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International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

International Journal of Hospitality Management


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ijhosman

New consumer behavior: A review of research on eWOM and hotels


Antoni Serra Cantallops , Fabiana Salvi
University of the Balearic Islands, Spain

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Keywords:
Electronic word-of-mouth
Online reviews
Impacts
Hotels

a b s t r a c t
This study aims to gather and analyze published articles regarding the inuence of electronic word-ofmouth (eWOM) on the hotel industry. Articles published in the last ve years appearing in six different
academically recognized journals of tourism have been reviewed in the present study. Analysis of these
articles has identied two main lines of research: review-generating factors (previous factors that cause
consumers to write reviews) and impacts of eWOM (impacts caused by online reviews) from consumer
perspective and company perspective. A summary of each studys description, methodology and main
results are outlined below, as well as an analysis of ndings.
This study also seeks to facilitate understanding and provide baseline information for future articles
related to eWOM and hotels with the intention that researchers have a snapshot of previous research
and the results achieved to date.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Advances in information technology and the introduction of
new methods of communication have led to increasingly signicant changes in consumer behavior. These changes have produced
a shift in focus in companies marketing strategies and business
administration, especially in the hotel industry.
Purchase decision processes are composed of several variables
that inuence consumer choice for certain products and services.
Customers might choose a hotel based on its location (for instance,
close to an airport, tourist location, or downtown), brand name,
various facilities (such as swimming pool, golf course, and spa and
tness center), service quality, price, loyalty program, and quality
ratings by past guests. Any or all of these would enter into the customer choice mix (Verma, 2010). Atmosphere and design could be
added to the set of variables.
One of the factors evaluated in the consumer decision-making
process is word-of-mouth (WOM), dened by Harrison-Wallker
(2001) as informal, person-to-person communication between a
perceived noncommercial communicator and a receiver regarding a
brand, a product, an organization, or a service. Dickinger and Basu
(1994) dene WOM as a volitional post-purchase communication by
consumers. Most of the studies analyze WOM as a factor that, to
a greater or lesser degree, inuences consumers in choosing products and services. Yoon and Uysal (2005) consider that WOM is one

Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 630982856; fax: +34 971172389.


E-mail addresses: antoni.serra@uib.es (A. Serra Cantallops),
fabiana salvi@hotmail.com (F. Salvi).
0278-4319/$ see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2013.08.007

of the most often sought sources of information for people interested


in traveling.
Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), also often referred to as
online reviews, online recommendations, or online opinions, has
gained importance with the emergence of new technology tools.
Litvin et al. (2008) dene eWOM as all informal communications directed at consumers through Internet-based technology related
to the usage or characteristics of particular goods and services, or
their sellers. They add that this includes communication between
producers and consumers as well as those between consumers
themselves. Their typology is two-dimensional: a) communication
scope: from one to one (emails), one to many (review sites) or many
to many (virtual communities); and b) level of interactivity: from
asynchronous (emails, review sites, blogs) to synchronous (chat
rooms, newsgroups, instant messaging).
The main differences between WOM and eWOM can be identied in the reach of the reviews impact (number of people who
can be inuenced) and the speed of interaction. With regard to this
comparison, Sun et al. (2006) conclude that compared to traditional
WOM, online WOM is more inuential due to its speed, convenience,
one-to-many reach, and its absence of face-to-face human pressure.
Schiffman and Kanuk (2000) describe additional reasons for consumer attention to WOM and eWOM as follows: The expectation
of receiving information that may decrease decision time and effort
and/or contribute to the achievement of a more satisfying decision outcome. This breadth of eWOM scope and ease in accessing reviews
can deeply affect a companys performance. Therefore, companies
are increasingly seeking to understand the factors that inuence
the use of eWOM, as well as the impacts resulting from its use.
The tourism industry is strongly affected by eWOM and, within
the tourism industry, hotels are probably the most affected. Based

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A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

on the growing importance of online reputation derived from


reviews (denoted in this article as eWOM) for hotels and other
members of the tourism sector, this study proposes to analyze
existing research on eWOM, with the aim of collecting and understanding issues related to this new form of communication and its
impact on consumer behavior.
2. Methodology
The present study has reviewed articles published in the last ve
years (20072011) regarding electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)
related to the hospitality industry. With the objective of reecting
the majority of expressions and variations on this topic, articles were identied that included in their titles, keywords or
abstracts terms such as eWOM; WOM; online reviews; UserGenerated Content (UGC); Consumer-Generated Content (CGC);
online recommendation; e-satisfaction; e-complaints; online reputation; online travel communities; online opinions; social media
marketing; hospitality industry and hotels.
The articles were selected from six scientic journals based on
their relevance, academic score and number of items related to this
theme. The journals selected for the study are as follows: International Journal of Hospitality Management, International Journal of
Contemporary Hospitality Management, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly,
Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, Journal of Travel Research and
Tourism Management.
Articles were analyzed for their content, methodology and
results achieved. In-depth evaluation revealed the recurrence of
specic terms. For example, topics related to age and gender were
researched in nine articles. In the same way, the incidence of
the remaining specic and recurring topics was veried, such as
perceived trustworthiness, useful reviews and decision making
processes, among others. It should be noted that the weight of each
topic was not taken into account, only the mention of these topics
and research performed on them.
It became apparent from the analysis that the articles could be
grouped into two general lines of research: on one hand, the factors related to the generation of comments; and on the other hand,
the impacts these comments have on consumers and on company
perspective.
3. Conceptual framework
As mentioned above, analysis of the articles identied two major
lines of research. The rst identied line of research is that related
to review-generating factors. A second line of research evaluates
the impacts of eWOM from consumer and company perspective.
3.1. Review-generating factors
Studies related to the review-generating process analyze factors
such as motivation, gender inuence, cognitive and psychological aspects, satisfaction/dissatisfaction, group inuence, sense of
community belonging, and elements related to service quality and
helping other vacationers and/or companies, among others. Thus,
the research question is: Is there any identiable set of factors that
contributes to generating and publishing reviews?
3.2. Impacts of eWOM
Given that on one side we have review-generating factors, the
next issue under analysis is the impacts of eWOM. These impacts
can be direct and/or indirect and are analyzed from both the consumer perspective and the company perspective.

