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How Critical Is User Generated Content For Customer Satisfaction In Accommodation Aggregator Sites?

4639 words - 19 pages

How critical is User Generated Content for customer satisfaction in accommodation aggregator sites?

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Introduction and problem formulation:
The Internet has grown to be one of the most effective means for tourists to seek information in the planning process of their vacation. Tourists find themselves navigating through an immense amount of information that could be relevant for the planning, which can be experienced as being overwhelming for prospect travellers (Pan and Fesenmaier 2006). In this scenario, aggregator sites enable users to search for content specific for their area of interest, gathering the information needed under a single ...view middle of the document...

In particular User Generated Content has brought about a new perspective on the provision of information, which involves consumers themselves in the production of information. The following research question is formulated to guide the research: “How critical is User Generated Content for customer satisfaction in accommodation aggregator sites?”. The question is relevant for accommodation aggregator sites, insofar (because) it explores the extent to which User Generated Content has to be implemented in order to add value to the customer experience, ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction. The focus of the research is limited to the aspect of customer retention, and do not look into strategies for customer acquisition. Furthermore the research is conducted on a small sample, and therefore serves merely as a starting point to further research.
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The term aggregator refers to websites that “include product, price and service information comparing competitors within a sector such as financial services, retail or travel” (Chaffey, 2009, p. 62). The term is an alternative to that of ‘price comparison sites’. An aggregator is considered an intermediary site that either sells competing products, or redirects Internet consumers to a destination site where they can purchase the product (Chaffey 2009). An accommodation aggregator is one that compares products and prices within the hospitality industry, such as hotels and hostels.

Web 2.0 and User Generated Content
The Web 2.0 concept has been defined as a “collection of web services that facilitates interaction of web users with sites to create user-generated content and encourage behaviours such as community or social network participation, mashups, content rating, use of widgets and tagging” (Chaffey, 2009, p. 22). In describing the development of web technologies O’reilly (2009) explains how “[t]he Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describes something in the world” (p. 2), but instead the Web has become the world and everything and everyone can cast their “information shadow”. Web 2.0 has enabled people to collaborate and share information online, and has gained a massive popularity in doing so (Reactive 2007). Social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia are some of the very popular Web 2.0 sites that are dependable on the engagement and activeness of the users to provide the content on these sites. O’reilly (2009) explains how Web 2.0, as a platform, “[builds] applications that literally get better the more people use them, harnessing network effects not only to acquire users, but also to learn from them and build on their contributions” (p. 1). Hence, one of the...

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