents related to the theme “Nature” during their navigation (100 visualizations), while (see Table 2), after the free navigation participants reported mostly attractions related to the theme “Sports/Outdoor Activities”, and specifically “Lugano and the Lake” (8 cited attractions each, occupying the first place in the ranking of the most cited attractions).
The second most cited attraction was related to “Events/Concerts” and “Beaches and Pools” (6 attractions each). During navigation instead, contents related to this two themes were not ranked in a very high position in terms of visualized contents (respectively 27 and 18 contents, occupying 6th and 10th place in the ranking of most visualized contents).
At the third place in the ranking of the most cited attractions there are the ones related to the themes “Nature”, “Shopping” and “Lake Maggiore” (4 attractions each). As mentioned before, during navigation contents related to “Nature” were the most visualized (100 visualizations) while “Shopping” occupies a quite high position (29 visualizations, occupying 4th place), and “Lake Maggiore” a quite low one (only 10 contents visualized, occupying 13th place). In the fourth position among the most cited attractions there are the ones related to the themes “Nightlife” and “Site Attractions”. During navigation, contents related to “Nightlife” were visualized 21 times (occupying 8th position) while contents related to “Site Attractions” were visualized 28 times (occupying 5th position). All the other cited attractions were cited only once, all occupying the fifth position.
This result suggests that what participants looked at during navigation does not reflect exactly what they cited as preferred attraction. For example, even if participants viewed mainly contents related to nature, they cited more attractions related to sport/outdoor and to the destination Lugano. However, even if not in the first position, among the most viewed themes we find as well sport/outdoor (2nd place) and Lugano and the Lake (3rd place), meaning that in both rankings these themes are significant. Attractions related to events and concerts are also cited often, but find little correspondence with the number of visualizations (only 18), meaning that despite the little number of visualized contents, teenagers were impressed by this type of attractions. This is the same case for the beaches and pools, which in the ranking of the most cited attractions are second, but recorded a relatively low number of visualizations. Therefore, it is possible to argue that, as confirmed also by previous studies the eye-tracking technique represents a valid aid in identifying the most relevant contents within a page, but this does not automatically means that what they look more is what they like the most.
Moreover, it is possible to sum up what appeared to be the most successful type of page layout for teenagers navigating a tourism related website. If we consider that the most viewed graphic elements are pictures with text, and the most viewed contents are related to “Nature”, we can state that this combination could be the one that appeals the most teenagers. Even though, it should be more precise to include the most cited attractions: “Sports/outdoor” and “Lugano and the Lake”. Including these data, the best possible layout should include pictures with text related to the themes “Nature”, “Sports/Outdoor” and “Lugano and the Lake”.
4.3 A Comparison Among Eye-Tracking, Web Analytics, and Self-declared Investigation
The following paragraph reports the results from a comparison among eye-tracking, web analytics, and self-declared investigation.
Table 3 reports the themes emerged from the top 10 web pages of the official DMO website (filtered for the 18–24 segment, and a specific province), and the top themes emerged from the eye-tracking and self-declared investigation.
From the official DMO web statistics, the homepage is the page that receives the majority of sessions being the most popular page of the website. This is in line also with the results coming from the free navigation, where all participants visualized the homepage as all of them were forced to start from that page.
The second most viewed page according to the web analytics data, was the thematic page “weather forecasts”. This theme doesn’t appear in the ranking of most cited attractions and most visualized themes, and this probably due to the fact that weather conditions are normally checked only in the very short time before the visit to the destination, and don’t represent attractions themselves.
Interestingly, the web analytics fata for the segment teen for a specific province of Italy, revealed that the third position is occupied by the “Tibetan Bridge” page (related to the theme of Outdoor/Sports). The sixth and seventh most popular pages are also related to the theme of Outdoor/Sports, namely the pages “Excursions” and “Excursion in Verzasca Valley”. Therefore, the sessions counted for the Outdoor/Sports theme are 1336. As reported in Table 3, the presence of these pages among the most popular ones is in line with what participants declared to appreciate as a favourite attraction, and as well as with what people looked at during navigation.
In fourth, fifth and eighth position in the ranking of the most popular pages we find pages related to the “market of Como”, which can be attributed to the theme “Events”. The ninth position is also occupied by a page related to the same theme, namely the page “Fair of San Martino”. Sessions for this theme reach a total of 1228. The theme “Events” is very popular in the self-declared attractions, although less in the ranking of most visualized themes during navigation.
Overall, it is possible to argue that there is a correspondence between some specific themes that people see during navigation, themes that people declare to be attracted by after navigation and themes belonging to the pages that received more sessions. Relating these results with the specific segment under study, it is possible to state that (Italian cross-border) teenagers visiting the destination website are attracted the most by sports/outdoor activities and events, which are the common top themes emerging from the three different sources.