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High Tech Versus High Touch: Comparing Electronic and Hard-Copy Gift Cards

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Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


Previous research in the area of how individuals respond to hard-copy versus electronic communications indicates inconsistent results. Although media richness theory suggests that there is no theoretical distinction between physical, hard-copy and electronic, text-based communications, other research has shown that an individual’s response varies depending on the type of communication. The present research explores the reaction to unexpected opportunities as a function of how the communications are received—either via email or as a hard-copy. Results indicate that participants were equally satisfied to receive either an electronic or a physical gift certificate; however, they redeemed them in unequal amounts. Participants who received a physical gift card were more likely to redeem their gifts and were more likely to spend a greater amount of the total gift card than those who received an electronic one.