The Formation of the Image of Top-Ranked Hotels through Real Online Customer Reviews: A Corpus-Based Study of Evaluative Adjectives as Image-Formers/Providers

  •  Nuria Edo Marzá    


This study is grounded on a corpus-based analysis of evaluative adjectives as hotel image-formers/providers conducted from a multifaceted yet complementary perspective which departs from the notion of destination image formation (Gartner, 1993; Baloglu & McCleary, 1999, Gylling, 2004 among others) focused on a specific aspect, that of the hotel of destination, and to a specific genre, the online (hotel) customer review. The corpus of study, which contains more than 250 000 words, is made up of more than 1200 online reviews of top-ranked hotels retrieved from the popular website WordSmith Tools 5.0 was used to analyse and categorise the evaluative adjectives in the corpus from three perspectives: firstly, adjectives were initially classified according to frequency and/or saliency criteria; secondly, in terms of their implicit degree of positivity/negativity; and thirdly, according to the kind of evaluation provided. Subsequently, the main features evaluated in any hotel online customer review (value, rooms, location, cleanliness, and service) and their frequently associated adjectival evaluative acts were analysed to determine their collocational behavior and thus the way such appraisal patterns contribute to “destination image formation”, that is, to form an impression on specific aspects of top-ranked hotels. The paper is aimed at showing that evaluative adjectives in online customer reviews are critical in the interpretation of subjective expected values, and that a correct understanding of the kind of image they transmit in the tourist-to tourist digital interaction through reviews provides an opportunity for destination marketers, in this case hoteliers, to enhance the psychological and symbolic values as well as the benefits of the destination according to improved communication strategies and language usage.

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