THE ADOPTION OF “QR CODES” IN THE TOURISM SECTOR: THE CASE OF EGYPTIAN TOURISM STUDENTS

 

I. Rouby

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Tourism and Hotels , Alexandria University-Egypt

 

ABSTRACT

“QR codes” (Quick Response codes) are two-dimensional barcodes that can be used to encode a certain kind of information. They emerged in 1994 in Japan and have been since adopted by many organizations around the globe due to remarkable advances and penetration of mobile and internet services. “QR codes” represent a robust and quick way to access Websites for several purposes; among them are advertising, operation and social interaction purposes. “QR codes” have been recently used by tourism, hospitality and aviation industries in addition to cultural heritage and attraction sites. Museums for instance use “QR codes” to tag exhibits that can be scanned by visitors for information and some airlines have converted to saving boarding pass information as “QR codes”.

This research tends to examine the usages, user acceptance and potential benefits of “QR codes”. The first part of the research is devoted to a thorough review of literature with focus on “QR codes” usability in tourism-related institutions. The second part comprises of methodology of research. A sample of Egyptian tourism college students was used to examine their recognition, usage patterns and potential use of “QR codes”. Variables of the TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) such as perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use and enhancement of user experience were used to investigate user acceptance and future adoption. Regression analysis was utilized to examine the strength of relationships between variables such perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use and future adoption of “QR codes”.

The results showed that 94.7% of the sample had seen a “QR code” before while 79.4% of respondents had used and scanned a “QR code”. The findings indicated that “QR codes” were mostly scanned for social media applications followed by application download and product Websites. The results revealed that the level of awareness and level of usage of “QR codes” in some travel and tourism areas are still weak.  The regression analysis showed that the variables of the TAM had a significant relationship with variable future adoption of “QR codes”.

In order to get the benefits of “QR codes”, marketing and advertising institutions should play a more vital role in disseminating awareness and enhancing education of this new emerging technology.

Keywords: Egypt, “QR codes”, Regression, Students, TAM, Tourism

 

    

1 INTRODUCTION   

The rapid abundance of mobile devices with round-the-clock Internet connectivity has made it easy for customers to access up-to-date information about products and services. According to Statista (2019a) forecast, smartphone penetration amongst users worldwide will reach 52.5% by 2019 compared to 37.7% in 2014.   

The emergence of “QR codes” can be attributed to the explosive penetration of mobile phones. Public and private institutions are trying to take advantage of “QR codes” and the phenomenon is gaining momentum in many countries and businesses worldwide. The figures show that in the US alone, an estimated 11 Million households will be scanning a QR Code in 2020 which is an increase of an estimated 9.76 Million scans in 2018 (Statista, 2019b).

 “QR codes” were developed by Denso Wave in 1994 to track automotive production. “QR codes” structure consists of various parts including position, alignment, detection, version, format, timing and the use data area (Canadia et al., 2010).

They are two-dimensional barcodes with particular geometrical designs encrypting different kinds of data (Haworth et al.; 2012). “QR codes” can store “7,089 numeric and 4,296 alphanumeric characters” (Emek, 2012). “QR codes” were certified by international standard norms becoming a world known codification scheme.

“QR codes” store data diagonally and vertically, therefore “QR codes” are better than 1D barcodes in data capacity. They could be recognized even if 30% areas of barcode were damaged (ISO/IEC18004, 2012).

“QR codes” can be generated using code generators and decoded with either mobile cameras or downloadable scanning applications. The reader application software decodes the schemes and changes it into readable text and figures. The deciphered codes transmit the user to direct data or connect to online data.

The direct data may include: contact information, ads, coupons or business cards. Online data may include links to additional product information. The following table (1) shows some online and offline usages of “QR codes”.

“QR codes” provide an effective tool to enhance interactive marketing and facilitate some operational duties. Interactive marketing aims at stimulating communication between customers and businesses and hereby enhancing the demand on the companies’ products and services (Virvilaité et al., 2005). Sometimes interactive marketing is referred to as trigger-based marketing, where an action by the consumer prompts adding more marketing initiatives (Lilyquist This can be accomplished using new advancements in ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) like “QR codes” which can trigger an inquiry about an additional product or service. “QR codes” can increase brand awareness, enhance brand advocacy through WOM, increase sales, customer retention and conversion rates and also help build a customer base (Asare et al., 2015).

