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Dissertation final draft


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Dissertation final draft

  1. 1.      Do  Websites  Such  as  TripAdvisor  Affect  Consumer  Behaviour  with  the  use  of  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth?    By  Rodrigue  Eid              L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  2. 2. Authors  Deceleration      I   certify   that   all   quotes   and   passages   from   other   peoples   work   that   have   been  used   for   the   purpose   of   this   dissertation   have   all   been   acknowledged   by  referencing   both   the   author   and   their   work.   I   also   certify   that   I   am   the   sole  author  of  this  dissertation  and  that  it  does  not  infringe  or  violate  any  copyright  laws.   I   understand   that   plagiarism   will   be   considered   as   failure   towards   the  dissertation  module  and  also  this  degree  as  a  whole.      Rodrigue  Eid                                                                   ii  
  3. 3. Dedication  &  Acknowledgments      I   would   like   to   dedicate   this   page   to   say   thank   you   to   all   the   people   who   have  helped   me   in   overcoming   the   stress   and   anxiety   that   I   went   through   to   complete  this   dissertation.   My   biggest   gratitude   goes   to   my   grandfather,   not   only   for  encouraging  me  to  go  to  university  but  also  for  believing  in  me  and  always  being  so  proud  of  me  for  whatever  I  have  done.      I   would   also   like   to   express   my   appreciation   to   my   supervisor   Anita   Peleg,   as  without  your  guidance  and  perseverance  I  would  not  have  been  able  to  complete  this  by  myself.  I  would  like  to  thank  her  for  all  the  advice,  recommendation  and  amounts   of   times   she   told   me   to   redo   certain   sections   till   we   were   satisfied   with  the  work  produced.      Thank  you  to  all  my  family  and  friends  who  also  believed  in  me  and  supported  me   during   the   production   of   this   mammoth   research   project,   as   without   their  constant   words   of   encouragement   and   their   help   I   would   not   of   been   able   to  complete   this   project.   I   would   like   to   also   thank   my   mother   who   had   to   sit  through   endless   hours   of   me   talking   at   her   about   my   dissertation.   I   would   also  like   to   express   my   thankfulness   to   my   best   friend   Johanna   El-­‐Tohami   who   has  also   helped   me   greatly   in   executing   this   dissertation   by   checking   my   grammar  and  spelling.      This   dissertation   has   Definitely   proven   to   be   challenging;   however   it   has  definitely  been  a  once  in  a  lifetime  experience.  Thank  you  again  to  everyone  who  has   helped   in   making   this   project   come   to   life,   and   I   hope   that   this   piece   of  research  will  help  people  in  the  future  with  similar  activities  they  carry  out.           “There  isn’t  a  person     anywhere  who  is  not  capable   of  doing  more  than  he  thinks     he  can.  “       Tom  Ford         iii  
  4. 4. Abstract    Purpose:    This  study  has  been  carried  out  to  answer  the  question  as  to  whether  consumer   behaviour   is   affected   my   word   of   mouth   when   it   comes   to   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor.      Methodology/Literature   review:   These   sections   of   the   study   provide   an  extensive   read   surrounding   the   different   methods   of   research   used   to   obtain  information  that  is  needed  to  execute  the  report.  Looking  at  published  literature,  data,  and  information  from  academics,  government  and  others  surrounding  the  topic  of  consumer  behaviour,  word  of  mouth  and  their  importance.      Findings:   This   section   of   the   study   is   where   all   information   is   drawn   together.  The   major   findings   made   in   this   section   derived   from   my   sample   population  taking  part  in  posting  reviews  and  partaking  in  word  of  mouth.  The  majority  of  the  sample  surveyed  stated  that  they  did  post  positive  comments  online  however  were   they   honest   about   the   information   they   shared.   Another   discovery   made  had   to   do   with   the   relation   of   good   and   bad   comments.   It   was   apparent   that  people  from  the  sample  were  more  likely  to  talk  about  bad  word  of  mouth  than  good   word   of   mouth.   This   finding   can   also   be   related   to   some   of   the   literature  that   was   found   from   people   such   as   Blythe   (2008)   and   Evans   et  al  (2006)   and  Blackwell   et   al   (2006).   The   general   recommendation   that   highlighted   in   the  findings  was  a  method  in  which  the  accuracy  of  reviews  can  be  checked  before  they  went  live  on  the  website.      Recommendation  and  Conclusion:  In  this  section  of  the  report,  everything  in  this  study  is  brought  together,  after  all  the  analysis  that  was  made  and  the  findings.  Recommendations   were   also   made   in   order   to   help   answer   the   objectives   that  were   set   out   in   chapter   1   in   order   to   help   websites   such   as   TripAdvisor   and  others   keep   their   customer   happy.   The   conclusion   and   recommendations   were  reached   in   several   ways,   firstly   through   the   secondary   findings   from   the  literature  review  and  secondly  through  the  primary  findings  made  by  the  survey.           iv  
