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Title: Investigating website design factors that influence customers to use third-party websites for booking hotels : the Saudi customers' perspective
Author: Baeshen, Yasser Ali Mohammed-Saleh
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 0988
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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Customers are influenced in the physical world by their surroundings; important factors such as packaging, human interaction and atmosphere (environment) play important roles in any purchase decision customers make. Today's customers are moving towards faster, and more efficient ways of purchasing products/services. One of the most influential features in online purchase decisions is the Virtual Store Atmosphere (VSA). VSA is a marketing tool that not only influences purchase decisions, but it also measures the level of satisfaction in tourism and other industries. A high level of customer satisfaction increases the chance that they will recommend the product/service to other customers. However, despite different studies concerning information technology development and the impact of Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) on online Customer Purchase Decisions (CPD), eWOM has been little explored in the sphere of web design. It is vital that this research gap should be addressed, based on the online customer nature and the number of online bookings made in the tourism sector. Based on the above, this study aims to critically investigate and examine the impact of the online shopping environment on eWOM and customer purchase decisions, with respect to online bookings in the hotel industry, and develops a framework. The study aims to assess whether or not this impact is due to customers' web satisfaction and willingness to book a hotel online. Additionally, it looks at the influence of the online tourism environment on eWOM and Saudi Arabian customers' purchase decisions with respect to trust and the perceived risks in the area of hotel bookings made online. This research mainly adopts a quantitative method to achieve the objectives. Therefore, a conceptual framework has been developed based on existing literature concerning eWOM, web design and the hotel industry. The proposed framework has been validated using a measurement scale from previous validated studies. The research embraced and applied two main theories in the study, which are the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and the Stimulus-Organism-Response model (S-O-R). The research used an online survey of 1,002 respondents, which was distributed between two groups (Saudi national undergraduate students and Saudi national academic employees). Interviews, focus groups, and a pilot study were conducted to validate the survey too. Data analysis applied Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), and Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to validate the relationships between constructs and to test the research hypotheses. The findings from this study show that the majority of the environmental factors selected (web design) affect ES and motivate users to book a hotel online; these are: Perceived Ease of Use, Perceived Usefulness, Website Content, Intrusive Marketing Tools 'Pop-up Ads and Banner Ads', Search Engine and Enjoyability, but not System Quality. In addition, the results suggest that one of the organism factors, i.e. eWOM, does not influence CPD. As a result, this study contributes to the customer behaviour and web design/quality literature within the travel/tourism context in Saudi Arabia. It contributes to the existing knowledge and supports practitioners of third-party hotel websites in shaping their web development priorities and enables them to focus on the most influential and critical factors.
Supervisor: Al-Karaghouli, W. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Web quality ; Customer behahiour ; eWOM ; e-satisfaction ; Hotels