Booking consumer behaviour (Seggers, 2009) especially the propensity

Booking intent and perceptions of trust

There
is wide agreement (sciencedirect, 2010) that with the
advance of technology (especially the Internet) the information sources
available to prospective consumers have grown. For many consumers of tourism or
hospitality product a review of what is being ‘said’ in cyber space forms part
of the information collection process when selecting a product. This means
there is a growing need to understand how various elements of online
information search and review influence consumer behaviour (Seggers, 2009) especially the propensity to book a
hotel room. Related to willingness to book is whether or not a potential
consumer forms a view that the hotel can be trusted. (Sichtmann, 2007)  found that trust in a firm positively affects
purchase intentions. As previous researchers (e.g. Sichtmann,
2007) note,
marketers often want to reduce potential consumer uncertainly associated with
purchasing a product. To do so firms often attempt to build trust in their
product.

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(Sirdeshmukh, 2002) defines consumer
trust as the expectation that a firm is dependable and will deliver on its
promises. (Wang, 2005) reviewed
the concept of trust in the online purchase space used by companies selling goods
or services. They argue that trust is one of the most important factors in
determining whether people will purchase online. While trust can be influenced
by the broader context such as the industry itself or by firm level website
design features, it is often the actions of the frontline employee and the firm
itself which has the most impact on building trust (Grayson, 2008). Consumer satisfaction in previous
interactions with frontline service staff influences cognitive trust, which is
consumer confidence or willingness to trust the service provider in the future (Johnson, 2005). Consumer reviews,
found on travel and hospitality online communities, provide customers with
vicarious access to prior service experience on which they can base their
belief or trust that a firm will deliver quality service. (Chen, 2008) also argues
that potential consumers use online consumer reviews as one way to reduce risk
and uncertainty in the purchase situation. The reviews and recommendations of
other customers can assist in determining whether to trust the hotel under
consideration. This study investigates how a range of factors could be causally
linked to two key evaluations: likelihood of purchase and trust in the target
entity. As mentioned, there is a range of potential influencing factors but
some that are of practical and theoretical importance include the content or
target of reviews, the overall tone or valence of the reviews (as a
collection), the framing of the review set (what is read first) and easy-to-process
peripheral information such as consumer generated numerical ratings.

 

Trust and Risk

Trust allows consumers to transact
with service providers who are not a part of their immediate network. It helps
a consumer mitigate his perception of risks involved in a purchase. In cases of
high perceptions of risk, a higher level of trust is required to carry out the
transaction.

Risk is defined as a consumer’s
perceptions of the uncertainty and adverse consequences of engaging in an
activity (Dowling, 1994) The Internet is a global,
and constantly evolving marketing space. As the internet makes it hard to
inspect physical goods, the consumers seem to less assured while placing orders
online. If problems arise, service providers tend to blame technical issues
which are not in their control. Many consumers remain uncertain of the hazards.

All these factors increase the riskiness of transactions online which then
requires trust to make transactions online. That is, consumer trust toward a
merchant reduces the perceived riskiness of a specific webstore.

 

Outcomes
of Trust

Consumer forms a perceived reputation and a perceived trust in his mind
about a particular merchant. These beliefs then impact his evaluations of a
website or a service provider.

A consumer’s willingness to buy from an Internet merchant depends on the
consumer’s attitude towards the store, which, in turn, is affected by the seller’s
ability to evoke consumers’ trust (i.e., belief). Consumers are less likely to
patronize stores that fail to create a sense of trustworthiness. Higher trust,
on the other hand, will not only directly improve attitudes towards a store,
but might also have an influence indirectly by way of reducing the perceived
level of risk associated with buying from that particular store. Besides
helping to shape attitudes, perceived risk might also have an independent,
direct influence on the willingness to buy. A consumer may be willing to buy
from an Internet store which is perceived as low risk, even if the consumer’s
attitudes towards that merchant are not highly positive. Conversely, a consumer
may not be willing to buy from a merchant perceived as being high risk, even in
the presence of positive attitudes towards that merchant. The direct influence
of perceived risk on intention is related to the notion of perceived behavioral
control in the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991). Individuals are
likely to hold beliefs of high personal control, when they feel that successful
booking experience is up to them.

 

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