II
Impacts of eWOM

I
Generating
Factors

Consumer
Perspective

Company
Perspective

Fig. 1. Lines of research on eWOM and hotels.

Consumer perspective: Studies have identied factors related to


positive or negative reviews, including gender differences, reliability, condence, different behaviors depending on valuation
ratios, content and ease of accessing the reviews, product acceptance, media (blogs and virtual communities, emails, websites,
product review sites. . .). Factors related to inuence of purchase,
decision models, repurchase intention and loyalty, among others,
have also been studied.
Company perspective: Studies have identied factors related to
company-generated content, quality control, possibility of generating price premium, specic marketing strategies, corporate
reputation, providing recommendations for tourism marketers
and community managers, among others.
As a general outline, the graphic below (Fig. 1) illustrates the
lines of research regarding e-WOM identied in this study:
The following charts presents the studies found, sorted by year
and classied in the previously established lines of research, also
including a brief description, the methodology used and the main
results achieved (Table 1).
3.3. Review-generating factors
In relation to review-generating factors, or the factors that lead
to electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), most of the analyzed studies highlight aspects such as Service Quality and Satisfaction,
Failure and Recovery, Customer Dissatisfaction and Sense of
Community Belonging as consumers main motivations for writing reviews (Swanson and Hsu, 2009; Kim et al., 2009; Sun and
Qu, 2011, Snchez-Garca and Currs-Prez, 2011; Nusair et al.,
2011). These studies identify a direct relationship between satisfaction or dissatisfaction with either positive or negative reviews
and what is a rather obvious and predictable consumer behavior.
Without diverting the focus, some authors relate themes regarding
commitment, social identity, pre-purchase expectations and
customer delighted as important aspects in generating eWOM
(Crotts et al., 2009; Casal et al., 2010; Bronner and Hoog, 2011). In
addition, to a lesser extent, some studies investigated differences
related to recommendation inuences on gender and age (Sun and
Qu, 2011; Nusair et al., 2011; Bronner and Hoog, 2011).
Some of the research results reveal that negative reviews can
be generated more easily than positive. Swanson and Hsu (2009)
argue that customers who experienced satisfactory incidents are
not necessarily more likely to recommend the service provider
or to convince others to use the service providers offerings than
their dissatised counterparts. In this line, Snchez-Garca and
Currs-Prez (2011) assert that dissatisfaction can directly cause
negative WOM behavior, and regretful consumers are more prone
to spread negative WOMwhich is consistent with previous marketing theoryprobably with the goal of warning others rather than
looking for revenge.
The most frequently mentioned motivations for eWOM according Bronner and Hoog, 2011, is to help other vacationers for 70%

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

43

Table 1
Review-Generating Factors.
Author(s), publication
year

Title

Description

Methodology

Main results

Swanson and Hsu


(2009)

Critical incidents in
tourism: failure,
recovery, customer
switching, and
word-of-mouth
behaviors

This study identies and classies


commonly experienced service
failures and recovery strategies as
perceived by tourism customers
that result in overall (dis)satisfying
encounters. Specically, switching
behaviors of (dis)satised
consumers, the extent of
word-of-mouth engaged in, and its
valence are investigated.

Kim et al. (2009)

The effects of perceived


justice on recovery
satisfaction, trust,
word-of-mouth, and
revisit intention in
upscale hotels

The purpose of this study is to


assess the relative inuences of
distributive (DJ), procedural (PJ),
and interactional (IJ) justices on
customer satisfaction with service
recovery and to examine the
relationship between recovery
satisfaction and subsequent
customer relationships: trust,
word-of-mouth (WOM), and revisit
intention.

Literature review and the critical


incident technique (CIT) in
conjunction with a structured
self-completion survey
questionnaire were utilized in this
study. The critical incidents were
collected by marketing research
students at three universities
located in the Midwest, Southeast,
and South Central regions of the
US.
Literature review and data
collection. On-site surveys were
administered to collect data from
hotel guests who stayed and
experienced a service failure, at
ve-star hotels.

Crotts et al. (2009)

Measuring guest
satisfaction and
competitive position in
the hospitality and
tourism industry

The measurement of guest


satisfaction and delight is the focus
of this article.

Casal et al. (2010)

Determinants of the
intention to participate
in rm-hosted online
travel communities
and effects on
consumer behavioral
intentions

Sun and Qu (2011)

Is there any gender


effect on the
relationship between
service quality and
word-of-mouth?
Effects of
dissatisfaction in
tourist services: the
role of anger and regret

This study attempts to explain


consumers intentions to
participate in online travel
communities, and other consumer
behavioral intentions. In addition,
this research investigates the link
between the intention to
participate in a community and
two behavioral intentions that may
benet the host rm: the intention
to use the rms products/services
and the intention to recommend
the host rm.
This study examined the
differential role of gender on the
relationship between
core/relational service qualities
and WOM
The study focuses on the mediator
role of anger and regret on
dissatisfaction and post purchase
consumer behavior and specically
on switching, complaint behavior
and negative word-of-mouth
communication.

