Author: Hrankai, Richard
Title: Does habitual propensity drive hotel choice? Examining the role of decision-making styles of Chinese middle-class consumers
Advisors: Hsu, Cathy (SHTM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2020
Subject: Tourists
Consumer behavior
Tourism -- Decision making
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xi, 287 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Consumers differ in the way they make consumption choices, and many factors influence decision-making. The rational choice paradigm suggests that individuals evaluate alternatives and their prospective outcomes by assuming their probabilities and make trade-offs among choice attributes to determine which alternative has the highest utility. However, in the field of cognitive psychology, it was recognized that to make judgments of choice alternatives, individuals do not necessarily behave in a rational manner. A perspective of irrational behavior relates to evaluations that rely on past experience. In this vein, habit formation is an important consideration since habit is a central feature of daily life. While the influence of habit on overall behavior has been studied, previous research did not examine whether habitual tendency influences choice attributes that are considered in the decision-process. In addition, habitual propensity does not equally influence individuals' choices. That is, the extent to which habitual propensity influences choices may be individual specific. Thus, habitual propensity may be heterogeneous in explaining choice behavior. Making choices for accommodation is an important stage of the leisure decision-making process. Consistent with the rational choice behavior, research on accommodation choice has revealed various factors that influence decision-making on hotels. Empirical evidence of identifying key hotel attributes has been accumulated, and studies generally agree that attributes such as price, location, room features and hotel facilities are important factors in hotel selection. As travel becomes a natural aspiration, the choice process for accommodation may be represented by a limited problem solving as opposed to an extended problem solving (i.e., exhaustive evaluation of choice alternatives). Also, as travelers learn how to travel, familiarity with the choice task enables decision-makers to rely on decision strategies that were found to be satisfactory in previous encounters. Understanding how habit shapes preferences in the accommodation choice context is relevant because the choice task itself (i.e., hotel booking) is repeated over time. This thesis examined whether (1) habit formation accounts for heterogeneity in examining hotel choice decisions, and (2) whether decision-making styles explain heterogeneous preferences. To observe choice behavior, a stated preference experiment was constructed, and to measure decision-making styles, a new measurement scale was developed, which integrated two existing measurement scales from previous research. The questionnaire was distributed and administered by a specialized market research company, and data was collected from Chinese respondents residing in Mainland China. The data was analyzed using discrete modeling approaches, such as multinomial logit, mixed logit, and hybrid choice models. The results of the study revealed that individuals exhibit heterogeneous preferences toward hotel attributes, and habitual propensity accounted for a portion of the heterogeneity. The study also found that accounting for heterogeneity in habitual propensity led to a decrease in sensitivities of hotel attributes. Finally, seven underlying constructs of decision-making styles that explained heterogenous preferences were identified and validated. This research sheds light on how habitual propensity shapes preferences. Unlike previous research that examined the influence of habit on behavioral outcomes, this research assessed the role of habit on choice attributes. By accounting for habitual propensity as a source of heterogeneity, this study offers instructive insights into research on habit not only in the field of tourism and hospitality, but also in other areas such as psychology or consumer behavior.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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