Green CSR communication in the service industry : strategy development for a hotel’s informative and persuasive green messages
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Due to the hotel’s close reliance on the environment and local communities, sustainability has magnified in the hospitality industry. Hotels strongly consider about environmental issues and adopt pro-environmental programs as a part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business models. However, despite hotels’ highly active engagement in green CSR, hotels face challenges communicating their pro-environmental efforts because CSR communication may backfire by provoking condemnation from the belief that companies are mainly trying to benefit themselves via CSR practices, which are, in actuality, supposed to benefit society. Following a dearth of more in-depth research in CSR communication, this study looked into the message framing strategies that hotels could employ to effectively communicate their green CSR information to their consumers in two ways, in compliance with the two primary objectives of CSR communication – to inform and to persuade. First, Study 1 investigated consumers’ responses to a hotel’s informative green CSR message. Building upon the claim objectivity and correspondent inference theory, it revealed that an explicit and specific CSR message was effective to reduce consumers’ skepticism, bolster their perceived CSR motives as public-serving, and improve a hotel’s brand image and reputation. Consistently, an impact-focused message, which described a hotel’s actual contributions to environment, demonstrated not only the same effects but also, increased consumers’ trust towards a message. Second, for a persuasive CSR message, Study 2 mainly examined the effects of flattery presented in a hotel’s green card on prompting consumers’ green behavior at a hotel based on the self-enhancement theory. It indicated that flattery significantly enhanced consumers’ towel reuse intentions at a hotel. Also, it mitigated their skepticism, and led them to believe in a public-serving motive. Through two studies, a role of skepticism and perceived motives was highlighted that these two constructs, as mediators, could explain the mechanism of consumer responses to a CSR message. This dissertation contributes to advance the understanding of consumer judgment of different types of pro-environmental CSR messages and further, provides empirical framing strategies for hotel practitioners to effectively communicate with their consumers for their green efforts.