Towards Green Trust: An Interpretation of Nordic Choice Hotels’ Environmental Sustainability Performance based on Customer Feedback Data
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This study examines how customers perceive the environmental sustainability performance (ESP) of Nordic Choice Hotels (NCH) from a new and under-researched lens, namely semi-longitudinal customer feedback data. Drawing from the literature on environmental sustainability, green trust, greenwashing, and nudging, the research objective is addressed through three research questions: 1) How do customers react to Nordic Choice Hotels’ environmental sustainability performance and choice environment? 2) Do customers find the environmental sustainability performance of Nordic Choice Hotels trustworthy? 3) Do customers perceive that the choice environment enabled by Nordic Choice Hotels motivates them to change their behaviour toward a more environmentally friendly orientation? To explore these questions, this study applies a mixed methods and triangulation design of secondary data collection. First, by reviewing how NCH manages and reports its performance through document analysis. Second, by examining how customers perceive the performance by using text mining to systematise a cloud of unsorted open-text customer feedback from a customer survey. The results and discussion indicate that most customers express concerns about NCH’s ESP and leave constructive feedback that offers solutions on how to improve the performance. Elements of perceived greenwashing, absence of facilitation and infrastructure, and lack of information and deliberation transparency were identified as barriers to strong green trust and subsequent strong ESP. In conclusion to the research questions, in response to the environment customers perceive the choice environment to be ambiguous, leading to the understanding that customers welcome improvements in environmental facilitation and intervention, and that NCH should therefore improve green trust and further promote its ESP. As the situation stands now, customers perceive moderate to weak green trust in NCH and as a result do not perceive sufficient motivation towards a more environmentally friendly behaviour. Without deliberation transparency, improved facilitation of infrastructure, navigation in a complex choice environment, and salience of mutual accountability measures, strong green trust and ultimately strong ESP shall remain elusive for NCH.
Master Thesis in Climate Change Management Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Science WESTERN NORWAY UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES June 2021