  5. 5. Format  of  Study      Chapter  1:  Introduction    This   is   where   the   background   of   the   study   will   be   outlined   and   any   details   about  the  research  problem  will  be  defined.  This  section  will  also  include  the  reasons  why  this  study  is  important  to  carry  out  and  also  the  objectives  that  it  is  aiming  to  answer.      Chapter  2:  Methodology    This   section   of   the   report   will   look   at   the   various   methods   in   which   research   can  be  carried  out  in  order  to  help  make  this  research  more  effective.  An  exploration  of  both  primary  and  secondary  research  methods  will  be  looked  at  and  decided  upon  for  the  purpose  of  this  study.  In  addition  to  this,  both  quantitative  methods  and  qualitative  methods  will  be  explored  to  aid  this  research.    This  section  will  also  look  at  the  risk  of  bias  data  and  limitations  to  obtaining  data.      Chapter  3:  Literature  Review    This   section   will   look   at   various   theories   and   previous   texts   that   have   been  published  surrounding  some  of  the  main  topics  that  will  affect  my  study.  In  order  to  better  understand  what  this  research  and  to  ensure  that  the  right  path  is  taken  it   was   necessary   to   look   at   various   texts   that   explained   what   consumer  behaviour   is,   or   what   word   of   mouth   is,   how   these   variable   can   be   affected   by  consumers   and   so   on.   It   is   for   this   reason   that   this   section   is   necessary,   as  without   it   there   would   be   no   background   or   understanding   about   the   various  topics  that  this  study  is  aiming  to  answer.      Chapter  4:  Research  Findings    In  this  section  of  the  study  all  data  collated  from  the  survey  would  be  analysed  and  put  into  tables  and  pie  charts  in  order  to  help  the  reader  get  a  better  view  of  the   findings.   This   section   is   all   about   getting   the   relevant   information   that   is  required  that  will  help  in  finding  answers  to  the  objectives  that  have  been  set  out  In   chapter   1.   This   section   is   also   important   as   it   helps   in   seeing   if   what   the     v  
  6. 6. previous   published   texts   actually   reflect   the   findings,   or   if   times   have   changed  and  new  findings  and  theories  may  need  to  be  drawn  by  a  more  vast  extensive  research.      Chapter  5:  Recommendation  and  Conclusion    This   section   of   the   report   is   all   about   what   conclusions   and   recommendations  can   be   drawn   from   the   findings   in   the   study   that   will   help   both   answer   the  objectives   set   out   in   chapter   1   but   also   hopefully   help   organisations   in   seeing  what   this   sample   population   had   to   say   about   they   way   things   are   currently  operating.      References  and  Bibliography    This   will   contain   a   list   of   books,   papers,   and   websites   that   were   used   and  referred  to  for  the  purpose  of  this  research.      Appendices    This  will  contain  any  extra  information  that  was  also  referred  to  within  the  body  of  the  study  that  was  either  too  large  or  not  important  to  include.  However,  these  have  been  included  in  this  section  to  be  referred  to  if  needed.                                 vi  
  7. 7. Contents       Page  Chapter  1  -­‐  Introduction   1  1.  Background     2-­‐3  1.2.  Research  Problem     3-­‐4  1.2.1.  Research  Objectives   4  1.3.  Importance  of  Study     4-­‐5        Chapter  2  –  Methodology     6  2.  Introduction   7  2.1.  Secondary  Research     7  2.2.  Primary  Research     7-­‐9  2.3.  The  Quantitative  Approach     9  2.4.  Justification  of  Survey  Selection   9-­‐10  2.4.1.  Why  Other  Methods  Were  not  Chosen     10-­‐11  2.4.2.  Survey  Design     11-­‐12  2.4.3.  Pre-­‐test  Survey     13  2.5.  Sampling     13-­‐14  2.5.1.  Response  Rate     14  2.6.  Collection  Method     14  2.7.  Sampling  Error   14-­‐15      Chapter  3  –  Literature  Review     16  3.  Consumer  Behaviour     17  3.1.1.  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model   17-­‐18  3.2.  Search  for  Information   18-­‐19  3.3.  Post  Consumption  Evaluation     20  3.3.3.  Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction   20-­‐21  3.4.  Word  of  Mouth     21-­‐22  3.4.1.  Good  vs.  Bad   23  The  Minus  Levels     23  The  Plus  Levels     24  Level  Zero   25  3.5.  Cognitive  Dissonance     25-­‐26  3.6.  Summary     26-­‐27      Chapter  4  –  Research  Findings     28  4.  Introduction     29  4.1.  Microsoft  Excel     29  4.2.  Response  Rate   29  4.3.  The  Respondents     29-­‐30  4.4.  Before  Purchasing  a  Holiday     30     vii  
  8. 8. 4.5.  Recent  Holidays     31-­‐32  4.6.  TripAdvisor     32-­‐33  4.7.  Existing  Reviews     33-­‐36  4.8.  Word  of  Mouth     36-­‐39  4.9.  Recommendations  from  Respondents     39      Chapter  5  –  Recommendations  and  Conclusion     40  5.  Introduction     41  5.1.  Conclusion     41-­‐43  5.2.  Recommendations     44  5.3.  Areas  for  Possible  Research     44-­‐45      Appendix     46-­‐74      Bibliography     75-­‐76       viii  
  9. 9.   1     Chapter        Introduction    Chapter  1    Background  2;  Research  Problem  3;  Research  Objectives  4;  Importance  of  Study  4  L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2      
