75% of holidaymakers influenced by blogs, reviews, comments

75% of travellers take into account the reviews and comments of blogs and review sites before deciding on their holiday destination. That was one of the main findings of the GfK Ascent survey that was presented at last week’s CIMTIG Travel Vision 2010 event. Should that be a surprise? I suspect for those of us who book our travels independently the figure might even seem low. But when considering that the majority of the 15,000 respondents had just returned from a more traditional resort holiday, we should maybe sit up and listen.

If three quarters of holidaymakers are researching blogs and reviews to help them decide where they go on their vacations this confirms the high level of influence that certain sites have. I did get quite excited at this point. The thought of 75% of people consulting blogs before deciding where to go on holiday made me feel very important. Sadly that excitement was replaced by despondent realism after less than thirty seconds when the name TripAdvisor was uttered.

There was no breakdown presented of which sites people refer to for this ‘intelligence’. I would however suspect that TripAdvisor is far and away the most influential site in this regard. I rarely come across people who haven’t consulted TripAdvisor to check out the hotel they’re about to book, and most of us believe that they can see through the fake stuff and pick out the real reviews. So although I have no doubt that reading about a story on a blog can influence some people to want to visit a place (it’s certainly been the case with me), I am sure that most of the 75% of this sample was made up with those who just want to check out a hotel.

It is striking how much sway TripAdvisor does carry these days. I have stayed in a place where the owners need to spend almost nothing on marketing as almost all of their guests come via TripAdvisor. They provided outstanding service and people (myself included) were only too happy to spread the word.

When things go wrong on the other hand, there really is nowhere for hotel owners to hide. A bad review is seen by all, and if over half of future guests are reading the reviews, what does a hotelier do when a disgruntled client publishes his complaints online?

Some properties actively use Tripadvisor to manage their complaints publicly. They will reply to each comment, good or bad, thanking the reviewer and offering explanations or apologies as appropriate. It’s a great opportunity to show off customer service skills. After all, we all know that every business will get complaints. Those who are open enough to face up to these with public commitments to fix the problems identified will win out in this new world.

Of course this is only great as long as the hotel management are actually acting on their word. If you read the same complaints for six months and each time there is a promise to make things better with the complaint appearing again the following week (it happens), then it might have been better for the property management to have kept their head in the sand.

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9 Responses to “75% of holidaymakers influenced by blogs, reviews, comments”

  1. I wouldn’t categorise TripAdvisor as a blog more of a user generated content review site?

    March 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm Reply
  2. I’m guessing the stats and the article are written from an American perspective. TripAdvisor isn’t nearly that influential outside the USA, so despite our high rating and ranking TA accounts for a relatively small percentage of our bookings. Most of our clients find us through Googlethrough natural searches for accommodation rather than from reading travel sites or blogs, even though we maintain a strong presence on both of those – just in case!

    March 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm Reply
  3. Phil, Thanks for the comment. It was actually a UK based survey. I have to say that even in the UK the use of TripAdvisor seems to be in very common use. I wonder whether it’s the case that your customers find you through a natural search, but check you out on TA before they book; that’s certainly how I tend to arrange accommodation. Good for you that you rank so well!

    Karen, the 75% referred to all blogs and review sites (ie: TA). I would have liked to see the data broken down to differentiate between the influence of blogs and TA but I guess that they can only ask so many questions.

    March 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm Reply
  4. I’m amazed that 75% of UK travellers claim to “take into account the reviews and comments of blogs and review sites before deciding on their holiday destination”. That makes me think!

    And thinking about it, it strikes me that a lot of “destinations” (a word that could have several different meanings depending on context) don’t actually have any meaningful reviews or blogs about them on the Internet. For example, thinking of all the French gites and chambres d’hôtes I monitor and am in contact with – and that amounts to several hundred owners and properties – few have even the modest level of Internet presence that we have.

    Putting on the market researcher’s hat, I wonder if this was a survey conducted by Internet rather than face-to-face or telephone, and hence the respondents would be heavier Internet users than your average Joe? Or if “travel destination” has a particular contextual meaning within the survey which skews the results?

    On another point, respondents may say they take into account what they’ve read, but that actually counts for nought if there’s not much choice or information for the destination they have in mind: for heavily visited locations such as NY, Paris or London there is plenty of information and choice, but that’s not universally the case.

    Interesting article. As I say, it got me thinking!


    March 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm Reply
  5. Ater all the blah-blah in my previous comment, one thing I forgot to add – regardless of the actual stats, we ignore Internet and Social Media marketing at our peril.

    March 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm Reply
  6. Any chance of a link to the actual research Andy? Would be cool if there is one!

    March 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm Reply
  7. Jeremy, I only got the exec summary from the research. You can contact [email protected] for a full report but be warned, the headline price of the report is £650 + VAT. They may be able to help with specific questions though.

    March 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm Reply
  8. Hi Andy. Thanks… figured that might be the case. For an organisation supposedly all about better marketing practice I’ve been seriously underwhelmed by CIMTIG in the context of web. Couldn’t even sign up for their seminars on line… had to call someone up! J

    March 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm Reply
  9. I think it is only right that people spending their hard earned money particularly under the current economic climate that they able to consult such resources as Trip Advisor. Irrespective of whether Trip Advisor is considered a Blog or a generated content review portal, the main objective and aim of this type of resource is to provide piece of mind for holidaymakers when making decisions about their holiday destinations.

    September 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm Reply

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