Customer reviews posted on the web and through social media (electronic word of mouth [eWOM]) have grown in importance for tourism businesses, but most studies have examined the effects of the content of reviews, particularly negative reviews (i.e., their valence). This study considers both the valence and the volume of eWOM using a broad and varied sample of 16,680 hotels in 249 tourist areas. The study found a relationship between valence and volume, in the sense that early reviews of a business tend to be disproportionately negative. As the number of reviews increases, the valence becomes more balanced, and the negative effect is mitigated. Moreover, the study agrees with other findings that positive comments are more common than negative reviews. Whether or not hotels actively respond to negative reviews, one implication of this study is that hoteliers should try to increase the number of reviews they receive to balance the positive and negative representations of their property (in addition to investigating and correcting the causes of negative comments). Those promoting tourist destinations should follow a similar strategy of facilitating access to customer review sites to obtain a balance of negative and favorable ratings.
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