Srikanth Beldona, Kunwei Lin, and Mingzhu Chen, all of the University of Delaware, Newark, recently published “Hotel Trademarks in Organic Search: A Longitudinal Cross-National Study” online in Journal of Travel Research.
Professor Beldona kindly shared background information about the article.
Who is the target audience for this article?
Hotel companies, tourism marketers, policy makers in tourism and online commerce at regional and national levels.
What inspired you to be interested in this topic?
Hotel-intermediary relationships have gained the attention of researchers ever since the Internet became a force to reckon with in travel distribution. How hotels navigate this complex environment will determine their success in negating the forces of commoditization that have already reached their doorsteps.
Were there findings that were surprising to you?
While differences between the US and other countries were understandable, differences between search engines in UK, China and India were insightful and to some extent surprising. Also surprising was that the Web (despite its universally acceptable technological standards) can have cultural differences in the way its architecture. For example, the structural context of the Web in China is so different when compared with the US, which in turn can have a significant impact on searchability.
How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
Future research can spawn to include searchability of all small and medium operators in the travel distribution network such as local tour operators, museums, attractions etc. This will be imperative as the forces of intermediation seek to consolidate services at the local level. Hopefully practitioners (especially hotels and small and medium operators) will enhance their SEO practices, while policy makers review the extent of noise and confusion created in online search results, which in turn hurts customer choice.
How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?
Online search from a process based perspective has been an area of research focus for many years now. This study helped me contextualize my overall research stream by providing perspective in the area of search engines and the nuances over how they work.
How did your paper change during the review process?
The differences between web structure and organization in China and other countries became more emphatic as a result of the review process. The paper developed stronger arguments to validate differences across countries when it came to searchability.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?
I wish we included other countries where English is not the native language such as such as Germany, Russia, Brazil etc. Future research can work towards this.