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Information enhancement or hindrance? Unveiling the impacts of user-generated photos in online reviews

Hengyun Li (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)
Lingyan Zhang (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)
Rui (Ami) Guo (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)
Haipeng Ji (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)
Bruce X.B. Yu (Department of Computing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 9 December 2022

148

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the promoting effects of the quantity and quality of online review user-generated photos (UGPs) on perceived review usefulness. The research further tests the hindering effect of human facial presence in review photos on review usefulness.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on review samples of restaurants in a tourist destination Las Vegas, this study used an integrated method combining a machine learning algorithm and econometric modeling.

Findings

Results indicate that the number of UGPs depicting a restaurant’s food, drink, menu and physical environment has positive impacts on perceived review usefulness. The quality of online review UGPs can also enhance perceived review usefulness, whereas facial presence in these UGPs hinders perceived review usefulness.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that practitioners can implement certain tactics to potentially improve consumers’ willingness to share more UGPs and UGPs with higher quality. Review websites could develop image-processing algorithms for identifying and presenting UGPs containing core attributes in prominent positions on the site.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to present a comprehensive analytical framework investigating the enhancing or hindering roles of review photo quantity, photo quality and facial presence in online review UGPs on review usefulness. Using the heuristic-systematic model as a theoretical foundation, this study verifies the additivity effect and attenuation effect of UGPs’ visual elements on judgements of online review usefulness. Furthermore, it extends scalable image data analysis by adopting a deep transfer learning algorithm in hospitality and tourism.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of research funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71902169) and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Departmental General Research Fund (Project No. G-UALR).

Citation

Li, H., Zhang, L., Guo, R.(A)., Ji, H. and Yu, B.X.B. (2022), "Information enhancement or hindrance? Unveiling the impacts of user-generated photos in online reviews", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-03-2022-0291

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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