The customers who experienced


satisfactory incidents are not
necessarily more likely to recommend
the service provider or to convince
others to use the service providers
offerings than their dissatised
counterparts. However, the increased
negative word-of-mouth associated
with poor service recovery and
subsequent switching behavior needs
to be taken seriously.
The effect of DJ on satisfaction with
service recovery was stronger than
those of PJ and IJ. Since DJ, PJ, and IJ
have signicant effects on trust, WOM,
and revisit intention through recovery
satisfaction. Recovery satisfaction was
found to be an important mediating
variable. In addition, the mediating
role of trust between recovery
satisfaction and WOM/revisit intention
is substantial. Thus, in a case where
strong trust is formed between the
service provider and the customer, a
long-term relationship can be
expected.
The authors argue that the method
provides both an efcient and effective
means to determine a rms
competitive position in producing
satised guests who will not only come
back but also recommend the rm to
others.
The results reveal that the chosen
theories (Technology Acceptance
Model -TAM, Theory of Planned
Behavior -TPB, and Social Identity
Theory) provide an appropriate
framework for explaining the intention
to participate; this intention in turn
has a positive effect on the two other
behavioral intentions.

Snchez-Garca and
Currs-Prez (2011)

Nusair et al. (2011)

Building a model of
commitment for
Generation Y: An
empirical study on
e-travel retailers

This study develops a conceptual


framework that explains how
Generation Y develops
commitment to a travel web
vendor, and selected relationship
outcome (WOM) is also
investigated.

Web search engines are employed


to gather all mentions of a rm
(and its selected competition)
made by former guests within a
selected timeframe and posted on
the Internet. The source of guest
comments was TripAdvisor.com.
Literature review and data
collection from web survey of
members of several rm-hosted
online travel communities

Data Collection, questionnaire.


Data from 277 travelers who have
stayed in midscale hotels with
Food and Beverage were analyzed.

A conceptual model for word-of-mouth


effect. The results suggest there are
within-gender differences in the effect
of service qualities on word of mouth.

Literature review and quantitative


method (questionnaire). A sample
of 359 users of restaurants and 308
users of hotel services.

Emotions and (dis)satisfaction do not


always refer to the specic episode
experienced with the service. In the
case of both hotels and restaurants the
mediator effect of anger and regret on
dissatisfaction generated by service
failure and subsequent consumer
behaviors has been mostly conrmed.
A Model of commitment for Generation
Y. Results indicated that affective
commitment had a signicant positive
impact on WOM communications. This
outcome demonstrated that when a
Generation Y consumer stays
affectively committed to a travel web
vendor because he/she has a favorable
attitude toward that site, then the
consequent WOM communication
would be in favor of the vendor.

Literature review and


questionnaire. Leaning on the
foundations of marketing literature
and the two theories (the
organizational commitment and
the Investment model).

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A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

Table 1 (Continued)

Author(s), publication
year

Title

Description

Methodology

Main results

Bronner and Hoog


(2011)

Vacationers and
eWOM: Who Posts,
and Why, Where, and
What?

The central questions are, which


type of vacationers does post, with
which motivations do they post
reviews, on which type of site, and
what are the message
characteristics?

The sample in this research is a


subsample from the sample of the
Dutch
ContinuVakantieOnderzoek (CVO
[Continuous Vacation Panel]). This
panel consists of respondents who
report on their vacation behavior
four times a year.

Vacationers who post and are having a


largely other-directed motivation
prefer consumer-generated sites,
comment on more aspects of a
vacation, post mainly positive reviews,
are more inclined to express
themselves by combined use of text
and ratings, and contribute more to
sites accessible to other vacationers.
Vacationers who post and are having a
largely self-directed motivation, prefer
marketer-generated sites, comment
mainly on a limited number of aspects
of a vacation, post more negative
reviews, and contribute more to sites
not accessible to other vacationers.

of the posters a motivation is to enable other vacationers to make


a good decision. They divided the motivations for contributing to
reviews into ve main categories: (1) self-directed, (2) helping
other vacationers, (3) social benets, (4) consumer empowerment,
and (5) helping companies. The authors also investigated what prole these posters have as compared with the general vacationer
and found that a prole can be sketched of vacationers contributing to review sites are: (1) more frequently from the age group
younger than 55; (2) more frequently from the high and lowermiddle income groups; (3) more frequently from couples, with or
without children.
Fig. 2 illustrates the principal factors that studies have found
which motivate the generation of eWOM.
Casal et al. (2010) examined consumers intentions to participate in online travel communities and found that the intention
to participate depends on the community characteristics (usefulness and ease of use), which help form more positive consumer
attitudes. He cites Nielsen (2006), who proposed user participation
usually follows the well-known 90-9-1 rule, which means that
approximately 90% of users of an online community are lurkers who

Service
Quality
Failure and
recovery

Customer
Satisfaction

read and observe but never contribute, 9% of users contribute from


time to time, and only 1% of users actively produce new contents
accounting for almost all the action. This would suggest eWOM is
not representative as a measure of customers feelings and value
given to a certain tourism service or product.
After analyzing the studies referring to eWOM generation, it was
observed that researchers usually seek to identify: factors related
to motivation and intent on generating reviews; proles of users
that generate reviews; the means to generate reviews; and review
content analysis. Bronner and Hoog, 2011 argue that it can be
concluded that motivation does indeed inuence the type of site
chosen by vacationers and the way in which they express themselves on review sites, or to put it another way: why you want to
contribute inuences where you are going to make your contribution and what you are going to contribute.
In general, in this line of research it can be observed that:
- Most articles are written in 2011, which suggests that this topic
is receiving an increasing level of attention by the academic community.
- Very few articles refer specically to eWOM and hotels
- Despite the great efforts made by researchers, there is still no
clear denition about the set of review-generating factors and
the weight of these factors in the generation of comments. It is
noted there is a large number of inuence variables and a recent
research eld, suggesting that there is a lot of work to do on this
aspect (future research) (Table 2).
3.4. Impacts of eWOM

Customer
Dissatisfacti
on

Helping
companies

E-wom

Helping
other
vacationers

Sense of
Community
Belonging

Prepurchase
expectations

Social
Identity

Fig. 2. Main review-generating factors.

