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Reconciling unsatisfying tourism experiences: Message type effectiveness and the role of counterfactual thinking


  • Wang, Saerom
  • Kirillova, Ksenia
  • Lehto, Xinran


While attracting new tourists is an important issue in destination marketing, it is also imperative to manage tourists' experience post-trip, particularly in cases of unsatisfying experiences. Yet, the questions of how to rectify unsatisfying tourism experiences received little attention in tourism scholarship. In the present research, we investigated the effectiveness of different forms of marketing messages and the role of counterfactual thinking in the ability of a marketing message to improve tourists' attitudes towards the destination and intentions to recommend, when a tourism experience was not up to tourists' satisfaction. A scenario-based experiment was conducted with 480 respondents. The results showed that user-generated messages and the messages employing emotional appeal were more impactful than destination-generated or rational messages. Respondents who engaged in downward counterfactual thinking, that is imagining the situation in which their experience could have been worse, was shown to have a greater positive effect on unsatisfied tourists.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Saerom & Kirillova, Ksenia & Lehto, Xinran, 2017. "Reconciling unsatisfying tourism experiences: Message type effectiveness and the role of counterfactual thinking," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 233-243.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:touman:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:233-243
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2016.12.008

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    2. Zajadacz Alina & Minkwitz Aleksandra, 2020. "Using Social Media Data to Plan for Tourism," Quaestiones Geographicae, Sciendo, vol. 39(3), pages 125-138, September.
    3. Wu, ChienHsing & Kao, Shu-Chen & Chiu, Hsin-Yi, 2019. "Determinants of discontinuous intention of attention to mobile instant message services," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 219-230.

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