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E-complaint tracking and online problem-solving strategies in hospitality management: Plumbing the depths of reviews and responses on TripAdvisor

Ilker Sahin (Department of Tourism Guiding, Akdeniz Universitesi, Antalya, Turkey)
Mustafa Gulmez (Department of Tourism Management, Akdeniz Universitesi, Antalya, Turkey)
Olgun Kitapci (Department of Marketing, Akdeniz Universitesi, Antalya, Turkey)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 2 October 2017

2165

Abstract

Purpose

This research aims to scrutinize the negative reviews regarding the 5-star chain hotels and the e-responses on TripAdvisor, to categorize the complaints declared in the review texts, to provide better understanding of the online problem-solving methods of hotels and their corporate approach to e-complaints and to reveal the post-vacation electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) behaviours of the complaining tourists.

Design/methodology/approach

Within the scope of this research, 404 negative reviews and 364 e-responses are subject to an extensive content analysis. A total of 1,655 tourist e-complaints which were mentioned in the negative online reviews are categorized according to their subject matters and grouped under main themes. The e-responses of hotels and statements of e-complaining tourists regarding post-vacation experience are analysed in detail based on a qualitative research approach.

Findings

As a result of the research, 82 sub-themes within 11 complaint categories are determined, and it is found out that the e-complaints mainly focus on “food and beverage services”, “room comfort” and “hotel staff”. The hotel management mainly implemented problem-solving strategies such as “request for future patronage, a recovery plan as a result of the detailed analysis of the problem and warning to the relevant department performing poor service” as well as giving unsatisfactory “cliché responses”. Dissatisfied tourists performed negative e-WOM behaviours by using abusing expressions in review text, recommending different hotel alternatives, failing to recommend the hotel and expressing that they would not return.

Originality/value

Combing through negative e-reviews which include wide range of complaints of disappointed tourists and the statements which reveal post-vacation tendencies and feelings, the e-responses of hotels that are providing insight regarding the corporate approach to negative feedbacks and formation of post-vacation relations between the hotel and customers, the paper adopts a qualitative and utilitarian approach. The originality of the paper stems from its elaborative context analysis and balanced comparison of three 5-star luxury chain resort hotels located on the shores of the Mediterranean with almost similar quality standards and guest relations/public relations (GR/PR) departments that represent corporate identity. To this respect, the research is thought to be original in quality and can fill out the gap in the tourism literature. Presenting conceptual framework and practical information, the paper is predicted to guide the future studies, tourism marketers, travel consultants, PR/GR staff and managers employed in hospitality businesses.

Keywords

Citation

Sahin, I., Gulmez, M. and Kitapci, O. (2017), "E-complaint tracking and online problem-solving strategies in hospitality management: Plumbing the depths of reviews and responses on TripAdvisor", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 372-394. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-02-2017-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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