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The digital revolution in the tourism industry: role of anthropomorphic virtual agent in digitalized hotel service

Sihem Ben Saad (Department of Business, Carthage Business School, University of Tunis Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 21 March 2024

250

Abstract

Purpose

In the tourism industry, immersive technologies become increasingly vital, amplifying traveler experiences and industry growth. By studying “e-booking” applications prevalent in hotels, this study aims to analyze the impact of integrating an anthropomorphic virtual agent (AVA) on user perceptions of humanness and service usage intent.

Design/methodology/approach

Two experiments were conducted to examine the effects of using an AVA and explain the psychological mechanism of how AVA’s attributes increase intention to use “e-booking” application.

Findings

The results highlight the positive influence of AVA on the intention to use. They illustrate the psychological mechanism of how AVA’s attributes (agency and emotionality) influence perceived humanness and intention to use. More specifically, the results indicate that perceived humanness mediated the effect of an AVA on intention to use.

Research limitations/implications

Further research should delve into additional capabilities related to humanness.

Practical implications

This study provides useful insights for hotels’ managers about incorporating AVAs in digital services to enhance the perceived humanness of AVAs. The findings suggest that such efforts could yield benefits, especially when they involve conveying that AVAs possess agency and emotionality.

Originality/value

To the best of the author’s knowledge, this study is the first to investigate how AVA impacts hotel human–computer interaction. It examines agency and emotionality features on humanness perception and behavioral intent. It also guides successful digitalized hotel service development and design, expanding existing research on human–virtual agent digital services, which mainly focuses on superficial traits like face and gender.

Keywords

Citation

Ben Saad, S. (2024), "The digital revolution in the tourism industry: role of anthropomorphic virtual agent in digitalized hotel service", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-09-2023-1485

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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