What you get is not what you saw: Exploring the impacts of misleading hotel website photos

Pei Jou Kuo, Lu Zhang, David A. Cranage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose – This research aims to investigate the impacts of misleading hotel website photos on consumers’ brand trust, emotional responses and negative word-of-mouth (WOM) intention. The magnitude of these impacts in different contexts was examined. Design/methodology/approach – This study employed a 2 (hotel segment: economy vs upscale) ´ 2 (expected product experience: hedonic vs utilitarian) scenario-based experimental design. A total of 240 consumers participated in this study. Findings – The study results show that, in the case of misleading hotel website photos, brand trust was lower for the upscale hotel. Consumers experienced greater anger and regret in the upscale hotel situation and were most angry if they stayed at an upscale hotel for a hedonic purpose. The eWOM intention was higher in the upscale hotel situation. In addition, it was found that hotel physical environment was more important for female and married consumers. Research limitations/implications – A hypothetical brand name was used in this study. Therefore, brand attitude changes and the influences of brand loyalty on consumers’ responses to misleading website photos were not examined. Practical implications – Upscale hotels and hotels that target leisure consumers need to make an effort to use truthful website photos and ensure that the physical environment is well maintained. Originality/value – No prior research investigated the impact of misleading hotel website photos. This research fills this gap in the hospitality literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1301-1319
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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