Whats in a Word? Building Program Loyalty through Social Media Communication

Abstract

Customer loyalty is paramount for hospitality businesses, and social media communication is becoming a powerful way to increase touchpoints with customers. However, scant research evaluates the impact of social media behavior on program loyalty. Thus, the goal of our study is to determine the impact of social media communication on hotel program loyalty. We present a quantitative model of the differential impact of various forms of social media word of mouth (WOM) and verify it with a random sample of 575 participants. Our results suggest that hotelier social media communication style and information quality significantly affect consumer social media behavior; this leads to increased loyalty toward hotel reward programs. Combined with other findings, the friendly dimension of communication style has the highest impact, whereas interactive and professional display the lowest scores. In other words, study respondents are more likely to participate in friendly social media environments; such participation is more limited with regard to those that are simply interactive and professional. Therefore, this study adds to the body of knowledge on loyalty, WOM, social media communication, and rewards programs by proposing and testing an integrative model between social media communication style, information quality, social media behavior, and all of their ultimate impact on program loyalty.

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