How much value do your guests place on the opinions of others online? Have they lost trust in review sites or do they still form a crucial component of the booking process?
A new study from ITB Berlin and the Worms University of Applied Sciences has looked at the way travel consumers interact with online reviews before making a purchase decision. Although the research is drawn from quite a small data group, the findings suggest travel consumers are wising up to the prevalence of fake reviews online and getting better at how to spot them.
Of the 1, 021 travellers that participated in the survey, just under a fifth (17%) said that checking out online reviews was essential before parting with their cash, 31% settled on ‘important’, while 48% agreed reviews were important but acknowledged the need to exercise caution when researching hotel reviews online. The study revealed that consumers still place a lot of value on the opinions of previous guests with almost half (46%) naming review sites as the most important information source when it comes to choosing a place to stay. A property’s website was named as the most important information source by 28% of the respondents, while 20% preferred to trust the personal recommendations of friends and family.
When it comes to how travellers assess the credibility of online reviews the findings are most interesting:
- 70% of those that used review sites as part of the booking process revealed they are prepared to read up to 20 reviews before choosing a property
- 85% considered a review authentic if there was comparable content online, while reviews that stood out as differing too greatly from others or came across as excessively positive were treated with suspicion.
- Around 46% like to see pictures and videos, while 39% said they were most trusting of the most current reviews.
- When confronted with a review that appears to be inauthentic, 35% don’t book and 18% tell their friends about the suspected trickery.
The research highlights how travellers have become much more professional in their approach to online hotel reviews – which of course means you need to be equally professional in encouraging, monitoring and responding to this guest feedback.
Do you find any of the findings particularly interesting or surprising? Let us know in the comments below.