In the second line of research identied in this study, the impacts


of eWOM are analyzed both from the point of view of companies
as well as that of consumers, once the online comments were generated. The impacts of eWOM on the consumer identied in the
studies can be direct and/or indirect.
3.4.1. Impacts of eWOM from the consumer perspective
It should be noted that studies largely aim to contribute
to company marketing strategies, given that they analyze consumer behavior and attitudes toward certain actions and scenarios.
The issues highlighted in the studies relate to decision making
processes, consumers drive, perceived trustworthiness, level of
expertise, useful reviews and booking intention (Lee et al., 2011; Xie
et al., 2011; Kim et al., 2011; Papathanassis and Knolle, 2011; Sparks
and Browning, 2011; Qu and Lee, 2011; Yacouel and Fleischer,
2011; Dickinger, 2011; Hills and Cairncross, 2010; Xiang and

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

45

Table 2
Impacts of eWOM.
Author(s), publication
year

Title

Description

Methodology

Main results

Litvin et al. (2008)

Electronic
word-of-mouth in
hospitality and tourism
management

Literature review. This paper


rst reviews related studies on
interpersonal inuence and
word-of-mouth (WOM).

A conceptual model of eWOM,


discussing its management strategies,
and touching upon ethical concerns
regarding potential abuse.

Black and Kelley (2009)

A Storytelling
Perspective on Online
Customer Reviews
Reporting Service
Failure and Recovery

This research follows


Kassarjians recommendation
as it focuses on analyzing the
original content and
expression of customers
reviews. A total of 429 reviews
met the established criteria.

Results indicate that consumers


perceive online reviews documenting a
service failure to be less helpful than
reviews that do not document a failure.
However, consumers give higher
helpfulness scores to reviews that
document an effective recovery.

Vermeulen and Seegers


(2009)

Tried and tested: The


impact of online hotel
reviews on consumer
consideration

This paper describes online


interpersonal inuence, or eWOM,
as a potentially cost-effective
means for marketing hospitality
and tourism, and discusses some of
the nascent technological and
ethical issues facing marketers as
they seek to harness emerging
eWOM technologies.
This research tests and supports
the proposition that when
consumers read online customer
reviews that include elements of a
good story, they will deem those
reviews to be more helpful when
they decide whether to patronize
hotels.
This research applies consideration
set theory to model the impact of
online hotel reviews on consumer
choice.

Online survey. Participants


from different parts of the
Netherlands were recruited by
e-mail to participate in an
online study; 168 respondents
completed the entire
experiment.

Wen (2009)

Factors affecting the


online travel buying
decision: a review

The purpose of this paper is to


review the literature on theories
affecting consumers online
purchase intention of travel
products

The exposure to an online hotel review


improves the average probability for
consumers to consider booking a room
in the reviewed hotel. The familiarity
with a hotel makes consumers resilient
to the effects of online hotel reviews.
Online reviews improved hotel
awareness more for lesser-known
hotels than for well-known hotels.
Also, the persuasive effect of online
reviews was stronger in lesser-known
hotels.
A conceptual framework of factors
affecting online consumer travel
purchasing. The paper identies
antecedents of consumers online
purchase intention and applies them to
the travel and tourism eld.

Ye et al. (2009)

The impact of online


user reviews on hotel
room sales

This study is a empirically


investigate about the impact of
online consumer-generated
reviews on hotel room sales

Hills and Cairncross


(2010)

Small accommodation
providers and UGC web
sites: perceptions and
practices

This paper aims to understand the


perceptions and practices of small
accommodation providers
regarding the growing area of
user-generated content (UGC) web
sites.

Xiang and Gretzel


(2010)

Role of social media in


online travel
information search

The goal of this study is to


investigate the extent to which
social media appear in search
engine results in the context of
travel-related searches.

Arsal et al. (2010)

Residents as travel
destination
information providers:
an online community
perspective

This study has two main purposes.


The rst is to examine the
inuence residents may have on
travel decisions. The second is to
compare the inuence residents
have on travel decisions with other
online community members (i.e.,
experienced travelers).

Theoretical foundations and


literature review. The
conceptual framework of
factors affecting customer
online buying decisions is
developed by examining the
theoretical foundation for each
online purchase intention of
travel product.
Data collected from the largest
travel website in China, it
develops a xed effect
log-linear regression model to
assess the inuence of online
reviews on the number of hotel
room bookings.
A total of eight small
hospitality enterprise cases of
four classications were
selected using a purposive
stratied sampling procedure.
On-site semi-structured
interviews are the main source
of information.
Data mining. The study
employed a research design
that simulates a travelers use
of a search engine for travel
planning by using a set of
pre-dened keywords in
combination with nine U.S.
tourist destination names.
Treemapper (a method for
displaying hierarchical data)
was used to identify the
country forums, and thematic
networks are used for the
analysis of inuence of eWOM.
Qualitative data collection and
analysis of online postings
were used in this research.

Results indicate a signicant


relationship between online consumer
reviews and business performance of
hotels.

Empirical ndings indicate that there is


a divergence among small
accommodation providers with regard
to UGC web sites. It nds that small
accommodation provider views are
varied as to the inuence of UGC web
sites on traveller decisions.
The analysis of the search results
showed that social media constitute a
substantial part of the search results,
indicating that search engines likely
direct travelers to social media sites.

The results reveal that nearly one-third


of the communication threads
(including 1,699 postings from 713
contributing members) have been
inuential for members. Residents are
more inuential in accommodations
and food and beverage
recommendations, whereas
experienced travelers are more
inuential in the destination
information category.

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A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

Table 2 (Continued)

Author(s), publication
year

Title

Description

Methodology

Main results

Verma (2010)

Customer Choice
Modeling in Hospitality
Services: A Review of
Past Research and
Discussion of Some
New Applications

Literature review based on


customer choice modeling

New Applications of Customer Choice


Modeling in the Hospitality Industry.
One of the highlighted points of this
study was: The relative impact of
social media and professional ratings
on hotel and restaurants choices,
where the author identies the need
for a closer examination of the aspects
relative to impact on customers
choices of ratings and rankings
developed by professional
organizations (notably, Forbes Travel
Guide and AAA) and social media sites
(e.g. Tripadvisor).

Jun et al. (2010)

Online information
search strategies: a
focus on ights and
accommodations

The purpose of this article was to


summarize the use of customer
choice modeling within the
context of the hospitality industry
considering recent technological
advances. The author argues that
hotel customers can easily
compare competitive offerings
using online reservation
channels. . .they can also read
comments and recommendations
from past customers on social
media sites such as Tripadvisor, in
addition to ratings provided by
professional organizations.
The research aims to understand
information search strategies that
individuals utilized in online travel
product purchases. Two products,
ights and accommodations were
selected.

Lee et al. (2011)

Helpful Reviewers in
TripAdvisor, an Online
Travel Community

Secondary data analysis of data


collected in 2001 by the
Canadian Tourism Commission
(CTC). A total of 21,600
invitations were e-mailed to
North American Internet users
and 2470 surveys (11% of
sample) were completed
online.
Literature review and Data
collection of Tripadvisor2010
hotel reviews.

The ndings of this study support the


theory of constructive consumer
choice processes (Bettman et al., 1998).
The results indicate that online
accommodation purchasers utilize
various types of sources; and they
focus not only on transactional, but
also informational and branding
attributes.
The key ndings include that helpful
reviewers are those who travel more,
actively post reviews, belong to any
age and gender groups, and give lower
hotel ratings.

Kim et al. (2011)

Effects of gender and


expertise on
consumers motivation
to read online hotel
reviews
Exploring the adoption
and processing of
online holiday reviews:
A grounded theory
approach

Online questionnaire. A
convenience sample was
obtained from a large Las
Vegas resort hotel. A sample of
781 travelers was analyzed.
Grounded Theory (abbr.GT)
qualitative-explorative
research methodology
approach (Glaser, 1978, 1998;
Glaser and Strauss, 1967;
Strauss and Corbin, 1990).
Literature review and online
survey. Data are derived from
352 respondents belonging to
MSN groups and are analyzed
using structural equation
modeling.

The analysis found distinct differences


between the sexes regarding their
motivating factors, and levels of
expertise also inuenced consumers
motivations to read online reviews.
A Theoretical modeling of online
review utilization. Consumers are
indeed utilizing and combining various
content sources. Moreover, consumers
seem to have an extended set of
heuristics to lter content.
Results of this study show that
members active participation forties
their sense of belonging to the online
travel community, which makes
members support the community by
showing several positive member
behaviors such as knowledge sharing,
community promotion, and behavioral
changes.
The author claims that online travel
agents (OTAs) such as booking.com
play an important role in building hotel
reputation and encourage hoteliers to
put effort into service quality.
Empirical evidence that information
supplied by past guests through the
OTA generates a price premium for
hotels with good reputations.
The results of the experiment indicate
that user-generated content appears to
be highly trustworthy, showing high
levels of integrity; however, it is not
always regarded as the most
informative. Editorial content
providers, such as tourist boards, are
considered to be the most able
information provider. The results
conrm that depending on the type of
online channel, different dimensions of
trustworthiness become effective as
drivers of overall trust.

Papathanassis and
Knolle (2011)

This study examines an online


reputation system in
TripAdvisor.com and proled the
reviewers who post helpful
reviews in the online travel
community.
This study analyzes motivating
factors for consumers to seek
eWOM

This explorative-qualitative study


suggests that online reviews play a
secondary, complementary role to
holiday selection and that they are
subjected to a set of heuristics
before being adopted and utilized.
This study investigates travel
members social identication
through their online community
experience and its positive
behavioral outcomes.

Qu and Lee (2011)

Travelers social
identication and
membership behaviors
in online travel
community

Yacouel and Fleischer


(2011)

The role of
cybermediaries in
reputation building
and price premiums in
the online hotel market

This article presents a case study in


which the Internet plays an
important role in improving
efciency in the hotel market.

Analysis of information
supplied by past guests
through the OTAs

Dickinger (2011)

The trustworthiness of
online channels for
experience- and
goal-directed search
tasks

This article compares the


trustworthiness of three different
online channels (personal,
marketing, and editorial).

Data collection. Interviews


with 453 participants.

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

47

Table 2 (Continued)

Author(s), publication
year

Title

Description

Methodology

Main results

Loureiro and
Kastenholz (2011)

Corporate reputation,
satisfaction, delight,
and loyalty towards
rural lodging units in
Portugal

Data collection in 55 rural


lodging units, a total of 161
usable questionnaires. The
modied model is applied to
rural tourism accommodations
in Portugal.

The results suggest that the lodging


units reputation is a more signicant
determinant of loyalty than
satisfaction or even delight. This study
further supports the conceptualization
of customer delight and customer
satisfaction as distinct constructs.

Sparks and Browning


(2011)

The impact of online


reviews on hotel
booking intentions and
perception of trust

This paper enriches the model of


delight and satisfaction that Oliver,
1997 propose and Finn (2005)
modies, with a suggested causal
relationship between
disconrmation and arousal and
the introduction of two new
variables: the lodging units
corporate reputation and
perceived quality.
This study explores the role of four
key factors that inuence
perceptions of trust and consumer
choice: the target of the review;
overall valence of a set of reviews;
framing of reviews; and whether
or not a consumer generated
numerical rating is provided
together with the written text.

Experimental design study.A


sample was sought and
obtained from a market list
company with a large national
lifestyle survey that included
consumers who had completed
the survey online. The sample
drawn from an Australian
database comprised 554
community members.