  10. 10. INTRODUCTION     1      1. Background     The  Tourism  industry  has  seen  a  surge  in  the  amount  of  online  user-­‐ generated  content  with  regards  to  word  of  mouth  reviews.  TripAdvisor,   which  is  owned  and  operated  by  Expedia  Inc.,  has  led  this  revolution.  With   technology  improving  on  a  day-­‐to-­‐day  basis,  the  Internet  has  now  become  a   central  hub  for  communicating  through  social  networking  sites,  travel  sites,   and  blogs  enabling  customers  to  talk  freely  about  their  experiences  of   holidays  they  have  been  on.  Smith  and  Taylor  (2002),  describe  word  of   mouth  as  the  most  potent  and  robust  tool  in  advertising.    Highlighting  that   many  of  the  textbooks  share  the  opinion,  Smith  and  Taylor  (2002),  state  that   no  matter  how  good  a  marketing  campaign  may  be,  or  how  much  of  an  expert   seller  a  person  may  be,  they  alone  cannot  compete  with  the  power  of  a   recommendation  made  by  a  colleague  or  friend.       In  the  fourth  quarter  of  2011  TripAdvisor  published  an  increase  its  revenue   by  30%  to  $137.8  million,  making  its  full  years  revenue  $637.1  million1.  This   was  a  31%  increase  from  20102.  TripAdvisor  has  approximately  20  million   users  in  around  26  countries  including  China3.  With  access  to  over  40  million   reviews  and  opinions,  TripAdvisor  services  are  available  free  of  charge  to  its   users,  allowing  them  to  post  comments  and  compare  holidays  free  of  charge4,   and  also  share  them  with  other  users  through  social  networking  sites,  such  as   Facebook  or  Twitter.  TripAdvisor  makes  it  revenue  through  the  use  of  click-­‐ based  advertising,  display  based  advertising  and  also  subscriptions.  This  is   where  service  providers  use  trip  advisor  as  a  distribution  channel  for  their   service  or  product  for  publicity5.       With  over  53%  of  holidays  being  booked  online  in  2010,  according  to  a   survey  done  by  Target  Group  Index,  more  people  are  now  taking  the  time  to                                                                                                                  1  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      2  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      3  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      4  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      5  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results         2  
  11. 11. INTRODUCTION     1     post  reviews  online  about  their  experiences.  According  to  a  Mintel  report  in   July  2011,  around  24%  of  the  population  sampled  posted  positive  reviews   about  their  holiday,  where  as  12%  posted  negative  reviews.  In  addition  to   this  Mintel6,  also  brought  to  light  that  6%  of  those  people  sampled,  also  made   positive  reviews  whilst  on  holiday  whilst  4%  posted  negative  reviews.       However,  recent  events  regarding  the  accuracy  of  these  word  of  mouth   reviews  have  been  put  under  the  spotlight.  In  2010,  legal  action  was  taken   against  TripAdvisor  after  it  had  published  ‘Dirtiest  hotel’  list,  where  the   British  Hotel  Association  wanted  to  enforce  legislation  making  it  illegal  to   post  unverified  posts7.  According  to  Mintel8,  a  website  launched  under  the   name  TripAdvisor-­‐  posted  200  fake  reviews  in  the  months   leading  to  the  2nd  of  June  2011  in  order  to  help  expose  the  infectiveness  with   regards  to  accuracy  on  TripAdvisor.       Is  TripAdvisor  now  finding  its  purpose  being  doubted  and  challenged  with   regards  to  the  accuracy  of  its  reviews?  More  than  48%  of  the  sample  people   questioned,  by  Target  Group  Index,  found  that  they  read  travel  reviews   generated  by  other  travellers.  However  are  any  of  these  reviews  to  be   trusted?  Around  28%  of  the  sample  question  by  Target  Group  Index,  agreed   that  they  trust  Internet  reviews  and  blogs  written  by  other  people  they  do   not  know,  where  as  53%  of  the  sample  neither  agreed  nor  disagreed9.      1.2. Research  Problem   With  broadband  penetrating  more  than  70%  of  households10,  the  Internet   has  expanded  rapidly  over  the  past  ten  years;  this  in  turn  has  affected  the   way  word  of  mouth  is  communicated.  It  is  also  evident  that  from  the   background  (section  1)  that  the  trend  in  consumer  behaviour  is  shifting   from  the  regular  “purchase  from  the  high  street  shop”  attitude  and                                                                                                                  6  July  2011  7  Mintel,  July  2011    8  July  2011  9  July  2011  10  Mintel  September  2011       3  
  12. 12. INTRODUCTION     1     instead  making  most  of  their  purchases  online.  This  trend  is  what  makes   website  like  TripAdvisor  successful.  However  is  TripAdvisor  a  victim  of   its  own  success?  Exposure  to  the  Internet  has  increased  rapidly  in  the   past  couple  of  years  with  it  having  the  ability  to  be  accessed  from  a   number  of  platforms.  In  addition  to  home  broadband  penetrating  the   70%  barrier,  people  now  have  access  to  the  Internet  through  their   Smartphones,  TV  sets  and  even  hand  held  game  devices11.       By  focusing  on  the  tourism  industry,  and  in  particular  TripAdvisor,  the   problem  that  this  research  is  trying  to  tackle  to  what  extent  do  people   believe  and  trust  these  reviews,  how  accurate  these  reviews  are   especially  when  it  comes  to  reviews  that  have  been  generated  by  other   users.      1.2.1. Research  Objectives     Objective  1  –  How  does  word  of  mouth  affect  consumer  purchase   behaviour  when  it  comes  to  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor  or  similar   websites?         Objective  2  -­‐  What  intentions  do  consumers  have  when  it  comes  to  using   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor?       Objective  3  –  How  is  consumer-­‐purchasing  behaviour  affected  by  good   and  bad  reviews  on  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor?       Objective  4  –  What  recommendations  can  make  websites  such  as   TripAdvisor  make  their  reviews  more  accurate?    1.3. Importance  of  Study     The  importance  of  this  study  is  to  help  get  a  better  understanding  on  how   word  of  mouth  can  affect  consumer  behaviour  in  the  market.  The  study  is                                                                                                                  11  Mintel,  September  2011       4  
