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Online feedback of value to Alice hotels

By Patrick Nelson

Dr Benxiang Zeng … positive comments more likely in winter and spring Dr Benxiang Zeng … positive comments more likely in winter and spring

Alice Springs academic Dr Benxiang Zeng has addressed a global tourism conference in London where he presented a paper about the role of social media in hospitality management.

The Northern Institute senior researcher’s case study “What Matters in a Hotel?” is based on more than 3000 online reviews gathered from 10 Alice Springs accommodation houses during the past five years. 

Dr Zeng told delegates at the fifth annual International Conference on Tourism at Middlesex University that the condition of a hotel’s “rooms or facilities” typically drew the highest proportion of negative comments.

“The quality of service offered by staff in an accommodation house also draws a lot of complaints, particularly if they are unfriendly, unprofessional or rude,” Dr Zeng said.

The study showed that the time of year and the type of client also had a bearing on satisfaction levels.

“Visitors in winter or spring were more likely to offer positive comments than in summer or autumn.

“Business clients were most likely to offer positive reviews; families were most extreme in their responses – being most critical or most praiseworthy – while couples were the most conservative in their feedback.”

Dr Zeng said management was more likely to respond to a positive comment than a negative one, although the response time to a negative comment was faster.

He said research about the role and impact of online word-of-mouth feedback in regional hospitality and tourism sectors was still in its infancy.

“This is of concern considering the importance of online marketing to regional tourist destination strategies.

“An integrated social media development strategy for the regional tourism industry is necessary as it directly impacts on individual businesses and therefore eventually affects the entire tourist destination.

“This research will give hotel managers a better understanding of customer preferences to various services and elements of their operation,” he said.