All about authenticity? TripAdvisor customer evaluations of an Italian dining experience : The case of lower-scale restaurants in Lancaster, UK

Nichele, Elena and Koller, Veronika (2019) All about authenticity? TripAdvisor customer evaluations of an Italian dining experience : The case of lower-scale restaurants in Lancaster, UK. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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In their influential contribution, Gilmore and Pine (2007) claim that authenticity is what customers really want. I question the validity of the authors’ assertion with regard to lower-scale Italian restaurants in Lancaster, a city in the North-West of England, whose population is around 137,788 residents (Lancaster City Council, 2016), far from London cosmopolitanism (see Karosmanoğlu, 2013, focusing on the image of ‘Turkishness’ perceived by Londoners).My research combines manual text analysis with a corpus-based approach. I collected all reviews published on TripAdvisor up to October 2017 for eight Italian restaurants in a joint corpus (2,411 reviews, 209,682 tokens). Furthermore, I created two additional corpora, subdividing the Italian restaurant reviews (IRRs) into positive (whose overall score was 4 or 5 points) and negative evaluations (awarded 1 or 2 points). Finally, I compiled a non-Italian restaurant review corpus (N-IRRC) (5,394 reviews, 468,789 tokens).To identify the elements of Italian dining experiences which are important for reviewers, I analysed the 150 most frequent lexemes in the Italian restaurant review corpus (IRRC) with the aid of the corpus-query system Wmatrix (Rayson, 2003). I compared those lexemes with the most frequent ones in the N-IRRC. Moreover, I selected a random sample of IRRs and N-IRRs and analysed it from an appraisal theory perspective (Martin & White, 2005).Finally, I used the chi-square to test the probability of reviewers to refer to (in)authenticity while discussing a topic. Any statistically significant result shows if the presence or absence of (perceived) authenticity is more relevant for reviewers with regards to a topic. Moreover, the chi-square allows testing of the probability of reviewers to refer to (in)authenticity and any other component of the dining experience (e.g. quality, quantity, consistency) while reviewing either an Italian or a non-Italian restaurant. Any statistically significant result points out if the presence or absence of authenticity, as perceived by the reviewers, can be impacted by the nationality of the cuisine. Additionally, the components of the dining experiences are compared to see if the nationality of the cuisine impacts, significantly or not, the reviewers’ discussion.The main idea underlying my research is that authenticity is not to be taken for granted as essential in the evaluation of reviewers’ experience. Instead, I intend to chart all key factors and levels of discussion in restaurant reviews, whilst detailing the influence of the nationality of the cuisine on the reviewers’ expectations and the role of authenticity in restaurant reviews. In this way, I build on the notion of ‘quasification’ (Beardsworth & Bryman, 1999), i.e. a reproduction of selected features of the experience which could better fulfil customers’ satisfaction and expectations.Briefly, the originality and novelty of this thesis include:1)its focus on an under-researched type of restaurants (i.e. lower-scale)2)its focus on a less cosmopolitan city3)its combined method, including corpus linguistics and appraisal theory4)its reviewing and bridging literature across disciplines (broadly, linguistics and business studies).Meanwhile, its main findings can be summarised as follows:1)not all meal components are essential and dealt with at the same level of depth in the reviews2)the degree of authenticity can be evaluated in relation to each one of the topics, aspects and details identified in the model3)the cuisine served by the restaurants impacts the foci of the reviews.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? authenticityglocalizationonline customer reviewscorpus-assisted analysisappraisal analysis ??
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03 Feb 2020 09:40
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05 Jun 2024 23:43