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M. Gallarza1, G. Del Chiappa2, M. Lewis3

1University of Valencia (SPAIN)
2Sassari Universty (ITALY)
3University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNITED STATES)
Aims and Scope:
There are two facts that make contemporary Consumer Behavior a fascinating subject. The first is that, as consumers, students can experience many of the situations that consumer behavior literature describes. The second is related to the huge amount of information existing on the Internet uploaded directly be consumers during and/or after their consumption experience, (the so called User Generated Content), thus generating complimenting and complaining behaviors. As a result, teachers of Consumer Behavior can use alternatively deductive or inductive approaches, as real examples are easy to identify and valuable for theoretical understanding.

This is the case with the so-called Service Recovery construct, a main topic in Consumer Behavior. Nowadays, it is essential for firms to adequately understand service failure and Service Recovery, particularly in the domain of e-commerce. In fact, consumer complaining, and therefore also managers’ answers (i.e. service recovery), have never been that simple. Consumers are increasingly concerned about their rights, and online consumer feedback has become essential for recovering and improving services, and this has been especially true in tourism and hospitality consumption.

This paper aims at showing the interest of using actual information on real consumers using on-line User Generated Contents (i.e. TripAdvisor). The paper will report an in-class exercise made with students from the subject “Consumer Behavior” in a Tourism Master program at Universidad de Valencia (Spain), where students get direct, real and inductive knowledge on how managers can derive extra value in handling complaints on the Internet.

The in-class exercise is organized in three steps:
a) A theoretical explanation of what Service Recovery means, the protocol to be followed for complaint handling, and main reasons why customers complain.
b) Students are asked to look and find in TripAdvisor at least 5 actual consumers/managers interfaces (i.e. precise situations of complaints, and the answer given by the firm).
c) Students have to write and handle (and eventually be able to orally explain) their analysis and diagnosis of the way the complaint was handled, and eventually judging if the Service Recovery took place. In addition, they are tasked with providing rationale based on the previous theoretical knowledge and their own feelings as consumers.

Predicted results:
Several outcomes can be derived from this exercise. First, regarding (tourism) Master Students, they can understand (and experiment) how the new venue of User Generated Contents offers a great deal of information on the topics taught in class, as students can judge how actual managers have responded to current issues. Second, regarding teachers, the exercise shows how some contents (mainly the ones on Consumer Behavior) can be taught both inductively (as students search and find examples) and deductively (receiving previous information that they use in the final diagnosis).