Using situational crisis communication theory to understand Orlando hotels’ Twitter response to three crises in the summer of 2016

Danielle Barbe, Lori Pennington-Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to assess the crisis communication strategies implemented by hotel and lodging organizations via social media. Specifically, this study analyzed Twitter content by hotels in Orlando, Florida during the summer of 2016 when several crises occurred that made global media coverage, including the alligator snatching on Disney property, the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub and growing concerns of Zika virus.

Design/methodology/approach
To understand crisis communication in the hotel industry, this study was guided by the technology-environment-organization framework and situational crisis communication theory (SCCT). Twitter content between June 1 and August 31, 2016 from Orlando hotels was collected and content analyzed to determine: was the message related to the crisis event, the SCCT strategy used and the influence of hotel organizational factors (ownership, size, classification) on the use of social media for crisis communication.

Findings
Results indicate that most hotels are not currently using Twitter as a form of crisis communication. Only the shooting at Pulse Nightclub was communicated and the SCCT bolster strategy was used throughout each of the crisis-related message, reminding stakeholders that they too are a victim.

Originality/value
This study provides insight into the ways hotels are using social media for crisis communication. Each crisis explored was different, and while the hotels were not responsible for creating the crises, they are responsible for the safety of guests. These results inform hoteliers that there is a responsibility to communicate during a crisis, particularly for informative purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-275
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

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