 

Table 1: Online and offline usages of “QR codes”

 

 “QR codes” aren’t widely spread among Egyptian service sectors but the diffusion is gaining momentum. The Central Bank of Egypt has received thirteen applications from banks and telecom companies in 2018 for the QR Code license as stated by officials of the Central Bank of Egypt (Menabytes, 2018). “QR codes” are more widespread among products in the Egyptian market; when decoded the customer gets additional information about the product. Also several governmental initiatives are taking place to provide historical places, buildings and monuments with “QR codes”.

The aim of the research is to examine the scope of awareness of “QR codes” among college students in the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels- Alexandria University in Egypt and also monitor the current and future level of adoption. The variables of the TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) – perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use in addition to enhancement of experience were used to examine the adoption level of the phenomenon of “QR codes” as an emerging technology. The research is structured as follows: The first part includes a review of literature, advantages, barriers, online and offline usages of “QR codes” with a highlight of its usages in the travel and tourism field. The second part covers research methodology, results and discussion. The study hypothized the following:    

·      H1: There is a significant relationship between variables “enhancing users’ experience” and “QR codes” future adoption.

·      H2:  There is a significant relationship between variables of “ease of use” and “QR codes” future adoption.

·      H3: There is a significant relationship between variables of “perceived usefulness” and “QR codes” future adoption.

·      H4: Limitations of “QR codes” represent no future adoption barriers.

 

2 ADVANTAGES AND BARRIERS OF “QR CODES”

“QR codes” are labels that contain information about items. They are created by using four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary and kanji) to store data (Ozkaya et al., 2015). “QR codes” have the following advantages:

§  handling different kinds of data

§  having a higher storage capacity than one-dimensional barcodes with artistic representations incorporating a variety of colors and shapes

§  can be easily generated by a free generator

§  give the possibility of tracking users’ behaviour and providing statistics by tracking how many times users scan the code, their locations and interests (e.g. with Google Analytics) which could be effectively used for product development (Ozkaya et al., 2015)

§  attracting customers by provoking their curiosity to find out about the code

§  making it easier to measure effectiveness of a campaign in terms of ROI (Meydanoglu, 2013)

§  creating dynamic “QR codes” makes it possible to update data easily

§  providing a fast and easy readability independently from the orientation of the code

§  scanning a QR code is easier than memorizing a URL

§  they can be used to bring offline media into the online space.

§  by the error correction functionality, the codes can be read correctly even when they are smudged or damaged up until the error correction level. The error correction level can be configured by the user when he creates the symbol (Soon, 2008).

§  enhancing customer satisfaction because the marketing activity is initiated by the customers (pull marketing) (Klein, 2014).

§  QR Code can be easily encrypted for protection (Soon, 2008)

 

3 BARRIERS TO USING “QR CODES”:

On the other hand, “QR codes” may have some barriers including:

§  having a mobile that has a camera

§  having an Internet connection for online data saved in “QR codes”

§  the need for an application for QR code scanning

§  the limitations of storage associated with “QR codes”

§  “QR codes” on printed media cannot be updated or refreshed

§  “QR codes” may become a tool for malicious attacks, facilitating phishing (QRishing) attacks and redirecting users to malicious websites that may host viruses and Trojans (Jain et al., 2012).

§  malicious URLs can lead to malware being installed on mobile devices (Narayanan, 2012).

 

4 “QR CODES” IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM AREAS:

“QR codes” are growing in popularity among different travel and tourism fields.  The following are some examples of how “QR codes” are effectively used in some travel and tourism areas although not completely wide spread in many countries but are gaining momentum to be implemented in many platforms.

* Ticket Boarding Pass: The QR code acts as a unique link to all of flight information, can be used to get tickets, know the timetable of different flights, check bags and make flight reservations. If a seat is changed or upgraded, or a change in the departure gate takes place, the boarding pass can be refreshed electronically to display the new information. Continental Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines and Delta use “QR codes” for boarding. Dutch airline KLM allowed social media fans to check in to their flights in Holland recently by scanning a QR code on the floor. (Haworth et al. (2012); Canadia et al.; 2010;  Emek, 2012).

