Incorporating social media in travel and activity choice models: conceptual framework and exploratory analysis

Ying Chen, Hani S. Mahmassani*, Andreas Frei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Location-based social networking data provide an important new dimension in understanding travel choice behaviour, providing high levels of location and time accuracy over long time frames in conjunction with explicit friendship network information. Such data allow examination of location choice dynamics and social networking aspects explicitly. This paper presents an exploration of social network based dynamics of choice set generation in the context of activity and travel choice behaviour, especially destination choice. Using data from an online location-based social network, the paper explores the spatiality of destinations and social network influence on travellers’ destination choice in the Chicago metropolitan area. The results show that social relationships play a role in travellers’ destination choices and that distance plays a strong role in social networks as in location choice. Connectivity through social network structure is examined jointly with individuals’ spatial activity engagement; the number of virtual friends is found to significantly influence actual physical travel behaviour. Finally, caveats in using social networking data for behaviour analysis and planning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-200
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018


  • Social network
  • check-ins
  • choice set generation
  • spatial data
  • travel behaviour dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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