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Is a picture really worth a thousand words? An experiment on hotel Facebook message effectiveness

Xi Leung (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Sarah Tanford (William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Lan Jiang (School of Resort and Hospitality Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this study was to explore the marketing effectiveness of hotel Facebook messages in terms of promoting favorable attitudes and behavior intentions among potential hotel guests


An online experiment was conducted with a three (message format) × three (message content), between-subjects factorial design in which three message formats, i.e. word/text, picture and weblink, and three types of message content, i.e. brand, product and interactive, were manipulated.


The findings indicate that the most effective message format is dependent upon its purpose. Picture messages are most effective for promoting the brand, whereas weblink messages influence intentions to book hotels based on product attributes. Electronic word-of-mouth intention is an important outcome of Facebook marketing, which can be strengthened by word messages and weblink messages about products.

Research limitations/implications

The major limitation of this study is that the study used pseudo Facebook pages and messages created for each experimental condition. Facebook pages can take many forms, so the findings may not generalize to other Facebook pages.

Practical implications

The findings of this study suggest several important practical implications for the hotel industry to leverage Facebook marketing. To foster favorable attitudes and build brand awareness, hotel marketers should include picture messages that prominently feature the brand image. To motivate booking a particular product, word messages describing product features should be provided, along with a weblink that takes the customer directly from product information to a hotel-booking engine.


Although preliminary research has been conducted on Facebook marketing activities, little is known about the effectiveness of Facebook messages. For example, do different types of messages have different effects on marketing effectiveness? What message type is most effective? Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate empirically the effects of different message types on marketing effectiveness. The results of this study will shed light on how hotels can post the most persuasive message content in the most effective message format on their Facebook pages to enhance their fans’ attitudes and increase their purchase intentions.



Leung, X., Tanford, S. and Jiang, L. (2017), "Is a picture really worth a thousand words? An experiment on hotel Facebook message effectiveness", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 19-38.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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