Measuring the Effects of Airbnb’s Growth on Consumer Brand Perception in the Hotel Industry: A Case Study of Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Carl Marcus Hugo Ryrberg

Student thesis: Master thesis


The technological trajectory that has followed the digital revolution and the emergence of the sharing economy have resulted in disruptive trajectories and innovation in a number of industries, among them the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry. The rapid growth and development of the sharing economy company Airbnb is one player that appears to be disrupting the industry. Questions regarding consumer brand image, and the possible effect that the disruptive emergence of Airbnb could have in this are for the incumbent firms in the industry are therefore becoming increasingly interesting. In order to answer such questions, this research conducts a case study on Best Western Hotels & Resorts, a branded hotel that caters to various segments in the market. As such, the main research question of this study becomes: To what degree and extent has the consumer brand image of Best Western Hotels & Resorts changed before, during, and after the arrival of Airbnb's disruption in the hospitality industry? Based on theories concerning brand image in terms of brand equity and brand identity, as well as Christensen’s (1997) and Christensen and Raynor’s (2003) theories regarding disruptive innovation, and by examining the consumer sentiment on Best Western Hotel & Resorts official Facebook page, with the use of big data sentiment analysis and the more qualitative research method netnography, the thesis cannot argue with certainty for any correlation between the emergence of the disruptive innovation of Airbnb and the consumer brand perception of Best Western over time. However, the thesis argues that the more general technological trajectory that is the sharing economy has in fact affected consumer brand perception and the brand image of Best Western. Furthermore, it is argued that this has resulted in Best Western losing its position in the industry. Therefore, the thesis also suggests possible strategic business responses that Best Western Hotels & Resorts could apply in order to cope with the competitive landscape created after the emergence of Airbnb and the sharing economy, which also is this study’s sub- proposition. These suggestions were based on Amit’s et al (2012) activity-system framework related to business model innovation as well as theories concerning corporate catalyst innovation. The research was conducted with a deductive, mixed-method research approach. Firstly, the study conducted big data sentiment analysis and big data keyword analysis in order acquire a holistic and broad picture of the general consumer sentiment. Secondly, in order to understand the context of the consumer sentiment, netnography research was also performed. This mixed- method approached ensured the triangulation of the findings.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages184