Revista Española de Investigación
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Management response to eWOM in rural lodging establishments

Mayo 2020, Vol. 24 nº 2

Rosa M. Hernández Maestro

Purpose – Companies are adopting a more active role in managing their online reputations by using electronic word of mouth (eWOM) and often responding directly to customer reviews. Therefore, companies need to understand the effects of management responses to customer reviews. This study aims to explore whether it is worth responding to reviews and whether expressing gratitude enhances the effects of review responses.

Design/methodology/approach – This study uses customer reviews and management response data a sample of 766 Spanish rural lodging establishments listed on Toprural (www.toprural.com). Analyses are undertaken with NVivo and SmartPLS.

Findings – Responding to negative reviews improves lodging establishments’ average ratings, but responding to positive reviews has no significant direct effect. Expressing gratitude in responses positively moderates the effects of reviewresponses; thismoderating effect ismore significant for responses to negative than to positive reviews.

Originality/value – Previous research provides contradictory evidence about the positive outcomes of a company’s responses; it also does not address expressions of gratitude. This research provides evidence of the direct effects of management response quantity on ratings. It also expands current research on the content characteristics of these responses. The contextual setting for this research, rural tourism, is a key driver of sustainable rural development and a sector in which eWOM is especially relevant; thus, correctly managing the eWOMphenomenon becomes crucial.

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