  13. 13. INTRODUCTION     1     will  help  TripAdvisor  gaining  a  better  insight  into  consumer’s  perceptions   of  their  service.  This  study  will  provide  a  better  understanding  on   consumer  satisfaction  as  it  is  this  element  that  shapes  word  of  mouth  and   a  companies  reputation.       This  study  hopes  to  give  companies  a  foundation  surrounding  the  effects   that  negative  word  of  mouth  directed  towards  a  company  through  the   findings  and  recommendations  the  study  is  seeking  to  make.                                                 5  
  14. 14. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     6     2     Chapter      Research  Methodology    Chapter  2    Introduction  7;  Secondary  Research  7;  Primary  Research  7;  The  Quantitative  Approach  9;  Justification  of  Questionnaire  Selection  9;  Why  Other  Methods  Were  Not  Chosen  10;  Questionnaire  Design  11;  Pre-­‐test  of  Questionnaires  13;  Sampling  13;  Response  Rate  14;  Collection  Method  14;  Sampling  Error  14.    L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  15. 15. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2      2. Introduction       In  this  section  of  the  report,  different  research  methods  will  be  explored  to   determine  which  will  be  effective  to  gather  the  relevant  information  that  will   help  make  recommendations.  Data  collected  for  this  study  needs  to  be   relevant,  accurate  and  reliable.  Both  primary  and  secondary  research  will  be   utilised  to  collate  the  information  required.  Quantitative  and  qualitative   methods  will  be  explored  in  order  to  determine  which  method/  methods  will   be  best  suited  to  collate  primary  data.    2.1. Secondary  Research   Lewis  et  al  (2009)  states  that  secondary  research  can  be  both  raw  data   and  published  summaries.  Secondary  data  is  found  from  many  areas,  such   as  the  Internet,  government  reports,  published  journals  or  newspapers.     Secondary  research  is  fundamental  as  it  provides  a  useful  source  where   answers  or  partial  answers  can  be  found  for  the  study  being  carried  out.       The  advantages  for  using  secondary  research  are,  firstly  resources  are  not   wasted,  as  it  is  very  time  effective  and  cost  effective,  making  data  very   easy  and  quick  to  find.  This  is  particularly  helpful  when  a  report  has  to  be   conducted  in  such  a  short  space  of  time.  It  also  provides  the  study  with  a   lot  of  comparative  and  contextual  information  that  will  help  reinforce  the   report.       However  secondary  research  may  not  be  relevant  to  the  study,  either   being  unsuitable  or  out  of  date,  also  depending  on  the  subject  some  of  the   information  may  be  hard  to  access.      2.2. Primary  Research     Primary  research  involves  a  process  where  raw  data  is  extracted  through     7  
  16. 16. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     activities  such  as  surveys,  investigations,  and  even  interviews12.  Raw  data   tends  to  be  data  that  does  not  previously  exist.  Some  of  the  examples  of   primary  research  include:       • Observations  –  This  is  where  observations  are  made  that  are   concerned  with  what  consumers  do,  it  is  done  through   observing  behaviour  recording  descriptions,  analysing  and   interpreting  consumer  behaviour13.  This  would  be  suitable   for  this  study  as  it  involves  looking  at  the  way  consumers   behave  online  with  regards  to  the  content  generated  on   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor     • In-­‐depth,  group  and  semi-­‐structured  interviews  –  This  is   where  a  discussion  is  held  by  two  or  more  people  to  help   gather  information  about  the  study14.  Information  obtained   is  generally  in  depth  and  reliable.  However,  this  will  not  be   suitable  for  this  research  due  to  time  constraints  and  access   to  people.     • Surveys  –  This  is  where  a  survey  is  drawn  up  for  the   purpose  of  the  study  and  a  sample  is  picked  in  order  to  try   and  get  the  best  answers  that  represent  the  population15.   This  will  be  useful  for  this  study  because  a  lot  of   information  can  be  obtained  through  a  survey.  It  is  also   very  cost  effective  and  cheap  to  carry  out.     For  the  purpose  of  this  study  a  survey  will  be  conducted  in  order  to  help   answer  objectives  set  out  in  section  1.2.1.  This  method  was  chosen  above   others  because  a  survey  was  seen  as  the  best  way  to  collect  data  quickly   in  a  standardised  way  making  the  findings  more  objective  than  other   forms  of  research  such  as  interviews.  However  this  could  also  be  a   disadvantage  that  data  is  standardised,  as  it  is  not  possible  to  explain  any                                                                                                                  12  Lewis  et  al,  2009    13  Lewis  et  al,  2009  14  Lewis  et  al,  2009  15  Lewis  et  al,  2009       8  