* Restaurants: They can use “QR codes” to give more information about the food and drinks being served in addition to calorie and recipe information and videos for food preparation (Haworth et al., 2012)

* Tickets of different means of transportation: It is possible to use “QR codes” on maps in the bus stations to find out the arrival time of the next bus. “QR codes” introduced in bus stops in West Yorkshire, France, UK and New Zealand provide real-time information related to the bus stop including bus schedules (Pillai et al.; 2017)

* Hotels: They can place “QR codes” on hotel keys, cards in the rooms or in the elevators. By scanning the QR code, the customer is directed to the hotel blog or Website where information about excursions, restaurants and entertainment can be provided (Haworth et al. (2012). At Kempinski Hotel in Ajman, “QR codes” are placed in guestrooms to help guests order food in four different languages. These orders are directly forwarded to the kitchen. “QR codes” are also used in hotels such Best Western Hotel Le Montparnasse, Fontainebleau Hotel Miami Beach and The Mirage Hotel and Casino. “QR codes” featuring PDFs leading to detailed descriptions about facilities available in hotel rooms can provide improved customer experiences (Pillai et al., 2017) 

*Information related to historical sites and museums: The Cleveland Museum of Art and Bologna’s Museum of Archeology are using “QR codes” to do audio tours (Haworth et al. (2012). The Brooklyn Museum is also examining the possibilities for using QR to improve accessibility and printed two versions of the museum map – a standard one and one with “QR codes” (Emek, 2012)

Garg (2015) gave many examples about “QR codes” usage in museums. In 2017,  Williamston Depot museum, Michigan—US, added “QR codes” outside 38 historical buildings. These “QR codes”, when scanned, provide detailed information on the building.

The Tacoma Art Museum uses a mobile app to allow visitors to scan “QR codes” and get audio tours in their app. In June 2016, Kansas University held exhibitions to help people with disabilities. These came with “QR codes” that when scanned using a scanning app, visitors could hear an audio description of the exhibit via their smartphones.

Instead of putting large screens and creating AV rooms, a QR Code near the artifact can give all needed displays. Interested users can scan the code and watch the video on their smartphones.

The Seoul Museum of History gives visitors the option of playing videos of exhibits by scanning a “QR Code”.

The Arizona State Museum manages the ‘Discover Arizona State Museum: A QR Code Museum Contest’ that allows children to play a scavenger hunt using “QR codes” as hidden clues and win prizes. This way, children are not only engaged but also learning.

Using “QR codes” in museums can connect the visitors with the exhibits by allowing them to leave comments, have discussions, or even click selfies and share online on platforms such as Instagram.

* Guided Street Tours and open air museums: Countries could use “QR codes” in the streets to provide tourists with information about monuments, historical buildings and other data needed by exploratory tourists.

Philippine wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Cebu-based website MyCebu.ph have partnered to deliver information on tourism and heritage sites to mobile phones and tablets through QR code scanning. The project is being held in corporation with the Department of Tourism (Emek, 2012)

QR coded signboards are placed on road networks in the Indian state of Kerala which give information on nearby tourist destinations. Gangnam-gu in South Korea has placed “QR codes” on the sidewalks. Tourists can scan them to get information about tourist destinations, restaurants and shopping areas in different languages (Pillai et al., 2017). 

* In national Parks:  A QR Code-based campaign was run in New York City’s Central Park in 2010.  ”QR codes” were placed in different places in the park. When scanned, the visitors were transferred to quizzes about the history, culture, geology, art and music related to the park. The aim of the campaign is to engage young people who are drawn to technological devices rather than spend time in urban parks. This way technology was linked to an entertaining live experience in the park. This   campaign, the World Park event attracted more than 1,800 visitors who used the QR code (Mall, 2016). In Whadjuk Trail Network in Australia “QR codes” are placed on walking trails to allow trail users to listen to aboriginal stories or know more about local flora and fauna (Pillai et al., 2017) .  

* Payments: It is possible to use mobile phones and “QR codes” for the payment of train, airline tickets and other retail products. The Chinese are heavy users of QR codes.  They scan QR codes to make payments, get information, authenticate themselves and avail offers. According to the CNN Tech, USD 1.65 Trillion in transactions was done via QR Codes in China in 2016 (Scanova, 2018).

