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Social Media Envy: How Experience Sharing On Social Networking Sites Drives Millennials’ Aspirational Tourism Consumption

Hongbo Liu, Laurie Wu, Xiang (Robert) Li

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The sharing of travel experiences has become ubiquitous in today’s era. This study focuses on a pervasive trend among Millennial consumers: the experience of benign envy toward others’ positive travel experience sharing on social networking sites. Drawing on social comparison theory, the current study reveals why and under what conditions others’ positive experience sharing may trigger Millennial consumers’ destination visit intention. Using a mixed experimental design, this study finds that, among consumers with low trait self-esteem, luxury travel experiences shared by similar others stimulate focal consumers’ own intentions to visit the same destination. In addition, destination visit intention is triggered by benign envy toward the experience sharer. Important theoretical insights are provided regarding peer influence mechanism on social networking sites and travel consumption. Finally, managerial implications for destination marketers are presented with a focus on how to improve the effectiveness of social media marketing in targeting Millennials.