Understanding roles of experiential value and perceived switching drivers on travelers’ loyalty: an empirical study of third-party travel websites



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Kansas State University


The Internet has been one of the primary channels for acquiring information during pre-purchase and actual purchase stages characterized by easy entry and low supplier power. Internet travel businesses find it harder to retain customers, and customer defection to better alternatives is inevitable. Travel website developers and/or managers face problems that make it necessary to understand and identify what makes their customers continue to use websites without switching. To date, much attention has gone to identifying what affects website users’ behavioral intentions. Limited research, however, has been published on the experiential value of using travel websites and what influences travelers to switch to other travel websites, a context that requires more information. The purpose of this study was to explore and test travelers’ loyalty empirically, along with determinants like the value of travel websites and website switching drivers. In particular, Study 1 proposed a theoretical model identifying the effects of a website’s experiential value on satisfaction, and, in turn, attitudinal loyalty and behavioral loyalty. Study 2 aimed to examine website switching factors (i.e., switching costs, attractiveness of alternatives, and perceived network externality) on the relationship between satisfaction and loyalty. Along with the purpose and objectives of the study, 14 hypotheses were proposed based on the literature review. Data were collected from 384 travel website users in the United States who are 18 years or older and have used travel websites within the last three months. The proposed relationships were examined using structural equation modeling and hierarchical multiple regression analysis. Results showed that customer return on investment, service excellence, and aesthetics were directly associated with satisfaction; satisfaction was directly related to attitudinal loyalty and behavioral loyalty; attitudinal loyalty showed a positive influence on behavioral loyalty; and attitudinal loyalty partially mediated the relationship of satisfaction with behavioral loyalty. Further, the results of this study revealed that switching costs, attractiveness of alternatives, and perceived network externality were significantly and positively associated with loyalty, but their interaction effects with satisfaction on loyalty were not significant. The findings should add to the understanding of travelers’ value perception of travel websites and website switching behaviors. In addition to its contribution to the literature, online travel and tourism businesses or organizations benefit from suggestions of practical applications for retaining customers.



Third-party travel website, Experiential value, Satisfaction, Loyalty, Switching, Online travelers

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Hospitality Management and Dietetics

Major Professor

Rebecca A. Gould; Chihyung Ok