 

5 LITERATURE REVIEW

The research about “QR codes” is still limited to topics like usability level and future intentions to use it. Other topics include motivations to use “QR codes” in the different media. In addition, some studies applied the technology acceptance models on “QR codes”.

A study by (Canadia et al., 2010) examined the use of “QR codes” in several applications in a cultural institution (The Mercedes-Benz Museum). Results showed that both, usability and intention to use the services were enhanced by “QR codes” and provided additional comfort to users. Findings revealed on the one hand a positive relationship between electronic device ownership and the usage of “QR codes”, on the other hand there had been a negative relationship between being an early adopter and “QR code” usage level.

In their study, Haworth et al. (2012) examined the current and future adoption of “QR codes” among college students.  The results showed that the current interest was low but is expected to get higher in the future.

A study by Okazaki et al. (2012) examined how “QR codes” were used in media in Japan. The study used content analysis to explore the content of “QR codes” issued in different media in terms of message, product, and content.  It also highlighted the conscious and unconscious motivations to use “QR codes” with focus on the perceived risk related to using it. The study also investigated the major factors that assist or discourage QR-code adoption. The results showed that “QR codes” were primarily used in print media for loyalty programs, cost savings and quality enhancements. The findings supported the idea that “QR codes” could be used as a cross- media tool from offline to online media.

Ertekin et al. (2014) conducted a study in the US to examine the motivations to use “QR codes” on magazine ads. The results showed that consumers can be stimulated to scan “QR codes” if the scanning action was associated with promotional offers and linked with entertainment. The respondents also showed interest in scanning the ads to get more information about the products and review customer comments.

The contribution of “QR codes” in the marketing mix was addressed by the study of Klein ( 2014). He studied the influence of “QR codes” on the marketing mix elements (4Ps and 4Cs). The study showed that the chief impacts of “QR codes” were on the communication and promotion elements of the marketing mix. Concerning the element of promotion, marketers were able to stimulate users into thriving for more information about the product by placing a QR code which tempts users to scan to find out about its content. Furthermore, the communication element was also influenced by “QR codes” as they provide a rich resource of information for users in the form of text, images, URLs in addition to tools for customer interactions such as access to social media platforms and possibilities for placing customer reviews.

The study by Santos (2014) showed that consumers were using “QR codes” to get information about the products and visit links rather than buying products. Furthermore, future adoption of “QR codes” was found positive and the respondents found it easy and simple to use it.

The aim of the research conducted by Bamoriya (2014) is to study beliefs and behavioral intentions of consumers towards “QR codes” usage in USA and Japan. The results show that there was a positive relation between culture and belief and also between beliefs and behavioral intentions.

A study by Fine et al. (2015) about consumers’ perceptions of “QR codes” showed that females intend to use “QR codes” more than males. The relationship between some variables including perceived benefits with consumer perception about “QR codes” were found insignificant.

A study by Asare et al. (2015) studied various marketing campaigns using “QR codes”. The different research methods used uncovered certain factors that should be present for a successful “QR codes” marketing campaign. Among these was having a clear objective, knowing target audience, providing valuable content and implementing it in a creative way.

In the study of Eyüboğlu et al. (2016), the factors affecting QR code adoption in payments in Turkey were studied using the “TAM model”. The results show, that that all the variables of the model had a significant impact on behavioral intentions except perceived risk.

The review paper by Pillai et al. (2017) investigated the different aspects of “QR codes” and the various ways it is being used globally in the tourism industry. The results show that “QR codes” had several advantages like ease of use and the overcoming of language barriers. Nevertheless, “QR codes” usage was confined by some challenges like lack of awareness and internet connectivity in some parts of the world. 

Scanova (2018) compiled a report including statistics about “QR codes” from several resources. It included a study by Adobe Systems carried out in 2014 on QR code usage covering four countries – Germany, France, UK and US over a three month period which showed that 29% of the total participants of Germany scanned a “QR code” followed by France (28%) and US and UK (26%).

