CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Frank W. Nasuti

Committee Member

Easwar Nyshadham

Abstract

Trust plays an important role in any customer relationship or transaction. This is especially true in the world of commerce. Buyers and sellers must make the conscious decision whether or not to trust the other party. Trust is an integral part of commerce and has been in existence since the beginning of human social interactions. With the emerging use of the Internet as a business medium of exchange, trust maintains an important role in electronic commerce. This research reviews the role of trust within the small hotel industry and the design elements having the highest impact toward developing trust between the buyer and seller. small hotel organizations to utilize the electronic commerce environment as a competitive advantage.

Trust is a concept that most people understand but have trouble defining. Brick and mortar companies can establish trust by providing personal service, one-on-one contact, and creating an environment that communicates trust to the customer. In the electronic commerce environment, many of the face-to-face experiences a shopper receives from the physical store are missing. The online shopper must develop a level of trust based on the web representation of the company or organization. Only through good experiences are the bonds of trust solidified, making the user more comfortable with sharing information and engaging in extensive forms of commerce. Trust must be established from the first exposure to the property or online representation of the hotel. How can the small hotel compete with large chains, such as Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, or Embassy Suites? The Internet is becoming the main communication channel for the Business to Consumer (B2C) market, leaving the ability to differentiate between the luxury hotel and the small hotel to the skill of the web developer. Therefore, smaller hotels must exploit the Internet in order to develop trust and increase their market share. small hotel organizations to utilize the electronic commerce environment as a competitive advantage.

The goal of this research was to create a usable framework for building trust in an online environment, focusing specifically on the small hotel sector within the lodging industry. This framework was constructed based on the literature review and enabled the development of a solid information architecture and Internet strategy. This study established that page layout, navigation, professional style, graphics, and information content are significantly related to the establishment of online trust. The utilization of these visual design elements will enable small hotel organizations to utilize the electronic commerce environment as a competitive advantage.

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