Silvia de Ascaniis’ Aussie Experience

Silvia De Ascaniis, a PhD candidate of the Faculty of Communication Sciences and collaborator of webatelier.net, has recently come back from Wollongong, Australia, where she spent 12 months doing research under the supervision of prof. Ulrike Gretzel. Silvia won a fellowship for prospective researchers from the Swiss National Science Foundation, which gave her the possibility to stay at a research institution abroad. She was hosted by the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research (IIBSoR) of the University of Wollongong, which  was rated in 2011 as the Australia’s only research to be “well above world standard” in tourism by Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Initiative. Over there – Down-under, as Australia is used to be called – she made a priceless experience, both from the research and the personal point of view.

Prof. Gretzel – Ulli – arrived at IIBSoR a couple of weeks before Silvia did (actually, Silvia followed her when she decided to move from Texas to Australia), and since then she worked to create a group of young researchers in the field of tourism and new technologies, to weave a network of researchers from other Australian universities to start scientific collaborations and with local tourism agencies to put scientific findings to use in daily practice. Silvia was a witness of the beginning of this process, and had the opportunity to meet a number of people passionate of studying tourism trends and dynamics.

During the research period she worked on three main issues:

- identifying and understanding the reasons given by tourists to report their positive/negative experience on a destination in online travel reviews – her PhD topic

- measuring the predictability of online travel reviews titles to select useful reviews – a paper presented at ENTER 2012

- understanding the role of visitor information services in the future – a study developed together with Tourism Wollongong, the local tourism agency, and presented at CAUTHE 2012.

The experience was really “well above the standard” for Silvia, who gave birth to her first child over there, the little Kangaroo Francesco!