The report also included a study by Scanlife conducted in 2015, and illustrated the distribution of global “QR code” scanning audience by age group as follows: the highest percentage of people scanning “QR codes” was between 34 to 44 years. This percentage may have changed since that time to younger generations, as new applications popular with youngsters such as Snapchat, Pinterest have added QR code features. According to the CNN Tech, USD 1.65 Trillion in transactions was done via “QR codes” in China in 2016. The report also cited a survey by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Visa Inc., and GfK revealing that 4% of all consumer transactions worldwide were made via “QR codes”.  The report also referred to a survey conducted by TNS Infratest and Google in 2015 that explained that the Chinese lead the countries in scanning a QR Code while shopping.

The data about “QR codes” in Egypt is scarce. “QR codes” can be nowadays widely spotted on many products nevertheless its usage is still limited in the services’ sector. Therefore, this study tends to examine awareness and adoption level of “QR codes” among Egyptian tourism college students in light of the TAM, as the youth- as noted by many studies- are primary candidates for adopting new technologies. Furthermore, the study aimed at looking closer at the level of usage of “QR codes” in some areas of the tourism services sector as the studies highlighting this area are limited . One variable was added to variables of the TAM (perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use), namely enhancing user experience.

 

6 TAM (Technology Acceptance Model):

The user acceptance of a new technology can be explained by several models. One of the most commonly used in this area is TAM (Technology Acceptance Model). According to Ajzen (1980), TAM is considered an influential extension of Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA),

TAM is based on the idea, that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are the main drivers for user acceptance of a new Technology (Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989). Perceived usefulness is defined as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance”. Perceived ease of use is defined as "the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free of effort" (Davis 1989. The TAM model has undergone many refinements and extensions like adding perceived enjoyment as a third variable influencing user acceptance (Davis et al., 1992). The model was expanded to TAM2 to explain perceived usefulness and usage intentions including social influence (subjective norm, voluntariness, and image), cognitive instrumental processes (job relevance, output quality, and result demonstrability) and experience (Park, 2009). TAM3 was a further expansion of the model which took e-commerce into account with the insertion of factors such as trust and perceived risk (Ozkaya et al., 2015).

The following part includes methodology of research followed by analysis of results, discussion, conclusion and future research.

 

7 METHODOLOGY

This research tends to examine the awareness, user acceptance and adoption level of “QR codes”.  The study hypotheses were examined by adopting a quantitative research approach. Quantitative research as defined by Creswell (1994) is a type of research that is “explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analyzed using mathematically based methods (in particular statistics).”        

Data was collected from a sample of college students of the Tourism Department of the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels- Alexandria University. The sample included undergraduate and post-graduate students. The survey was created using Google Forms (Figure 1) and sent to approximately 335 students (the population) where 170 completed the survey with valid responses. To test the hypothesized relationships, Pearson’s Correlation and Simple Regression Analysis were conducted to assess relationship between variables.

Figure 1: Static “QR Code” of the online Questionnaire on Google Form

 

7.1 ANALYSIS OF RESULTS

The sample consisted of 75.3 % females and 24.7 % males. The majority were undergraduate students (97.1%) and a very small percentage of the sample were post graduate students (2.9%). 96% of the respondents were of the age group 18 to 24 years and 4% belonged to the age group 25 to 40 years.

The results showed, that most respondents used their smart phones primarily for social media purposes (94.7%), followed by entertainment (56.5%), music (54.7%) and news (40.6%) successively. 

The respondents were asked if they had ever encountered a “QR code” before. 94.7% of the sample indicated that they had seen a “QR code” before. They explained that they had mostly encountered it for product instructions (41.2%), followed by accessing URL links (31.2%), viewing business card or ID card (21.2%) and viewing poster/flyer /brochures (19.4%) successively.

69.4% of the respondents explained that they had encountered the “QR code” more than twice, while 22.9% clarified that they encountered it once and 8.8% had come across it twice. The majority of the respondents (79.4%) had used and scanned a “QR code” before.

73.5% of the respondents explained that they used and scanned mostly social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook followed by application download (27.6%), product websites (25.3%) and coupon/discount (15.9%) successively.

