Sentiment drivers of hotel customers: a hybrid approach using unstructured data from online reviews

Ree Chan Ho, Madusha Sandamali Withanage, Kok Wei Khong

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: With the growth of social media and online communications, consumers are becoming more informed about hotels' services than ever before. They are writing online review to share their experiences, as well as reading online review before making a hotel reservation. Hotel customers considered it as reliable source and it influences customers' hotel selection. Most of these reviews reside in unstructured format, scattered across in the Internet and inherently unorganized. The purpose of this study was to use predictive text analytics to identify sentiment drivers from unstructured online reviews. Design/methodology/approach: The research used sentiment classifications to analyze customers' reviews on hotels from TripAdvisor. In total, 9,286 written reviews by hotel customers were scrapped from 442 hotels in Malaysia. A detailed text analytic was conducted and was followed by a development of a theoretical framework based on the hybrid approach. AMOS was used to analyze the relationship between customer sentiments and overall review rating. Findings: With the use of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and clustering technique, a list of sentiment drivers was detected, i.e. location, room, service, sleep, value for money and cleanliness. Among these variables, service quality and room facilities emerged as the most influential factors. Sentiment drivers obtained in this study provided the insights to hotel operators to improve the hotel conditions. Research limitations/implications: Although this study extended the existing literature on sentiment analysis by providing valuable insights to hoteliers, it is not without its limitations. For instance, online hotel reviews collected for this study were limited to one specific online review platform. Despite the large sample size to support and justify the findings, the generalizability power was restricted. Thus, future research should also consider and expand to other type of online review channels. Therefore, a need to examine these data reside various social media applications, i.e. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Practical implications: This study highlights the significance of hybrid predictive model in analyzing the unstructured hotel reviews. Based on the hybrid predictive model we developed, six sentiment drivers emerged from the data analysis, i.e. location, service quality, value for money, sleep quality, room design and cleanliness. This consideration is critical due to the ever-increasing unstructured data resides in the online space. This explores the possibility of applying data analytic technique in a more efficient manner to obtain customer insights for hotel managerial consideration. Originality/value: This study analyzed customer sentiments toward the hotel in Malaysia with the use of predictive text analytics technique. The main contribution was the list of sentiment drivers and the insights needed to improve the hotel conditions in Malaysia. In addition, the findings demonstrated motivating findings from different methodological perspective and provided hoteliers with the recommendation for improved review ratings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-250
Number of pages14
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Hotel sentiment drivers
  • Hybrid approach
  • Online review
  • Predictive analytics
  • Text analytics
  • Unstructured data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Public Administration


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