The World Travel Market (WTM) Industry Report 2010 has shown that over a third of travellers from the UK research their holiday via Social Media before they make a booking.
Of the 36% that used social media sites by far the most popular site was TripAdvisor with 66% using the site to look at the reviews. This placed TripAdvisor well above the social media giant Facebook (34%) and also above YouTube (21%) and Twitter (17%).
The report also highlighted some even more pertinent information for everyone involved with the travel industry as the research showed that only 42% of those who used social media sites such as TripAdvisor booked their original choice of hotel. Of those that changed an aspect of their holiday 35% of respondents changed their hotel, 15% changed their holiday provider and 12% even changed the country they eventually visited.
When looking at the statistics it is hardly surprising that TripAdvisor is becoming more and more important to the travel industry as it gets to grip with the implications of so many of its sales being decided by not what is in the usual travel brochure but what people discover for themselves online.
The realisation that a review site that houses anonymous reviews can dictate whether a third of your customers will go with you or not has provoked much thought and not a little anger about many involved in the travel sector.
Whilst some have sought to go down the litigation route with regards to what they see as unfair and malicious reviews being posted others have sought to see this as an opportunity rather than a danger.
There have been reports hotel owners posting reviews or employing marketing agencies to post false reviews for them to artificially boost their ratings. On the other hand there are many hotel owners who are seeing the influence of TripAdvisor in a negative way, especially when some unscrupulous guests have demanded freebies for hotels "....or else I’ll post a bad review on TripAdvisor"
With a legal action being proposed by online marketing agency KwikChex on behalf of angry hoteliers TripAdvisor has begun what one can only hope will be a process of more interaction with the travel industry. This week they hosted the first in a series of lunches in London and invited many hoteliers to come with their questions.
At the moment hotel owners can only get a review removed by requesting this through Trip Advisors automated "Owners Centre". This has proved beyond many hotel owners who claim they can never have a review removed.
Trip Advisor announced at their London lunch at the Park Plaza hotel that a help line will be available for owners to report reviews, the details have yet to be announced but this looks like the first step in TripAdvisor becoming more approachable by the Travel Industry.
However our experience at HitSearch is that TripAdvisor if approached in the correct manner have always removed a surprisingly high percentage of reviews requested and the new phone line can only help this situation further.