The influence of entrepreneurial talent in website design, ewom and business performance. An application in rural tourism

  1. Nieto Arias, Jannine Waleska
Supervised by:
  1. Pablo Antonio Muñoz Gallego Co-director
  2. Rosa María Hernández Maestro Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Fecha de defensa: 31 January 2014

  1. Águeda Esteban Talaya Chair
  2. Mercedes Martos Partal Secretary
  3. Carmen Camarero Izquierdo Committee member
  4. Javier Sánchez García Committee member
  5. Juan Luis Nicolau Gonzálbez Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 368212 DIALNET


Entrepreneurs provide the engine of development, especially in economically unstable times and Rural Tourism has reached a worldwide peak with regard to its revenue-generating abilities. Although investigations have focused on entrepreneurship, generally referred to as the creation of new businesses, for nearly a century, we still lack a consensus about its definition, which remains an obstacle to developing a conceptual framework of entrepreneurship (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). Various terms exist to refer to entrepreneurship, including entrepreneur, entrepreneurial function, and, more recently, entrepreneurial orientation and entrepreneurial talent. The latter refers specifically to a person¿s special ability for entrepreneurship. In times of economic crisis, these arguments become even more pertinent, because entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial talent can help countries deal with declining incomes and profits. To attract tourists, owners of tourism accommodations must be entrepreneurs and their decisions, such as having usability website, room prices and promotional mixes, in turn influence tourists¿ destination choices (Anderson, 1996; Pathak et al., 2010). Various kinds of advertising can promote this service sector, but the Internet is a remarkably valuable tool in this setting. In 2004, the Internet had 215 million users worldwide (Cyr and Trevor-Smith, 2004); as of 2009, there were more than 1,600 million Internet users (CIA, 2009). A study carried out in the context of rural tourism also has revealed that 47% of travelers learned about the establishment they visited through the Internet (Hernández-Maestro, 2005). Entrepreneurs of the sector recognize this importance, an Internet Week survey reported that approximately 60% of tourism companies (e.g., travel agencies, bars, hotels, motels) regard the Internet as a "substantial" tool for acquiring new customers (Baloglu and Pekcan, 2006; Mullen, 2000; Quelch and Klein, 1996). Yet some studies suggest e-commerce is not being adopted by SMEs as quickly as might be expected (Beveren and Thomson, 2002). In Spain, 86.5% of rural tourism establishments have a Web site, 81.6% advertise on the Internet, and most autonomous regions in Spain include on their sites an official page for searching for accommodations, though only 35.7% of accommodations can be contracted online (INE, 2006). Tourists once relied on word of mouth (WOM) from their family, friends, and experts as suggestions to their choice; today they also turn to online or electronic word of mouth (eWOM). As statistics indicate, in some countries 70%-80% of consumers trust in internet opinions and refer to the postings about products or customer reviews on the Internet when they need product information. For example, in hospitality sector, after reading other customers opinions 33% change hotel, 7% change the destination and 5% change the airline (, 2012; Sun-Jaen and Jang-Sun, 2009); it is because in this kind of services where it is not possible to know the quality of the product before consumption, the importance of customers¿ messages is higher, because the decision involves a high physiological cost ¿ the long-awaited three-day vacation ¿ and a high economic cost ¿ the money saved to do this trip, it is important to know the content of previous customer messages to mitigate the risks to contract the service. If WOM is defined as any communication about a service firm¿s offerings (Sandy et al., 2011), then eWOM can be defined as any communication about a service firm¿s offerings provided via the Internet. As a modern information and communication technology, eWOM has been the subject of various studies (e.g., Crotts et al., 2009; Gruen et al., 2006; Kozinets et al., 2010; Trusov et al., 2009), focus on products (Buda and Zhang, 2000; Lee et al., 2009; Lee and Youn, 2009; Liu, 2006) and services (Wirtz and Chung Lee, 2003). However, research on eWOM in rural tourism is still scarce despite of the potential that the knowledge of the interpersonal influence phenomenon has for the firms in this sector. This study attempts to address this gap by investigating eWOM for service firms; including not only the quantity of messages