Online review sites have turned travel in to a buyer's market, says Deloitte

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Online review sites have turned travel in to a buyer's market, says Deloitte

Related tags: Travel

Consumers are increasingly being influenced by each other rather than travel companies, with more than half (59 per cent) citing online reviews as their 'main influence' when booking hotels and holidays, according to new research from Deloitte.

A survey of 40,000 travellers found 42 per cent used review sites when planning their holiday, while just 31 per cent used travel company websites and 21 per cent online travel agents (OTA’s).

“The travel industry plays a less influential role now, and holidaymakers are more likely to be influenced by each other than content created by businesses,” said Alistair Pritchard, UK lead partner for travel at Deloitte.

“One way for travel companies to adapt to this is to create a recommendation culture, as word-of-mouth marketing is relatively low-cost and self-perpetuating, and can help reduce customer acquisition costs.”

Price comparison sites

The report found consumers remain cost-conscious, with 59 per cent using price comparison sites to get the best deal.

Pritchard said: “These sites have grown rapidly and their usage is high, which can be put down to the deal-hunting behaviour consumers learned during the recession.

“The research also shows that if a consumer booked their last holiday using a price comparison site they are the least likely to be influenced by a company’s reputation and 30 per cent more likely than average to base decisions on price.” 

Multi-platform consumer

Deloitte’s research found  a third of consumers used two or more digital devices when researching their holiday.

“Increasingly consumers are using their smartphones and tablets for research, then switching to their desktop or laptop to book," said Pritchard.

“Fragmentation has also made it difficult for travel companies to track consumer activity, making it harder for them to use the data to understand and meet consumer expectations and offer differentiating features like personalisation. All this could result in a poor user experience.

“To allow activity to be tracked across devices and apps, companies should introduce an integrated experience across all channels and devices, for instance by offering incentives to encourage users to sign in on every platform.”

The Competition and Markets Authority is currently investigating online review sites​ over concerns about the impartiality, despite claims from TripAdvisor that customer reviews help improve business standards​.

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