Lijuan Su is a PhD Candidate in the Tourism Management program. Her research focus on Big Data Analytics, Machine learning, Social Media, and Service Failure.

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Nationality: Panzhihua, Sichuan, China

Past Experience: Master’s Degree in Human Geography (Urban and Region Planning) from Peking University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Management from Zhejiang University. Internships in hotels. Planning projects in tourism planning and heritage conservation. Research Assistant at China Center for Health Economics Research of Peking University and Social Science Experiment Center of Zhejiang University.

Favorite UF experience: A football game against Idaho when the Gators scored 7 within 6 seconds of the first quarter. She takes Tom Petty’s song “I won’t back down” as a motto for her tough PhD life.

Favorite past project: Tourism Management article titled “Online public response to a service failure incident: Implications for crisis communications”

Most valuable learning from EFTI: She enjoys the research projects she can do with the help of faculty, the academic and industry seminars brought by EFTI featuring guest researchers and industry leaders, and matching funding for conferences provided by EFTI.

 EFTI person she admires: She highlights her supportive supervisor Dr. Stepchenkova, faculty Dr. Kirilenko, and crazy peers: Minseong Kim as the best senior (now alumnus), David Ma as the best crazy technical guy, and Eunjun Yang for being diligent and hardworking.

Favorite travel experience: A trip in 2019 when she cycled from Chengdu, China, to Lhasa, Tibet. She covered 1500 miles within 24 days. She remembers climbing to the top of the Dongda Mountain (5008 meters) and feeling exhausted but enjoying the experience.

Hobbies: She loves board games such as Werewolf, Avalon, and Exploding Kittens


Online public response to a service failure incident: Implications for crisis communications

Lijuan Su, Svetlana Stepchenkova, Andrei P. Kirilenko

The study examines the online public response to a high visibility incident of service failure from the crisis communication and image restoration perspectives. A specific incident in a hotel of a popular chain in Beijing, China, which was widely publicized on Chinese social network Weibo, is used as an example. Applying data mining and GIS to the collected data, the study analyzes temporal, spatial, topical, and gender dynamics of public discussions to investigate the usefulness of such data for hospitality providers in crisis. The study finds evidence that the effect of the incident on the general public is moderated by spatial and personal proximity of Weibo users. The discussion topics reflect the nature of the crisis and are affected by communications from the service provider and third parties. Implications for providers of tourism and hospitality services in a crisis of high visibility are discussed.

Keywords: Crisis communications, Data mining, Service failure, Social media, Tourism and hospitality, Weibo

More about Lijuan...

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With a geography and urban planning background, Lijuan is able to combine these skills into her tourism research through spatial analysis works for an interesting and successful result. She is also part of a group that helps expand EFTI’s presence in conferences in different areas such as between geographers. To move further on the way of data analytics, Lijuan also pursues a concurrent Master’s degree in Statistics given data mining and machine learning.

Very impressed by the power of headlines on social media and how cases of incidents, scandals, rumors and crisis affect performance of tourism businesses, Lijuan decided to focus her research on data analytics, social media, service failure, marketing and branding. She loves the challenges of playing with data and coding to get results, as well as is very interested about storytelling.

Lijuan focuses on monitoring the dynamics of attitudes of current or potential consumers and overall public around topics of interest for tourism businesses. By identifying segmented market and related crisis response and branding strategies she aims to help tourism destinations or corporations like hotels, restaurants and airlines to survive from bad reputation resulted from incidents of service failure, scandals and online crisis in general.

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When thinking about collaborations, Lijuan affirms “I think in academia you cannot go further without coworkers”, and she heavily practices this through project collaborations. So far, she has worked with her advisor Dr. Svetlana Stepchenkova, the EFTI faculty Dr. Andrei Kirilenko, other PhD Students in the department, and even members of other institutions around the US and abroad in Russia and China, and California State Polytechnic University.

Lijuan published two articles in collaboration with her advisor, Dr. Stepchenkova, on marketing USA as a tourism destination to Russian tourists. The articles focus on analyzing image perception, attitudes, and visit intention considering psychographic characteristics, level of animosity, national attachment, and consumer ethnocentrism. Furthermore, the PhD candidate conducted a study in collaboration with Dr. Stepchenkova and Dr. Andrei Kirilenko about Floridian’s travel behavior through TripAdvisor.


Lijuan’s academic involvement doesn’t stop there: she has also participated in many prestigious conferences in her time here at EFTI. The most recent one was the China Tourism Forum 2019-US, where she was a reviewer, monitored a tourism economics session, and presented a study about spatial competition between five hotel brands in Beijing. She has also attended the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in the past two years, where she presented both times. Finally, she was nominated for Best Paper in 2017 at the Annual Graduate Research Conference in Hospitality in Tourism.

Lijuan has had all these accomplishments while enjoying her time in Florida and being a proud Gator fan. We are looking forward to what is ahead for her!