Online hotel branding based on the dialogic principles of internet communication.
Owoche, Patrick Oduor
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The internet is a powerful branding tool for many businesses as it offers numerous ways to promote a business online. Branding is one of the business activities that can be done online. Online branding is even more crucial for service providers like hotels that do not have tangible products. Though many hotels are investing in technology to promote scale and efficiency, the human and personal touch is given little attention. For businesses to rip maximum benefits from brand equity, there is need for them to employ branding strategy that facilitates long term relationship building with their consumers. This study investigated the application of dialogic principles of internet communication in hotel online branding strategies. Specifically, it investigated online branding strategies employed by hotels in Kenya. The study was guided by the dialogic principles of internet communication, and collected data from websites of three star and above hotel in Kenya. The study used media content analysis to collect quantitative data from 64 hotel websites. Fuzzy analytic hierarchy process was used to develop a hotel website evaluation model. The model development process was complemented with focus group discussion that involved hotel online branding stakeholders. The study revealed that the implementation of dialogic principles of internet communication in hotel websites and social media as branding platforms are slightly below average at 49% and 49% respectively. The outcome of this study would assist hotel marketers in identifying new ways of differentiating their hotel brands to gain competitive edge and develop strong relationships with their consumers. The results would also assist hotel managers and webmasters in the development of hotel website that might contribute to hotel brand awareness, leading to the desired hotel brand image and augmented brand equity.
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