  17. 17. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     points  that  participants  might  be  misinterpreted.  A  survey  will  help  in   answering  the  objectives  set  out  in  section  1.2.1.  As  the  questions  which   will  be  included  in  the  survey  will  be  asked  in  relation  to  the  objectives   and  worded  in  the  best  way  to  answer  the  objectives.      2.3. The  Quantitative  Approach     The  quantitative  approach  would  best  fit  this  report  and  the  survey  as   most  questions  due  to  the  survey  being  carried  out.  Most  information   collated  will  be  from  close-­‐ended  questions.  However,  some  data  will  also   be  collated  with  the  use  of  open-­‐ended  questions.       For  the  purpose  of  this  survey  a  mixture  of  both  close  ended  and  open-­‐ ended  questions  will  be  used  as  part  of  the  survey.  There  are  two  types  of   data  that  can  be  collected.     • Quantitative  data  is  drawn  from  close-­‐ended  questions,  normally   numerical,  one-­‐word  answers  or  statements.  This  will  be   beneficial,  as  it  will  help  this  study  in  finding  accurate  and  relevant   information  that  can  be  quantified.     • Qualitative  data  is  drawn  from  open  ended  questions,  normally   where  the  respondent  is  asked  to  write  a  couple  of  lines  to  express   their  opinion  about  a  statement  or  question.  The  benefits  for  using   this  method  in  a  survey  will  help  reinforce  findings  by  providing   the  study  with  some  statements  and  opinions  made  by  the  sample.       By  incorporating  both  quantitative  and  qualitative  questions  into  the  survey   will  ensure  a  non-­‐biased  approach  is  being  taken,  as  people  will  be  allowed  to   voice  their  opinions  with  the  use  of  open-­‐ended  questions.        2.4. Justification  of  Survey  Selection     There  are  various  reasons  why  a  survey  was  selected  as  the  method  to   collate  and  obtain  data:       9  
  18. 18. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     1. Quickest  –  Due  to  time  constraints  this  was  deemed  the  most   effective  and  quickest  way  to  obtain  the  information  required  to   complete  this  study.     2. Resources  –  As  this  study  is  not  funded,  a  survey  was  seen  as  a   good  method  because  it  will  not  cost  a  fortune  in  order  to  carry  out   the  research.   3. Sample  size  –  A  survey  was  also  deemed  the  best  way  to  collate   data  from  the  sample  of  150  people  as  any  other  methods  would   have  been  very  time  consuming  and  also  may  have  been  an   overload  of  information.      2.4.1. Why  Other  Methods  Were  Not  Chosen     There  are  several  reasons  why  other  methods  were  disregarded  from  this   study.  The  primary  reason  was  because  interviews  were  not  designed  to   cope  with  a  large  number  of  respondents,  as  this  would  have  been  very   time  consuming.  Furthermore,  the  information  collected  would  not  be   standardised  and  therefore  it  would  have  taken  a  great  deal  of  time  to   analyse  the  information.  Other  reasons  taken  into  consideration  had  to  do   with  the  interviewer  and  how  they  would  affect  the  consistency  of  the   interview  and  also  if  they  were  to  make  it  biased  in  the  form  they  asked   the  questions.         Observations  were  not  considered  effective  for  this  study  because  it   requires  a  long  time  to  implement  and  apprehend  data.  In  addition  to  this   if  the  consumer  had  awareness  of  that  their  actions  are  being  observed   this  may  have  an  effect  on  findings  being  accurate,  as  the  consumer  may   acted  or  responded  in  an  infrequent  way.       In  addition  to  these  reasons,  the  study  also  felt  that  these  methods  were   not  as  appropriate  to  use,  as  they  would  not  be  the  most  effective  way  to   collate  data  to  help  answer  the  objectives  set  out  in  1.2.1.  The  risk  in  using   these  methods  may  have  meant  that  data  collated  would  not  be  as  vast     10  
  19. 19. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     and  strong  to  support  any  recommendations  that  will  be  made  in  the  end   of  this  study.      2.4.2. Survey  Design     In  order  to  find  out  the  relevant  information  that  is  needed,  it  is  necessary   for  a  survey  to  be  implemented.  This  should  help  in  finding  out  consumer   attitudes  towards  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor,  their  thoughts   surrounding  such  websites,  what  their  intentions  are  when  it  comes  to   using  those  sites,  and  also  what  recommendations  they  can  suggest  to   improve  such  sites.       To  help  construct  this  survey,  Bourque  and  Clarke  (1994)  have   highlighted  three  approaches  that  can  be  employed  to  design  the  survey:     1. Adopt  questions   2. Adapt  questions     3. Develop  questions     Furthermore,  the  design  of  the  questions  themselves  play  a  vital  role,  as   there  are  several  types  of  questions  that  can  be  used:     1. Closed  questions  –  DeVaus  (2002)  define  closed  questions  as   force-­‐choice  questions  providing  the  respondents  a  number  of   alternative  answers  from  which  they  can  choose.     2. Open  questions  –  these  types  of  questions  are  where   respondents  are  given  the  opportunity  to  answer  questions  in   their  own  way  (Fink,  2003).     3. List  questions  –  This  is  where  the  respondent  is  provided  with  a   list  of  options  from  which  they  can  choose  more  than  one   answer  (Lewis  et  al,  2009).   4. Category  questions  –  Lewis  et  al  (2009)  states  that  category   questions  are  designed  so  that  each  respondent  can  be  grouped   into  one  category.     5. Rating  questions  –  these  questions  are  used  to  collect  opinion   data  (Lewis  et  al,  2009)  by  asking  the  respondents  whether   they  agree  or  disagree  with  a  statement.       11  
