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Electronic Word-of-Mouth and Consumer Generated Media (CGM) have become important aspects of the hospitality and tourism marketing mix. This research looked at hotel reviews on the CGM review-site TripAdvisor to determine the influence loyalty to a hotel brand has upon postings. From the literature, one would expect brand loyalty to have a positive impact upon a poster’s reviews. The findings, however, do not support this relationship. Brand loyalists were found to be neither more or less generous, nor volatile, than were other posters. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Discussion and conclusion
These findings suggest that TripAdvisor contributor reviews reflect the same degree of volatility regardless of their poster’s brand loyalty status; that brand loyalists are neither harsher nor more generous in their review patterns; and that brand loyalists rate hotels within their preferred-brand no differently than they do hotels not under their preferred-brand’s umbrella. Familiarity neither creates a ‘halo effect’ resulting in loyal guests rating their preferred-brand’s properties more generously than those of the competition, nor does ‘familiarity breed contempt’ with their shortcomings more strongly criticized.
The literature suggested that brand loyalists would be advocates for their preferredbrand. However, these findings suggest TripAdvisor contributors evaluate hotels through the same critical lens, regardless of their loyalty leanings towards the reviewed brand. While this would not seem the answer hotel marketers would desire as validation for the extensive marketing efforts they direct towards their loyal guests, it is an interesting commentary re CGM. We conclude from the above findings that TripAdvisor posters, at least those who frequently review hotels, given that we only considered posters with at least 30 hotel reviews, are objective with their postings, wishing to share with their ‘community’ unbiased reviews that reflect their vision of reality. The name on the hotel marquee does not seem to influence their property reviews. This is a positive result for CGM sites, and also encouraging for those who continue to note the power of e-WOM in our industry.