Personalized Tourism Recommendations: Leveraging User Preferences and Trust Network

Qusai Shambour, Mosleh Abualhaj, Ahmad Abu-Shareha, Qasem Kharma
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 19  •  2024  •  pp. 017

This study aims to develop a solution for personalized tourism recommendations that addresses information overload, data sparsity, and the cold-start problem. It focuses on enabling tourists to choose the most suitable tourism-related facilities, such as restaurants and hotels, that match their individual needs and preferences.

The tourism industry is experiencing a significant shift towards digitalization due to the increasing use of online platforms and the abundance of user data. Travelers now heavily rely on online resources to explore destinations and associated options like hotels, restaurants, attractions, transportation, and events. In this dynamic landscape, personalized recommendation systems play a crucial role in enhancing user experience and ensuring customer satisfaction. However, existing recommendation systems encounter major challenges in precisely understanding the complexities of user preferences within the tourism domain. Traditional approaches often rely solely on user ratings, neglecting the complex nature of travel choices. Data sparsity further complicates the issue, as users might have limited interactions with the system or incomplete preference profiles. This sparsity can hinder the effectiveness of these systems, leading to inaccurate or irrelevant recommendations. The cold-start problem presents another challenge, particularly with new users who lack a substantial interaction history within the system, thereby complicating the task of recommending relevant options. These limitations can greatly hinder the performance of recommendation systems and ultimately reduce user satisfaction with the overall experience.

The proposed User-based Multi-Criteria Trust-aware Collaborative Filtering (UMCTCF) approach exploits two key aspects to enhance both the accuracy and coverage of recommendations within tourism recommender systems: multi-criteria user preferences and implicit trust networks. Multi-criteria ratings capture the various factors that influence user preferences for specific tourism items, such as restaurants or hotels. These factors surpass a simple one-star rating and take into account the complex nature of travel choices. Implicit trust relationships refer to connections between users that are established through shared interests and past interactions without the need for explicit trust declarations. By integrating these elements, UMCTCF aims to provide more accurate and reliable recommendations, especially when data sparsity limits the ability to accurately predict user preferences, particularly for new users. Furthermore, the approach employs a switch hybridization scheme, which combines predictions from different components within UMCTCF. This scheme leads to a more robust recommendation strategy by leveraging diverse sources of information. Extensive experiments were conducted using real-world tourism datasets encompassing restaurants and hotels to evaluate the effectiveness of UMCTCF. The performance of UMCTCF was then compared against baseline methods to assess its prediction accuracy and coverage.

This study introduces a novel and effective recommendation approach, UMCTCF, which addresses the limitations of existing methods in personalized tourism recommendations by offering several key contributions. First, it transcends simple item preferences by incorporating multi-criteria user preferences. This allows UMCTCF to consider the various factors that users prioritize when making tourism decisions, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of user choices and, ultimately, more accurate recommendations. Second, UMCTCF leverages the collective wisdom of users by incorporating an implicit trust network into the recommendation process. By incorporating these trust relationships into the recommendation process, UMCTCF enhances its effectiveness, particularly in scenarios with data sparsity or new users with limited interaction history. Finally, UMCTCF demonstrates robustness towards data sparsity and the cold-start problem. This resilience in situations with limited data or incomplete user profiles makes UMCTCF particularly suitable for real-world applications in the tourism domain.

The results consistently demonstrated UMCTCF’s superiority in key metrics, effectively addressing the challenges of data sparsity and new users while enhancing both prediction accuracy and coverage. In terms of prediction accuracy, UMCTCF yielded significantly more accurate predictions of user preferences for tourism items compared to baseline methods. Furthermore, UMCTCF achieved superior coverage compared to baseline methods, signifying its ability to recommend a wider range of tourism items, particularly for new users who might have limited interaction history within the system. This increased coverage has the potential to enhance user satisfaction by offering a more diverse and enriching set of recommendations. These findings collectively highlight the effectiveness of UMCTCF in addressing the challenges of personalized tourism recommendations, paving the way for improved user satisfaction and decision-making within the tourism domain.

The proposed UMCTCF approach offers a potential opportunity for tourism recommendation systems, enabling practitioners to create solutions that prioritize the needs and preferences of users. By incorporating UMCTCF into online tourism platforms, tourists can utilize its capabilities to make well-informed decisions when selecting tourism-related facilities. Furthermore, UMCTCF’s robust design allows it to function effectively even in scenarios with data sparsity or new users with limited interaction history. This characteristic makes UMCTCF particularly valuable for real-world applications, especially in scenarios where these limitations are common obstacles.

The success of UMCTCF can open up new avenues in personalized recommendation research. One promising direction lies in exploring the integration of additional contextual information, such as temporal (time-based) or location-based information. By incorporating these elements, the model could be further improved, allowing for even more personalized recommendations. Furthermore, exploring the potential of UMCTCF in domains other than tourism has considerable significance. By exploring its effectiveness in other e-commerce domains, researchers can broaden the impact of UMCTCF and contribute to the advancement of personalized recommendation systems across various industries.

UMCTCF has the potential to make a positive impact on society in various ways. By delivering accurate and diverse recommendations that are tailored to individual user preferences, UMCTCF fosters a more positive and rewarding user experience with tourism recommendation systems. This can lead to increased user engagement with tourism platforms, ultimately enhancing overall satisfaction with travel planning. Furthermore, UMCTCF enables users to make more informed decisions through broader and more accurate recommendations, potentially reducing planning stress and leading to more fulfilling travel experiences.

Expanding upon the success of UMCTCF, future research activities can explore several promising paths. Enriching UMCTCF with various contextual data, such as spatial or location-based data, to enhance recommendation accuracy and relevance. Leveraging user-generated content, like reviews and social media posts, could provide deeper insights into user preferences and sentiments, improving personalization. Additionally, applying UMCTCF in various e-commerce domains beyond tourism, such as online shopping, entertainment, and healthcare, could yield valuable insights and enhance recommendation systems. Finally, exploring the integration of optimization algorithms could improve both recommendation accuracy and efficiency.

tourism recommendation, multi-criteria analysis, implicit trust network, data sparsity, cold start, new user
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