  20. 20. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     There  are  other  elements  that  need  to  be  considered  when  designing  a   survey;  two  factors  are  the  order  and  flow  of  questions  and  the  layout.   These  factors  need  to  be  considered  because  it  is  vital  that  the  survey  is   user  friendly,  engaging  and  short  in  length.       The  structure  of  this  survey  was  pretty  simple.  The  main  considerations   that  were  implemented  into  it  were  to  make  it  short,  quick  and  easy  but  at   the  same  time  effective  to  extract  as  much  information  as  possible.  There   were  also  some  other  considerations  that  were  considered  such  as  not   asking  too  much  personal  information  surrounding  the  respondent.  The   first  section  of  the  survey  was  simply  to  know  what  the  respondents  age   group  they  fit  and  what  gender  they  were.       Questions  three  to  five  revolved  around  getting  a  better  understanding   about  the  respondents  travel  purchase  behaviour.  This  was  necessary,  as   it  would  help  get  a  better  understanding  about  the  various  websites  the   respondent  uses  to  purchase  or  plan  to  purchase  a  holiday.         The  final  part  of  the  survey  was  designed  to  consider  the  respondents   attitude  towards  reviews,  their  opinions  surrounding  such  activities  and   also  to  see  if  they  took  part  in  such  activities  themselves.  Question  six  and   seven  also  helped  to  get  a  better  understanding  of  these  reviews  would   affect  any  future  purchases  to  be  made  by  the  consumer.       Question  eight  in  the  survey  asked  to  consideration  what  consumers   thought  that  websites,  such  as  TripAdvisor,  needed  to  change  or  improve   in  their  service.  This  question  was  necessary  because  it  will  help  the  study   in  reaching  recommendations  that  consumers  will  actually  respond  to,   after  all  this  is  a  service  which  caters  to  them.     A  copy  of  the  questionnaire  used  for  this  study  can  be  found  under   appendix  A.           12  
  21. 21. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2    2.4.3. Pre-­‐test  of  Surveys     In  order  to  ensure  that  the  survey  was  fit  for  purpose,  and  complied  with   the  design  methods  outlined  in  sections  pre-­‐test  surveys  were   distributed  to  five  individuals  to  complete.  This  helped  determine  the   effectiveness  of  the  survey  and  whether  any  changes  need  to  be  made  to   the  survey  before  it  went  live.  Pre-­‐tests  also  help  to  get  a  general  idea  of   what  findings  of  the  sample  is  going  to  be  like.  This  also  helps  in  seeing   what  the  respondents  also  thought  about  the  layout  of  the  survey  and   whether  there  needs  to  be  any  improvements  made  to  its  layout  to  make   it  more  user  friendly.  Changes  made  to  the  survey  can  be  found  in   appendix  E.      2.5. Sampling     Collecting  responses  from  an  entire  population  can  be  very  difficult.  A   sample  population  provides  an  alternative  to  obtain  findings  from  a   representative  number  of  people.  There  are  several  advantages   highlighted  by  Lewis  et  al,  (2009)  to  using  sample  population:     1. More  practical  and  feasible     2. Budget  constraint     3. Time  constraints     Lewis  et  al,  (2009)  states  that  there  are  two  types  of  sampling  techniques:     1. Probability  sampling  –  Mostly  used  for  survey-­‐based  research   where  inferences  are  made  from  the  sample  about  a  population   to  answer  questions  to  meet  the  objectives.     2. Non-­‐probability  sampling  –  This  provides  an  alternative   technique  to  select  samples  based  on  subjective  judgements.  It   is  mainly  used  in  cases  of  pilot  surveys.     As  this  a  survey  based  activity,  probability  sampling  was  seen  to  best  fit   the  technique  that  should  be  used  for  the  purpose  of  collating  data.  The   sample  size  of  this  survey  will  consist  of  150  respondents.  Statistical   probability  may  be  difficult  to  implement  in  this  study  due  to  the  number   of  respondents  not  being  large  enough.  The  sample  will  include  both   female  and  male  respondents  from  various  age  groups.  The  main  target     13  
