The intention-behaviour gap in sustainable hospitality: a critical literature review

Nayla Khan, Diletta Acuti, Linda Lemarie, Giampaolo Viglia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose. The intention of consumers to behave sustainably is not a reliable predictor of sustainable hospitality choices. This intention-behaviour gap represents one of the biggest challenges for marketers and environment-friendly businesses. To address this issue, this study draws upon the intention-behaviour gap. We revise the sustainable hospitality literature i) to identify the limitations, ii) to evaluate the extent to which the intention-behaviour gap is embedded in the hospitality literature, and iii) to provide practical guidance on how to move research forward in the sustainable hospitality field.

Methodology. We adopted a five-step process to review and analyse 71 scientific articles published in 14 Hospitality Journals. We developed a descriptive overview of the literature showing the publications in this field over the years, the sustainability practices implemented by companies and consumers, and the setting of the studies. Finally, we conducted a critical analysis of research in sustainable hospitality adopting the intention-behaviour gap lens.

Findings. Leveraging our descriptive overview and critical analysis, we offer four directions for future research to address the existing literature limitations. We encourage scholars to expand the scope of the research setting, investigate diverse sustainability practices, integrate existing knowledge on the intention-behaviour gap into sustainable hospitality research, and combine traditional research methods with emerging technologies.

Implications. This study exposes the theoretical challenge of applying conventional behaviour theories to sustainable hospitality, prompting a call for framework re-evaluation. It offers practical insights, empowering researchers, marketers, and policymakers to navigate and mitigate the intention-behaviour gap in sustainable hospitality.

Originality. The originality of this paper is underscored by its distinctive focus on the unique intention-behaviour gap within sustainable hospitality, coupled with a compelling call to re-evaluate traditional behavioural frameworks. It provides a roadmap for future research in sustainable hospitality, benefiting researchers, policymakers, and marketers in promoting sustainable initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Early online date15 Jan 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 15 Jan 2024


  • Intention-behaviour gap
  • Critical literature review
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Hospitality

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