Online travel bookers turn to reviews

January 29, 2007

In an unsurprising announcement a piece of research has been released by Nielsen//NetRatings saying that online travel bookers are increasingly turning to user generated reviews for advice and recommendation before booking their travel.

Quote ‘Commissioned by Adviva and online marketing agency Harvest Digital the research shows that 62% of Britons online use search engines when booking holidays and 36% use travel agents’ own websites, however, sites posting user reviews are considered the most trustworthy.

When asked which online source do you trust to give you ‘the most reliable information of all’ user generated content sites like TripAdvisor were cited by 21% of respondents ahead of 15% each for review sites like TimeOut.com and official local information sites such as Visit Scotland.com. Travel agents’ own sites such as ThomasCook.com were considered the most reliable by 12% of Britons online compared with just 11% who selected search engines.

User-generated content sites are more likely to be seen as trustworthy by women than men and, when it comes to age, are most trusted by 25-34 year olds. However, the validity of user reviews are truly championed by the travel industry’s most important group – frequent travellers. One half of Britons online who take more than five week-plus holidays each year, regard user generated reviews the most reliable – making this group two and a half times more likely than the average online holidaymaker to do so. 33% of frequent travellers regard review websites as the most reliable source of information as do one third of respondents who take four holidays per year.

Travel agents will be concerned to hear that nobody taking more than three holidays per year considered them to be the most reliable source of information. Their advocates are most likely to be those who take just one holiday per year – one fifth of this group considering travel agent sites to be the most reliable source – a group that is unlikely to rely most on user reviews. Although the reliance on user reviews decreases with age, it is still valued by the older generation with 21% of Britons online aged 45-54 and 18% of those aged 55-64 citing it as the most reliable source. The over 65s view online tourist guides as the most reliable online source and this group is the only one more likely to consult a newspaper / magazine article than use a search engine to research their holidays.’

Interesting! And this should be a wake up call for all those tour operators and agents who are yet to bite the bullet and allow impartial reviews to be posted on their websites!

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