  22. 22. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     group  is  25-­‐55.  The  respondents  must  also  be  users  of  TripAdvisor  or   similar  websites.      2.5.1. Response  Rate     The  main  disadvantage  of  using  a  survey  is  the  number  of  low  response   rates  that  they  receive.  This  study  aims  to  obtain  at  least  a  40%  response   rate.  In  order  to  encourage  a  higher  response  rate,  £20  Love2Shop   vouchers  will  be  awarded  to  three  of  the  respondents,  at  random,  for   taking  part  in  the  questionnaire.        2.6. Collection  Method   Where:  Oxford  Street,  Bond  Street,  and  Tottenham  Court  Road   Dates:  January  9th,  2012  until  January  13th,  2012     Time:  30  surveys  will  be  filled  out  on  each  day  of  the  week  from  the   hours  of  9  am  to  5  pm.  15  of  the  surveys  need  to  be  from  TripAdvisor   consumers  and  the  remainder  from  consumers  that  use  websites  similar   to  TripAdvisor     Justification:  Due  to  the  amount  of  people  who  commute  around  these   locations  they  were  seen  best  fit  to  carry  out  this  research.  Also  there  is  a   mixed  diversity  of  people  that  will  be  exposed  to  this  survey  and   therefore  make  the  collection  of  data  more  simple  and  less  time   consuming.      2.7. Sampling  Error     This  report  acknowledges  the  room  for  sampling  error  is  a  high  risk.  This   in  itself  has  a  drawback  for  not  being  representative  of  the  population.   Had  more  time  been  allocated  to  obtaining  data  the  study  would  have   sought  after  a  much  larger  sample  size  and  extended  to  getting  responses   online,  and  from  other  areas  of  the  United  Kingdom  and  not  just  the   capital.         14  
  23. 23. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     This  study  accepts  that  the  results  obtained  may  not  be  entirely  valid,   consistent  and  reliable  as  they  may  be  deemed  as  biased,  as  other   respondents  from  the  Internet  or  other  areas  of  the  United  Kingdom  may   have  different  perceptions  of  TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites.       15  
  24. 24. 16   LITERATURE  REVIEW       3     Chapter      Literature  Review    Chapter  3  Consumer  Behaviour  17;  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model  17;  Search  for  Information  18;  Post-­‐Consumption  Evaluation  20;  Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction  20;  Word-­‐Of-­‐Mouth  21;  Good  vs.  Bad  Reviews  23;  The  Minus  Levels  23;  The  Plus  Levels  24;  Level  Zero  25;  Cognitive  Dissonance  25;  Summary  26;  L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  25. 25. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3      3. Consumer  Behaviour   Consumer  behaviour  derives  from  activities  consumers  undertake  when   they  obtain,  consume  and  dispose  a  product  or  service16.  From  the  definition   Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  highlights  the  three  activities  that  form  the  consumer   behaviour  process:     1. Obtaining  –  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  defines  this  as  the  activities  that   lead  up  to  the  purchase  of  a  product  or  service,  and  also  the  actual   purchase  of  the  product.     2. Consuming  –  This  activity  revolves  around  how,  where,  when  and   under  what  circumstances  the  product  or  service  obtained  was   consumed17.       3. Disposing  –  This  action  is  where  the  product  or  service  is  consumed   and  the  consumer  wishes  to  dispose  of  the  product  or  service18.    3.1.1. Consumer  Decision  Process  Model     Deriving  from  The  John  Dewey  model  (Dewey,  1910)  Blackwell  et  al   (2006)  describes  the  decisions  making  process  as  a  road  map  of   consumers  minds  that  marketers  can  use  to  help  them  guide  the  product   mix.  The  purpose  of  this  model  (figure  1)  is  to  capture  the  activities  that   occur  when  decisions  are  made,  showing  how  internal  and  external   forces  affect  the  way  consumers  think,  evaluate,  and  act.       From  this  model  it  is  evident  that  consumers  go  through  seven  different   stages.  The  stages  that  will  be  explored  further  for  the  purpose  of  this   study  are  the  need  to  search  for  information  and  also  post  consumption   evaluation.  In  order  to  better  understand  why  consumers  use   TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites  it  is  important  to  explore  why  there  is  a   need  to  search  for  information  before  making  purchases  and  also  why   people  take  part  in  post  consumption  evaluations.                                                                                                                    16    Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)  17  Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)  18  Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)     17  
  26. 26. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     Figure  1:  Decision  Making  Process     Pre-­‐ Purchase,   Post-­‐ Need   Search  for   Purchase   Recognition   information   evalation  of   Purchase     Divestment     evaluation   alternatives     Adapted  from  Blythe,  2008    3.2. Search  for  Information     This  activity  takes  place  before  making  a  purchase,  and  where  websites   such  as  TripAdvisor  play  a  huge  role  in  making  purchases.  Both  Blythe   (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  agree  that  this  activity  draws   information  from  internal  and  external  sources  (figure  2).  Internal   sources  tend  to  derive  from  the  consumers  memory,  having  purchased   that  item  previously  or  from  previous  experience.  However  if  this  is  not   the  case,  then  internal  sources  may  not  be  sufficient,  which  then  makes   way  for  secondary  sources.       Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  agree  that  information  sought   by  consumers  can  either  be  marketer-­‐dominated  or  non-­‐marketer   dominated:     1. Marketer  domination  –  Blythe  (2008)  describes  this  as   information  that  is  shared  via  advertising,  brochures,  websites,   sales  people  and  so  forth.     2. Non-­‐marketer  domination  –  This  is  information  is  shared  via   friends,  family,  opinion  leader  and  so  forth  (Blythe,  2008).  This     18  
