The Importance of Online Reviews : A qualitative study of how Swedish consumers search for information regarding accommodation

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Author: Tina Romanov; Sofia Svedin; [2014]

Keywords: ;


As the Internet usage in the world has rapidly increased, information can now be shared and

spread to individuals all over the world. Word-of-mouth communication that previously

was communicated face-to-face can now be communicated online, through electronic

word-of-mouth and user-generated content. One industry that has been effected by the use

of user-generated content is the tourism industry. Previous research has shown that

persuasive power that was previously held by travel agencies has now been moved to the

consumers. One tourism product that has been effected by this is accommodation.

Accommodation is a complex product as it includes both tangible and intangible elements

and previous research suggests that complex products involves a more extensive

information search before a purchase decision is made. One way that consumers can

receive information regarding accommodation is through online reviews, which is a form of

user-generated content. Previous research has found that online reviews can be considered a

valuable source of information about accommodation, and a tool in consumers travel

planning process.

The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how Swedish consumers

search for information regarding accommodation, and what influences a consumer’s prepurchase

information search process. In this study we have collected data through semistructured

interviews and with a sample of six participants. The findings of this study

implies that the participants usually do not have a need to search for information about

accommodation when traveling within Sweden since they usually travel within Sweden to

visit family and friends. However, when they do travel within Sweden the purpose and

information search differs compared to when traveling abroad. Online reviews are therefore

more used when traveling abroad. The results of this study imply that online reviews are

used as an important tool within the pre-purchase information search process. Furthermore,

the use of and trust in online reviews differs between the study’s participants and can

depend on factors such as perceived risk, personality characteristics, and previous

knowledge about travelling. Online reviews can be regarded as a valuable source of wordof-

mouth information and can be regarded as more important than information from friends

and family. This because updated information is important according to the participants in

this study, which shows that information from online reviews is time sensitive. Online

reviews has an effect on consumers perception and attitude towards an accommodation and

can effect a consumer’s ultimate choice, as accommodation can be considered and

disregarded from information derived from online reviews. Responses from management

are recommended as responses from management to reviews give a positive impression.

However, the findings cannot indicate that responses from management can effect a

consumer’s ultimate purchasing choice. Therefore focusing on the service and promoting

positive word-of-mouth information is more important than putting effort into responding

to positive and negative reviews.

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