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Customer responses to integrity issues for travel services in China: A content analysis based on online complaints

Jin-Hong Gong (School of Humanities and Law, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China)
Li-Shan Xie (School of Business, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Jia-Min Peng (School of Management, Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)
Xin-Hua Guan (School of Business, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 16 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore integrity issues for travel services in China using the framework of a stress and coping model to focus on customers’ perceived unfairness, responsibility attribution and their negative emotions.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis of 80 online customer complaints provides a brief profile of these integrity issues.

Findings

Integrity issues frequently appear during service delivery and are primarily rooted in the unethical behavior of travel service employees or partners. Service contracts and fairness are used by customers as standards to evaluate harm caused by integrity issues. Customers attribute responsibility for these issues to the travel agency or tour operator, and not their employees. Finally, customers feel angry and disappointed when they experience an integrity issue and sometimes feel helpless.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies can collect data by multiple means and further examine the correlations between customers’ cognitive appraisals, negative emotions and relationship outcomes in the context of integrity violation.

Practical implications

Integrity management in travel services should be integrated with service management and promise management. Travel agencies must take immediate actions to reduce the negative influences of integrity issues. Moreover, the tourism sector in China should make efforts to control integrity problems at the industry level.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the prior model of trust violation by investigating the trigger events of integrity violation and emphasizing the roles of customers’ perceived unfairness and negative emotions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants from Humanity and Social Science Foundation sponsored by the Ministry of Education of China (11YJC630048), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71172166 and 71302136).

Citation

Gong, J.-H., Xie, L.-S., Peng, J.-M. and Guan, X.-H. (2015), "Customer responses to integrity issues for travel services in China: A content analysis based on online complaints", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 199-213. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-01-2013-0054

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited