An investigation into the impact of online consumer reviews on both customer buying behaviour and the Hospitality Industry.
The aim of this research was to investigate consumer and hospitality organisations attitudes towards web-based review sites and identify whether these sites have a lasting impact on consumer buying behaviour. This study looks at the motivations behind why consumers use online reviews, what sites they know as well as how they expect management of hospitality organisations to acknowledge and deal with them. This research project identified how hospitality organisations contemplate these online review sites to affect them, and whether they believe they manage them effectively. The gap in the research was identified after much consideration and analysis of the literature surrounding the research topic chosen, Web-based consumer review sites. The literature review identified why consumers choose to use online review sites, and why they are often perceived to be more reliable. It then goes on to talk about how the consumers collect information has changed, moving on from word of mouth and moving to electronic word of mouth and how this has changed consumers buying motivations and decisions. A mixed method research method was chosen, with convenience sampling being used to conduct the online questionnaire, where 110 participants took part. The survey only took around 10 minutes and was made up of 17 questions, participants were a mixture of friends, family and a travellers group on Facebook. The 3 semi structured interviews were carried out with general managers of hospitality organisations, each lasting around 15 minutes. The results collected from this research project provided rich data, which allowed for analysis around why online consumer review sites are so widely used. The results from the questionnaire included expected answers, such as what sites the participants had heard of, as well as the emergent of new themes, such as not always wanting management to acknowledge and respond to these reviews but rather they just fix the issues mentioned. The interviews provided more insight into how the hospitality industry perceives these online review sites, not thinking they are worth the effort, but also how they believe they should acknowledge and manage this feedback, one even using these sites as a way to market themselves for free.