February 7, 2016

The Disproportionate Power of Online Reviews

by Malek Murison

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the power of reviews travel

A report has shown that although only a small minority of travellers leave reviews, the ripple effect can be huge, with over half of consumers checking others' opinions before booking online...

Research firm TNS has found that over 50% of travellers this year will check online reviews before booking, and more than 10% will decide against a hotel, resort or travel brand if they see it negatively reviewed.

While the influence of travellers who leave reviews is completely understandable, a factor which isn't considered is that so few actually do so. In a broad study of UK-based travellers TNS found that less than almost 70% rarely or had never posted a review, and only 1 in 10 do so regularly. This clearly suggests that a very small minority is having a big impact on the travel decisions of many.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • 15% would not book a holiday without first checking reviews on a site such as TripAdvisor
  • 39% “generally look at some reviews”
  • 16% “sometimes” check online consumer reviews
  • Only 28% paid “little” or “no attention” to reviews
  • In reaction to a negative review “of a travel company, hotel or resort”, 12% said they would “drop plans to book and look for an alternative”
  • 67% of holidaymakers hardly contribute reviews despite the attention these attract and the influence they have

Clearly reviews can be the difference between success and failure as a travel startup. A single bad review can be enough to seriously dent your prospects; so the question is, what can travel agencies do about it?...

First and foremost you simply have to accept that both reviews and their importance aren't going to go away any time soon. What you need to do is harness that potential and use it to your advantage. You're probably going to get bad reviews at some stage; whether or not you deserve them is largely irrelevant.

Customers tend to leave reviews if an experience was extreme, either for better or for worse. More often than not, travellers are inspired to leave positive reviews because they have experienced something, such as customer service or an unexpected part of their trip, which went well beyond their expectations. Bad reviews will occur if your customers are faced with overwhelmingly negative occurrences.

Take advantage of the influence the minority have

And so the solution to the disproportionate power of reviews is simple: Stand out from the competition, surprise your customers and reap the rewards from a system skewed in favour of agencies who do right by their clients. If a customer is blown away by your customer service, the booking process or the experience you have on offer, they are far more likely to share their story, either via a direct review or through social media.

On top of this, if you want to set the snowball effect of positive reviews in motion, find a way to encourage reviews and loyalty from your customers. This can be as simple as a "10% off your next trip" offer every time they leave public feedback. And don't restrict reviews to a generic format. Every time your work is mentioned online by a customer, it's essentially a review. Engage with travellers across all channels, from social media to direct reviews on your website. It's better to be seen to be addressing and responding to negative feedback than shoving your head into the sand.

Where Travelshift comes in...

We understand the power of customer loyalty and the need for consistent, strong reviews to generate further business. Because of this we have incorporated into our software both review and community capacities, so all you have to focus on is making sure your services are as competitive as possible. From attracting the finest local vendors to your marketplace to clear social media integration and customer feedback capabilities, Travelshift software gives you the best chance of building a marketplace to make travellers' dreams come true.