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Conference Proceeding

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This study aims to examine how social media influences American Millennials’ and Gen Zers’ travel destination decision-making process in an integrative theoretical framework of the Uses and Gratification Theory and Theory of Reasoned Action. Young generations, who desire escapism and entertainment in order to relax through their everyday lives, are looking for value brought to their lives from vicarious out-of-routine experiences through social media, which engenders process gratification. This process evokes the desire to experience and explore the destination they viewed on social media, inducing vicarious pleasure that leads to affective responses toward the travel destination. Notably, a positive attitude is generated when they perceive social media postings shared by other users as relevant to satisfy their information-seeking needs. From this aspect, travel information seekers may draw mental pictures of the posted travel destinations by others based on emotional interpretations. They may provide personal opinions about the posted destinations if they are stimulated by positive emotion and anticipate positive social benefits as a role of eWOM. That is, the better the attitude toward travel destinations, the greater their intentions to follow the destination’s official social media to learn more about them as desired destinations and the greater their willingness to visit those destinations.