Xie et al. (2011)

Consumers responses
to ambivalent online
hotel reviews: The role
of perceived source
credibility and
pre-decisional
disposition
Travel planning:
searching for and
booking hotels on the
internet

Consumers seem to be more


inuenced by early negative
information, especially when the
overall set of reviews is negative.
However, positively framed
information together with numerical
rating details increases both booking
intentions and consumer trust. The
results suggest that consumers tend to
rely on easy-to-process information,
when evaluating a hotel based upon
reviews. Higher levels of trust are also
evident when a positively framed set of
reviews focused on interpersonal
service.
The results indicate that the presence
of PII positively affects the perceived
credibility of the online reviews. When
coupled with ambivalent online
reviews, the presence of PII
signicantly lowers consumers hotel
booking intentions.
Eight of ten respondents used the web
for a hotel room search. Also, the study
found that women have surpassed
men in information search activities
and that women conduct much more
research regarding potential hotels and
rates than do men. Some of the
supported results of the study were:
Most travelers will research and book
room on the internet and the internet
dominates search and booking
strategies.

Toh et al. (2011)

This study investigated how the


presence of online reviewers
Personal Identifying Information
(PII) may affect consumers
processing of ambivalent online
hotel reviews and hotel booking
intentions.
This article is focused on
researching and booking hotels on
the internet, and it considers many
factors to measure behaviors and
attitudes, such as: service quality,
low room rate, convenience of
location and past experiences with
the hotel, among others.

Gretzel, 2010; Arsal et al., 2010; Black and Kelley, 2009; Vermeulen
and Seegers, 2009; Litvin et al., 2008).
To a greater or lesser extent, it has been observed that all the
studies consider the inuence of reviews (WOM or eWOM) in the
decision making process. Xie et al. (2011) argue that electronic
word-of-mouth (eWOM) is prevalent in todays lodging market and
has potential to inuence consumers decision making. Litvin et al.
(2008), in the same line, point out that interpersonal inuence and
word-of-mouth (WOM) are ranked as the most important information source when a consumer is making a purchase decision. These
inuences are especially important in the hospitality and tourism
industry, whose intangible products are difcult to evaluate prior
to their consumption.
Research demonstrates that valence of eWOM has a strong
impact on product valuation and purchase decisions. Vermeulen
and Seegers (2009) argue that positive as well as negative reviews
increase consumer awareness of hotels, whereas positive reviews,
in addition, improve attitudes toward hotels. They maintain that
these effects are stronger for lesser-known hotels. Their study even
suggests that positive reviews have a positive impact on consumer
behavior, whereas negative reviews have little impact, although
this does not mean that negative reviews are harmless. On the other
hand, Sparks and Browning (2011) explain that consumers seem to
be more inuenced by early negative information, especially when

An experimental study with a


sample of 274 undergraduate
students.

A survey of 249 leisure


travelers at four hotels in
Seattle, Washington

the overall set of reviews is negative. However, positively framed


information, together with numerical rating details, increases both
booking intentions and consumer trust. The study highlights that
the occurrence of recent positive reviews can override or moderate the effect of a set of negative reviews with respect to booking
intentions.
In addition, variables such as perceived trustworthiness, credibility of eWOM, useful reviews and level of expertise (Lee et al.,
2011; Xie et al., 2011; Yacouel and Fleischer, 2011; Arsal et al., 2010;
Black and Kelley, 2009; Vermeulen and Seegers, 2009; Litvin et al.,
2008) are frequently included when referring to the impact and
inuence of the reviews on consumer perspective. These aspects,
among others, contribute to risk reduction (Kim et al., 2011; Sparks
and Browning, 2011; Dickinger, 2011; Arsal et al., 2010) during the
decision making process. Papathanassis and Knolle (2011) argue
that users engage in information-seeking activities to minimize the
risk associated with the purchase of an intangible and inseparable
service bundle.
Some authors investigated the inuence of gender and age on
purchase behavior. Kim et al. (2011) analyzed gender behavior and
concluded: women, for instance, are more likely to read reviews
for the purpose of convenience and quality and for risk reduction.
Mens use of the online reviews depended on their level of expertise. In the same line, Toh et al. (2011) found that women have

48

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

Decision
making
process
Perceived
trustworthi
ness /
Credibility

Book
intention

Hotel
comparison

E-wom

Hotel/ Brand
Awareness

Risk
reduction

Product
acceptance

Loyalty

Fig. 3. Main impacts of eWOM from the consumer perspective.

surpassed men in information search activities. Also, those who


purchased hotel rooms online trended toward being younger, having higher incomes, and purchasing more room-nights than those
who used traditional distribution channels. Furthermore, women
conduct much more research regarding potential hotels and rates
than do men.
Another important identied aspect is related to easy access and
processing of the reviews (Papathanassis and Knolle, 2011; Sparks
and Browning, 2011; Xiang and Gretzel, 2010; Dickinger, 2011).
This factor is signicant given the quantity of available information. For this reason, consumers have a complicated task of ltering
and analyzing this information. Sparks and Browning (2011) argue
that there is a range of potential inuencing factors, but some that
are of practical and theoretical importance include the content or
target of reviews, the overall tone or valence of the reviews (as a
collection), the framing of the review set (what is read rst) and
easy-to-process peripheral information such as consumer generated numerical ratings. Additionally, reliance on easy to evaluate
information, such as general category ratings (e.g. star ratings for
hotels or customer ratings of products) may have a greater inuence on product purchase decisions compared with more detailed
information.
As a result of the studies analyzed, the image below identies
the main impacts of eWOM from the consumer perspective (Fig. 3)
with three types of inuence; positive, negative or neutral.
Positive reviews have a positive impact on consumers, mainly
on the selected aspects, thus increasing the likelihood of purchase. Otherwise, negative reviews can contribute negatively in all
aspects.
3.4.2. Impacts of eWOM from the company perspective
Most of the articles in this line of research emphasize reviews
impact from the consumer perspective; however, some of them
analyze in depth the impact from the companys perspective
(Yacouel and Fleischer, 2011; Dickinger, 2011; Hills and Cairncross,
2010), considering company-generated online content, quality
control in the online environment, possibility of interaction with
clients (not only to solve eventual problems but also to focus

