Online Focus Groups: A Valuable Alternative for Hospitality Research?


Focus groups, New product development, Sustainability, Qualitative methods, Idea generation, Crowdsourcing


Purpose This paper aims to test the idea generation capabilities of online text-based focus groups as compared to the traditional in-person focus groups using sustainability in the hospitality industry as the idea generation topic. Idea generation quantity and quality are analyzed and the theoretical and practical implications for the hospitality industry are discussed. Design/methodology/approach An experimental study tested the quality of ideas generated by online versus in-person focus groups. Participants were purposively sampled from the hospitality program at a large southeastern United States university and randomly assigned into one of two treatment groups: online text-based or traditional in-person focus groups. During both treatment groups participants generated ideas focused on sustainability in the hospitality industry. Findings The online focus group generated a comparable quantity of ideas, in addition to a similar average quality of ideas and number of good ideas. Practical implications The generation of ideas and the selection of opportunities drive the innovation process through which firms can strengthen their competitive advantage and maintain and grow market share and profitability. The results of this study may assist hospitality firms in determining which form of qualitative research delivers the highest return on investment by generating the best ideas at the lowest cost. Originality/value This paper breaks new ground by assessing the effectiveness of idea generation in online versus traditional focus groups, comparing both the quantity and quality of ideas generated from an experimental study that uses random assignment.

Publication Date


Document Type




Source Title

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

This document is currently not available for download.