The Importance of Travel Reviews

Almost 70% of consumers use the Internet to book their holidays, compared to 23% by phone and just 8% using travel agents, according to a survey by Total Media.  Their survey of 1,375 consumers found a quarter now used online reviews by strangers to determine their travel plans, compared to 13% who used travel programmes and 11% who used magazines and newspaper supplements. The results found that almost 50% of travellers over 45 used websites to recommend or warn fellow travellers by posting a review of their travel experiences online.

Another web-based survey, commissioned by Texas A&M University, surveyed 1480 people and looked at the most prominent travel review site - Trip Advisor, to investigate how travellers’ reviews inform the trip planning process.  The results showed a large majority of the respondents (96.4%) used the Internet as a source for trip planning. Travel books were listed as the second most used source for trip planning (68.3%), followed by family/friends (41.6%), magazines (35.6%), brochures/flyers (33.9%), newspapers (27.8%), tourism offices (22.6%), travel agents (22.3%), and AAA (21.4%). Television and radio were reported as the least used.  It is clear that a majority of respondents always used the Internet during their trip planning, mainly to look at other consumers’ comments and views (90.0%).  Most review readers perceive travellers' reviews as providing the most up-to-date and reliable information compared to content posted by travel service providers and help traveller make informed decision about where to stay.

The report also found that it is difficult to motivate consumers to write and post travel reviews, as motivations is to a great extent intrinsic. Rewards do not seem to encourage consumers much. It appears that decreasing the barriers to writing is a more effective strategy. Making it easy and efficient for people to contribute, reminding them that others helped them and that they can now help others after returning home seem to be critical in increasing the extent to which consumers contribute. Specifically, sending reminder emails that directly link to a web space where the review can be written and posted can greatly increase contribution rates.  A majority of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that concern for other consumers was a large motivation for writing online reviews: “Help others by sharing my own positive experiences” (96.3%):  Helping the travel company was also reported as a large motivation: “Good travel service providers should be supported” (93.9), and “Help travel service provider to be successful” (91.1%).

In conclusion, recent surveys exploring the impact of the Internet on the travel industry show that consumers read and share travel-related content online, which has been created and posted by their peers and are more likely to make decisions about where to stay from such reviews than from any other source of information.  This trend is growing as more and more people use the Internet to plan their holidays.  It is for this reason Gay Homestays has added a travel review section to our website (November 2010) and we hope our members and followers will support us and other travellers by posting their comments and reviews.