Interactive stated choice surveys: A study of air travel behaviour

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Journal Article
Transportation, 2012, 39 (1), pp. 55 - 79
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Stated preference (SP) experiments are becoming an increasingly popular survey methodology for investigating travel behaviour. Nevertheless, some evidence suggests that SP experiments do not mirror decisions in real markets. With an increasing number of real world decisions made using the internet, an opportunity exists to improve the realism of the SP counterparts of such choices by aligning the choice environment with such online portals. In this paper, we illustrate the benefits of such an approach in the context of air travel surveys. Our survey is modelled on the interface and functionality of an online travel agent (OTA). As with a real OTA, many ticket options are presented. Sort tools allow the options to be reordered, search tools allow options to be removed from consideration, and a further tool allows attributes to be hidden and shown. Extensive use of these tools is made by the 462 respondents. A traditional SP component was also completed by the respondents. Our exploratory analysis as well as random utility model estimation results confirm not only that respondents seem to engage more actively with the interactive survey, but also that the resulting data allows for better performance in model estimation compared to a more conventional SP experiment. These results have implications for the study of other complex travel choices where interactive surveys may similarly be preferable to standard approaches. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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