marketing actions on specic segments) and the possibility of generating a price premium, among others.
Ye et al. (2009) in their study showed that positive online
reviews can signicantly increase the number of bookings in a
hotel, and the variance or polarity of WOM for the reviews of a hotel
had a negative impact on the amount of online sales. The results
further suggested that a 10% improvement in reviewers rating can
increase sales by 4.4% and a 10% increase in review variance can
decrease sales by 2.8%.
Loureiro and Kastenholz (2011) argue that corporate reputation
plays a signicant role in the customers perception of service performance capability, therefore leading to a reliable representation
of the service in the customers mind. Jun et al. (2010) add that the
heterogeneity of accommodation services increases uncertainty in
decision making; therefore, individuals need to evaluate various
attributes of information and use diverse information sources (e.g.,
direct accommodation websites, destination ofcial websites, customer review websites).
Consumer behavior and new technologies lead to an increased
market transparency (Toh et al., 2011; Jun et al., 2010; Verma,
2010; Wen, 2009) that could create opportunities and risks for the
companies. Verma (2010) argues that potential market offerings
in the hospitality industry have grown increasingly complex due
in large measure to advances in information technology. This situation allows customers to compare and strategically assess the
relative costs and benets of different alternatives. In this regard,
Wen (2009) cites OConnor and Frew (2004), pointing out that close
relationships between customers and suppliers web sites can reduce
the danger of substitution and help to insure long-term protability.
He emphasizes that the essence of creating a strong relationship
bond with the customers is to consider how customers make online
purchases and what factors inuence their online purchase intentions.
Another factor highlighted by studies refers to loyalty. In customer research, the term customer loyalty is often measured by
indicators like the intention to continue buying the same product,
intention to buy more of the same product, and repeat purchase
(behavioral measures) or willingness to recommend the product to
others (attitudinal indicator, reecting product advocacy) (Loureiro
and Kastenholz, 2011). The studies indicate that eWOM can inuence loyalty. However, the degree of impact that eWOM can have
on clients who are already loyal is not evidenced, nor are the differences that can exist between impacts on loyal clients and impacts
on rst-time users of the product/service.
Fig. 4 summarizes the main impacts of eWOM from the company
perspective.
From the company perspective, the impacts of eWOM could
be classied as opportunities, because if the companies analyze
and manage these impacts properly, they can obtain competitive
advantages in their business (Dickinger, 2011; Hills and Cairncross,
2010; Ye et al., 2009). Otherwise, the companies would be affected
by the negative impact on consumers.
Analysis of this information can allow improvements in the
quality of the products/services, the identication of needs and the
implementation of new policies (Loureiro and Kastenholz, 2011;
Jun et al., 2010). The interaction that can be generated with consumers facilitates the solution of potential problems, as well as
familiarization with client proles and needs.
Positive comments can enhance the market reputation of the
company as well as the possibility of obtaining price premiums
(Yacouel and Fleischer, 2011), thereby improving results and
positioning. On the other hand, negative comments can reduce consumer interest in the products/services offered by the company,
which can affect its price competitiveness and prots.
The eWOM is a signicant source of information for companies
and increasingly inuences their marketing strategies (Jun et al.,

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

49

4.2. Specic issues


Quality
control and
new
procedures

Analysis of the articles has identied specic recurrent issues.


Principal topics and their recurrence are as follows:
Revenue
Management
Price
Premium

Generating
loyalty

E-wom

Customer
interactions
Response
and
recovery

Online
reputation
comparison

Focus on
target
communica
tion

Specific
Marketing
Strategies

Fig. 4. Main impacts of eWOM from the company perspective.

2010; Yacouel and Fleischer, 2011). Companies who adequately


manage eWOM can have a competitive advantage, directing their
actions to specic targets according to the type of the product, as
well as inuencing clients who could be potentially loyal to their
brand, while at the same time maintaining current clients (Loureiro
and Kastenholz, 2011).

4. Final considerations
4.1. In general
Within the lines of research established in the present study,
Review-Generating Factors and Impacts of eWOM, considered from
consumer and company perspective, studies were identied analyzing the effect of gender and age (32%) and the valence of reviews
positive, negative or neutral (64%), as well as issues related to
trustworthiness and loyalty (68%). The decision making process is
another recurring theme in the studies (64%).
Research evaluating eWOM seeks to understand behaviors and
motivations in order to respond properly to them. Normally, studies
analyze factors such as: who generates reviews, why they are generated, what motivates consumers to write reviews, what impacts
reviews have on consumers and companies and how reviews affect
results and purchase intention.
Although technology can increase the accuracy of results, some
studies lack precision considering the various variables involved,
i.e. they do not identify all the factors that motivate a hotel reservation or the weight of each factor. However, in a general way, these
studies can identify some effects on behavior according to gender, age, loyalty and trust and/or distrust of the recommendations,
among others.
In this study, it was possible to identify some relevant issues
that are highlighted because of their recurrence and importance in
the research analyzed. It should be noted that some factors may
have been studied more in depth than others, and also that several
important issues may have been found in the same article.

Decision making process (18 studies): Recurring issue in the


impacts of eWOM from consumer perspective.
Valence (18 studies): This issue was examined not only in the line
of review-generating factors but also in the impacts of eWOM,
considering that the valence of comments (positive or negative)
inuences consumers and generates impacts on companies.
Purchase intention (17 studies): This issue is highlighted in studies regarding the impacts of eWOM, related to decision making
processes.
Perceived trustworthiness (15 studies). Of the 28 analyzed
research papers, 15 addressed the issue of trustworthiness,
mainly along the line related to the impacts of eWOM.
Competitive advantagemarketing strategies (11 studies). These
studies propose actions based on the results of their research;
however, most of them include suggestions highlighting the
importance of considering this new form of communication and
not specic actions.
Useful reviews (10 studies): This issue was discussed in depth in
research papers concerning the impacts of eWOM, considering
the analysis related to the usefulness of online reviews and their
credibility.
Age and gender (9 studies). Studies related to inuence of eWOM
on age and gender factors are fairly recent, most having been
published in 2011.
Perceived expertise (7 studies): This issue is related to useful
reviews.
Loyalty (7 studies): Identied mainly in relation to impacts of
eWOM both from consumer and company perspective.
Risk reduction (5 studies): This issue suggests risk reduction as a
variable to be considered in the consumer decision making process, i.e. according to the intangible characteristics of the product,
eWOM is a way to minimize risks at the time of purchase.
Development of reputation ratings and rankings (2 studies). Few
studies regarding this specic issue; however, it is becoming
increasingly important in the buying process.
5. Research gaps and future research
Considering the analysis performed on eWOM related to the
hospitality industry, we observe that, in general, there are ample
opportunities for future research to extend the level of knowledge
regarding this new phenomenon. This refers both to factors that
contribute to the generation of comments as well as to the impacts
of reviews on consumer behavior and purchasing decision.
Below we highlight some of the issues that could be further
investigated in future along the lines of research dened in this
study:
5.1. Generating factors
According to researchers and the analysis of published articles,
this line of research seeks to understand the factors leading to the
generation of comments. Thus, some issues that could be expanded,
which would be valuable for the tourism industry and researchers
alike, would be: How to stimulate the generation of comments?
What variables contribute to this action? As mentioned earlier in
this study, it is estimated that only 1% of users actively produces
new content.
Research could also include behavioral comparisons: by
nationality (Do cultural differences inuence the generation of

50

A. Serra Cantallops, F. Salvi / International Journal of Hospitality Management 36 (2014) 4151

comments? What aspects contribute to the generation of comments in different nationalities?); by income level (Are there
differences in the generation of comments related to consumer
income level?), by travel types (Are there different inuences on the
generation of comments in leisure travel versus business travel?)
by category of hotels (Are there differences in the number of comments generated considering the categories of hotels?) among
others.

5.2. Impacts of eWOM


Measuring eWOM impacts is a recent and highly changeable
issue, due to new variables related to new consumer behavior and
online communication that constantly introduces new interaction
forms. These new forms of communication are in a changing environment through new networks, new groups, new review websites
and new social networking tools, among others.
These new tools and media allow the consumer to evaluate more
quickly and receive a high volume of information, which, in a way,
can reduce the risk in the buying process for certain products and
services. Due to the development of these channels and considering
the needs of this new behavior, new ways to measure satisfaction are introduced; including rankings, new scoring methods or
qualitative assessments of consumers.
How to handle the mass of information generated and its weight
on the consumer decision process is an important factor that should
be analyzed in greater depth in future research, i.e. considering the
amount of information and the kinds of presentation (rankings, ratings and reviews with different systems of assessment), what are
the criteria used by consumers to make conclusions regarding the
reputation of a product, service or brand? And what is the weight
of these factors in their decision to purchase? On the other hand,
what would be the most effective way to lter this information and
obtain a reliable reection of consumer perspective?
Regarding eWOM impacts, it would also be interesting to analyze what differences exist between different nationalities and
cultures, i.e. differences in impacts that can be caused by online
evaluations among consumers in different European countries or
even between Americans and Europeans, among other possible
comparisons. It is also worth considering, for example, that in
countries with less access to information technology, the impact of
the use of these tools is probably not as signicant as in countries
with greater access.
Purchase intention could also be more closely evaluated according to topics related to differences between nationalities or
cultures, types of travel or income levels, among others. Factors
associated with consumer sensitivity to price is another question
that is gaining importance. For example, what weight do comments
have when two distinct products are compared, such as hotels of
different categories? Or, to what level do comments inuence purchase decision when consumers take advantage of a special offer
or discount?
Aspects regarding hotel or hotel chain loyalty is a topic that can
also be further researched, considering that one of the indicators
of loyalty is the intention to repurchase a product or service. For
example, how are loyal clients are inuenced by online comments
when they decide to purchase? For clients who are loyal to a particular hotel chain, can negative comments affect their decision to
book at one of the chains hotels, or does consumer condence in
the brand prevail?
Another subject that could be investigated are differences and
weight of reviews according to product type, both by hotel category, whether they are urban or leisure, i.e. Do online reviews affect
lower quality products more? Are vacation hotels more sensitive
to ratings than urban hotels? One could also study the relationship

between online reputation and consumer sensitivity to product


price according to nationality.
In addition, another issue that has not been extensively
researched and is fundamental to the credibility and reliability of
users, is the question of ethics and fraud in the publications systems
of review websites, social media and other related websites. With
regard to this issue, further research may investigate how the veracity and credibility of published reviews can be identied. Some
assessments have already begun to include rankings that categorize consumers who submit more reviews. Also, some companies
are implementing their own systems to check who the real clients
are. What systems are already being used or could be implemented
to prevent fraud?
Studies have not yet been identied that analyze the management of these impacts from the company perspective, i.e. what
would be the best way to manage review impact and measure the
results? Are the efforts of the company to manage these impacts
effective? How do companies evaluate their actions and measure
their performance in terms of results? How can client reviews
affect the brand image of an individual hotel an entire hotel chain?
Another point to consider would be a comparison of hotel companies in different destinations and the behavior of their clients by
nationality. Does eWOM generate different impacts on hotels in
different destinations? Do clients of the same nationality behave
differently depending on the destination they choose?
These are some of the issues where additional research possibilities related to eWOM and hotels were observed. Further studies
could be useful not only for a greater understanding of consumer
behavior but also for companies to establish and develop appropriate marketing strategies.
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