Online Hotel Reviews: Rating Symbols or Text… Text or Rating Symbols? That Is the Question!

  • Johanna Aicher
  • Flavia Asiimwe
  • Bujinlkham Batchuluun
  • Miriam Hauschild
  • Martina Zöhrer
  • Roman EggerEmail author
Conference paper


This paper deals with the question of how hotel reviews impact the decision-making process of choosing hotel accommodation and the role which rating symbols play on hotel review and electronic booking intermediary websites. A potential customer’s decision in favour of or against a particular hotel may be influenced by the ratio of positive and negative reviews on hotel review platforms. Another crucial aspect is the importance placed on rating symbols in comparison to textual material. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to identify whether the first look at a hotel review is directed towards rating symbols or text. This research was conducted by means of a true experiment that made use of eye-tracking technology (BeGaze 3.4). The findings show that high priority is given to rating symbols rather than textual material and that the ratio of positive and negative reviews only partially influences an individual’s decision for or against a certain accommodation. Furthermore, it offers tourism managers a deeper understanding of the importance of online hotel reviews.


Eye-tracking technology Rating symbols Positive and negative (online) hotel reviews Decision-making process 


  1. Ayeh, K. J., Au, N., & Law, R. (2012). Predicting the intention to use consumer—Generated media for travel planning. Tourism Management, 35, 132–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barreda, A., & Bilgihan, A. (2013). An analysis of user-generated content for hotel experiences. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 4(3), 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bing, P., & Lixuan, Z. (2009). An eye tracking study on online hotel decision making: The Effects of images and number of options. Travel and Tourism Research Association Conference. Google Scholar
  4. Browning, V., So, K. K. F., & Sparks, B. (2013). The influence of online reviews on consumers’ attributions of service quality and control for service standards in hotels. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 30(1–2), 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Clare, C. (2010). Receiver perspectives of the determinants that influence eWOM adoption: An exploratory study. Research Institute for Business Management, (pp. 1–15). Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.Google Scholar
  7. Cox, C., Burgess, S., Sellitto, C., & Buultjens, J. (2009). The role of user-generated content in tourists’ travel planning behaviour. Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management, 18, 743–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davies, P. (2012). Customers ‘After the Truth’ in Hotel Reviews, Finds Study. [Accessed: 26.01.2015].
  9. Doh, S. J., & Hwang, J. S. (2009). How consumers evaluate eWOM (Electronic Word-of-Mouth) messages. CyberPsychology & Behaviour, 12(2), 193–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Egger, R. (2010). Theorizing Web 2.0 phenomena in tourism: A sociological signpost. Information Technology and Tourism, 12, 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Filieri, R., & McLeay, F. (2014). E-WOM and accommodation: An analysis of the factors that influence travellers’ adoption of information from online reviews. Journal of Travel Research, 53(1), 44–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Felix, C., & Clever, V. (2014). The relationship between hotel rating and customer outcomes: Customer perceived service quality and customer satisfaction. Greener Journal of Business and Management Studies, 4, 146–156.Google Scholar
  13. Fotis, J., Buhalis, D., & Rossides, N. (2012). Social media use and impact during the holiday travel planning process. Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism. Proceedings of the International Conference in Helsingborg, Sweden, (pp. 1–11).Google Scholar
  14. Gretzel, U., Yoo, H., & Purifoy, M. (2007). Online travel review study: Role and impact of online travel reviews. Laboratory for Intelligent Systems in Tourism (by Tripadvisor), (pp. 1–70). Texas A&M University.Google Scholar
  15. Lee, G., & Tussyadiah, I. P. (2011). Textual and visual information in eWOM: A gap between preferences in information search and diffusion. Information Technology & Tourism, 12, 351–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lee, H. A., Law, R., & Murphy, J. (2011). Helpful reviewers in TripAdvisor, an online travel community. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 28(7), 675–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lorigo, L., et al. (2008). Eye tracking and online search: Lessons learned and challenges ahead. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(7), 1041–1052.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nielsen, J., & Pernice, K. (2010). Eye tracking Web usability. Berkeley: New Riders.Google Scholar
  19. Ramakrisnan, P., Jaafar, A., Razak, F. H. A., & Ramba, D. A. (2012). Evaluation of user interface design for learning management system (LMS): Investigating student’s eye tracking pattern and experiences. Procedia—Social and Behavioural Sciences, 67, 527–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rasty, F., Chou, C., & Feiz, D. (2013). The impact of internet travel advertising design, tourists’ attitude, and internet travel advertising effect on tourists’ purchase intention: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 30(5), 482–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sigala, M. (2007a). Web 2.0 in the tourism industry: A new tourism generation and new E-business models. [Accessed: 26.01.2015].
  22. Soo, H. J., Vogt, C. A., & Mackay, K. J. (2007). Relationships between travel information search and travel product purchase in pretrip contexts. Journal of Travel Research, 45(3), 266–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tonbuloglu, I. (2013). Using eye tracking method and video record in usability test of educational softwares and gender effects. Procedia—Social and Behavioural Sciences, 103, 1288–1294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vermeulen, I. E., & Seegers, D. (2008). Tried and tested: The impact of online hotel reviews on consumer consideration. Tourism Management, 30, 123–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 31, 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yusuf, S., Kagedi, H., & Maletic, J. (2008). Assessing the comprehension of UML class diagrams via eye tracking. Kent, OH: Department of Computer Science, Kent State University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Aicher
    • 1
  • Flavia Asiimwe
    • 1
  • Bujinlkham Batchuluun
    • 1
  • Miriam Hauschild
    • 1
  • Martina Zöhrer
    • 1
  • Roman Egger
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Innovation and Management in TourismSalzburg University of Applied SciencesSalzburgAustria

Personalised recommendations