The purpose of this thesis has been to explore which effect consumer-generated reviews of hotels, have on other consumers’ perception of hotel brands, and examine the impact on this perception, when hotels deliver an answer to the review. To examine this effect a theoretical framework was established in order to create a research design that put emphasis on identified key components of the term customer based brand equity. The theoretical framework comprises Web 2.0, WOM, consumer behaviour, and brand theory. Based on this framework, four exploratory qualitative interviews was conducted identifying potential new elements that might have an impact on the consumer behaviour of using travelling websites and online reviews. Through the qualitative research it was found that consumer-generated reviews was primarily used to reduce the consumers‘ cognitive dissonance. Furthermore it could be concluded that the substance of the review and the hotels’ answer, had significant effect on what impact it would have on the consumer perception. The impact could be measured in the consumers’ perception of the brand quality and brand image On the basis of the theoretical framework and the subsequent qualitative interviews a host of hypothesis was generated to be used for tests of the data derived from the quantitative questionnaire. The hypothesis tests based on the quantitative questionnaire showed strong significance for the tests concerning the customer based brand equity categories, which leads to the conclusion that consumer generated reviews and especially hotel answers to customer generated reviews can indeed improve the overall perception of a hotel’s quality and image. The findings of this effect seemed to be by far the biggest whenever the hotel answer was in response to a negative review. Although not proven statistically significant the results indicated, that a hotel answer in response to a customer based review enhanced the subsequent test for unaided recall of the hotel. This is a highly encouraging theory, as the competition between hotels are often strong due to the amount of hotels clustered in the same area, though this theory may need further statistically backing to be statistically proven. As this is the first study of it’s art that directly examines the effect of adding hotel answers to customer based reviews, the findings have been very positive. It is therefore this author’s opinion that further research, with an enhanced research design, can deliver even greater results.
|Cand.merc.emf Økonomisk Markedsføring, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling