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The Importance of Attribution: Connecting Online Travel Communities with Online Travel Agents

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Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


Using attribution theory, this study examines 207 travel consumers’ views of five online travel communities (namely, Lonelyplanet, Travellerspoint, Tripadvisor, VirtualTourist, and Wayn) and their intentions to patronize one of the websites’ affiliates, Expedia. As a starting point, customers form an opinion of the community website itself based on communication quality and service quality. A high-quality experience, which includes interaction with other community members, engenders loyalty to the community website. With that base, the study tested three aspects of attributional responsiveness (evaluative satisfaction, cognitive loyalty, and affective belonging) and found that they could act as mediating factors to convey favorable attribution to the online communities’ affiliates, as represented by Expedia. Thus, a high standard of information and service will receive a favorable response from the online travel community, and that response can then be transferred to the community’s affiliates, in the form of purchases and return visits.