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Understanding emotional customer experience and co-creation behaviours in luxury hotels

Szu-Hsin Wu (DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Ireland)
Yuhui Gao (DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Ireland)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 12 November 2019

Issue publication date: 21 November 2019




A holistic understanding of sources that evoke customer emotions is essential for creating a positive emotional customer experience (ECX). Despite a significant focus on the cognitive aspect of customer experience and traditional customer behaviours (e.g. loyalty and satisfaction), limited attention has been paid to ECX and co-creation behaviours. The purpose of this paper is to address this important knowledge gap by identifying different emotions and prominent sources of ECX (i.e. emotion triggers and constructors) during service interactions. By doing so, key customer co-creation behaviours are also identified, which help enhance positive customer experience.


A combined application of the appraisal theory and thematic analysis was used to explore ECX, its sources and co-creation behaviours as observed from 1,063 TripAdvisor customer reviews of luxury hotels in Ireland.


The results show that a single service interaction can evoke multiple emotions during the interaction process. The findings capture prominent emotions that customers experience and various important emotion triggers (physical environment, service management and offerings and human interaction) and constructors (customer expectation, accumulated service experience and culture fusion and authenticity). Three main customer co-creation behaviours (reinforcing intention, active and resourceful behaviours), which help facilitate the co-creation of positive customer emotions, are also identified.


The study proposes a new framework that provides unique insights into ECX to guide service improvement and innovation. A novel approach of applying the appraisal theory to a netnographic study is used to develop an ECX framework, which integrates various emotion triggers and constructors, and subsequent customer co-creation behaviours in the hotel industry.



The authors thank the Editor, the Guest Editors of the Special Issue and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The authors extend their thanks to Ms Ashling Seely for her assistance with the double-coding work, Dr Xiaoning Liang and Dr Na Fu, for their advice on a previous version of this article. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support for this study from DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Ireland.


Wu, S.-H. and Gao, Y. (2019), "Understanding emotional customer experience and co-creation behaviours in luxury hotels", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 11, pp. 4247-4275.



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