Travelers have always relied on recommendations when deciding and planning their travels, and online comment and opinion pages have made suggestions and opinions from other travelers reach high visibility rates. As this information is both more sophisticated and unmanageable, there are opportunities and challenges for businesses, according to the new eMarketer study titled “Traveler Reviews: Online Communities Reshape Marketing Strategies.” marketing).
The number of travel reviews and reviews have exploded in recent years. The number of them on TripAdvisor, for example, surpassed 100 million in March 2013, with a growth of 50% over the same month of the previous year. And although TripAdvisor brings together the vast majority of travelers’ comments, other major travel pages have managed to bring together tens of millions or more each, such as trivago (34 million), Booking.com (20.8 million), HolidayCheck (10 million), to mention only the most important.
More than half of the 15,000 Internet users from around the world who participated in Tripadvisor’s TripBarometer last January, 2013 by StrategyOne, reported having written a comment or review about a hotel after being in He and 41% said they also shared personal recommendations using other online channels, such as social networks or emails.
As comments and reviews proliferate and are more common, a debate has intensified among tourism professionals about whether consumers should rely on what they read on pages with user-generated content.
Companies that sell trips, whether they are travel agencies or the entities that offer the service, want to minimize the time and energy they require to detect fraudulent comments, so many of them have begun to allow comments only to those who have Made a purchase through that page or platform. For example, the Wyndham Hotel Group system validates the comments on the company’s website and then sends them directly to TripAdvisor, according to Flo Lugli, Wyndham’s executive vice president of marketing.
And while companies and brands in the industry are working hard to eliminate false comments and reviews, travelers continue to visit many pages during their search and preparation process, pages containing both false and authentic comments. PhoCusWrighy in 2012 found that approximately 2 out of 5 US travelers used online travel agency services, general search engines and travel-specific comment pages within their planning process, and about 1/3 of them were direct to the page of the hotel.
While the reviews influence all the categories of tourist, the recommendations on the hotels are the ones that have more weight, therefore, when a hotel answers a comment, travelers take it into account. The PhoCusWright TripAdvisor study found that 57 percent of travelers said they were more willing to buy services from a hotel whose address responded to comments than to a property whose address remained silent.
As a result, one of the main reasons hotels monitor and respond to reviews and comments is to handle customer complaints. Hotel owners around the world take the negative comments very seriously, with more than 60% saying they respond publicly while reviewing them internally with their teams, according to the Trip Triparometer of Tripadvisor. Only 5% of the participants said they ignored the negative comments.
“Marketing has evolved in such a way that we are no longer the ones who control brands, now it is consumers who have that power in their hands,” comments Lugli de Wundham. “If companies seek the opinions of customers, they must be willing to respond and implement in some form or another the feedback they have obtained. When consumers are asked and given their opinion, they expect it to work for something. “