The respondents were asked to rate the level of usage of “QR codes” in distinctive areas linked to travel and tourism. A 5-level likert scale-item was employed to exclude neutrality ranging from 1 which stood for frequently and 5 which represented never. The median of the questions associated with the level of usage of “QR codes” encoded items like: links to Websites, online or offline travel and tourism marketing material, links to social media accounts and online or offline travel and tourism promotional videos was 2 which symbolized occasionally. The median reflecting the level of usage of “QR codes” linking to calls was 3 which stood for rarely. For areas like maps in means of transportation, credit card information for payments, GPS locations, information about monuments in museums and historical attractions, hotel facilities and airplane boarding passes the median was 2 reflecting that in these areas “QR codes” casually appear with no solid presence (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: Level of usage of “QR codes in Travel and Tourism

 

Concerning the barriers of “QR codes” usage, the respondents were asked to rate them on a 5-likert scale where 1 represented totally agree and 5 stood for totally disagree. The median of the barrier concerned with Having a mobile that has a qr code scanner camera was 1 which means that the respondents totally agreed that this aspect isn’t a usage barrier for “QR codes” usage. The median associated with aspects concerned with Having a permanent Internet connection on your smart phone, The need for qr code scanning application and The limitation of storage was 2, which means that the respondents agreed that these aspects don’t represent a barrier facing “QR codes” usage.

The next cluster of questions was concerned with the variables of the TAM theory, namely enhancing users experience, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Table 2). The rating was also addressed by a 5-likert scale were 1 means totally agree and 5 reflecting totally disagree.

Table 2: Variables of the TAM

The results showed that the respondents agreed with a median of 2 that the users’ experience is enhanced using “QR codes”, Users’ loyalty is enhanced using “QR codes”, Users’ engagement is enhanced by using “QR codes” and Interacting with “QR codes” is often interesting.

The aspects reflecting “perceived usefulness” were also rated by the respondents. The median of responses concerning time saving was 1 which reflects totally agree. Other aspects like “Using “QR codes” doesn’t need effort, Using “QR codes” doesn’t need complicated applications and some app are free”, Cost reduction, I find it easy to deal with errors that arise using “QR codes” and “QR codes” are useful because they can save offline information had all a median of 2 which stood for agree. 

The median of the aspects concerned with “perceived ease of use” like I don’t become confused when I use “QR codes”, Interacting with “QR codes” doesn’t need complicated knowledge of technology, The QR code system is flexible to interact with and I find it easy to use “QR codes” was 2 reflecting agree, except the aspect “Using “QR codes” is easier than remembering text URLs” had a median of 1 which stood for totally agree

The median of the responses associated with their intent to use “QR codes” more in the future was 1, which stood for totally agree. 52% of the respondents totally agreed that they will use it in the future.

 

7.2 HYPOTHESIS TESTING:

7.2.1 Reliability of the Measures

Before analyzing the data it was essential to look at the reliability of the survey responses. “Reliability means that a measure should consistently reflect the construct that it is measuring” (Field, 2009). In other words, reliability is the measure of the internal consistency of the items in a construct or questionnaire. One of the ways of measuring the reliability of the data is the Cronbach’s Alpha.  The Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient accounted for 0.77, 0.86, 0.82 and 0.74 for perceived usefulness perceived ease of use, enhanced experience and for barriers of use, successively. These results indicate that the measures had good reliability.

In order to test the hypotheses of the study, Pearson`s correlation and simple regression were conducted between the aspects of TAM theory (enhanced experience EE, perceived usefulness PU and perceived ease of use PE) and barriers of usage and future adoption of “QR codes”. The data was submitted to excel 2010 and the following relationships were revealed. 

Pearson’s Correlation was conducted to examine relationships and level of strength between variables. The analysis showed that there was a positive weak relationship between individual TAM variables and variables of barriers of use and future adoption. A medium positive relationship was found between variables PU1, PU4, PE3, PE4 and PE5 and future adoption with Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient (r) = 0.44906, 0.44696, 0.42971, 0.40571 and 0.47768 successively.

A regression analysis was further conducted to examine relationships between dependent and independent variables. The p-value for each term tests the null hypothesis that the coefficient is equal to zero (no effect). A low p-value (< 0.05) indicates that the null hypothesis can be rejected, i.e. the predictor that has a low p-value means that changes in the predictor's value are related to changes in the response variable.

Regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship between average of independent variables (PEa, PUa and EEa) and the dependent variable (future adoption of “QR codes”). The results of r2 indicate that the independent variable (PEa) explains 24 % of the variation in the dependent variable (future adoption). Correlation coefficient r = (0.49) shows a strong positive relationship between the variables with (β =0.56, p<0.05), hereby supporting H1. The regression analysis also showed that the value of r2 for PUa and (future adoption) was 0.25, which means that the independent variable (PUa) explains 25 % of the variation in the dependent variable (future adoption). Correlation coefficient r = (0.50) shows a strong positive relationship between the variables with (β =0.62, p<0.05) thus supporting H2. The r2 value for EEa equals to 0.20 which means that independent variable (EEa) explains 20 % of the variation in the dependent variable (future adoption), hereby H3 is supported. The independent variables (PEa, PUa and EEa) are significant at the 0.05 level in predicting consumer intentions to use “QR codes” in the future (Table 3).

Table 3: Regression statistics for variables PEa and future adoption

 

Nevertheless, H4 couldn’t be supported. The results show that changes in the predictor's value aren’t related to changes in the response variable with (β =0.10, p > 0.05) and r2= 0.01. This means that (barriers of use of “QR codes”) don’t relate to changes in (future adoption).

 

8 DISCUSSION

The research tended to investigate the level of awareness and level of usage of “QR codes” among Egyptian tourism college students. Although “QR codes” are considered a young technology, especially in developing countries, the results showed that 94.7% of the sample had seen a “QR code” while 79.4% of respondents had used and scanned a “QR code” before.

They explained that they had mostly encountered it for product instructions followed by accessing URL links. 69.4% of the respondents explained that they had encountered the “QR codes” more than twice. These results indicate that tourism college students, who are heavy users of technology, are aware of “QR codes” and are also using it. They mostly scanned “QR codes” for social media applications followed by application download and product Websites. Marketers should use this information to enhance “QR codes” diffusion to promote products and services.

The respondents indicated that the level of usage of “QR codes” in some travel and tourism areas was still weak. This was justified as the majority indicated that they had rarely encountered “QR codes” on  items related to travel and tourism organizations such as links to Websites, marketing material, links to social media, GPS locations, hotel facilities and airplane boarding passes. The results also showed that the respondents didn’t consider having a mobile with a camera, a permanent Internet connection or storage limitation a usage barrier for “QR codes”. This could be explained, as the saving function of the mobile content as bookmarks is an important functionality, as it gives users the chance to avoid costs of a permanent Internet connection.

The technology acceptance model (TAM) states, that certain determinants influence user’s intention to use an emerging technology. These factors include perceived usefulness (i.e. benefits) and ease of use (i.e. usability) (Davis, 2003). These variables were extended in the research by adding enhancement of experience. The results show that the median of responses associated with the aspects of the TAM was 2 which stands for agree. In addition, 52% of the respondents totally agreed and 34% agreed that they intend to use it in the future.

The regression analysis showed that the variables of the TAM had a significant relationship with variable future adoption of “QR codes”, i.e. the independent variables (perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use and enhancement of experience) explain the variation of the dependent variable (i.e. future adoption).

The findings of the research suggest that “QR codes” can be effectively used in Egyptian market to disseminate product information using “QR codes” linking to product Websites. Therefore, marketers need to find creative ways to increase awareness of the new technology and expand its usage among customers.  They should educate people how to use them to increase adoption levels if they want to benefit from this new technology.

Marketers shouldn’t presume that consumers are able to use new technologies easily without any related training and education. Some may believe that “QR codes” are only used by businesses for the sake of being innovative and not for its benefits. Marketers should have clear objectives, identify the target markets when promoting their products and services with “QR codes” to guarantee high involvement levels. One of the benefits of “QR codes” is that it transfers the consumer from the physical space to the virtual space easily. This benefit can be effectively used to enhance customer experience and increase aspects like perceived usefulness and ease of use.

As the results show that the intention for future adoption is high, it is more likely to see higher adoption levels of “QR codes” among college students, as heavy users of technology in particular and other user clusters in the future.

With the unique characteristics of mobile marketing which involve interactivity, customization, and ubiquity, “QR codes” will be considered a catalyst to mobile marketing characteristics for enhancing conversion rates.

 

9 FUTURE RESEARCH

As the technology of “QR codes” is young, the studies are still limited. More research can be heading towards topics concerned with more variables affecting customer adoption. Also more research should focus on the tourism sector covering a wider range of geographical area.

 

 

REFERENCES

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