  27. 27. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     type  of  information  is  shared  through  word  of  mouth  and  word   of  mouse  methods.       Pre-­‐purchase  activities  such  as  internal  and  external  research  are   important  for  consumers  as  people  often  discuss  their  experiences  when   purchasing,  using  and  disposing  a  product.    These  discussions  are  vital  to   TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites  as  they  are  the  spine  of  the   organisation.       Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  state  that  non-­‐marketer   dominated  information  is  more  powerful  that  market  dominated   communications  as  word  of  mouth  interactions  it  involves  discussion   between  a  number  of  parties,  allowing  a  two  way  communication.  There   is  also  a  belief  that  sources  such  as  family  and  friends  are  more  trusted   because  they  have  a  non-­‐profit  motive.       Figure  2:  Information  Searching   Internal  search    Information   gap  /  new   Information   purchase   gaps   problem   reduced  but   Marketer  generated     not   eliminated     External  search   Non-­‐marketer     generated       Adapted  from  Blythe,  2008             19  
  28. 28. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3    3.3. Post-­‐Consumption  Evaluation     As  seen  from  the  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model  (figure  1)  a   fundamental  part  of  our  purchasing  process  involves  the  need  to  search   for  information  about  products  and  services.  This  information  has  to   originate  from  somewhere,  thus  making  way  for  post-­‐consumption   evaluation.  This  step  of  the  model  takes  place  after  the  consumer  has   purchased  and  consumed  the  product  or  service.  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)   states  that  depending  on  consumption  experience  the  consumer  will   either  change  their  attitude  towards  the  object  or  reinforce  it.       These  attitudes,  as  discussed  by  Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)   tend  to  revolve  around  the  satisfaction  or  dissatisfaction  of  the  product  or   service  that  the  consumer  has  experienced.  Therefore,  there  is  a  great   importance  that  organisations  pay  great  attention  to  ensuring  the   consumers  are  always  satisfied.  If  organisations  fail  to  comply  with  this   then  the  damage  can  be  severe  for  the  organisations  image.      3.3.1. Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction     There  is  now  a  great  importance  for  companies  to  be  concerned  about   customer  satisfaction.  Why  this  great  importance?  The  most  obvious   reason  as  highlighted  by  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  is  the  need  for  repeat   business.  However  there  are  also  other  important  points  that  Blythe   (2008),  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  and  Evans  et  al  (2006)  need  to  be   considered:     1. Influence  –  Not  only  is  the  individual’s  satisfaction  and  repeat   business  important  but  also  it  is  the  individual’s  influence  over   other  people  purchasing  habits.  In  other  words  if  a  consumer   has  a  bad  experience  not  only  is  he  unlikely  to  go  purchase  or   use  that  organisations  service  again  but  he  will  also  deter  other   people  within  his  friends,  family  and  peers  circle  from   purchasing  from  that  organisation  as  well.  This  in  turn  can  be   very  costly  for  an  organisation,  as  Blackwell  (2006)  states  that     20  
  29. 29. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     it  costs  an  organisation  twenty  times  more  to  attract  new   customers  than  to  retain  loyal  customers.       2. Satisfaction  shapes  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth  and  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouse  –  This  is   by  far  the  most  important  factor  as  not  only  does  satisfaction   shape  future  purchase  but  also  the  way  it  controls  the  way   people  communicate  about  the  product  and  service.  As  stated   in  the  first  point  a  consumer  with  a  bad  experience  will  be   more  likely  to  discourage  friends,  family  and  peers  from   purchasing  from  an  organisation  if  they  have  a  bad  experience.   Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  also  highlights  that  consumers  are  more   likely  to  discuss  bad  experiences  and  go  to  great  lengths  to  do   so  than  sharing  positive  experiences.     3. Complaints  and  lawsuits  –  In  addition  to  deterring  customers   and  stirring  bad  word  of  mouth,  satisfaction  can  also  lead  an   organisation  to  be  faced  with  unwanted  complaints  and   lawsuits.  Not  only  is  this  damaging  to  an  organisation  but  also   it  brings  some  unwanted  attention  to  the  company  causing   even  more  negative  word  of  mouth.  However  this  time  it  would   be  more  public  and  more  people  will  hear  and  talk  about  it.      3.4. Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth     Blythe  (2008),  Fill  (2011),  and  Silverman  (2001)  all  agree  that  word  of   mouth  is  the  most  powerful  force  in  the  marketplace.  To  reinforce  this   statement,  Silverman  (2001)  includes  a  quote  from  Dr.  Paddi  Lund  where   he  says:       “Even  those  deaf  to  the  bragging  cries  of  the  marketplace  will  listen  to  a   friend”     Silverman  (2001)  defines  word  of  mouth  as  the  communication  about   products  and  services  between  independent  consumers  who  have   nothing  to  do  with  the  organisation.  This  communication  also  takes  place     21