Purpose: Due to the rapidly increasing volume of users and products in virtual worlds, recommender systems are an important feature in virtual worlds; they can help solve information overload problems. Virtual world users are able to perform several actions that promote the enjoyment of their virtual life, including interacting with others, visiting virtual houses and shopping for virtual products. This study aims to concentrate on the following two important factors: the social neighbors’ influences and the virtual house bandwagon phenomenon, which affects users’ preferences during their virtual house visits and purchasing processes. Design/methodology/approach: The authors determine social influence by considering the interactions between the target user and social circle neighbors. The degree of influence of the virtual house bandwagon effect is derived by analyzing the preferences of the virtual house hosts who have been visited by target users during their successive visits. A novel hybrid recommendation method is proposed herein to predict users’ preferences by combining the analyses of both factors. Findings: The recommendation performance of the proposed method is evaluated by conducting experiments with a data set collected from a virtual world platform. The experimental results show that the proposed method outperforms the conventional recommendation methods, and they also exhibit the effectiveness of considering both the social influence and the virtual house bandwagon effect for making effective recommendations. Originality/value: Existing studies on recommendation methods did not investigate the virtual house bandwagon effects that are unique to the virtual worlds. The novel idea of the virtual house bandwagon effect is proposed and analyzed for predicting users’ preferences. Moreover, a novel hybrid recommendation approach is proposed herein for generating virtual product recommendations. The proposed approach is able to improve the accuracy of preference predictions and enhance the innovative value of recommender systems for virtual worlds.