Using situational crisis communication theory to understand Orlando hotels’ Twitter response to three crises in the summer of 2016

Danielle Barbe (Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Lori Pennington-Gray (Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Publication date: 13 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the crisis communication strategies implemented by hotel and lodging organizations via social media. Specifically, this study analyzed Twitter content by hotels in Orlando, Florida during the summer of 2016 when several crises occurred that made global media coverage, including the alligator snatching on Disney property, the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub and growing concerns of Zika virus.

Design/methodology/approach

To understand crisis communication in the hotel industry, this study was guided by the technology-environment-organization framework and situational crisis communication theory (SCCT). Twitter content between June 1 and August 31, 2016 from Orlando hotels was collected and content analyzed to determine: was the message related to the crisis event, the SCCT strategy used and the influence of hotel organizational factors (ownership, size, classification) on the use of social media for crisis communication.

Findings

Results indicate that most hotels are not currently using Twitter as a form of crisis communication. Only the shooting at Pulse Nightclub was communicated and the SCCT bolster strategy was used throughout each of the crisis-related message, reminding stakeholders that they too are a victim.

Originality/value

This study provides insight into the ways hotels are using social media for crisis communication. Each crisis explored was different, and while the hotels were not responsible for creating the crises, they are responsible for the safety of guests. These results inform hoteliers that there is a responsibility to communicate during a crisis, particularly for informative purposes.

Keywords

Citation

Barbe, D. and Pennington-Gray, L. (2018), "Using situational crisis communication theory to understand Orlando hotels’ Twitter response to three crises in the summer of 2016", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 258-275. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTI-02-2018-0009

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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