Title

Online Traveler Reviews as Social Influence: Price is no Longer King

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Price is a major influence on travel purchases; however, traveler reviews have also become a prevalent source of influence. Theories of social influence and cognitive dissonance provide insight into consumer decisions. This research investigated the effect of social influence in the form of traveler reviews and price on consumer decisions and postdecision dissonance. Student subjects evaluated two resorts for a Spring Break vacation in Cancun using a 2 (valence: positive or negative) × 2 (unanimity: unanimous or nonunanimous) × 3 (price: same, slightly lower, much lower) experimental design. The results reveal that social influence had a strong effect on both resort evaluations and postdecision dissonance. Nonunanimous reviews reduced the prevailing valence of reviews, but increased dissonance. The lack of results for price suggests that price may not be the predominant influence on decisions, as previously thought. This research provides new insight into the effect of traveler reviews on decisions by evaluating the unanimity of social influence, the effect of price differences, and the extent to which consumers engage in postdecision dissonance reduction.