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Inter-channel Effects in Multichannel Travel Services: Moderating Role of Social Presence and Need for Human Interaction


Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


Travel agents continue to offer traditional services, but as customers migrate to online sales channels, many traditional agencies have added their own online distribution channels. This study of the attitudes of 114 university students finds that excellence in offline service is associated with a favorable view of an agent’s online presence. Moderating this relationship is the effect of social presence (SP) on the website. That is, the respondents’ view of the website was improved by the availability of live chat or video chat interactions. The effect of SP also interacted with some respondents’ need for human interaction (NHI), although that effect was not strong. The study used a novel comic-strip format to depict the process of purchasing airline tickets and hotel accommodations with three treatments: offline, online with weak SP, and online with strong SP. The study compared the attitudes toward an agency’s online channel based on its in-person service quality, as moderated by the website’s SP and the respondents’ NHI.