p.p1 the Four Seasons, or the Homewood Suites

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 CASE REPORT ON TRIPADVISOR 
Business Administration & E-Business 
Intake: Fall 2017 
Strategic and Tactical Tools for E-Business 
CBUSO1001U.LA_E17 
Group 18 
Edita Varovic (190794-4316) 
Christian Andersen (170790-1809) 
Frederik Langwitz Waldhausen (221189-2432) 
Gabrielle Pierre 
Number of Content Pages: 5 
Number of Characters: 7767 
Date of Submission: 30-11-2017 1 

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1. Why has Tripadvisor become a successful source of hotel reviews? 

2. Why is TripAdvisor so appealing to consumers? Why do users write hotel reviews? Why do users read hotel reviews? 

3. How can major hotel chains influence online reviews? Should they even try to? Why? 

4. Which online WOM approach do you prefer: The one practiced by the Four Seasons, or the Homewood Suites approach? Why? 

1. Why has Tripadvisor become a successful source of hotel reviews? 
In order for an online travel community to function well, it is critical that it has a large number of members, and that a big proportion of them actively participates and contributes with their content (Wang & Fesenmaier, 2004). It is clear that TripAdvisor has both, as currently they are the biggest travel website in the world, with 570 million reviews and around 455 million average visitors per month (“US Press Center | About TripAdvisor,” n.d.). 
A reason for TripAdvisor’s success is that it was among the first movers. Thus, TripAdvisor was sure to gain a significant competitive advantage by acquiring a critical mass and prospering on the network effect (Billy Duberstein, 2017). In other words, more people were contributing to TripAdvisor, the bigger its value was (McIntyre & Chintakananda, 2014). 
From the beginning TripAdvisor marketed itself as the place on the internet where to find all the information you need for your next trip (Billy Duberstein, 2017). 
Other aspects contributing to its success were unbiased reviews, community of travelers, and a more open platform, that isn’t incentivized to remove negative reviews. This open platform helps customers in their decision making process by providing unbiased source of information from a large community (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2016). 
With its clickable text ads, display ads, and fees for listings paid by hotels and property owners (business listing), TripAdvisor can now be included in businesses online marketing strategies(Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2016) 
With its freemium model, TripAdvisor gives businesses a preview of all the marketing opportunities it offers. The platform can help businesses with their business intelligence by allowing them to check what customers say about them, and they can see opinions on their competitors (Yoo, Sigala, & Gretzel, 2016). 3 

It is also a way for business to manage their online reputation by answering or act on some reviews (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2016). 
For example, acting on a bad review might change the customer point of view and will show new customers that the business care about the experience it offers. 
Thanks to its two sided benefits, TripAdvisor brings value for both customers and businesses. 
2. Why is TripAdvisor so appealing to consumers? Why do users write hotel reviews? Why do users read hotel reviews? 
Large number of reviews makes TripAdvisor a great source of information for any traveler. In that way, they are appealing to users by offering them significant amount of information on destinations, hotels, restaurants, flights and many other travel related services in one place, which allows for a quick and easy comparison (K. Yoo, Sigala, & Gretzel, 2016).TripAdvisor is also seen as a very trustworthy website by users, as 72% of them reported to trust reviews as much as they believed their family and friends, and the reviews are also considered to be unbiased, providing real experience from other travelers (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2014). Compared to other online travelling agencies which implemented online reviews, Tripadvisor does not require a proof of booking, and the service is free for any user (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2014). 
When it comes to motivations on reading reviews, these involve making better purchase decisions and saving time of that decision making process (Hennig-Thurau & Walsh, 2003). As traveling, staying at hotels and eating out could be considered some kind of experience which cannot be tested before the actual use or purchase, future travelers want to get as much information possible to ensure that their trip will be good and they increasingly rely on other people’s experiences and recommendations to help them make their decisions (Yoo et al., 2016). Online reviews on TripAdvisor give a good insight into these experiences, they show the real side of it, both the good and the bad (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2014). 4 

