Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hotel Administration

First Committee Member

Kathleen P. Brewer

Second Committee Member

Mehmet Erdem

Third Committee Member

Rhonda Montgomery

Fourth Committee Member

Sarah Tanford

Fifth Committee Member

Kenneth Peffers

Number of Pages



In the hotel industry, social media marketing has become a new trend hoteliers are chasing and an increasing number of hotels are using social media to promote their business. However, the marketing effectiveness of social media is still a big challenge in both academic and business world. Since social media marketing is totally different from traditional marketing approaches, traditional marketing theories and practices may not be applicable to social media. Besides, very few studies have examined the effectiveness of social media marketing in the academic world.

Therefore, this study intended to provide an in-depth examination on the marketing effectiveness of Facebook, the most commonly used social media site, in the hotel industry. The study explored the marketing effectiveness of Facebook from both customer and message perspectives. From the customer perspective, the antecedents of marketing effectiveness were analyzed through an online survey. From a message perspective, different types of messages posted on hotel Facebook pages by hotels were categorized and the marketing effectiveness of different messages was compared using an experiment design. Finally, combining antecedents with outcomes, the study proposed an integrative model of hotel Facebook marketing mechanism.

To achieve these objectives, the study used mixed methods and was comprised of three sub-studies. The first sub-study employed an online survey to understand the antecedents that drive people to join hotel Facebook pages. The sub-study proposed three competing theoretical models, technology model, communication model, and social psychology model, to compare the extent to which the three models can explain customers' intention to join hotel Facebook pages. The social psychology model was tested to be the best model and three factors were identified to influence customers' intention to join hotel Facebook pages. Among them, internalization and identification had positive effects while compliance had a negative effect. Thus, Facebook marketing was more like a social phenomenon influenced by social interactions than a simple technology innovation or a communication platform.

The second sub-study was a qualitative study that uses content analysis to collect data from 12 sample hotel brand Facebook pages and develop a classification of messages posted on hotel Facebook pages by hotels. A 4-type message format and 6-type message content classification was identified. In terms of message format, picture was more marketing effective than word, web link and video formats. In terms of message content, brand, product, and involvement messages had better marketing effectiveness than promotion, information, and reward messages. Promotion message was the worst message content type in terms of marketing effectiveness. Thus, Facebook works best for hotels to build brands, introduce new products, and interact with customers, while it is not a good platform for hotels to announce promotions and deals.

The third sub-study conducted an online experiment to compare the marketing effectiveness of different types of messages on hotel Facebook pages. A 3 × 3 two-factor (message format and message content) between-subjects design was employed. Word, picture, and web link were chosen as the message format levels. Brand, product, and involvement were chosen as the message content levels. A hotel brand "Starhill" was created and nine simulated hotel Facebook pages with nine different types of messages were developed. Participants were randomly assigned to read one Facebook page with one type of message and then complete a questionnaire on message marketing effectiveness. Significant interaction effects were found on attitude toward the hotel Facebook page, hotel booking intention, and electronic word-of-mouth. Picture messages are better than word and web link messages in generating positive attitudes among customers, while word and web link messages do better in inducing more customer intentions. Besides, Brand messages work better in picture format while product messages do better in word and web link formats.

This study had both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study was one of the first attempts about marketing effectiveness of social media using mixed methods and tried to identify the underlying theoretical models of social media marketing in the hospitality field. The integrated model of hotel Facebook marketing mechanism proposed in the study represents an important advancement in the theoretical research regarding social media marketing, particularly in the hotel industry context. Practically, this study can be used as a guideline for Facebook usage in the hotel industry. The study provided the hotel industry two types of suggestions in leverage Facebook marketing. On the customer side, hotels should reinforce their customers' social identity on their hotel Facebook pages through the creation of a social community and create message contents conforming to the norms and value systems of customers. On the message side, hotels should balance Facebook message format and carefully choose the best message format based on the message content and the purpose of the messages. In terms of message content, brand, product, and involvement messages should be the first choices of hotel Facebook messages. Hotels should avoid using promotion messages a lot.


Advertising – Hospitality industry; Customer motivation; Facebook (Electronic resource); Facebook marketing; Hotels; Internet marketing; Message effectiveness; Social media


Hospitality Administration and Management | Marketing | Social Media

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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