Customer Experience: an exploratory study into the drivers of flow in virtual wine-tasting experiences

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The importance of online Customer Experience (CX) has accelerated due to the lockdowns and regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic. This holds for the hospitality industry in particular, which was forced to think creatively in order to keep generating revenue after multiple forced closures. This study aimed to understand customer’s experiences of virtual wine tastings, to explore potential drivers of flow – a pleasant state of mind in which one acts with total involvement – in this setting. This abductive study followed a qualitative and exploratory approach by employing semi-structured interviews with 24 respondents who participated in a virtual wine tasting. By applying template analysis, five themes were found to be important drivers of flow in the given context: 1) social interaction among participants, 2) offline factors, 3) interactivity between host and participant, 4) the host and 5) gamification. This research was first to study flow antecedents in a non-achievement, and online context. The findings contribute to both flow and CX literature by means of advancing the concept of social interaction in the digital servicescape, furthering the understanding of servicescape through home experiences and addressing the importance of buyer-seller interaction in this sensory context. Furthermore, findings suggest managers to incorporate (social) interactivity and dedicate attention to the packaging and guidance of the physical servicescape of the customers. Concluding, results demonstrate that virtual wine tastings have significant future potential for customers, whereas future research might look into the value for firms.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen