Priming Social Media and Framing Cause-Related Marketing to Promote Sustainable Hotel Choice

Sarah Tanford, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Minji Kim, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Eun Joo Kim, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Hotels utilize cause-related marketing (CRM) to attract consumers by advertising green practices. However, CRM does not always result in the intended outcomes. In online settings, customer-generated cues transmitted through social media can influence responses to company-generated CRM. Two psychological processes can operate to influence the effect of online cues on decision processes: priming and framing. The current research used an online survey in which priming and framing were varied in a simulated hotel-booking scenario. Affective priming was activated using an Instagram post with positive or negative environmental content. CRM framing consisted of a hotel advertisement describing its sustainability practices as producing environmental benefit or preventing environmental harm. Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed that positive affective priming and positively framed CRM advertising produce a favorable hotel image, which in turn leads to higher booking intention. Moreover, pro-environmental attitudes magnify the effects of image on multiple outcomes, including booking intention, willingness-to-pay more, and word-of-mouth. The findings will help operators develop effective marketing strategies and leverage social media to promote their business while protecting the environment.