Users write reviews for various reasons. Some write them out of concern for others, attention to online reviews, so it is possible to think that some users just want to have their voices hear and have impact on some changes (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2014). 
3. How can major hotel chains influence online reviews? Should they even try to? Why? 
According to the case presented, hotels have three main ways of effecting reviews; location , quantity, and quality. These three factors draws associations to the four p’s know from classical marketing theory. Here under we will go through the different factors and describe the ways in which hotels can utilize. 
Location 
Hotels can use location in several ways. They can do so by giving advice, warnings and recommendations. There are users who write reviews to increase their self-esteem when they are perceived as being helpful (K. H. Yoo & Gretzel, 2008). Others want to reward the companies for providing good experiences (Teixeira & Kornfeld, 2014). Hotels increasingly pay to display online reviews, this can be done by displaying material from review sites in the hotel lobby, or on guests rooms. But also online, they have to focus on certain platforms, where they will provide feedback, answer customer questions and complaints. 
Quantity 
Encourage happy guests to leave reviews, and share their experience. This can also include reminders in e-mails after the stay, and marketing material at the checkout counter. A hotel is likely to get more visitors, if they have positive reviews, but it should be noted this effect doesn’t work until a threshold is reached, where customers might deem it credible. 
Quality 
First thing is to provide a quality experience. But afterwards, as seen in the Homewood Suites example, companies can use digital to help guests find help, and 5 

be there the whole way. Another way could be to guide guests on how to write helpful reviews, that truly help potential future customers. 
4. Which online WOM (word-of-mouth) approach do you prefer: The one practiced by the Four Seasons, or the Homewood Suites approach? Why? 
In order to rank the two, we will start by comparing their approaches. 
Four Seasons is based on awareness of review sites, with a large push on online advertising. They take pride in having individual sites for each location, which seems like a good idea, and allows for a more granular view of the data, that in turn helps the customer make better decisions. 
Homewood suites, have taken a different approach that is focused on using social media as a platform for conversations and a chance to connect with guests. 
We prefer the way Homewood suites approach WOM. They seem to have grasped the basic idea of web 2.0, as a way of having relations with customers, on a different level, than was previously possible. 
That said, there is also a good argument for having individual sites, so customers can get a sense of the individual destination. This might be even more relevant, since Homewood uses a franchising model. Which can cause differing experiences based on local management teams and their competencies. 
CONTRIBUTIONS: 
Creation of this report was based on equal participation. We all participated in the brainstorming session and every person made notes for all the questions. In the second step, Gabrielle Pierre and Edita Varovic answered 1st and 2nd question and Christian and Frederik responded to the 3rd and 4th question. 6 

Reference List: 
Billy Duberstein. (2017). Why the “Network Effect” is Crucial for TripAdvisor. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/08/08/why-the-network-effect-is-crucial-for-tripadvisor.aspx 
Hennig-Thurau, T., & Walsh, G. (2003). Electronic word-of-mouth: Motives for and consequences of reading customer articulations on the internet. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 8(2), 51-74. 
McIntyre, D. P., & Chintakananda, A. (2014). Competing in network markets: Can the winner take all? Business Horizons, 57(1), 117–125. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.BUSHOR.2013.09.005 
Teixeira, T., & Kornfeld, L. (2014). Managing Online Reviews on TripAdvisor. Harvard Business School, (August), 1–11. 
US Press Center | About TripAdvisor. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://tripadvisor.mediaroom.com/us-about-us 
Wang, Y., & Fesenmaier, D. R. (2004). Towards understanding members’ general participation in and active contribution to an online travel community. Tourism Management, 25(6), 709–722. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.TOURMAN.2003.09.011 
Yoo, K. H., & Gretzel, U. (2008). What Motivates Consumers to Write Online Travel Reviews? Information Technology & Tourism, 10(4), 283–295. https://doi.org/10.3727/109830508788403114 
Yoo, K., Sigala, M., & Gretzel, U. (2016). Open Tourism. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-54089-9 

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