Risk versus Reward: When Will Travelers Go the Distance?

Sarah Tanford, Esther L. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Online reviews have a powerful influence on travel purchase decisions and outweigh other considerations, including price. Price and location are primary factors influencing hotel selection. This research investigates the influence of reviews and location on travel decisions for a spring break vacation in Cancun. Prospect theory and judgmental heuristics provide a theoretical foundation for the prediction that people will exert greater effort to avoid risk versus seek reward. Participants chose between two resorts that varied in review valence and distance from the popular area in an experimental design. Participants preferred a resort with neutral versus negative reviews regardless of distance, but preference for a positive versus neutral resort declined as distance increased. When both resorts had neutral reviews, location was the main determinant of lodging choice. The findings suggest that locational superiority can be offset by negative reviews, whereas locational inferiority can be overcome by maintaining good reviews online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-759
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • asymmetry
  • judgmental heuristics
  • location
  • online reviews
  • prospect theory
  • travel decisions


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk versus Reward: When Will Travelers Go the Distance?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this