Two Pamplin professors, Zheng Xiang, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM), and Weiguo “Patrick” Fan, Ph.D., an R.B. Pamplin Professor of Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS), received the “Best Conference Research Paper” award recently at the ENTER 2017 eTourism Conference held in Rome, Italy. The paper, “Assessing Reliability of Social Media Data: Lessons from Mining TripAdvisor Hotel Reviews” is authored by Zheng Xiang (HTM), Qianzhou Du (doctoral student in business information technology,) Yufeng Ma (doctoral student in Computer Science,) and Patrick Fan (ACIS).  In addition to receiving the award, Xiang will assume the editorship at the Journal of Information Technology & Tourism.

Each year during the conference, three papers are nominated as finalists for the best conference paper award. Authors are then invited to present their papers at a general session. Xiang and Fan’s paper won first place among the three shortlisted papers.

The award-winning paper presented a study that uses text-mining techniques to examine the quality of online hotel review data. “We showed that imperfections in review data may cause under-performance of the text-mining algorithm, said Xiang. “We tested the algorithm’s sensitivity to different data samples, with respect to size and originating city. We also devised a novel technique to ‘clean’ the data in order to improve the algorithm’s performance. This study offers insights into the limitations of user-generated content as data for research purposes and highlights the challenges in social media analytics research in hospitality and tourism.”

The ENTER eTourism Conference, an annual event of the International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT) community (, offers a worldwide and unique forum for attendees from industry, academia, government, and other organizations to actively exchange, share, and challenge state-of-the-art research and industrial case studies on the application of information and communication technologies in travel and tourism. This year’s ENTER conference ( was held from January 23-26, 2017 in Rome, Italy.

Also recently, Manisha Singal, PhD (HTM), Yinyoung Rhou (doctoral student in HTM,) and Yoon Koh, PhD., University of Houston, were recipients of the “Best Paper Award” sponsored by Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research at the Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism in Houston, TX. The paper, entitled “What does financial distress imply for employee relations in hospitality companies?” was selected from a large pool of applicants from the US, Europe, and Asia.