Customer engagement has been recognized an essential determinant of brand loyalty. However, the psychological mechanism of customer engagement has rarely received full examination, especially in the field of tourism social media. Thus, the present study fills this research gap by exploring how brand attachment and customer trust affect the customer engagement-brand loyalty relationship. Data from 298 Taiwanese respondents revealed that customer engagement had no influence on brand loyalty. Both brand attachment and customer trust fully mediated the influence of customer engagement on brand loyalty. Specifically, the customer engagement-brand attachment-brand loyalty relationship was closer than the customer engagement-customer trust-brand loyalty relationship was. To our knowledge, this study is the first to explore the associations among customer engagement, brand attachment, customer trust, and brand loyalty in the tourism social media context. The roles of brand attachment and customer trust cannot be ignored when enhancing brand loyalty through customer engagement.
Growth of social media technology is a global phenomenon in the current generation (Itani, Kassar, & Loureiro, 2019; Loureiro & Lopes, 2019). Trivago, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor are popular tourism social media platforms and enable hospitality and tourism firms to promote their brand to customers (Alalwan, Rana, Dwivedi, & Algharabat, 2017) and develop connections with customers beyond the service encounter (So, King, & Sparks, 2014). Consumers are also spontaneously involved in social media platforms and develop relationships with brands (So, King, Sparks, & Wang, 2016a). Therefore, these social media applications have crucial marketing implications (Leung, Law, van Hoof, & Buhalis, 2013). The tourism social media literature that examines customer behaviors has received considerable attention (Barreda, Nusair, Wang, Okumus, & Bilgihan, 2020; Bravo, Catalán, & Pina, 2020; Harrigan, Evers, Miles, & Daly, 2018; Mellinas & Reino, 2019).
5.3. Future suggestions and limitations
This study has some limitations that require further attention. First, the research design of our study was quantitative. The current research measured customer engagement through questionnaire items. However, Bilro et al. (2019) suggested that customer engagement information can be obtained from the website content and messages of social medial channels. Customer engagement behaviors on social media include online rating, reviewing, commenting, blogging, and customer-to-customer interactions. These data can capture the real customer engagements that occur between tourism corporations and their customers through social media channels (Loo, 2020). Therefore, qualitative research design can be considered in the future research. Second, this study used procedural and statistical approaches to eliminate CMV. However, we measured all the variables in a self-administrated data collection design. Future research can implement a multiple-source research design to weaken the CMV.