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Air the anger: investigating online complaints on luxury hotels

Erdogan Ekiz (Department of Tourism & Hospitality, Khaled Al‐Faisal Tourism Research Center, Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business (PSCJ), Al‐Faisal University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Catheryn Khoo‐Lattimore (School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Taylor's University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Faranak Memarzadeh (Graduate School of Hospitality and Tourism, Taylor's University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 26 July 2012




Given the importance of negative word of mouth and growing number of hotel customers who leave their complaints on the web, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the complaints posted by guests who have stayed at luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


The dataset for this paper is a compilation of hotel reviews collected from TripAdvisor between November 2010 and January 2011. A thematic analysis was used in order to identify emergent themes from the dataset, which were explored and discussed in relation to the existing literature on complaining behavior as well as the aims of the study. The six phases of analysis outlined in the relevant literature was used to guide data analysis.


Analysis of the 320 scripts produced a total of 1,453 different incidents. Results of the analysis produced 54 different themes. A frequency analysis conducted to rank these 54 themes in terms of how frequently they are stated. Some of the extracted themes and their frequency from the most significant to least are as follows; “rooms”, “arrogant and/or clueless staff” and “failure to respond”.

Practical implications

Rooms as the setting of the accommodation services, received the highest number of complaints from the luxury hotel guests, and suggest that Malaysian hoteliers should focus on the basics of accommodation and provide tangible quality factors. Moreover, the findings of the analysis suggest that the luxury hotels are suffering from service failures caused by inexperienced, unprofessional, misbehaving staff, which calls for strong recruitment, training and continuous improvement on the hoteliers' part. The findings highlight some important measures that hoteliers can use as guidelines to further improve their service offerings.


Customers who share dissatisfying experiences and disseminate negative word‐of‐mouth have been a significant challenge for companies who under‐deliver. This problem is more of a major concern today with the aid of technology and the speed of internet. Despite the increasing importance, comparatively little has been written on how guests use the internet to share their experiences.



Ekiz, E., Khoo‐Lattimore, C. and Memarzadeh, F. (2012), "Air the anger: investigating online complaints on luxury hotels", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 96-106.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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