Hotels that opened their doors to homeless people in their community during the lockdown generated more positive word-of-mouth marketing than those that offered free accommodation to frontline healthcare workers, new academic research shows.
However, despite the positive impact on tourists’ intentions to share the good news, the immediate impact on intention to book a tour was reversed, with people less inclined to book a stay in a hotel that had hosted guests without -shelter.
Researchers at the universities of Bath and Southampton were struck by reports of the “heartwarming initiatives” to provide free accommodation and wanted to study their comparison in terms of business benefits for the tourism sector.
“Our study found that hotels that provided community support in the form of free accommodation to healthcare professionals had little impact on how tourists felt about them, as we believe that showing gratitude to healthcare professionals Healthcare workers quickly became a social norm, ”said Dr Haiming Hang of Bath’s. School of Management.
“In contrast, hotels that offered accommodation to the homeless seemed to really move tourists and generate a sense of warmth and a perception of the hotel as kind and generous. Going beyond the social norm was seen as a sign of genuine concern for social well-being. The hotels were rewarded with a marked desire on the part of tourists to spread positive word of mouth. “
Previous research has identified a negative public perception of homeless people in terms of cleanliness, and the authors of this new study believe that this stereotype could be an immediate impact factor on intention to book.
“If hotel management can successfully communicate how they maintain high standards of cleanliness, then their community initiatives should not pose a long-term risk to bookings,” said Dr Zhifeng Chen of the Southampton Business School . “In the long run, positive word of mouth is very important because it can attract both potential employees and new customers. ”
Reported in Tourism Management, the study is unusual in examining the impact of a hotel’s community support, or corporate social responsibility, during a crisis, and focusing on initiatives aimed at the local community rather than employees. or shareholders.
Local communities have been seen as crucial to a hotel’s success, in part because the memorable experiences of tourists are greatly influenced by the nature of the local people they encounter.
More than 450 American tourists, who intended to travel after the pandemic, participated in the research and were assigned to one of three experimental scenarios focused on a hotel’s commitment to cleanliness and its policy. cancellation as responses to COVID-19; community support by donating rooms to health professionals; or the homeless.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism, with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimating the tourism sector to contract by 20-30% in 2020.
Corporate Social Responsibility When Needed: Community Support During COVID-19 Pandemics Is Published in the Journal Tourism management: https: /
To arrange an interview with Dr Haiming Hang, please email Alison Jones at [email protected] or call 07966 341322.
University of Bath
The University of Bath is one of the UK’s leading universities, both in terms of research and a reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate study prospects. The university is ranked Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s assessment of the quality of teaching at universities, which means that its teaching is of the highest quality in the UK. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 research assessment, 87% of our research was defined as “world class” or “internationally excellent”.
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