Title

Evaluating Loyalty Constructs Among Hotel Reward Program Members Using EWom

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Electronic word-of-mouth has become a driving force for hospitality businesses. Achieving customer loyalty is a primary goal of hospitality businesses, and reward programs are one mechanism for doing so. Customer-based communication channels have the potential to undermine or support these efforts. This study investigated attitudes toward hotel loyalty programs among members of flyertalk.com, a forum for frequent travelers. A content analysis of 1,519 comments from members of five major hotel programs was conducted. The core categories that emerged were program experience, value, process, obtaining status, company-created communication, customer-created communication, and defection motivators and inhibitors. A paradigm model indicated that communication is the most important loyalty antecedent, and that all antecedents influence loyalty via the program experience. The emergent relationships suggest that managers should actively monitor online channels and take action to correct issues that cause member frustration and dissatisfaction. Otherwise, these problems can escalate through the rapid spread of electronic word-of-mouth.