Examining the Impacts of Positive and Negative Online Hotel Reviews

By Shahin Sharifi Lecturer, Macquarie University | February 17, 2019

These days, consumers are likely to read online consumer reviews to learn about others' experiences and thoughts regarding a concept of their interest. Consumers were and are exposed to communications from firms (e.g., hotels) in form of promotional materials in different channels. The difference nowadays is that a consumer also has access to communications from real consumers who have tried services promoted by hotels and can attest whether or not a hotel delivered what they had promised or at least their services had been up to scratch.

In the clash between communications from hotels and communications from other customers, a prospective customer is likely to trust a fellow customer more than a focal firm, because a fellow customer would be considered an ingroup, while a hotel would be considered an outgroup. Accordingly, a hotel's success and sometimes even their survival may heavily depend on consumers' evaluations of their online consumer review.

Following the aforementioned clash in communications available to prospective customers (i.e., hotels versus their customers), it is critical to uncover how prospective customers would react to a facility versus their customers. That is, for a hotel, it would be pivotal to understand how much prospective customers would trust them upon reading a review about them. Notwithstanding, to a greater extent, it would be imperative to uncover how much a prospective customer would trust a review in the first place. For example, if a prospective customer did not trust a review for some reasons, then would it affect his or her evaluations of the hotel? Would any measures to address consumers' positive and/or negative feedback affect prospective customers' evaluations of consumer reviews.

Most of the existing research on online consumer reviews focuses on consumer trust in a focal facility upon reading a positive or negative review about them. The issues in the current knowledge regarding reactions to online reviews are bifold. Firstly, many reviews may conceivably be a mix of positive and negative pieces-that is, a mixed review. Overlooking the evaluations of mixed reviews significantly limits our knowledge about the impact of online reviews on consumer behavior and choice.

Secondly, before trusting a facility of focus in a review, a prospective customer needs to trust the review, per se. Hence, a precursor to consumer trust in a focal facility is the credibility of reviews-that is, the processes underpinning the evaluation of online consumer reviews may even weigh more than the outcome of such reviews, an issue overlooked in the existing research on online consumer reviews.

The current research argues that prospective customers of a hotel would consider a negative review a reviewer's retaliation against a hotel. Conversely, they would consider a positive review a reviewer's gratitude for quality services by a hotel. Relatedly, they would consider a mixed review a mix of both; however, owing to the asymmetry inherent in mixed reviews, prospective customers would have difficulty assessing whether the experience in a mixed review was positive or negative. Hence, this may reduce the credibility of mixed reviews. In this sense, the findings revealed that consumers trusted positive reviews the most, followed by mixed reviews, and then negative reviews.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

David Hogan
David Michael Jerome
David Gilbert
Rene Lewis
James Downey
Kelly McGuire
Lanny Grossman
John Poimiroo
Roberta Nedry
Jeff Slye
Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.