Customer Experience Research

Making a hotel reservation - Where should you go this summer?

Monday, 29 July, 2013

Where should you go this summer, who should you go with, and for how long? Which hotel or hostel to book? People around the world are currently making hotel reservations for their summer vacation. Are you one of them?

Using facial expression analysis to study decision making processes

Decision making processes

When you visit hotel booking sites, you often see statements such as ‘there are 3 people looking at this room’. So if you didn’t feel the pressure to decide where to go before when offline, you’ll start to feel it online when choosing a hotel. Will there still be a room available if I don’t decide now? and other questions like this may be what you’re asking yourself.

These online, e-commerce, and other decision making processes interest many researchers in human-computer interaction (HCI) and other research areas such as market research and consumer studies, since the volume of online shopping has expanded beyond what anyone could have imagined (How the UK will shop in 2013).

On a side note, if you want to measure what consumers do in shops, read this recent blog post about consumer behavior in shops.

Facial expression analysis

Recently, an interesting paper was presented at the 2013 International Conference on Business and Information in Bali, Indonesia by Pimmanee Rattanawicha. Rattanawicha looked into how facial expression analysis software FaceReader can help researchers in their studies, for example studies in the areas of HCI and e-commerce. 

Reviews in e-commerce

Rattanawicha explains that in Thailand online reviews in e-commerce are very important to Thai internet users. Word-of-mouth has found to be important offline and online. Review websites such as or provide consumers with written reviews and photographs of the hotels and hostels in a certain area. Photographs from other consumers are very revealing and can help you make up your mind quickly. 

Experimental set-up 

In Rattanawicha’s study, 100 participants were asked to read online reviews of a hotel while their facial expressions were recorded and analyzed with FaceReader. After reading the information, they were asked to give their opinion about the hotel on a 10-point scale from extremely negative to extremely positive. They were also asked if they would consider making a hotel reservation. 

Tool evaluation

So was FaceReader useful? Yes, it recorded emotions objectively from the participants reading the websites. Rattanawicha concludes that people with a positive opinion on a hotel would have a significantly higher intent to reserve a room from that hotel and express longer happy and surprised emotion (but not significantly longer). Also, the results indicated that people with negative an opinion on a hotel would express longer disgusted emotion than people with neutral and positive opinions on a hotel. 

Unobtrusive emotion analysis 

FaceReader was used to automatically record 6 basic emotions and 1 neutral state. However, all participants knew their facial expressions were recorded. So what happened? Rattanawicha explains that people knowing about the analysis combined with the fact that reading online reviews might not be the best situation for participants to express their emotions could have influenced the results. The facial expression analysis results were not that strong (no significant differences).

Further research, where people aren’t aware of the facial expression analysis, might result in more significant findings. 

A picture of good quality

Free online demo FaceReader

Curious what emotions your own face shows? In this demo the facial expression of a person is automatically extracted from a single picture. Additionally, FaceReader is capable of extracting some personal characteristics, an age indication and whether a person is wearing glasses or not.

Enter an URL or upload a file and measure your emotions!

How to interpret facial coding

Have you made up your mind yet? Are you going to a hotel in Bali, London, or New York? Or are you in your office working this summer?

Whatever you decide to do, if you would like to learn more about facial expression analysis, read the five tips on how to measure facial expressions to make sure your recordings can be analyzed accurately or download the free white paper which explains the technology behind the software program ‘FaceReader’.


FaceReader methodology white paper

Request the FREE FaceReader methodology note to learn more about facial expression analysis theory.

  • Learn what FaceReader is and how it works
  • Learn how the calibration works
  • Get insight in quality of analysis and output


  • Rattanawicha, P. (2013). Using facial expression analysis software to analyze user emotion: a study of online reviews and decision to reserve a hotel room. Proceedings of the International Conference on Business and Information 2013 (Bali, July 7-9), E112- E119.
  • SAS and verdict research, How the UK will shop in 2013. Dec 27 2012.
  • FaceReader software: