Aggregating Social Media Data with Temporal and Environmental Context for Recommendation in a Mobile Tour Guide System

K Meehan, Tom Lunney, K Curran, Aiden McCaughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - Increasingly manufacturers of smartphone devices are utilising a diverse range of sensors. This innovation has enabled developers to accurately determine a user’s current context. One area that has been significantly enhanced by the increased use of context in mobile applications is tourism. Traditionally tour guide applications rely heavily on location and essentially ignore other types of context. This has led to problems of inappropriate suggestions and tourists experiencing information overload. These problems can be mitigated if appropriate personalisation and content filtering is performed. This research proposes an intelligent context aware recommender system that aims to minimise the highlighted problems.Design / Methodology / Approach - Intelligent reasoning was performed to determine the weight or importance of each different type of environmental and temporal context. Environmental context such as the weather outside can have an impact on the suitability of tourist attractions. Temporal context can be the time of day or season; this is particularly important in tourism as it is largely a seasonal activity. Social context such as social media can potentially provide an indication of the ‘mood’ of an attraction. These types of context are combined with location data and the context of the user to provide a more effective recommendation to tourists. The evaluation of the system is a user study that utilised both qualitative and quantitative methods, involving forty participants of differing gender, age group, number of children and marital status.Findings - This study revealed that the participants selected the context based recommendation at a significantly higher level than either location based recommendation or random recommendation. It was clear from analysing the questionnaire results that location is not the only influencing factor when deciding on a tourist attraction to visit.Research Limitations / Implications - In order to effectively determine the success of the recommender system, various combinations of contextual conditions were simulated. Simulating contexts provided the ability to randomly assign different contextual conditions to ensure an effective recommendation under all circumstances. This is not a reflection of the ‘real world’ because in a ‘real world’ field study the majority of the contextual conditions will be similar. For example, if a tourist visited numerous attractions in one day, then it is likely that the weather conditions would be the same for the majority of the day, especially in the summer season.Practical Implications - Utilising this type of recommender system would allow the tourists to “go their own way” rather than following a prescribed route. By using this system, tourists can co-create their own experience using both social media and mobile technology. This increases the need to retain user preferences and have it available for multiple destinations. The application will be able to learn further through multiple trips and as a result the personalisation aspect will be incrementally refined over time. This extensible aspect is increasingly important as personalisation is gradually more effective as more data is collated.Originality / Value - This paper contributes to the body of knowledge that currently exists regarding the study of utilising contextual conditions in mobile recommender systems. The novelty of the system proposed by this research is the combination of various types of temporal, environmental and personal context data to inform a recommendation in an extensible tourism application. Also, performing Sentiment Analysis on social media data has not previously been integrated into a tourist recommender system. The evaluation concludes that this research provides clear evidence for the benefits of combining social media data with environmental and temporal context to provide an effective recommendation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-299
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2016


  • Recommender System
  • Tour Guide System
  • Mobile Tour Guide
  • Context Awareness
  • Social Media
  • Intelligent System


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