or its valence (positive or negative) but the content of the message too and its influence on business performance. Normally, to evaluate the opinions of customers, researchers consider consumers¿ responses to structured questionnaires according to SERVPERF or SERVQUAL models (Cronin and Taylor, 1992; Parasuraman et al., 1988). In the same way, owners of tourism establishments define a priori the categories to be evaluated, the quality of food, the cleanliness, etc. This type of measurement is not entirely accurate, because measures only the categories that have been defined by the owner, the ones he think are the most important, but maybe those categories are not the most important for a specific customer. In our research we provide a theoretical modeling contribution, a different approach to explain the implication of customer opinions on business results in two steps: (1) The customers are the ones who spontaneously decide the categories to consider in assessing quality and (2) We associate the categories separately for positive and negative evaluations, what let us to distinguish the different effects on business performance that a category has as satisfier (S) and as dissatisfier (D). Finally, we have chosen Rural Tourism as our sector of study because this industry is at its worldwide peak with regard to its revenue-generating abilities, which has significant benefits for underdeveloped areas and national economies (UNWTO, 2011). Thus many studies note the implications and concerns related to rural tourism, and institutions such as the World Tourism Organization organize special conferences and other events to address its current situation and future prospects (Nieto, Hernández-Maestro and Muñoz-Gallego, 2011). Rural tourism, or tourism that takes place in rural areas, generally reflects tourists¿ desire to understand a different way of life and come into closer contact with nature than they would in their regular lives (Hernández-Maestro et al., 2007). Rural tourism is an alternative to mass tourism, favors the establishment of population and income growth and has the ability to contribute to the preservation of historical, cultural and environmental heritage (cultural tourism, ecotourism, gastronomy), because 68% of Cultural assets are located in rural areas. In recent years, it has been portrayed as part of the portfolio of leisure and recreation activities available in virtually every region (Barke, 2004). Spain ranks among the top three countries in tourism, generating turnover of 66.4 million euros in 2004 and experiencing continued strong growth. For example, compared with 2001, the number of rural tourism establishments in Spain increased from 5,497 to 13,887 in 2009 (National Institute of Statistics [INE], 2010), and they offered a total of 126,234 beds. In terms of the number of tourists, 2,708,000 travelers used rural tourism accommodations in Spain in 2009, 90% of whom reside within the same country and 10% from abroad, producing a total of 7,902,000 overnight stays, with an average stay of 2.9 days each (Nieto et al., 2011b) representing in 2010 the 23.4% of workers in the country. During the first nine months of 2013, the overnight stays in rural tourism increased by 0.4% over the same period last year ( Rural tourism provides an ideal focus for research into entrepreneurial talent and eWOM, because of its growth, the large amount of governmental support it receives through subsidies, and the changes the rural population has undergone in the switch from agriculture to rural tourism. 1.2 Research Objectives Taking the context we have shown before, combining the entrepreneurial talent and Entrepreneurs¿ decisions, eWOM and business performance in Rural Tourism sector, the objectives of this research are: 1. Analyze the importance of entrepreneurial talent with regard to the introduction of new technologies, and specifically a Web site on the Internet. 2. Examine the impact of entrepreneurial talent, his experience and the introduction of new technologies on business performance. 3. Determine the effect of entrepreneurs¿ decisions, as price and advertising on customer eWOM messages. 4. Examine the influence of eWOM on business performance in a dual perspective, namely, the point of view of the customer, as manifested in eWOM messages, and the point of view of the owners of establishments (i.e., entrepreneurs), as evident in their decisions and ultimately their business performance. 5. Try to help fill the research gap associated with the methodology to do content analysis on eWOM. 6. Give a light of how the content of eWOM customer messages from satisfied and dissatisfied customers affects business performance. The objectives 1 and 2 are covered in chapter 3, the objectives 3 and 4 are seeing on chapter 4, finally the objectives 5 and 6 are studied in chapter 5.