Uttara Ananthakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, University of Washington.
Title: I Hear You: Does Quality Improve with Customer Voice?
Abstract: In a static quality context, online reviews and ratings help consumers separate high- and low-quality firms. In a dynamic quality context, however, reviews can inform and incentivize low-rated firms to improve their quality and lower the quality gap with high-rated firms. In this paper, we empirically test this hypothesis by analyzing the U.S. hotel industry using data from two major online consumer review platforms: Tripadvisor and Expedia. Using a combination of econometric and natural language processing tools, we present two main findings. First, hotels that are more likely to pay attention to reviews increase their ratings more than hotels that are less likely to pay attention to reviews. Second, we show that these hotels increase their ratings by improving on issues frequently mentioned in their reviews. Further, we find that low-rated hotels experience larger gains in ratings as they have more margin for improvement than high-rated hotels. Overall, our results suggest that online consumer reviews provide a valuable source of information.
Bio: Uttara M. Ananthakrishnan is an Assistant Professor at the Foster School of Business, University of Washington. Uttara's research sits at the intersection of technology, business, and policy. Uttara studies content management on digital platforms and the social impact of Information Systems using large-scale data, Econometrics, Machine Learning, and field experiments.