The potential for eWOM to affect consumer behaviour in tourism

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Harris, A & Prideaux, B 2017, 'The potential for eWOM to affect consumer behaviour in tourism', in SK Dixit (ed.) The Routledge handbook of consumer behaviour in hospitality and tourism, Routledge, Abingdon, UK. ISBN 9781315659657

Peer Reviewed



Word of mouth (WOM) is a socially constructed communication phenomenon (Harris & Prideaux 2011) where information is directly exchanged between two or more people either face-to-face or online (Sotiriadis and van Zyl 2013). The capacity of WOM to both inform and influence has been of interest to academics and industry for considerable time. This interest has grown exponentially as the volume of WOM has skyrocketed via electronic channels, known as eWOM. In the last 20 years there has been a proliferation of electronic communications and eWOM studies covering areas such as blogs (Carson 2008), models of online communication networks, online reviews and information seeking behaviour. More recently the focus has expanded to recommendation websites including TripAdvisor and social media, Twitter and Facebook. While information, opinion and perceived expertise offered online appears to mirror many of the characteristics of face-to-face WOM, the degree to which these relationships, reference groups and communication channels and network dynamics influence decisions or contribute to knowledge acquisition remains unclear. This chapter examines eWOM, how it differs from traditional WOM and how those aspects specific to eWOM impact on consumer behaviour in the tourism context. The chapter will apply Tate and Alexander’s (1999) criteria of online information quality as a framework to explain how consumers might consider eWOM communication then conclude by outlining the integrated and supplementary roles of traditional WOM and eWOM in consumer behaviour.