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The information transmissions dynamics of online firestorm: 5-star hotel hygiene horror on Sina Weibo

Authors: Lijuan Su*, University of Florida, Svetlana Stepchenkova, University of Florida
Topics: Tourism Geography, Applied Geography, Business Geography
Keywords: Tourism, network analysis, online firestorm,Sina Weibo, social media
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 12:30 PM / 1:45 PM
Room: Virtual Track 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The hygiene problems of hotel rooms not only involve those low-end budget hotels, but also those top luxury hotels. On November 14th, 2018, a Chinese whistle-blower posted a 12-minute video recording how hotel housekeepers violated the hygiene protocols in fourteen top-tier luxury hotels on Sina Weibo, which resulted in a series of headlines and heated discussions given the hygiene problems of hotel rooms with nearly 3 billion views and 1.5 million discussions (Sina & Weibo Data Center, 2019). This specific video generated national-wide critiques on the involved hotels and even the hygienic standard of hospitality industry, becoming an online firestorm, which is characteristic by the network clusters amplifying epidemic spreading (Pfeffer, Zorbach, & Carley, 2014). This study collected 24,984 messages, posted from November 14, 2018 to August 30, 2019, and related user profiles towards this specific crisis. This study will apply the network analysis to examine the key information hubs in the process of spreading the online firestorm and identify the main types of users involved into the online discussions. Besides, this study will detect the information transmission dynamics from the key information hubs and among different types of users on Sina Weibo. This study will contribute to understanding the secondary online crisis communications given service failure incidents in the hospitality and tourism industry.

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