Nicholas Gregori: Innovative service marketing delivery using social media networking: Learning from review websites in the tourism/hospitality industry

Researcher: Nicholas Gregori

Nicolas completed his degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the International School of Management in Dortmund, Germany, in 2008, and then went on to complete a Masters in Tourism Marketing at Oxford Brookes University.

He travelled and worked a lot throughout his studies and it was during this time that Nicolas discovered his interest in e-tourism.

I got progressively fascinated by the potential and benefits that lie in the internet for a contemporary traveller. From a personal point of view I followed the development of tourism in the context of the internet in general and social networking in particular, he says.

“And I discovered my interest in e-tourism from an academic point of view towards the end of my bachelor degree in Germany when I choose an IT in Tourism module as my elective. Then during my Masters studies I discovered a research interest in online marketing and e-tourism and these subjects really fascinated me,” says Nicolas.

Through internships and university-related projects, Nicolas has gained insights into various areas of the tourism industry, with a particular focus on marketing and market research. Among other projects he has worked for a Berlin-based tourism consultancy and Dusseldorf Airport.

And it was BU’s strong links with industry that attracted Nicholas to the School of Tourism. “In addition to its world-class reputation and leading research, I appreciate that the School has strong links with the real business world through being actively involved in tourism consultancy. I’m very much looking forward to being part of an international research community and such a renowned department,” says Nicolas.

He adds: “I am looking forward to embarking on a challenging and interesting learning journey, and exploring a research field that has not yet been addressed by many tourism academics.”

His Research: Innovative service marketing delivery using social media networking: Learning from review websites in the tourism/ hospitality industry

This research aims to develop insights into customer relationship management for service recovery and service excellence in the dynamic context of social media networking websites.

Social networking online has changed the basis of communications between customers and organisations, while having revolutionised the principles of brand management. The emerging tools enable organisations to expand their brand footprint and at the same time challenge organisations to re-engineer their service delivery across multi-channels and perhaps most importantly in public. This generates a need to re-examine customer communication and service in the new environment.

Many companies set up accounts on social networking websites to publicise their business and manage consumer complaints. As companies allocate precious resources to social networking websites, it is important to understand how they manage customer complaints and/or negative perceptions in a real time context of Internet to solve business challenges and achieve service excellence.

Of particular interest is service recovery to achieve service excellence through online customer relationship management in the context of the tourism/hotel industry. For example, how do service providers respond to negative customer comments and solve customer dissatisfaction through online social media to achieve service excellence?

Research about customer relationship management and service excellence can be drawn from several theoretical perspectives such as social network theory, services marketing and relationship management and relationship marketing. By reviewing these theories in the context of social networking websites, this study aims to develop new insights into service recovery and service excellence strategies for customer management relationship in online environments.

The tourism and hospitality context provides an excellent area to explore innovative service delivery since it is in the forefront of technological adoption. Social networking in the form of review, sites (e.g. Tripadvisor), networking (e.g. Facebook etc) as well as price comparison websites (e.g. Kayak) have revolutionised service delivery and interaction.

Nicholas is supervised in his PhD research by the School of Tourism’s Professor Dimitrios Buhalis and Dr Miguel Moital and Dr Soo Jun.