A Comparative Genre Analysis of Boutique Hotel Webpages in Thailand and New Zealand
This study analyses the characteristics of boutique hotel websites in Thailand and New Zealand as a genre. The study has four main objectives: 1) to identify moves and steps of English boutique hotel websites in Thailand and New Zealand, 2) to examine visual images presented on boutique hotel websites in Thailand and New Zealand, 3) to compare and contrast the move structures and visual images of these websites, and 4) to explore contextual factors which influence the variation between move structures and the representation of visual images of these websites. Despite the increasing popularity of boutique hotels, there exists almost no research analysing these webpages as a genre. While studies have presented a general overview of the appearance and the popularity of the boutique hotel phenomenon, textual and visual analysis of boutique hotels remains under-investigated. Moreover, cross-cultural studies of hotel webpages are also limited. Bhatia’s (1993) and Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2006) frameworks were adopted to investigateand analyse the genre of boutique hotel webpages. Bhatia’s (1993) model was used to explore textual and ethnographic perspectives. Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2006) visual analysis model was adopted to examine the ways in which visual images are depicted and organised in these hotel online advertisements. In addition to textual and visual analysis, interviews with hotel owners, managers, web designers, and web audiences were conducted. The purpose of these interviews was to explore the intentions and practices influencing the shape of the design and organisation of the hotel websites as a genre. Finally, using the frameworks of Bhatia (1993) and Kress and van Leeuwen (2006), the analysis of move structures and the visual design between the hotel webpages in the Thai and New Zealand datasets were compared. This analysis shows minor variations across the two datasets in both textual and visual elements. The differences in terms of move structures between these two cultures are subtle, conforming to the same conventionality inherent within the respective genre, as it connects to their social context and functions. Consequently, my analysis opposes the notion that genre is cultural, proposed by Crossley (2007); Hyland (2000); and Mauranen (1993). In regards to register analysis, the web designers in both cultures used similar distinctive lexico-grammatical features to persuade and engage the web audiences such as the personal pronoun you and we, imperatives, adjectives. Only the use of adjectives exhibits major differences, which reflects the uniqueness in a provision of services and facilities within these two countries. This study posits that the influential factors responsible for variation between these two datasets are a result of how the websites market their hotels and how the hotels operate. However, the interview data with the hotel owners and web designers did not clearly illustrate how they establish generic conventions and develop distinctive lexico-grammatical features. My participants suggested that they used their intuition or consulted other hotel webpages, in which they share a similar theme or concept when they developing their webpages. In regards to the visual representation, the findings show that the depiction of the visual elements across the two countries generally does not differ. Rather, they seem to be reflect a homogeneous genre because they conform to the same practices. That is to say, the designs of thehotel webpages have their own integrity, in which the web designers usually follow. From a genre perspective, these similarities in terms of a representation of move structures and visual images between these two cultures are seen as either a recurring situation or reproduction of generic conventions of a particular genre, which is considered as a social action within a discourse community.