Handling Negative Online Customer Reviews: The Effects of Elaboration Likelihood Model and Distributive JusticeJournal of Travel & Tourism Marketing


Vincent T. P. Cheng, Mei Kun Loi
Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management / Marketing


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Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing

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Handling Negative Online Customer Reviews: The

Effects of Elaboration Likelihood Model and Distributive


Vincent T. P. Cheng & Mei Kun Loi

Published online: 23 Jan 2014.

To cite this article: Vincent T. P. Cheng & Mei Kun Loi (2014) Handling Negative Online Customer Reviews: The Effects of Elaboration Likelihood Model and Distributive Justice, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31:1, 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2014.861694

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10548408.2014.861694


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Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31:1–15, 2014

Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 1054-8408 print / 1540-7306 online

DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2014.861694




Vincent T. P. Cheng

Mei Kun Loi

ABSTRACT. Online customer reviews have received considerable attention in hospitality research because of their impact on hotel sales. In practice, control the creation of these reviews, especially those from negative perspectives. However, hotel managers can control how they respond to such negative reviews. This study examines the effects of two important factors that could enable marketers to formulate their responses in a manner that will positively influence customers who have read negative reviews. The study used a quasi-experimental design with 259 respondents. Elaboration likelihood model (ELM) routes and outcomes that led to the occurrence of distributive justice were modeled as moderating variables. Compared with conventional complaint handling methods, posting a response that adopted a central route to persuasion was found to be most effective for handling negative reviews.

KEYWORDS. Online customer reviews, elaboration likelihood model, trust, distributive justice, hotel


Online customer reviews have become one of the most significant information sources affecting travelers’ behavior in selecting hotels. Even the mere presence of reviews can increase travelers’ awareness of the hotel (Vermeulen &

Seegers, 2009). Furthermore, a study has shown that online customer reviews have a significant impact on hotels’ business and performance (Ye, Law, & Gu, 2009). Consequently, online customer reviews have received considerable attention in hospitality and marketing research (Litvin, Goldsmith, & Pan, 2008; Ye et al., 2009; Ye, Law, Gu, & Chen, 2011). Most of the

Vincent T. P. Cheng (E-mail: tpcheng@must.edu.mo) and Mei Kun Loi (E-mail: vickyloimac@ gmail.com) are with the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Macau University of Science and Technology in Taipa, Macau SAR, China.

Address correspondence to: Vincent T. P. Cheng at the above address. research has concentrated on identifying factors that lead customers to post reviews on different platforms and how these may be moderated or mediated by variables such as valence and framing, leading to variations in customer brand equity or willingness to purchase. These studies provide a rich source of such antecedents and moderators and their roles and relationships in the study of the impact of online customer reviews.

The valence of online customer reviews is an important antecedent that eventually affects customers’ intention to purchase the product (Sparks & Browning, 2011). Negative online customer reviews will damage the brand and 1

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Li br ari es ] a t 1 2:0 7 0 7 O cto be r 2 01 4 2 JOURNAL OF TRAVEL & TOURISM MARKETING lead to loss of both existing and new customers.

There are studies that focus on negative online reviews, for instance, a study on the effects of negative online customer reviews on customer attitudes showed that the proportion and quality of the change in attitude among customers depends on the level of their involvement (Lee, Park, & Han, 2008). However, not enough research has been conducted to understand the underlying mechanism on how online reviews affect customers’ purchasing intention, especially in case of a first-time purchase.

Negative reviews are not desirable and it is difficult to control the appearance of negative online reviews. Research suggests that managerial responses to online reviews have a significant impact on hotel bookings (Ye, Gu, Chen, & Law, 2008). Hotels should direct more efforts toward managing negative online reviews by responding to them with appropriate strategies.