An independent survey of 12,000 travellers, conducted by PhoCusWright, revealed that three quarters of people now use TripAdvisor before booking a hotel, and just over half use the site before choosing a restaurant.
Around 53 per cent said they would not book a hotel that had no reviews, while 31 per cent said they would avoid eating at a restaurant that had no reviews.
Quantity of reviews is also important, the study found, with the majority of people reading at least 6-12 reviews before making a booking. This average was lower for restaurants, although 20 per cent of respondents said they read over 11 reviews before making a decision.
Responding to reviews
Although bad reviews can put people off booking, the study confirmed that hotels and restaurants can lessen the impact of bad reviews by responding quickly and appropriately.
Around 62 per cent of users agreed that seeing hotel management responses to reviews made them more likely to book, while 87 per cent of users agreed that an appropriate management response to a bad review would ‘improve their impression of the hotel’.
Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer, TripAdvisor: “There is no denying that reviews are a powerful and significant part of the travel planning experience
“The results of this study showcase the vital part reviews play, reinforce the idea that we are becoming more social as travellers and demonstrate the essential nature of reviews to hospitality businesses.
“Not only are travellers referencing reviews before they book, they are clearly more highly engaged by businesses that respond to reviews.”
The study also gave some insight into how travellers use the review site.
For example, 73 per cent of people said they were likely to look at traveller submitted photos, while 65 per cent said they were more likely to book properties that had won Tripadvisor awards.
Reassuringly for hospitality businesses concerned over ‘trolling’ or false reviews, the survey found that most travellers will ignore extreme comments when reading reviews. Additionally, most people said they wrote reviews to share good experiences and information with their peers.
“Globally, travellers want to see pictures, they like to book properties that have a lot of accolades, and they like to read the most recent reviews to get a fresh perspective of the hotel, restaurant or attraction,” said Messing.
“The results underpin the need for business owners to not only monitor their online reputation, but to engage as much as possible with their past and potential customers. The benefits are clear – the more engaged the property, the more likely travellers are to book.”
Infographic: insights to shape your Tripadvisor strategy