Eye movements reveal sustainability interest: Students use eyetracking technology in study
Pictures of tourist destinations can be crucial in deciding whether or not to take a trip. But what role does sustainability play in the decision-making process? Two master's students have used eyetracking technology to investigate this.
Using technology that tracks eye movements, master's students in marketing and consumption, Maryam Mehdizadeh and Camilla Ghezzi, have examined how people react to destination images of several tourist destinations. All images included the award and sustainability logo: 'Global Destination Sustainability Index', which Gothenburg has been awarded for six consecutive years as one of the most sustainable destinations.
Tracking gazes with eyetracking technology
By tracking eye movements with eyetracking technology, the students have attempted to understand whether participants have actually looked at the sustainability labeling, whether unconsciously or intentionally. The eyetracking equipment was loaned by the Retail Lab at the University of Borås.
– We thought it was interesting to investigate the effects these logos have in the tourism industry, more specifically in the sustainability area," says Camilla Ghezzi.
After analyzing participants' eye movements, they were asked interview questions. Most did not reflect on the sustainability labeling in the images.
– Several have seen the logo and understood that it has to do with sustainability, but they haven't really had knowledge about sustainability logos in a tourism context," says Camilla Ghezzi.
Believe in increased information dissemination about sustainability labeling
Based on the answers they have collected, Maryam Mehdizadeh and Camilla Ghezzi believe that more efforts may be needed to increase awareness of different sustainability certifications within the tourism industry.
– If we take ourselves as an example, we have more knowledge about sustainability in the fashion industry and food production. Before we started this project, we had no knowledge of sustainability certifications within the tourism industry," says Maryam Mehdizadeh.
– If we discover that participants are looking at the logo but do not understand its meaning and what it means to receive an award for sustainability, it indicates that more people need to be informed about available sustainability certifications and what it means to receive such an award," says Camilla Ghezzi.
Text and video: Simon Fredling Jack, communicator.