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How live chat assistants drive travel consumers’ attitudes, trust and purchase intentions: The role of human touch

Graeme McLean (Department of Marketing, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK and Department of Marketing, Business School, King Faisal University, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia)
Kofi Osei-Frimpong (Department of Marketing, GIMPA Business School, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra, Ghana)
Alan Wilson (Department of Marketing, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Valentina Pitardi (Department of Marketing and Sales, Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 16 April 2020

Issue publication date: 23 May 2020

Abstract

Purpose

By adopting a social presence theory perspective, this study aims investigate the influence of perceived usefulness of live chat services and of their unique human attributes on customer attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in the context of online travel shopping.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a cross-sectional survey research involving 8 travel provider websites and 631 travel consumers, this work applies structural equation modelling to analyse the data.

Findings

The results illustrate that the perceived usefulness from the communication with a human live chat assistant positively influences customer attitudes and trust towards the website as well as increasing purchase intention. The findings further illustrate the role of the human social cues conveyed by live chat facilities, namely, human warmth, human assurance, human attentiveness and human customised content in positively moderating this effect.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to specific human attributes. Future research could investigate the role of other human characteristics as well as assess the ability of artificial intelligent powered chatbots in replicating the human elements outlined in this research.

Originality/value

The study provides a unique contribution to the travel literature by offering empirical insights and conceptual clarity into the usefulness of human operated live chat communication on travellers’ attitudes, trust towards the website and purchase intentions.

Keywords

Citation

McLean, G., Osei-Frimpong, K., Wilson, A. and Pitardi, V. (2020), "How live chat assistants drive travel consumers’ attitudes, trust and purchase intentions: The role of human touch", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 1795-1812. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-07-2019-0605

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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