Determinants of the Effective Use of UGC (User-Generated Content) on Hotel Room Bookings by Portuguese Travellers

Determinants of the Effective Use of UGC (User-Generated Content) on Hotel Room Bookings by Portuguese Travellers

Susana Bernardino (CEOS, ISCAP, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal), J. Freitas Santos (CEOS, ISCAP, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal), José Cadima Ribeiro (NIPE, University of Minho, Portugal) and André Freitas (ISCAP, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJOM.2020040103

Abstract

The presence of user generated content (UGC) on online platforms of hotel room booking operators is changing the way consumers book a hotel room. After a critical evaluation of the technology acceptance models (TAM), the authors discuss the variables that will be employed to predict the effective use of online hotel room bookings by Portuguese travellers. The empirical investigation consists of a linear regression model that was built in order to analyse the data obtained from an online survey of 624 customers of the website Booking.com. The results showed that attitude towards UGC and the perceived ease to use of UGC are important determinants on the buyer's decision-making process of booking a hotel room. This result shows the relevance of UGC (ratings and reviews) for online booking operators, as UGC could influence the booking of a particular hotel room. Further, the result also brings important implications for hotel managers that pay less attention to the feedback of the customers.
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Introduction

The User Generated Content (UGC) refers to any content created and shared on the Internet by users outside the professional activity. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines user-created content upon three dimensions: i) “content made publicly available over the Internet”, ii) which “reflects a certain amount of creative effort”, and iii) which “is created outside of professional routines and practices” (OECD, 2007, p. 4). This content must be published in a site or in a page of a social network that is available to a group of people. The content could be generated by the social media through messages, texts, images, rates, likes on Facebook or other social media, video or other multimedia format, as music (Bureau, 2008; Dhar & Chang, 2009; Forrester Research, 2014; Moens, Li & Chua, 2014; Xu & Yin, 2015; Ye, Law, Gu & Chen, 2011). According to Shan, Ren and Li (2017, p. 1464), “UGC can be considered as the sum between users and social media platforms”.

Implicit in the consumer-generated online opinions and reviews of hotels and other travel-related industries is the concept of User Generated Content. For hotel marketing managers it is no longer sufficient to attract new customers by using marketing-mix tactics (e.g., advertising), without taking in account social media interfaces (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and the content generated by the customers (online peer reviews). As mentioned by Anderson (2012), the percentage of consumers consulting reviews at TripAdvisor prior to booking a hotel room has steadily increased over time, as has the number of reviews they are reading prior to making their hotel choice.

In recent years, UGC has faced a very impressive growth, higher than the one observed in the content posted by professional website managers (Shan, Ren & Li, 2017). Also, companies increasingly rely on externally produced information, such as UGC (Lukyanenko et al., 2017). To a large segment of relatively young and well-educated people these platforms have developed into influential mechanisms that affect the booking behaviour of potential clients. For instance, Blal and Sturman (2014) study of 319 hotels in the London metropolitan market found that the number of reviews (volume) and the ratings of reviews (valence) have different effects on hotels in various chain scale segments. According to the aforementioned study, the valence of those reviews has a greater effect on luxury hotels, while the volume of reviews has a greater effect on lower-tier hotels.

A recent article of Antel and Greyling (2017) reported that, unlike previous generations who consumed traditional, professionally created advertising content, the younger generation spent 30% of their media time on UGC and trusted more on conversations with friends (74%), peer reviews (68%) and social networking (50%) than on print newspaper (44%), radio (37%) and television (34%).

Further, the information shared through UGC can be considered an important source of information for hotel managers, bringing novel opportunities for improving service quality, increasing customer satisfaction and identifying potential problems when the information is correctly collected, treated and analysed (Schuckert, Liu, & Law, 2015; Liu & Park, 2015). For prospective customers, the positive or negative reviews of users put on the website of the hotel or the website of online operators (such as Booking.com) can attract or deter future clients, influencing the number of hotel rooms booked. Besides, the information displayed by customers is frequently used by online operators to evaluate hotels by fixing minimum rating levels to maintain the hotel for booking on the operator website or even exclude it from the list.

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